Call for immediate release of Baha'i leaders in Iran
The seven Iranian Baha'i leaders who formerly looked after the needs of Iran's Baha'i community (Photo taken prior to their imprisonment).
Australian Baha’is are joining an international call for the immediate release of seven Baha’i leaders who were arrested in Iran nine years ago this weekend.
For Australian Baha’is there is a personal connection to the seven leaders. At least five of them have close relatives living here.
A video calling for their release can be seen here.
Spokesperson Natalie Mobini said it was outrageous that these innocent religious leaders have been unjustly imprisoned for nine years.
“We well remember the dawn raids in which these two women and five men were rounded up like criminals.
“They had been tending to the spiritual and social needs of their community by managing internal matters such as births, deaths and marriages with the full knowledge and permission of the government.
“After the arrests, they were held for a year in illegal detention and subjected to physical and psychological abuse.
“In 2010 they were put on trial, with less than one hour’s access to their lawyers, to face false allegations. In fact, the reasons they had been arrested related solely to their belief in and practice of the Baha'i Faith.
Australia calls for release
“Impartial observers including Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop, United Nations representatives, lawyers and human rights advocates have pointed out all manner of deficiencies in the process that led to the 10-year sentences, and have called for their release.
“During these nine years, the seven have endured awful conditions that are common in Iranian prisons, including health problems that have been untreated in many cases.
“They have also missed out on nine years of normal life. All seven are married with children and were also extremely active in working for the betterment of their community – not to mention Iranian society as a whole.”
Dr Mobini said justice demands their immediate release.
“It is a testimony to the elevated character of these valiant leaders that they have won a reputation for their wisdom, kindliness and spirituality among their fellow inmates."
The Australian Baha’i Community will be holding many events to draw attention to the call to release the leaders. They include
* A special service dedicated to the Bahá'ís in Iran at the Baha’i House of Worship in Sydney on Sunday 14 May at 11.00 am
* A public event on 17 May at the University of Notre Dame School of Law in Sydney featuring keynote speeches by NSW Minister for Education Mr Rob Stokes, international law expert Emeritus Professor Gabriel Moens, and a relative of one of the leaders. This will begin at 6.00 pm
* Devotional gatherings across Australia to pray for their well-being and speedy release.
The seven leaders are Afif Naeimi, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mahvash Sabet, Saeid Rezaie, and Vahid Tizfahm. The seven were the ad hoc, appointed leaders of the Iranian Baha'i community, which has undergone severe persecution since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
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