Urgent Appeal: Concern Grows Over Prison Transfers of Iran’s 7 Baha’i Leaders

Feb 18, 20110 comments

Send an e-letter urging world leaders & UN officials to help Iran’s 7 Baha’i leaders.

The seven Baha'i prisoners, photographed several months before their arrest, are, in front, Behrouz Tavakkoli and Saeid Rezaie, and, standing, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, and Mahvash Sabet.

The Baha’i International Community has provided updates and requests urgent actions regarding Iran’s 7 Baha’i leaders, who have been detained since 2008 and unjustly charged with 10 year prison sentences due to their faith. The 7 Baha’i leaders are

  • Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi
  • Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani
  • Mr. Afif Naeimi
  • Mr. Saeid Rezaie
  • Mrs. Mahvash Sabet
  • Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli
  • Mr. Vahid Tizfahm

As previously reported, in August 2010 (immediately following issuance of the verdict, while the cases were still under appeal), the seven Bahá’ís were transferred from Evin prison to Gohardasht prison in Karaj, a facility with appalling conditions.  Over the past few weeks, they have been moved from the quarters they had occupied since their arrival there.  The circumstances of the transfer have further heightened our concerns for their personal security. On 23 January 2011, the five men were moved to “Section 4” of the prison, which houses political prisoners.  Three of them are being held in one cell, with the other two sharing another cell.  There are only two beds in these cells, so one of the men has to sleep on the floor each night.  Inmates in this part of the prison are permitted to go into the prison yard for fresh air only at designated times, whereas previously they could do so whenever they wished.  It also seems that inmates confined to the political wing are under much closer surveillance by the Intelligence Ministry than the general prison population. On 12 February 2011, the two women were transferred to “Section 200” of the prison, two floors below the area where they had been held since their arrival at Gohardasht.  The situation in Section 200 is far more brutal than the (already very harsh) conditions that the two women have faced thus far.  We do not know with certainty why the women were moved, but reports indicate that, since they have been in Gohardasht, they have been a source of comfort and hope to their fellow inmates, and the number of prisoners who sought them out had increased over time.  This had become so conspicuous that the authorities made a general announcement to the prison population that they were to avoid contact with the two Bahá’í women.  Undeterred, many prisoners continued to visit them.  On 12 February, prison officials informed Mrs. Kamalabadi and Mrs. Sabet that they were being moved because they had been “teaching” their Faith to other inmates.  They were also told that the inmates in Section 200 had been “warned” about them before the transfer. We are appealing for urgent action on your part because there are some indications that the lives of Mrs. Kamalabadi and Mrs. Sabet may be in danger.  In this wing of the prison there is a great deal of tension and animosity among the inmates, such that the atmosphere is highly charged. Shortly after the transfer, Mrs. Kamalabadi was physically threatened by a large group of fellow prisoners.  The BIC continues to express grave concerned that the transfer may have been orchestrated as a means of creating an insecure environment that could threaten the lives or physical well-being of the two women. We encourage everyone to take a couple minutes to and send an e-letter to world leaders and UN officials urging them to take action. The e-letter can be found here. Last May, in order to highlight two-years since being detained, the international community came together and created a project to replicate the 7 Baha’i leaders’ prison conditions. The video is below.