Read the sad story of this Baha’i couple who have been persecuted by the Islamic Republic government in Iran for the past 36 years:
My name is Vahid Ghodrat, an Iranian Baha’i living in city of Yazd, Iran, and I would like to explain many religious persecutions and discriminations, imposed on me and my family during the past 36 years, all of which are verifiable with supporting evidence available upon request.
In 1980, after Iranian Cultural Revolution in universities, I was expelled from Iran University of Science and Technology as a fourth year student of Civil Engineering. I was told that in order to get back to the university, I had to denounce my faith (that is the Baha’i faith) and put as many as five denunciation ads in the newspapers. My brother, who was a medical student at Kerman University, was expelled for the sole reason of being a Baha’i. All the possessions of my father and mother such as money, garden, lands and properties, and even their residential house were confiscated. My mother’s pension, for 30 years of working as a teacher in the Iranian Educational System, was cut off. My father, a merchant, was deprived of all his checks and money orders by the order of Islamic court.
I was imprisoned for 6 years from 1983 to 1989 under severe tortures, 5 years of which I was under a real danger of execution, and as a result living under horrible mental conditions. After being released from prison, I was yet exiled to town of Jahrom for one year. When I was initially incarcerated, my baby girl was 3 months old and when I was released she was 6 years old; I lost the most precious time that I could spend as a young father with my wife and child . When I eventually joined my wife and daughter, I had to provide for them, but since I hadn’t been allowed to obtain my college degree, I had to confine myself to random, unstable and underpaid jobs such as grinding lenses for eyeglasses, making rug combs, distributing Scotch scrub sponges, and even doing the work of a civil engineer at private construction companies, but being underpaid due to having only a high school diploma. After 4 years of hard work at Qeshm-Sazeh Company, the management changed and after investigating my religious beliefs, fired me because of being a Baha’i, with no pension. Recently, I worked as a sculpturer, but the handicrafts organization deprived me from the special permit required to participate in the exhibitions, once again because I am a Baha’i.
In addition to job difficulties, the Iranian Intelligence Agency have busted into our house several times, and each time have taken the computer, books, notes and even paintings. Once, when I was in Qeshm and my daughter was alone at home, the agents had broken into our house and frightened my daughter, and our neighbors had to come in to calm her down. One of my sons, Sepehr Ghodrat who was a student at Kerman university, was expelled from Agricultural engineering after only one semester because of believing in the Baha’i faith. My other son, Roohallah Ghodrat who was admitted to medical school of Rafsanjan university, but was expelled as well and now both are unemployed. What is interesting to know is that all Baha’i youth are required by the government to go to the military service, but are not allowed to attend the universities, and are deprived of many civil rights.
In 2010, I was again incarcerated for one year penalized for writing to several governmental organizations a letter, in which I had asked for legal attention in response to above mentioned injustices and all discriminations against Bahai’s in Iran. The Islamic court ordered that I was guilty of action against the Iranian State. In 2014, once again security and intelligence agents raided our house and took away the computer, books, notes, photos and everything along with my wife, Farah Baghi Asrabadi. After one week of interrogating her along with 20 other Bahai’s, she was charged with propaganda against the State of Iran and was sentenced to one year in prison with an additional year of suspended sentence. All other 20 Bahai’s were also each sentenced to one to 6 years in prison.
My wife, Farah, is now spending her time in prison, while she is innocent of the crime she is charged with. She is 54 years old housewife and mother of 3 children and grandmother of 2, who only believes in the Baha’i faith. She suffers from acute migraine and depression due to hardships, miseries and a lifetime of traumatic events and must be on medication. During the past 36 years, we have endured many hardships and injustices as Baha’is, even though we have been faithful to our country and have no desire other than service to humanity and our fellow citizens.