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Vigil held for 10 women executed in Iran

Tuesday night’s candle-lit vigil in Aotea Square drew a crowd of 150 people who braved the weather to commemorate the 30th anniversary of 10 women executed in Shiraz, Iran, in 1983.

In his opening address, David Warren of the NZ Bahá’í community said “on the 18th June 1983 10 Bahá'í women were executed by hanging in Shiraz, Iran. The government of Iran had banned Bahá'í children from attending school – an action that was but one of numerous breaches of the Human Rights of Iran’s largest religious minority, the Bahá'í community. It was within this context, the banning of Bahá'í children from attending school, the denial of the right to education, that the 10 women of Shiraz conducted children’s classes. This was their “crime”, teaching children”.

The programme included an ethereal chant by Kaveh, who was a refugee himself 12 years ago when his family escaped Iran. Kaveh said the event was truly wonderful. “I feel so honoured for having contributed to the program. It's remarkable how such gatherings help us increasingly recognise the degree in which those luminous souls continue to inspire us and enrich our lives with lessons of detachment, love, sacrifice, faith and much more” said Kaveh.

The moving tribute was witnessed by Mr Husseini who knew these women before their deaths, and who was overcome with emotion. As the names of the 10 women were read out the crowd stood in silence and then laid their candles on the stairs in front of the portraits held by ten youth. In a sea of umbrellas sheltering the crowd that braved the weather the glow of the candle light shone out from Aotea Square.

With the candle-lit vigil concluded, Coordinator Mrs Chan says it is hoped that more people will be inspired to work towards human rights. “As long as injustice continues in Iran for Bahá'ís the New Zealand Bahá'í community will continue to draw attention to these human rights abuses”, says Mrs Chan. A campaign to raise awareness of the systematic cradle-to-grave, state-sponsored persecution of Bahá'ís of Iran is being launched in Auckland in August.

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