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“Not Another Year” campaign launched

“Not Another Year” campaign launched for seven imprisoned Iranian Baha’i leaders

Auckland, New Zealand (Friday 12 May 2017)

The long-running imprisonment of seven innocent Iranian men and women is once again drawing international attention. Now in their ninth year of incarceration, the group, known as the Yaran, were the ad hoc appointed leaders of the Iranian Baha'i community, which has undergone severe persecution since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, says spokesperson for the NZ Baha'i Community, Mr Paddy Payne. “They were rounded up by Iranian authorities and thrown into the infamous Evin prison solely because of their religious beliefs.”

Mr Payne said that the seven were eligible for conditional release four years ago, but were denied this form of parole without explanation. Of further concern is the refusal to provide proper medical treatment for severe health problems that many of them have faced. Exacerbating the difficulties is the fact that other, mostly younger, relatives, have also been swept up in Iran’s campaign against Baha’is. “It is a bizarre aspect of Iran’s persistent persecution of Baha’is that it has now, after nearly 40 years, become an inter-generational assault.”

From New York, the Baha'i International Community will launch a global campaign, starting May 12 and running a full year. The campaign's primary theme is “Not Another Year!” It aims to ensure that the Yaran are released on their 10th anniversary, if not sooner. Mr Payne said the underlying call for their immediate release will continue to be a key message of the campaign and to that end we will continue to use the social media hashtag #releaseBahai7now. “This call will be supported by a focus on the missing years that these valiant individuals have been prevented from experiencing because of their unjust imprisonment.”

Examples of the deprivations the seven have suffered over the past nine years include:

Jamaloddin Khanjani and his wife, Ashraf, were married for 50 years. They raised four children. In 2008 he was thrown in jail for being a Baha’i. Four years later, Ashraf died without her husband by her side. Jamaloddin wasn’t even allowed to attend her funeral. I can’t think of a more heartless punishment. He must be released now.

When his niece announced her marriage in Germany, Saed Rezaie promised to bring her a wedding veil from Iran. Instead, he was arrested for his beliefs just months before. It must have been terrible to celebrate the wedding of a loved one, a friend or family member while suffering such an unjust loss of a family member.

Afif Naeimi wanted to become a doctor. Instead, he was jailed for his beliefs, and denied proper medical care when he became seriously ill. Belief is no excuse to incarcerate a person. Being denied healthcare because of your religion is inhumane.

Fariba Kamalabadi was thrown in jail when her daughter was 12 years old. Any law-abiding parent should have the right to be there for every important moment in their child’s life: first day of school, new friendships, graduation, wedding, grandchildren. Today, she is 21. Fariba has missed nine years of her daughter’s life only because of her beliefs. She must be released now.

Mahvash Sabet wasn’t allowed to enrol in university because she is a Baha’i. She didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her dreams of becoming a writer. Her poetry has been recognized by PEN International. I can only imagine what her full contribution could have been to the world. Instead, because of her beliefs, she’s behind bars.

Behrooz Tavakkoli has never met his grandchildren. For the past nine years, he has only heard about them from prison. He is being kept from his family solely based on his beliefs. This injustice is heart-breaking.

Vahid Tizfahm was not allowed to go to university because he is a Baha’i. After spending 9 years in prison, he’s watching from behind bars as his 18-year-old son prepares to graduate high school. Vahid’s son should be getting ready to go to university. But he, too, has been denied access because of his faith. Now two generations are deprived of education and the opportunity to contribute to their full potential for the betterment of society.

The New Zealand Baha'i community has joined the new global campaign.


//ENDS//

A special campaign page has been established with information about their current legal situation and other resources https://www.bic.org/not-another-year-9th-campaign/not-another-year, including a Facebook page www.facebook.com/SituationBahaisIran.

#ReleaseBahai7Now


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