[Newspaper:] Bournemouth & Dorset Times

[Date:] Friday, 30 April 1982

[Issue No:] 8207


Widows escape from tyranny

By David Haith

Two widows, who fearing death, fled from Iran after their husbands were executed, have found refuge in Bournemouth.

And, "happy to be in a country of freedom," they talked for the first time of their escape from tyranny.

Sisters-in-law Manijeh and Nora Azizi are both Baha'is and it was for following this faith which upholds the unity of all religions, that their husbands were persecuted and finally executed by the Iranian Islamic regime.

The businessmen brothers, 51-year-old Jalal and 61-year-old Eskandar, belonged to Baha'i organising assemblies in Teheran and it was at separate meetings that revolutionary guardsmen burst in, arrested and then jailed the members present.

Within a few weeks all had been shot.

But although Manijeh and Nora heard grim rumours they couldn’t be certain until in secret they went to a cemetery and found their husbands' gravestones.

Manijeh, 43, told me: "We were also given information that we were on a list of people to be killed. So we left our homes and found refuge with friends. It was all done under a cloak of secrecy. Soon afterwards our houses were ransacked and all our belongings confiscated by the government."

It would only have been a matter of time before the soldiers tracked them down so they secretly made up an escape party including Nora's 32-year-old son, his wife and their child, and some other members of the Azizi family.

"It was very difficult and dangerous getting out of the country," explained 52-year-old Nora. "But we used a network of friends and connections."

The women are naturally reluctant to give details of their flight to freedom in case others may need to follow the same escape route.

But Manijeh did reveal: "It took us three weeks to reach England. Getting through road checkpoints and country borders was the worst. We walked for miles and miles -- we slept in stables for several nights."

And tearfully she added: "Our faith gave us strength to carry on. We knew we were getting help from God. We also believe in life after death and we're sure our husbands were helping us."

In England Manijeh had a happy reunion with her three sons, Hessem, 22,  Mehran, 21, and Baha, 17. The first two are studying at Bournemouth College.

It was the third execution of a member of the Azizi family with relatives in Bournemouth. For in August last year Habibullah Azizi, a cousin of the two brothers who have just been shot, was executed because he was a Baha'i.

His widow Rouhieh and her family are prominent members of the Bournemouth community of Baha'is and organise many Baha'is activities at their Dunbar Road home near Meyrick Park.

Habibullah's son, Farzad, said: "They are still executing members our faith. We hope that by telling this story international pressure will be put on Iran. We ask only for freedom to worship as we wish -- a basic human right."



The Baha'i faith was started exactly 139 years ago in Iran by Hussein Ali,  the 46-year-old son of a Government minister who later came to be called Baha'u'llah, meaning Glory of God.

The religion teaches there is one God and strives towards the unity of mankind, the harmony of science and religion, education for all and world government.


























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