One Prisoner; Jamaleddin Khanjani, One of the Seven; by Mojtaba Samienejad

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jalmaledin_khanjani[RAHANA, 12 Nov 2011, Mojtaba Samienejad] The story began when life took the color of blood and prison; the 1979 Revolution in which the execution ropes were dancing in the skies to the death song and the sound of bullets were heard in every ear. Two years after the so called “glorious” revolution, 9 members of the Spiritual Assembly who thought of eliminating the republic disappeared when thinking of eliminating the Republic which was supposed to become Islamic. To this day, their bodies have not been found and no information has been heard. Those who went to the 8 year long Iran-Iraq War and never returned, were considered “missing” but what is the right name to call the 9 Baha’is who never returned.

The second Spiritual Assembly was established in 1981 and blood could still be smelled. The 9 members joined the destiny of those that the 1980s reminds us of.  The story continued and the third Assembly was created one year later. Their establishment was forbidden and only two of the 9 members survived execution. Jamaleddin Khanjani is one of the two individuals who survived.

Although Khanjani escaped death in the 80s, he was unable to escape the limitations placed on his minority religious group in Iran. He and his family were victims of discrimination for three decades. As a former employee of the Pepsi-Cola Company, he established a brick company after the revolution and employed hundreds of individuals which was confiscated by the Islamic regime.  He became a farmer afterwards and was still put under pressure by the Islamic regime.

The Spiritual Assembly refers to elected councils that govern the Baha’i Faith. Because the Baha’i Faith has no clergy, they carry out the affairs of the community.    After the execution of the members of the Spiritual Assembly, the “Friends of Iran” Council was formed by the two surviving members for governing the 300,000 Baha’is living in Iran.  Khanjani was one of its well-known members and the 7 members of the council have done nothing but serving their community and country based on the stories described by other Baha’is.

In addition to Jamaleddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaei, Behrouz Tavakoli, Vahid Tizfahm, Fariba Kamalabadi and Mahvash Sabet were the members of the last “Friends of Iran” Council.  Their arrest began in May of 2008 and they were eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison for the charge of espionage.

In May of 2008, six security forces enter his house in his absence by threatening his wife. Khanjani who was on his way to Semnan, returns after receiving a phone call from his home. The security forces search the house from 6 am until 4 pm and confiscate many of his belongings.  He was then taken to Ward 209 and put under temporary arrest for 814 days along with the other 6 members of the Council.

Their legal rights were violated all along and their first trial took place 635 days or 21 months later. Their charges were the typical ones given by the Islamic regime; espionage by Israel, blasphemy and anti-regime propaganda. The court verdict was not issued on that day and it was postponed to 5 months later after several delays in June of 2010.

The trial was not a trial for Khanjani and 6 other members of the Council. It was a prosecution for an entire community; a community who has been deprived of education, employment, citizenship and religious rights or in another word of human rights. A community which has 300,000 members and the regime has deprived them of all the basic rights. The 7 members who were sentenced to a total of 140 years of imprisonment represented the 300,000 Baha’is living in Iran.

Three months later, the appeals court informed them that their sentence has been reduced to 10 years verbally but the written verdict later given to the 78 year old Khanjani and 6 others stated the 20 years.

It took 814 days for them to transfer Khanjani to the Rajaei Shahr Prison which is even in a more appalling condition.

The God who he believes in should bless him; otherwise, God forbid, he will be in prison until he is 98 years old.  His wife Ashraf Sobhani passed away during his temporary arrest and he was not allowed to visit her for the last time and to say goodbye after all those years of marriage.

Jamalledin Khanjani is one of the 9 Baha’is who survived executions of the 80s, one of the seven Baha’is imprisoned and one of the 300,000 individuals of the Baha’i community and the Iranian community who at the age of 78, when many suffer from medical problems which accompany old age, is deprived of regular phone calls, prison visits and medical attention. A man who at this age is supposed to live comfortably at his home and to enjoy the company of his children and grandchildren after what the regime has put him through. Alas that Islamic Republic has deprived him of that.

Yes, Jamalledin Khanjani is one of the prisoners of Rajaei Shahr Prison with a 20 year long imprisonment sentence and without a single day of furlough.




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