On March 4, the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) sent an open letter to the Prosecutor General of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding the upcoming trial of the seven leaders of Iran’s Bahá’í community. Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, Mr. Vahid Tizfahm and Mrs. Mahvash Sabet have been detained for over 9 months without access to legal council. In its letter, the Bahá’í community stated that the Iranian Bahá’ís are willing to close down the national and local ad hoc groups in order “to demonstrate yet again the goodwill that the Baha’is have consistently shown to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the past thirty years.” These groups were created to deal with the needs of the 300,000 Bahá’ís in Iran, Iran’s largest minority religious community.
Since then, on March 6, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported that:
“The file of the seven accused Baha’is will go to court soon. The Deputy Public Prosecutor of Tehran commented about the illegal administration of the Baha’i sect that has been engaged in illegal activities. He stated, ‘The charges against these individuals are formation of illegal administration and espionage for the foreign nations. The case against the seven accused has been prepared, and likely will go to court for indictment next week.’”
Since 1983, the pastoral care of the Bahá’í community in Iran has been provided by ad hoc groups. They facilitate the marriage of young couples, the education of children and the burial of the dead in conformity with the tenets of the Bahá’í Faith. In the rest of the world, the spiritual and social needs of Bahá’í communities are tended to by democratically elected Local Spiritual Assemblies and National Spiritual Assemblies. In 1983, the Prosecutor General of Iran called for the dismantling of this administrative structure and the Bahá’ís complied as a demonstration of goodwill towards the government and obedience to the laws of the land. Since then, Iranian government agencies have had regular contact with the national and local ad hoc groups that the Bahá’ís subsequently established and were aware of their activities.