Saturday, March 20, 2010

Amnesty International Calls for Nowruz Action

Amnesty International has launched an action for Nowruz [Naw‐Rúz]—which is not only a Baha'i Holy Day but also an ancient holiday for the people of Iran. To mark this time‐honored festival, Amnesty International has launched a campaign for individuals around the world to send messages of goodwill to prisoners of conscience in Iran. Mirroring the "Haft Sin"—the seven dishes beginning with the letter "s" that are traditionally placed on the Nowruz feast table—Amnesty International has selected seven cases for this campaign, one of which is the unjust imprisonment for nearly two years now of the seven former members of the now dissolved ad hoc administrative group known as the Yárán (Friends-in-Iran). Regarding these imprisoned Baha'is, the call for action states:

Seven leaders of Iran’s Baha’i community are currently on trial on serious, but baseless, charges that could lead to the imposition of the death penalty. Although they have done nothing more than peacefully practice their religion, they have been charged with spying for Israel, for “insulting religious sanctities,” with “propaganda against the system” and with being “mofsed fil arz” or “corruption on earth.” They have denied all charges.

The seven include two women, Fariba Kamalabadi and Mahvash Sabet, and five men: Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaei, Behrouz Tavakkoli and Vahid Tizfahm. All are leading members of a group responsible for the Baha’i community’s religious and administrative affairs. Mahvash Sabet who acted as the group’s secretary, was arrested on 5 March 2008. The others were arrested on 14 May 2008. All seven are held in Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. They have only been allowed very limited access to their lawyers while they have been in custody.

The first session of their trial—which had been repeatedly postponed—finally began before a Revolutionary Court in Tehran on 12 January 2010. Their next court date is scheduled for 10 April. Amnesty International has repeatedly criticized proceedings held in Iran’s Revolutionary Courts for their failure to adhere to international standards for fair trials. In fact, the authorities attempted to bar the Baha’is’ lawyers from the courtroom on 12 January and only allowed them access after they insisted upon entering.

You can send Nowruz greetings to the seven Baha’is to:

Baha’i International Community
15 route des Morillons
1218 Grand Saconnex Switzerland