Bruce Vasli holding a photograph of Afif Naeimi infront of the installation.
By Bruce Vasli*
My cousin, Afif Naeimi, is dedicated to improving the community in which he lives.
He has contributed by teaching spiritual education to children and participating in study circles examining Holy Scripture.
Afif is a very knowledgeable and kind person, a gentle person at heart.
He wanted to be a doctor but because the government denies university education to Baha’is, he became an industrialist instead, specialising in textiles.
Afif loves life. He is a big soccer fan, and his intelligence really shines out when he plays chess.
Seven years ago he was arrested and imprisoned just because he was one of seven members of a group of Baha’is who attended to the spiritual needs of the Baha’is of Iran in such matters as weddings, funerals and so on.
In any other country that would be regarded as a praiseworthy community service, especially when carried out on a voluntary basis.
All seven have now served seven years of a 20 year sentence. A seven day campaign, 14-21 May, is calling for their release. The theme is “Seven days in remembrance of seven years in prison for the seven Baha’i leaders.” The hashtag is #7Bahais7years
I was not surprised when I heard that a fellow prisoner, an unjustly imprisoned doctor who was not a Baha’i, took time when he was released to praise Afif.
He said that after Afif emerged after four months solitary confinement, he looked for ways to help fellow prisoners, such as washing their dishes, and cleaning the toilet and bathroom when it was not his turn. These acts of service which might appear small to those on the outside are highly valued inside jail.
He has suffered health problems in jail. The authorities won’t listen to the advice of their own doctors and admit him to hospital.
But Afif’s morale is high. He is spiritually strong and an example to us all.
*Bruce Vasli lives in Sydney where he is involved in Baha’i activities.