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Behind Bars: Baha’is Imprisoned for Beliefs

Kit Bigelow | May 14, 2013

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Kit Bigelow | May 14, 2013

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Women. Journalists. Lawyers. Political activists. Netizens. Human rights defenders. Ethnic minorities. Religious minorities. Believers.

Believers in Christianity, believers in Sunni Islam, believers in the Baha’i Faith.

What do all of these individuals have in common? They are prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Their plights are documented by the United Nations, the world’s governments, and by non-governmental organizations:

UN – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

US Department of State – International Religious Freedom Report for 2011

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center – Baha’i

Today — Tuesday, May 14, 2013 — marks five full years in prison for seven of these prisoners:

The Seven Baha’is in prison (Yaran)

Fariba Kamalabadi
Jamaloddin Khanjani
Afif Naeimi
Saeid Rezaie
Mahvash Sabet
Behrouz Tavakkoli
Vahid Tizfahm

These seven innocent people formed the Yaran, the leadership group for the Baha’i community of Iran, that country’s largest religious minority.

They went to prison for one reason only: their belief in the Baha’i Faith. If they were willing to recant their Faith, they could be released from prison; they could be reunited with their families and hug again their children; they could sleep again on beds; they could eat healthy food to regain their strength; they could receive urgent and necessary medical attention.

They, and the more than 100 other Baha’is currently in Iranian prisons, will not recant their faith. They believe in God and they believe that Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, is the most recent Manifestation of God. They believe Baha’u’llah brought a Message destined to unite humanity and the planet.

They cannot deny what they believe to be the truth. They will not recant but will remain firm in their faith despite the hardships, despite the injustice.

For they believe that each human being has the right to believe in God as he or she chooses — and as is codified in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, a Declaration adopted by Iran and 47 other countries in December 1948:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. (Article 18)

They also believe in these words of Baha’u’llah:

The first and foremost duty prescribed unto men, next to the recognition of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, is the duty of steadfastness in His Cause. Cleave thou unto it, and be of them whose minds are firmly fixed and grounded in God. No act, however meritorious, did or can ever compare unto it. It is the king of all acts, and to this thy Lord, the All-Highest, the Most Powerful, will testify. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 290.

Today – all around the world- supporters of human dignity, human rights and the basic human freedom to worship are contacting their government representatives to ask them to press for the release of the Baha’is and all other prisoners of conscience in Iran. Please join us and do everything you can to end this terrible injustice.

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