Campaign against harassment of Bahais (facebook), April 18, 2015.
The campaign ‘Remember the Yaran’ is drawing attention to the oppression and persecution of the Bahais in Iran. The facebook group “Campaign to stop the harassment and imprisonment of Baha’i citizens” intends to mark the seventh anniversary of the arrest of seven Bahais known as the Yaran, or Friends, who served as national facilitators assisting the Bahais of Iran in their dealings with government organs. The facebook group supports the ‘Remember the Yaran’ campaign and request the immediate release of the seven Yaran.
They ask all those who support justice and oppose oppression in Iran to support ‘Remember the Yaran’ by publishing photos of your pleas for the release of the Yaran. Those who wish to participate can send a photo of themselves with a sheet of paper bearing the words, “7 years have passed: remember the Yaran,” or write this on the palm of their hands, and send the picture to the facebook page (the link is above). Those who wish to try this in Persian can copy the example below.
Those who do not wish to be identified by using an image of their face, can send a photo of the paper or the writing on their palm, in such a way that they cannot be identified.
Seven years ago, the seven ‘Yaran’ were sentenced to 20 years in prison, there the conditions are unacceptable, and they have been denied prison furloughs. Our aim in this campaign is to be the voice of the people of Iran, and the voice of the religious minorities who suffer oppression and persecution under the present government of Iran. So we would like the support of as many as possible of the people, and minorities, of Iran. The Yaran, and other prisoners of conscience will certainly hear of our support, and know that the people have not forgotten them.
On 5 March 2008, Mahvash Sabet – a schoolteacher and mother of two – was arrested having been summoned to the Iranian city of Mashhad to discuss some matters regarding a Bahai burial. Two months later, on 14 May, the other six “Yaran” (national-level facilitators for Iran’s Baha’i community) were arrested in raids of their homes. The names of these six are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm.
After twenty months in prison without charge, a trial began on January 12, 2010. Throughout their long wait for justice, the seven had received barely one hour’s access to their legal counsel, and suffered appalling treatment and deprivations, including psychological and physical hardship. They were charged with espionage, propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and the establishment of an illegal administration – charges that were all rejected completely and categorically by the defendants. The trial of the seven Baha’i leaders ended on 14 June 2010 after six brief sessions, characterized by their lack of due legal process.
The initial sentence of 20 years imprisonment for each of the defendants, met with outrage and condemnation throughout the world. One month later, the appeal court revoked three of the charges and reduced their sentence to 10-year jail terms. In March 2011, the prisoners were informed that their original 20-year sentences were reinstated. Notwithstanding repeated requests, neither the prisoners nor their attorneys have ever received official copies of the original verdict or the ruling on appeal.
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