My mother, Fariba Kamalabadi, is an educational psychologist and is a warm, compassionate, spiritual and intelligent person.
She is now serving a jail sentence of 20 years in Iran because of her humanitarian spiritual beliefs as a member of the Baha’i Faith. So far she has served seven years.
We have missed seven years of each other’s lives. She could not attend my wedding or my graduation, precious moments that other families take for granted. She wasn’t there when my sister finished high school, or for the marriage of my younger sister and the birth of her first grandchild.
A national and global campaign focusses on my mother today. The campaign theme is “Seven days in remembrance of seven years in prison for the seven Baha’i leaders.” The hashtag is #7Bahais7years
The campaign asks why an innocent, educated and compassionate person like my mother should receive sub-animal treatment in one of the world’s worst dungeon-like prisons just because of the religious prejudice of the Iranian authorities.
Her life and dedication to serving humankind is living proof of the equality of women and men. My mother would enjoy the highest respect and social status in most countries and her service to society would be welcomed.
She is extremely humble — she accomplished so much every day yet never expressed pride about her achievements.
I think standing by and remaining silent on such injustice is wrong. I believe we should all speak out about what is happening to my mother and her six brave colleagues who are suffering a similar fate.
My mother was arrested on 14 May 2008 for being a member of a leadership committee looking after the basic needs of the 300,000 members of the Iranian Baha’i community. She and her six colleagues have been in jail since then.
She spent more than four months in solitary confinement. She has had only a handful of visits with our family and has been denied access to legal counsel, medication and health care.
She and her colleagues have been denied a fair trial and due judicial procedure. They faced baseless charges for which no evidence was provided — because there was none.
During their “temporary detention” which lasted for more than two and a half years, they were maltreated. They have been transferred from one prison to another, from bad to worse, jailed alongside murderers and other serious criminals.
Iran should be called to account for this grievous breach of the human rights of my beloved mother.
After seven long years, she deserves to come home to her family.
I would be grateful if people reading about my mother would raise their voices in support of this campaign.
*Dr Vargha Taefi works in the finance industry in Melbourne where he has lived since 2012. He studied at the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education in Iran, and obtained a Master’s degree in Diplomacy at the University of Leicester and a PhD in Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick.
Read Dr Taefi’s article in the The Sydney Morning Herald about his mother. It was published on Mother’s Day, 2013