May 14th, 2010: 2 Years Since the Arbitrary Arrests of the 7 Baha’i

May 6, 20100 comments

The 7 Baha'i Leaders

Background May 14th, 2010 marks two years since the initial incarceration of 7 members of the Baha’i community in Iran: Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet (arrested two months earlier), Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm. These two women and five men formed the national leadership of the Baha’i community in Iran known as ‘yaran’ or ‘friends’. They remain in Evin prison to this day without sentence, having spent significant periods of imprisonment in solitary confinement. Over twenty months passed before their cases were taken to trial, and these cases have remained closed. Their third trial, scheduled for April 13th, 2010, was supposed to be open to their families. However, in the end their families were barred from the court, and after consulting with their lawyers, the 7 Baha’i  decided not to participate in the show trial.

They face a long list of charges, including “espionage, initiation and expansion of illegal organizations, collecting and transmitting classified information to foreigners in the aim of disrupting national security, holding illegal meetings to plot the actions against the security of the state and spreading corruption on earth.” The penalty for allegedly “spreading corruption on earth” carries a high risk of execution. Diane Ala’i, the Baha’i Community’s representative to the United Nations, notes that the 7 Baha’i continue to be imprisoned “without being allowed to… be released on bail, or even released without it.” Their case is represented by the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), a group founded by Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Two years on, their fate remains uncertain and in violation of domestic legal standards and international human rights norms. Insights into their imprisonment have come to light through accounts by Roxanna Saberi – a United4Iran Community Advisory Board member, journalist and author – who shared a prison cell with these two women in 2009. Their case is representative not only of wider violations of due process in Iran but also of the suppression of the human rights of the Iranian Baha’i community at large since 1979. Take Action! We invite you to commemorate this anniversary by taking the following action before May 14th, 2010 to highlight the cases of these 7 Baha’i citizens. Because these 7 members of the Baha’i community have spent the last two years sleeping on concrete floors in small, confine spaces, we invite you to demonstrate your solidarity with and support for these prisoners by doing the following:

1. In any space, mark off, cut out, or draw a box the size of an Evin prison cell: 2×3 meters to represent the space of the two women or 3×4 meters to represent the spaced shared by the five men. (For those of you with yardsticks, this translates to 6.5 x 9.8 feet for the women’s cells and 9.8 x 13 feet for the men’s.)

2. Easy ways of making these cells include marking off areas with yarn or rope in grass, cutting out or using butcher paper of the above sizes, or even using chalk to sketch the cells on the ground.

3. Just as these seven Baha’i prisoners have done for the past two years, share the “cells” with other people, two people per small box and five for the larger.

4. Pre-print one of the suggested posters to include in the project, either by incorporating it into the cell or by having a participant hold it while standing in the “cell.”

5. Take pictures or shoot video of the cells being shared and send it to us at no later than May 14, 2010. Pictures and video will be compiled into slide-shows and other dynamic media that can easily go viral, forwarded to both those in Iran and across the world, in a collective effort to bring the international community’s attention to the ongoing arbitrary imprisonment that these 7 Baha’i citizens have endured

Download the poster in PNG (high resolution)

Download a higher resolution picture of the 7 Baha’i leaders.