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.