Bahá’í leaders in Iran imprisoned for 10,000 days
The plight of Iran’s seven imprisoned Bahá’í leaders has been capturing the public’s attention in London and 11 other major cities across the world, where a day of action marked the combined total of 10,000 days that the seven have so far spent in prison.
In an initiative coordinated by human rights organization United4Iran, the image of the seven was widely displayed on Sunday 1 April – on mobile billboards, buses, bicycles, a canal boat, and T-shirts.
The billboard image of the Bahá’í leaders was made up of a mosaic of smaller photographs of hundreds of people currently jailed in Iran including journalists, trade unionists, politicians, student and women’s activists, and religious leaders.
“The plight of these seven is representative of the countless Iranian men and women who have been jailed for defending their freedom and human rights,” said Firuzeh Mahmoudi, United4Iran’s director and founder.
“Our message to the seven is this: The world has not forgotten you, and we will continue to fight for your freedom and that of other Iranian prisoners of conscience.”
Showing solidarity in London…
Groups of individuals gathered around London’s most famous sites to express their solidarity with those who are unjustly imprisoned in Iran.
The billboard image was driven around key landmarks including the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, and Westminster Abbey, to raise awareness of Iran’s unfolding human rights tragedy.
A video documenting the event can be viewed here.
…and across the world
In New Delhi, India, around 200 campaigners carrying banners marched across the city in an action that was co-supported by the Trans Asia Alliance and the Asian Center for Human Rights.
The Center’s director Suhas Chakma said, “Iran has failed to respect international human rights standards on fair trial and therefore must release the seven unconditionally.”
In South Africa, buses displaying the image of the seven prisoners followed routes in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria.
A large truck bearing the same image toured Brazil’s federal capital, Brasilia. Brazilian supporters wore T-shirts that spelled out “Libertem Baha’is Irã” (“Free Bahá’ís Iran”).
In Berlin, Germany, the picture of the seven was displayed around the city on special bicycles. The initiative was launched by German Member of Parliament Serkan Tören, who is a Muslim of Turkish origin.
“I urge the Iranian Government to grant the Bahá’í Faith community the right of religious freedom to which Iran has an obligation under international law. I urge the international community to maintain pressure on Iran in order to fulfil its international obligation,” said Mr Tören.
In the Netherlands, the poster of the prisoners travelled by barge on Amsterdam’s canals while mobile billboards also generated interest as they toured Sydney (Australia), Paris (France), Wellington (New Zealand), and Washington D.C. (U.S.A).
Innocent Bahá’í prisoners
The seven Bahá’í prisoners are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm. Prior to their arrests in 2008, they were members of an ad-hoc national-level group which attended to the spiritual and social needs of Iran’s Bahá’í community. They are each serving 20-year jail terms handed down after six brief court sessions characterized by a lack of due legal process. The seven categorically denied such charges as espionage, propaganda against the Islamic republic and the establishment of an illegal administration.
“The seven were, and remain, totally innocent of any wrongdoing,” said Bani Dugal, the Bahá’í International Community’s principal representative to the United Nations.
“Ten thousand days of their lives have literally been stolen from them forever – days which they would have dedicated to the service of their fellow countrymen,” she said. “The day is long overdue when these prisoners are freed to be able to make their contribution to the country they love.”