Last updated: 4 September 2008
Baha’i leaders still in prison; Nobel Prize winner continues in their defense:
The seven members of a Baha’i coordinating committee remain in Evin Prison in Tehran, and there are fears for their safety. Their families have no information about formal charges against them, although it has been more than a month since a government prosecutor was quoted in the press as saying the individuals had “confessed” to operating an “illegal” organization with ties to Israel and other countries – charges categorically denied by the Baha’i International Community. (See BWNS article.)
Mrs. Shirin Ebadi – a prominent Iranian human rights attorney who is a Nobel laureate – maintains that she and her colleagues at the Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Iran are prepared to defend the jailed Baha’is, despite criticism and false accusations leveled at her and her family because of their involvement, including charges that she or her daughter have become Baha’is. Mrs. Ebadi is a Muslim, and the Baha’i International Community confirms that neither she nor her daughter have ever been Baha’is. She has stated that attorneys have been trying to get access to those in jail but such access has been denied. (For more information about Mrs. Ebadi, see official Baha’i statement dated 12 August 2008.)
The seven members of the Baha’i coordinating committee who are in prison are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, Mr. Vahid Tizfahm, and Mrs. Mahvash Sabet. The first six have been jailed since May, and Mrs. Sabet since March.
On 19 August, Mr. Tavakkoli’s wife was detained and held for four days after she visited the prosecutor’s office and pressed for clarification of her husband’s situation.
At least 22 Baha’is currently in jail
Three Baha’is who were jailed in Tehran on 19 August for no known reason have been released. It was the second time in six months that the three, Mr. Touraj Amini, Mr. Iraj Amini, and Mr. Payman Amoui, were detained.
There are still at least 22 Baha’is in jail in Iran who are being held because of their religion.
Oppression of Baha’is continues unabated:
The broad-based, government-backed campaign to stamp out the Baha’i community continues.
A number of tactics are used to prevent Baha’is from earning a living. In one recent example, a Baha’i working at a real estate agency in Shiraz was fired from his job when a group of agents met and decided that dealing with Baha’is is against Islamic law. At the meeting, a number of baseless allegations were made against the Baha’i – allegations he strongly denied – and an anti-Baha’i leaflet published by the city council and the police was distributed.
Other recent reports from Shiraz show the multifaceted nature of the campaign against the Baha’is:
* Three different versions of an anti-Baha’i brochure titled “Baha’ism: A Colonial Dance” were widely circulated in the city. The brochure included common false accusations about the Baha’i Faith.
* A number of Muslim neighbors of Baha’i families have received “visits” from people who attempt to distort their perception of the Baha’i Faith and discourage them from associating with the Baha’is.
* A Baha’i youth who was a national judo champion was expelled from the national team before the team traveled to international competitions. After appeals were lodged, it was learned that there is a general directive prohibiting Baha’is from competing, coaching, or refereeing on national teams.
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