Translation by Iran Press Watch
On the morning of Wednesday, November 8th, during a phone call with my husband, I found the opportunity to talk with my son-in-law’s mother, Mrs. Shoughangiz Sorourian, who had traveled from Hamedan to Tehran for treatment and to visit her daughter. I heard from them that a group of security agents had attacked their house in Hamedan and broke the door and ransacked the house in the absence of the owner. My mind immediately went back to 1987. At the time, Ms. Shoughangiz and her husband were arrested for being Baha’is and were transferred from Hamadan to Evin prison. At that time, they had three young children aged 4, 6, and 8, who were deprived of parental care due to the arrest of their parents. After a few months of completely being unaware of their whereabouts, the relatives started taking all three children to Tehran every week, for a long time, to see their father on one day and their mother on the other day and return all the way back to Hamedan and their school. It goes without saying that such arrests of parents with young children are a planned action that unfortunately still continues and leaves irreparable negative effects on children and their parents, and is an example of “child torture.”
But that 4-year-old girl was later arrested in Hamedan and deported to Nahavand prison in the late 2000s, when she was already a formidable youth herself. Now it was the turn of her elderly and lonely mother to go from Hamadan to Nahavand every week to visit her young daughter who was kept in the general ward of Nahavand prison in an extremely harsh and unsuitable conditions. Now after about 36 years, the house of this 82-year-old woman was brutally raided and her mental security was deliberately disturbed. I also heard that the house of Mrs. Akhtar Kousari (Naimi), who is 88 years old and suffering from Alzheimer’s, was also raided and turned upside down. She is the wife of Dr. Firooz Naimi, one of the most famous and popular specialists of Hamedan, who was arrested along with 6 other Baha’is in the early years of the revolution and executed in the most brutal way possible and as a result of horrific torture. The other two houses that were raided are the houses of Mrs. Pooran Habibi (Khandel) and her son Mehran Khandel. His wife, Mr. Hossein Khandel, and his two uncles, Mr. Sohail and Sohrab Habibi, were among the same 7 people.
My Wednesday morning started with this news and the remembrance of the sad 40 years history of these families. While my heart was full of sadness. Sadness for the severity of oppression and sadness for the severity of the government’s hostility towards a group of the most peaceful and law-abiding Iranian citizens. The continuation of the same sadness that had taken over my heart and the hearts of many of my dear compatriots since the end of last summer following the people’s protest uprising against the death of Mahsa (Gina) Amini and the death of a number of dear young people of Iran on the way to the realization of their basic human rights. In the afternoon of the same day, I had the opportunity to call my children for a few minutes when I heard that the raid on Baha’i homes was not limited to those few families; rather, about 25 houses were raided and ransacked, and 9 people were arrested and imprisoned in Hamedan. I also heard about the arrest of 6 other brothers in Karaj. One of them is the nephew of my wife, Foad Taefi, who has 3 young children. During his childhood, Foad witnessed his father’s imprisonment and later his mother’s arrest in Mashhad, and then his wife’s father’s arrest and imprisonment in Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj. Among those arrested in Karaj are a young couple who also have two young children. It can be safely said that there is not a single Baha’i family in Iran that does not have a past full of sufferings and injuries like this in several successive generations.
After hearing this horrifying news, I remembered in August 2022 during the interrogation sessions, when I was explaining to the interrogator that “you are aware that the Baha’i Administration, which was responsible for managing the internal affairs of the Baha’i community, has been closed since 2008 when I was in prison; After my release in 2017, you have been watching me every moment and you know that the accusation of “forming an Illegal group is not true about me, because I, like all Baha’is living in Iran, have no administrative responsibility, so what is the point of repeating this accusation?” The interrogator answered yes, we know that you have not had any responsibility during this time, but in our opinion, all Baha’is who remained in Iran and did not leave Iran should be arrested and imprisoned, and if our hands were open, we would have imprisoned them all. At that moment, I thought this answer was the only justification for my illegal arrest; but now, by raiding the homes of some elderly ladies, I was sure that he was talking about an objective and real government strategy regarding the Baha’i community of Iran, that is: “All the Baha’is who stayed in Iran and did not leave Iran deserved to be arrested and imprisoned.” I am writing these lines with a sad heart for my dear granddaughters Nava and Diba, one of their grandmothers is spending her 12th year of imprisonment in Evin prison under such unfortunate conditions, and their other grandmother is 82 years old after enduring imprisonment with her husband and being away from her three children, 36 years ago, is now deprived of even the basic right to live safely in her home. And for Sina, Faran and Fares Taefi, who have seen and heard about the imprisonment of their father, two grandfathers, and their uncle. And for all the children of Iran and the justice-loving people of my beloved land, who have lost their loved ones and their youth due to cruelties and atrocities. Because “our story is one”. Maybe hearing these painful but true stories will make us try harder to replace injustice with justice and darkness with light.
Fariba Kamalabadi, Evin prison, November, 2023.