Global Solidarity with seven imprisoned Iranian Bahá’ís

Posted: 2015/06/17
Banner image in the campaign marking the 7th anniversary of the imprisonment of the Yaran. (Photo: Baha'i World News Service)

Banner image in the campaign marking the 7th anniversary of the imprisonment of the Yaran. (Photo: Baha’i World News Service)

A global campaign to call attention to the long and unjust imprisonment of seven Bahá’í leaders spawned a worldwide outcry on the seventh anniversary of their arrest, reports the Bahá’í World News Service. From simple village assembly halls to government chambers, individuals and groups raised their voices to denounce the unjust incarceration of the seven, along with the 110 other Bahá’ís currently jailed for their religious beliefs and other prisoners of conscience in Iran.

“We were touched by the depth and heart with which people around the world, from so many different backgrounds and experiences, came together in support of the seven wrongfully imprisoned Bahá’í leaders in Iran,” said Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Bahá’í International Community’s United Nations Office, which coordinated the campaign.

“The degree to which people everywhere understand the magnitude of injustice experienced by Iranian Bahá’í citizens as a result of government policy was truly highlighted by this campaign. We can see their support in not only the official statements that the campaign generated, but also the songs, poems, personal stories and other demonstrations of solidarity it produced. The suffering of the Bahá’ís is mirrored in that of other religious minorities and free-thinkers in Iran. An improvement in conditions for the Bahá’í community will signal a greater respect for the human rights of all citizens,” said Ms. Dugal.

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The Yaran, top from left, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Mahvash Sabet; bottom left, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Saeid Rezaie and Afif Naeimi. (Photo: Bahá’í World News Service)

The campaign took the theme “Seven Days in Remembrance of Seven Years in Prison for the Seven Bahá’í Leaders.” Each day of the week-long campaign, starting 14 May 2015, was dedicated to one member of the seven: Mahvash Sabet, Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli and Vahid Tizfahm.

The campaign prompted numerous articles in the news media, statements of support from senior government officials, parliamentarians, and human rights organizations, and hundreds if not thousands of events and observances organized by individuals and groups around the world to honor the seven.

In moving displays of sympathy and unity with the imprisoned Bahá’í leaders, relatives and friends of the seven posted numerous personal accounts and recollections. The niece of Saeid Rezaie, Pooneh Heidarieh, recorded a video honoring her uncle. Other video interviews with relatives of Fariba Kamalabadi and Behrouz Tavakkoli, were also widely distributed. A number of relatives of the seven were quoted in an extensive article on Iranwire.

The campaign was most visible on social media, using the hashtag #7Bahais7years. Two Facebook event pages in English and Persian also served as rallying points for the campaign.

“What was most inspiring about this global campaign was that it highlighted, through a vibrant social media community, the injustices faced by the seven imprisoned Bahá’e saw messages, videos, and images on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter from nearly every continent, displaying a wide variety of creative expression,” said Ms. Dugal.

To read more about the response to this campaign, visit: http://news.bahai.org/story/1056.