Prayer For My Daughter

My younger daughter has had this beautiful prayer hanging on the wall of her room since she was a baby-

O Thou peerless Lord! Let this suckling babe be nursed from the breast of Thy loving-kindness, guard it within the cradle of Thy safety and protection and grant that it be reared in the arms of Thy tender affection. 

‘Abdu’l-Bahá 

Urgent Appeal By The Baha’is Of Shiraz

By the Baha’is of Shiraz 

The Baha’is imprisoned in Shiraz are being kept under inhumane conditions. They are being held in small cells, in solitary confinement. These cells are about 2.2 meters x 2.2 meters wide, with an open washroom at the corner, and without any sort of windows, openings or ventilation system. Their bedding consists merely of two blankets on the cement prison floor. At present, there are seven Baha’is detained in the city of Shiraz.

Among them, the situation of Haleh Houshamandi-Salehi (arrested March 18, 2009), is the gravest (see http://www.iranpresswatch.org/2009/04/serious-health/). She has a heart ailment, and her physician has stated that any stress or trauma will have an extremely serious impact on her health. Under the intense psychological and physical stress of solitary confinement and ongoing interrogation, she has developed numbness on the left side of her body to the point at which she could not get up from the floor. After 22 days in solitary confinement, the authorities transferred Halah Ruhi (detained since October 2007), to Haleh’s cell. Although Haleh Houshamandi-Salehi is being given some medication in the prison, she is in urgent need of proper medical care and the attention of a heart specialist. Her family has taken her medical records to the detention centre, hoping for compassion and understanding.

However, in response to her family’s ongoing inquiries into Haleh’s condition, the judiciary investigator recently said: “What happens if one of you dies — the fewer the better”.

Haleh Houshmadi-Salehi’s 8-year old son, Sooren, traumatized by the raid on his home and the detainment of his mother, often bursts into tears. The mothers of his classmates help their children with their homework, drop them off and pick them up from school, but the authorities have left Sooren without his mother. He says, “I feel like crying, but I try very hard and stop myself. I worry that my classmates will make fun of me”. He often asks when his mother will be home, but no one has any answers to comfort this broken-hearted child.

On April 4, bail was set by the Prosecutor General of Fars province for the release of four of the prisoners arrested in the last two months. However, the judiciary investigator stated that under no conditions would he accept the instructions of the Prosecutor General and allow these Baha’is to be discharged on bail (see, http://www.iranpresswatch.org/2009/04/imprisoned-bahais-barred/).

A few days ago, an arrest order was briefly shown to a Baha’i who was being questioned by Islamic authorities. The arrest order was entitled: Arrest Warrant for all Connected Individuals. This revelation is very alarming, as it indicates the authorities’ intentions to use such wide-reaching statements to justify numerous arrests. With such a vague and ambiguous warrant, any and all family members or friends of the detained Baha’is may be considered “connected individuals”, and any Baha’i may be considered a “connected individual” by virtue of their faith and their common beliefs. Their use of elusive terminology on warrants allows them to detain, question and arrest any individual for any period of time at will, and without any further justification or clarification.  

It is the urgent hope of the detainees’ families that the ongoing attacks against Baha’is be stopped, and that their loved ones, detained solely because of their beliefs, are released.

Source: http://www.iranpresswatch.org/2009/04/urgent-appeal/

 

Spurious Charges To Be Levied Against Baha’is In Iran

I am concerned to read the following article by Bijan Masumian of Iran Press  Watch.

The news coming out of Iran indicates that at some time in the future, the Islamic Republic government intends to put the seven leaders of the Iranian Baha’i community on trial.  The group, which includes two women, has been in “temporary” custody for over ten months.  The official charges are:

  1. Espionage for the state of Israel: a sentence that could carry the death penalty
  2. Activities against the Islamic regime
  3. Insulting government authorities

More than likely, the trial will be conducted behind closed doors, so neutral observers will not be able to watch the Iranian judicial system make a mockery of justice.  Ironically, the cost of taking the Baha’i leaders through a show trial would be quite high for the government.  Global coverage of news having to do with the persecution of Baha’is has been on a steady rise in the past few years.  In the process, increasing numbers of Iranian groups and media outlets have risen to the defense of Iran’s largest religious minority.  The highly publicized open letter of apology recently issued by a group of Iranian professionals that included political activists, poets, musicians, actors, and others was a clear indication of the increasing cost the regime will have to incur if it continues to disregard public opinion and carry on repressive measures against its largest religious minority.  Even inside Iran, certain members of the clerical establishment as well as Iranian students and university professors have demanded justice for the Bahá’ís in public seminars.

While the likely scenario of a closed-door trial for the Baha’i leaders has its cost, the alternative would come at a much higher cost: allowing the internationally known and respected Noble Laureate, Shirin Ebadi, to publicly grill the Islamic Revolutionary Court and an Islamic judge who has little to no experience in contemporary legal proceedings, who would thus prove no match for Ebadi’s expert defense.

While all three charges are trumped up, the most serious is the first: that of espionage.  According to the Islamic penal code, spying for a foreign country is considered treason and could carry the death penalty.  In fact, only a few months ago an Iranian Jewish merchant was executed in Iran on the same charge.

Since 1979, numerous Iranian Baha’is, young and old, men and women have been accused of espionage for Israel.  Yet, in none of the cases has the government produced a shred of evidence.  They have never bothered to explain to an inquiring world what kind of “spy” was an eighty-five-year-old man like ‘Abdu’l-Vahab Kazemi of Yazd who had never set foot outside his village.  Or what kinds of espionage activities the 17-year old Mona Mahmudnizhad and nine other Baha’i women from Shiraz had committed for which they were eventually hanged, despite international appeals to save their lives.  Mona’s real “crime” was teaching ethics to Baha’i children in Sunday school.  The same preposterous charge of espionage for Israel was also leveled against Baha’i farmers of the villages of Afus, Chigan, Qal’ih Malik (near Isfahan), and from the village of Nuk in Birjand.  The outlandish nature of these accusations is simply remarkable.

Nonetheless, times have changed.  In the 1980s, when these crimes were committed against a defenseless community, there was no internet and no social networking sites.  Thus, the infrastructure for grassroots movements was not nearly as robust as it is today.  Therefore, while the Islamic Republic could come out of those unjustified killings relatively unscathed, it is now becoming virtually impossible for them to continue that practice.  Every time a Baha’i or any other Iranian is arrested on unfounded charges, the news is global within hours. Thousands of concerned citizens from all walks of life and different corners of the earth stand up and demand justice in a wide variety of forums and blogs.  Thus, the cost of administering injustice is becoming prohibitive.  Regarding the Baha’i “dilemma”: while the official policy of the Islamic Republic has been to “fight their cultural influence” both inside and outside Iran, in reality this is proving to be a losing battle.  The clerical establishment began its anti-Babi, anti-Baha’i activities over 160 years ago.  If the most brutal and inhumane killings of thousands of members of a relatively small population of Babis and Baha’is across Persia in the 1800s and early 1900s could not “solve” this “dilemma”, then where does the optimism to wipe out a now global community of 5-6 million people come from?

Yet, there is hope that the imminent trial of Baha’i leaders may prove to be the tipping point for this losing battle.  The Islamic government of Iran may finally realize that public awareness of the situation of Baha’is both inside and outside Iran is reaching the boiling point.  Therefore, they should either release these individuals or produce reliable evidence against them.  While producing fabricated evidence against others may be a relatively easy undertaking inside Iran, the litmus test for the government would be to allow any potential evidence against Baha’i leaders be examined by an impartial court of law — something the Islamic government is highly unlikely to accept.

Source: http://www.iranpresswatch.org/2009/04/trial-no-win/