Human Rights Champions in Iran Commemorate Sixth Anniversary of Imprisonment of Baha’i Leaders


15 May 2014

GENEVA — In an unprecedented show of solidarity, influential Iranian personalities, human rights activists, journalists, and a prominent religious leader gathered this week in Tehran to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the imprisonment of the seven Iranian Baha’i leaders and to express support for them.

News of this highly significant gathering spread rapidly through online and social media yesterday. The centerpiece of the coverage was a photograph of those assembled in a private home around a large photograph of the seven.

Influential Iranians, human rights activists, journalists and a prominent religious leader gather in an unprecedented show of solidarity to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the imprisonment of the seven former Baha’i leaders in Iran.

The meeting reflects a growing movement by Iranians inside and outside of the country who stand for the belief that “Iran must be for everyone” and who reject the persecution of that nation’s Baha’is and oppose the government’s stance in oppressing them, as noted yesterday in a letter from the Universal House of Justice to Iranian Baha’is.

A detailed account of the gathering was published on SahamNews, a reformist Iranian website.

“Until last year there would have been no possibility of a gathering such as this and we couldn’t even speak about the pain we hold in common,” said Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer and defender who was recently released from Evin prison. Ms. Sotoudeh was incarcerated with a number of Baha’i women including Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, two of the seven-member group of Baha’i leaders.

“Mahvash and Fariba have kept up their spirit with extraordinary perseverance and they go forward with an amazing valor,” she continued. “We are here together because the Baha’i community was oppressed and our mothers and fathers did not pay attention to this matter.”

“We know the Baha’is for their honor and upright qualities,” said Nargess Mohammadi, a prominent women’s rights activist present at the gathering.

“I hope that one day our society reaches the stage where Baha’is, too, will be able to work and study,” said Ms. Mohammadi, vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, which has defended the seven in court and was founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.

Issa Saharkhiz, a prominent Iranian journalist, signs a photo of the seven former Baha’i leaders in Iran.


A large photo of the seven former Baha’i leaders signed by those presented at the gathering. Some of these read as follows:
Dear Yaran of Iran,
My dear compatriots,
Be steadfast. We stand by you.
[signed:] Nasrin Sotoudeh
May 2014
In the Name of God, the all-Merciful, the Compassionate,
In memory of the imprisoned Yaran, fair-minded men and women of Iran. Although you are in prison, you are amongst the noble-minded and illustrious truly free people of our land.
[signed:] Nargess Mohammadi
15 May 2014
In the Name of God, the source of light and knowledge, and in memory of my imprisoned friends, the Yaran, with whom I spent memorable days and nights. Hoping for the release of all prisoners of conscience and political prisoners.
[signed:] Issa Saharkhiz
In the hope of the release of these beloved seven and all the prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. Hoping for a better Iran with equality for all Iranians.
[signed:] Jila Bani-Yaghoub
He is the Beloved,
In memory of our dear ones who have suffered as the result of our ignorance, and in hope of a day when the light of the mind will illuminate our society.
[signed:] Mohammad Nourizad
11 May 2014
On the eve of the celebration of the birth of Imam Ali, peace be upon Him, we gather here with the Bahá’ís to remember the words of Ali who taught: All humans are equal.
[signed:] Dr.Maleki
11 May 2014
Nargess Mohammadi, a prominent women’s rights activist and the vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center.




















Other prominent activists and leaders present at the gathering included: Muhammad Maleki, the first head of Tehran University following the Islamic Revolution; Masumeh Dehghan, an activist and wife of Abdolfatah Soltani, a well-known lawyer who represented the seven and who is himself currently in prison; and Jila Baniyaghoob and Issa Saharkhiz, two prominent journalists who have also spent time in prison.

Mr. Maleki was quoted by SahamNews as saying: “I know very well that Baha’is are forbidden to go to university.” He continued, “All beliefs must be respected. Let us honor one another’s beliefs and put divisions aside… We have to work on common principles such as freedom.”

Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani, a senior Muslim cleric who recently called for religious coexistence, was also present at the gathering.

“Perspectives have to change,” said Ayatollah Tehrani, according to SahamNews. “And I think now is an opportune moment for this.”

Muhammad Nourizad, a former journalist with the semi-official Kayhan newspaper, who was himself recently in prison, likewise attended the gathering. He was quoted as saying: “Before I went to prison, I was weighed down by prejudice. But after I was freed from prison, the heavy weight of prejudice was lifted from me and my outlook has changed.”




2 Responses

  1. vafa-canada

    May 16, 2014 5:20 pm

    God bless every one of you in that historic gathering. This is how Truth triumphs over falsehood.

  2. John Morgan

    May 17, 2014 4:51 pm

    Aramaic Bible in Plain English
    “There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”


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