Editor’s Note: The following article was written by the daughter of one of the seven Baha’i prisoners who are former members of the informal committee, set up to loosely manage the affairs of the 300,000-strong Baha’i community of Iran with the full knowledge and tacit approval of the Iranian government, called the Yaran (“Friends”), all of whom were arrested over a year ago, and who have been held at the notorious Evin prison to date without access to their legal counsel, Nobel prize-winning lawyer Shirin Ebadi. The most recent court hearing, which was scheduled for October 18, 2009 has been postponed yet again.
By Ma‘man Rezaee
Distributed by: Committee of Human Rights Reporters
We sat for hours in the waiting room at Evin prison, waiting for them to read their names. A voice announced: Mahvash Sabet! Fariba Kamalabadi! Vahid Tizfahm! Afif Naeemi! Jamaloddin Khanjani! Behrouz Tavakkoli! Saeed Rezaee!
We scaled the stairs without delay. All eyes were filled with excitement. We tried to reach the top as soon as possible so as not to keep our dear ones waiting.
An entire week of longing, in exchange for fifteen minutes of visitation! This is an injustice. We all know that, but when we see their innocent eyes gazing at us from the other side of the prison glass, we forget all the hardship and all the injustice.
This tale has been going on for the past sixteen months.
These seven honorable and innocent souls, like hundreds of their compatriots, have been in the fetters of injustice for sixteen months now. They have been waiting for their court date for sixteen months, the court that is supposed to have been held this week after several successive postponements.
Every time my father hears such news, he smiles. Behind his smile hides a world of emotions – a world filled with calm and trust, strengthened by faith in the path he has chosen to tread – a world filled with the sorrows and distress of a heart that thirsts for freedom.
When the visit allows, I embrace his withered body and squeeze his cold hands to transfuse my love and energy into it. He turns to each one of us and asks about our lives and our activities. He teases Payvand, whose first years of youthful life were deprived of having a father. He embraces him with all his strength.
He tells us about his prison days, the days which are being wasted in the monotony of prison life instead of being used to serve his community. Each one of them is facing a particular physical hardship, while they are deprived of things as basic as having a bed to sleep on. They know full well that sacrifice is needed to achieve their high ideals, and this is the price they have to pay for it.
In the past few months they have been accused of many crimes, yet they defend their beliefs and the Bahá’í community by drawing from their faith, as steadfast as a mountain. This community, which has been the target of many injustices and much persecution, is worried, more than ever, about the fate of those who served as its seven leaders, and of those who have been put in prison solely for their beliefs. It is not clear what will happen to them now.
While visiting him, I gaze into my father’s eyes, and with tears running down my face, I am immersed in deep thought: What will happen if the court does not follow the basic principles of justice and human rights, and deprives us all for ever from having the bounty of a father that brings us calm and love? How can I continue to live, when his absence has already created a vacuum in my life over the past several months?
I do know that the suffering of the months past, and the hardship of being away from our fathers and mothers, and the days these dear ones spend in prison without any guilt, will not be forgotten. The effect of such steadfastness will be manifest, and we will have a proud and free country for all, without prejudice against their beliefs or religions. I do believe in this, and I will continue to live with hope for that day and with hope to visit my father again.
Ma‘man Rezaee (the daughter of Saeed Rezaee)
Translation by Iran Press Watch.