Seven Baha’i Leaders

We Support You!

Members of the national coordinating group of the Iranian Baha’i community

As the world has been focused on the current turmoil in Iran, there is mounting continued concern for the safety of the Baha’is in that country. The Bahá’ís of Arlington stand in support with the seven Bahá’í leaders in Iran who have been in prison for over a year without access to their lawyer, formal charges or even the merest semblance of a transparent and fair judicial process. These seven individual are scheduled to stand trial on July 11th on the blatantly false and trumped up charges of “espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” These charges carry the penalty of death. As Friday’s New York Times noted, “The Bahais have long served as the proverbial canaries in the coal mine of Iran’s theocracy.”

In striking comparison to the injustice perpetrated against the Bahá’ís in Iran, the Universal House of Justice, the supreme administrative body for the Bahá’ís of the World, released this open letter last week. We know that the religious persecution of the Bahá’ís at the hands of the Iranian government is not in line with the desire of the Iranian people, as was stated in an open letter titled “We are Ashamed” signed on to by more than 200 academics, writers, artists, journalists and Iranian activists.

We ask that you join us in praying for the release of these seven individuals, and for the Iranian people. We pray not only for the release of these seven prisoners, but that there will be security and freedom for all citizens of Iran.

U.S. Senate Support for Baha’is in Iran

ron_wydenUnited States Senator Ron Wyden introduced a Senate Resolution, S. Res. 71 on March 9 which addresses America’s concern over the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran. The other original cosponsors include Senators Brownback, Menendez, Snowe and Whitehouse. Please contact or write to your Senators, and urge them to cosponsor this very important legislation.

Below is an excerpt of Senator Wyden’s congressional testimony:

“Mr. President, I rise today to speak in support of a resolution that I am offering with my colleagues, Senators Brownback, Menendez, Snowe, and Whitehouse. This resolution condemns the Iranian government’s persecution of its own Baha’i community and urges the Obama administration to speak out strongly against this continued injustice.

The Baha’i Faith, the world’s youngest independent monotheistic religion, was founded in Iran in 1844. Today, it is practiced by more than 5 million people across the planet, from Bangalore, India to Beaverton, Oregon. Roughly 300,000 of these adherents still live in Iran. Although Baha’i teachings emphasize equality, unity, and peace, Iranian authorities have viewed the religion as an apostasy and have treated it as a threat since the beginning.

The current Islamic Republic has been particularly hostile to Baha’i practitioners since its establishment in 1979. In 1983, Iran’s government formally banned all Baha’i religious institutions and criminalized membership in them and service to them. The regime has officially recognized Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians as religious minorities. It refuses to extend this same status to the Baha’is, even though they make up Iran’s largest religious minority.”

The entire congressional testimony and the text of the resolution are available as a PDF by clicking here.

Local Response to the Situation in Iran

The Alexandria Gazette and the Mount Vernon Gazette both published articles on March 5th regarding the plight of the Bahá’ís in Iran, and specifically regarding the seven Bahá’í leaders who are imprisoned. There are ongoing prayer gatherings here in Arlington, as well as in Alexandria, Falls Church and Mount Vernon. For more information regarding these prayer gatherings and other upcoming events in this our area, please visit our Calendar of Events.

So what can we do locally?

1. Write to your local Representative and ask them to co-sponsor H.Res 175. Representative Jim Moran of Arlington was one of the original co-sponsors of this resolution that “Condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.”

2. Write to your Senators and ask them to pass a similar resolution in the Senate.

3. Attend a Prayer Gathering.

4. Watch an overview of the situation and express your concern on the Speak Out 4 Baha’is Website.

5. Use your talents to express your concern.  An example of this is the “Be Free Campaign” which has songs available for free download.

6. Join Facebook groups or other social networking groups related to the topic and express your concern. “Free 7 Baha’i Leaders in Iran” or “Prayer Chain for the Baha’is in Iran.”

7. Stay in formed – visit for the latest updates.

Update on the Situation in Iran

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.

You can read the full text of the letter from the Bahá’í International Community to Prosecutor General of the Islamic Republic of Iran here.