IranWire has learned that earlier today, 31 July, three members of the long-disbanded Yaran, or “friends” of the Baha’i community in Iran, who until 2008 helped to administer the community’s affairs, were detained.
Mahvash Sabet, Fariba Kamalabadi and Afif Naemi were all taken to an unknown location. Sabet, a writer, was recognized by English PEN as an International Writer of Courage in 2017 and that same year Kamalabadi was recognized by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom as a religious prisoner of conscience.
All three have previously served a decade each in prison because of their beliefs and service as members of the defunct Yaran group. The Yaran – which was an informal leadership group created after the Baha’is in Iran disbanded its National Spiritual Assembly, by order of the Iranian government – was also disbanded in 2008 after the arrests of all seven Yaran members.
In a statement posted to Twitter, the Baha’i International Community (BIC) said it was “outraged” by the detention of a “significant” number of Baha’is.
“Sabet, Kamalabadi and Naemi, formerly part of the Iranian Bahai community leadership, previously served 10-year prison sentences and are domestic symbols of resilience and internationally-renowned former prisoners of conscience,” the BIC said. “Arresting them reveals the Iranian government’s escalating persecution of Iran’s Baha’i community.”
We are outraged that a significant number of #Bahais, among them Mahvash Sabet, Fariba Kamalabadi and Afif Naemi, have been detained yet again in #Iran.#BahaiRights #HumanRights pic.twitter.com/ah3csMyoHF
— Baha'i International Community (@BahaiBIC) July 31, 2022
Agents of the Ministry of Intelligence also raided the homes of several Baha’i citizens living in Karaj, including Naemi, Kamiyar Habibi, Saman Astvar, Basir Heravi, Sara Shabanpour and Mozafar Nabili, searched their homes and confiscated phones, computers, some personal items and books related to the Baha’i faith. Saman Astvar were then arrested alongside Naemi.
Agents also took Kamiyar Habibi to his workplace and, after another search, sealed the workplace and released Habibi. Kamiar Habibi is a composer and music teacher.