In Koolina this weekend several Baha’i’s and friends of the Faith gathered to pay tribute to seven Baha’i leaders who have been falsely imprisoned in Iran for the past 5 years.

In 2008 a series of anti-Baha’i rallies was organized and several Baha’i homes were raided and Baha’is were arrested on false charges.

Today, there are over 100 Baha’i’s imprisoned in Iran because of their religious affiliation. The tribute that took place in Ko’Olina on Saturday consisted of white roses, displayed photos, chanting prayers and a lovely blessing by Auntie Nettie who graciously provided use of her private lagoon. 

The seven Baha’i leaders honored were Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, Mr. Vahid Tizfahm and Mrs. Mahvash Sabet who were arrested on May 14, 2008 with the exception of Mrs. Mahvash Sabet who had been detained two months earlier on March 5, 2008.

On August 8, 2010, these Baha’i leaders each received a 20-year sentence. According to the Baha’i World News Service, the trial of the seven consisted of six brief court appearances which began on January 12, 2010, after they had already been incarcerated without charge for 20 months, which during that time they were only allowed barely one hour access to their legal counsel.

The defendants were accused of espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, and the establishment of an illegal administration, among other allegations. All the charges are completely and categorically denied.

These mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters are currently enduring unimaginable conditions in two of Iran’s notorious prisons. The five men are incarcerated at Gohardasht prison in the city named Karaj, an overcrowded, unsanitary and dangerous prison. The two women are in Evin Prison which is located at the foot of the Alborz mountains, northwestern Tehran. This is where they lock up political prisoners. They are subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation, they have no beds and the cells they live in are of a rancid smell. Light? There is no light. There condition is inhumane.

This harassment doesn’t stop and even continues outside their prison walls reaching their relatives.The countless interrogations and attacks are inhumane.

There are five hundred fifty more who have cases pending in the ‘judicial’ system in Iran. Three of those in prison are mothers who have been imprisoned WITH THEIR INFANTS, each under a year old.

Throughout the years the U.N. Secretary General has released reports criticizing human rights abuses in Iran. As has Assistant Secretary Michael H. Posner.

Iran’s government continues to systematically violate religious freedoms including unnecessary detainment, torture and execution of not only Baha’i’s but of Christians, Jews, Apostasy (conversion from Islam), Sunni Muslims, Zoroastrians, Sabean Mandeans, and Sufi’s.

The U.S. government should continue to raise awareness about the severe religious freedom abuses in Iran. Please call Congressional representatives to ask them to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 75 and House Resolution 109. This legislation asks Congress to press the president and the secretary of state to pressure the government of Iran to meet its obligations in relation to the International Covenants on Human Rights, and end state-sponsored persecution of the Baha’i religious minority in Iran.

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About the author: Neda Najibi is an accomplished author, poet, and journalist. She has more than 17 years experience in both the media and corporate world. Her media career launched in 1995 when she covered Ross Perot’s visit to Los Angeles and her story along with her colleagues made them recipients of the Edward R. Murrow Award. Najibi covered the O.J. Simpson verdict and aftermath and also appeared on Nightline with Ted Koppel and the Goldman family. She was also an anchor and reporter for an ABC affiliate radio station (KLBJ in Austin) and worked as the Associate Producer for a CBS TV affiliate (K-EYE in Austin) and was the Host for ‘All Things Considered’ on Hawaii Public Radio in 2002, 2003 and most recently was asked to return on-call (2013).

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