[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]
[Adapted from website:] HRANA - Human Rights Activists News Agency
[Date:] 27 Azar 1389 [18 December 2010]
HRANA: Plea For Justice From the Father of a Baha’i Arrested in Sari
My name is Ghanbar-Ali Ghanbari, father of Sabah (Omid) Ghanbari, a Baha’i resident of Sari, who has been arrested. I would like to inform you that on the morning of Thursday, 18 Azar 1389 [9 December 2010], a lack of response to several phone calls to my son’s shop, home and mobile phone caused me, his mother, and his sisters a great deal of concern. I went to his workplace and found out that his shop was closed, and our family’s worries and anxiety doubled. When I inquired of other shopkeepers in the passage, they told me that [between] 9:45 and 10:15, a group went to his shop and violently took him away.
Around that time, it was a group of intelligence agents who, without any official court order and without informing the family, took him from his workplace to the intelligence detention centre, which caused us a great deal of anxiety and distress. Since my son is not a member of any political, immoral or illegal group, this arrest made us more suspicious and increased our family’s concern.
When we referred to the Revolutionary Court of Sari, they stated that they had not received any written [order], and that his [my son’s] charges would be announced by Saturday. On Saturday, we went to the same court again, and when we were talking to the relevant inspector, three intelligence agents brought my son, handcuffed, into the court. They did not allow us to talk to him, and we could only see his face, for a moment and from a distance.
It should be noted that when my son entered the court, the intelligence agents, in a completely insulting manner, not only prevented us from approaching my son, but also did not allow us to park our car in the court alley, and with warnings and insults, prevented us from approaching our son. While my heart, his mother’s heart, and those of his sisters and some relatives were throbbing to see my son, we did not succeed in asking him how he was. When my son entered the court to find out about the charges that he had been accused of, we asked the intelligence officer who was present on the same floor as the court whether we could give my son some personal clothes and food, and he agreed that we could hand over the items to the accused my son as he left the court.
My daughters and I waited for him to come out of the courthouse, and when my dear Omid was leaving the courthouse again, in handcuffs and surrounded by defiant officers, we approached them as promised by the intelligence officer, to deliver the clothes and food, but these agents did not respect my white hair, and with a very rude tone, and with disrespect to my daughters, and even insulting our beliefs, prevented us from getting close to him.
When we insisted, “We are doing what you told us to do, and are doing our best to deliver the clothes and food”, and when my daughter tried to explain our request, one of the intelligence agents, without any reason, sprayed pepper spray directly onto my daughters’ faces, which irritated their eyes, mouths and faces.
Is this appropriate behaviour for the officials of a justice-seeking country? Is this the same good morality that is so much mentioned in Islam? Was our request against the law and the promise of the intelligence agents? [I leave it for] the fair-minded people to judge.
After this incident, we were unable to visit my son, and we could not find out about his wellbeing. They quickly put my son into a car and left the place.
Unfortunately, our society lacks the rule of law. After these incidents, we went to the court investigator again and mentioned the disrespect of the officers, but with the utmost regret, the investigator, without any comment on this issue, went back to his work indifferently. When we asked him what crime our son [had been] accused of, the interrogator, with indifference, said that his accusations were not our business and we did not count. Despite all our efforts, we had to leave the court in sorrow.
But this matter did not end there. Around noon that day, my son called his mother-in-law from the intelligence service office and, against his will, under pressure from the agents, demanded that his wife surrender herself to the intelligence office. Despite the fact that his wife and his mother-in-law were not in good physical condition, the agents continuously contacted them with repeated threats. These incidents increased their anxiety and physical weakness day by day.
Do you think it is illegal for his wife to refuse to go without an official [court] order? Is it legal to force a spouse to comply with their illegal demands by making threatening calls and putting families under pressure and stress?
We leave it to you to answer. That is why we went to the court investigator and seriously stated that we would not allow our daughter-in-law to come to them, until they presented a formal court summons, since she had been entrusted to us by my son.
We filed many lawsuits after these events with the government agencies, including the courts, prosecutors, governor general and governorate and ... and as usual, no responses were received, and no actions were taken by these organizations. They said, “The Intelligence Office is more important than all other government organizations and government centres.”
These oppressions, threats and insults made my eight-year-old grandson ill; due to his intense attachment to his uncle and the worries that inflicted our family, he became so distressed that he could not eat for three days, to the extent that the doctor of my dear grandson asked, “What has this eight-year-old child gone through that caused him ‘inner sorrow’ and affected his respiratory system and larynx?”
I am telling you this to let you know the severity of the psychological stress imposed on us and our family. It should be mentioned that, on 28 Mehr 1389 [20 October 2010], nine intelligence agents entered the workplace of my dear son Omid without any official court order, and searched his shop. For no reason, they took his business purchase invoices and daily sales records and the wall clock of his shop, which was decorated with the verse “Ya Allah u’l-Mustaghath [He Who is invoked for help]”. Then, with my son in their car, they went to his house and with utmost disrespect and insult to his Baha’i beliefs and the sacred Baha’i objects and principles, and dishonouring and disrespecting my daughter-in -law, entered all the private parts of their home and took all of my son’s religious books and papers, as well as some of his personal belongings, such as the CDs [containing the video] of his wedding and celebrations and family photos of my son and my daughter-in-law’s diary that had nothing to do with them, and also took with them a computer case full of personal information.
After my son repeatedly followed up, in order to get back his personal films and other belongings, no action was taken and two days after the search of the shop and home, my daughter-in-law, who worked in a guild company, was fired without any reason. The [manager] of the company said, “I am very satisfied with your work, but I can no longer allow you to work here.”
Since my daughter-in-law is a Muslim girl, even prior to their marriage, they [the couple] were interrogated separately by intelligence agents. Three times, my son was summoned and interrogated. Repeatedly, he was put under pressure and questioned about his beliefs, as well as his interest in a Muslim girl. In addition, three times, they summoned my daughter-in-law to the intelligence headquarters, for the same interrogations. During the last interrogation, she was detained for six hours and was subjected to psychological as well as physical blows.
These pressures not only did not diminish the love between these two young people and their interest in each other, but they also intensified their love for each other, because, with these investigations they realized that not only are Baha’is not infidels and apostates, but they themselves have an independent religion that worships “One God”, and there is nothing in their teachings but love, kindness, and service. Both families had given their official and legal consent for their marriage; these two youths were married in a legal way and according to the national custom, and there is no doubt about the validity of their marriage.
These days are holy days in the month of Muharram and the [commemoration of the] martyrdom of Imam Husayn (PBUH). Do not those who oppress innocent people such as my son, only for their personal prominence, remember the oppressions endured by Imam Husayn? Will they have any answer for the divine questions in the hereafter? Can they answer the tears of a concerned mother and the sorrows of an anxious father?
The only thing that can comfort and reassure a 69-year-old father and his 68-year-old wife is the statement of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) who said, “Fear the curse of the oppressed, even if he is an infidel, since no veil can cover up the sorrows of the oppressed.” (Nahj al-Fesaha, paragraph 48, translated by Abul-Ghasem Payandeh). Also, God has “pledged not to forgive any man’s injustice”.
In 1360 , when I was dismissed from my work due to my [Baha’i] beliefs, I did not think that those misunderstandings would continue until the time of my children. But now I see that my 30-year-old son is somehow under the same oppressions.
We have chosen the most peaceful way to appeal and seek justice from the authorities, and so far, we have patiently endured what has befallen us, in order to prove, in practice, that we believe in the “unity of mankind and universal peace.”
Source of News: HRANA