[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:] Zamaneh Tribune

[Date:] 28 Aban 1392 [19 November 2013]

 

Fariba Kamalabadi’s Letter From Evin Prison, Describing the Suffering of the Baha’i Community of Iran

Fariba Kamalabadi is a prisoner of conscience and a member of a group of seven who dealt with the administrative affairs of the Baha’i community in Iran. In a letter to her granddaughter, she described the suffering of her family. She has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, like the other six members of the group, and has been in prison for six years without a day of leave.

The text of her letter is as follows:

“My sweet soul, my little angel,

“When I think of you and your coming into our world, my emotions and feelings are so unrestrained, boiling and erupting that I can never describe them. Love erupts and finds an escape to manifest itself. Sometimes it flows from the depths of my heart and tongue in the form of a prayer for your health, sometimes it appears in the form of words addressed to those around me, telling them about the date of your coming [to this world], and sometimes it turns into a loop of yarn, that touches the neck of the knitting needle, embracing it tightly, and eventually forms a dress or blanket for you. With all these, the thirst to see and smell you does not subside and I want to see you more.

“I am in captivity and my hands are tied. I am not even allowed to call your mother, my beloved daughter, in the critical moments of your birthday, to hear your voice and to be informed about your health, because my repeated requests for a telephone call have always been opposed. I do not know how many days after your birth I will be informed of your arrival.

“I know that when you step into our world, you will develop and grow up; questions will constantly come to your mind and you will ask: ‘Why was I born in another land, far from my homeland, my roots, my relatives and my loved ones? Why, like many children, did I not have my grandmother, grandfather, and relatives with me at my birth?’

“My darling, my little child, I will tell you. All of this is the pain of love, love for the human race! It is the Baha’i Faith, the price you and your family pay to believe in the unity of mankind and universal peace. It is the atonement of the will that has been activated to serve the human world. I know these are abstract and vague words, so I will tell you the details:

“Your father was born in 1360 [1981] in the City of Hamadan. Hamadan is one of the oldest cities in Iran and the cradle of Aryan culture and civilization.

“Hamadan has raised people such as Ibn Sina [Abu Ali Sina], who is one of the greatest philosophers and physicians in the history of the world―someone to whom Western culture and civilization owes a great deal.

“When your father was six years old and entered primary school, his mother and father were arrested for their belief in the Baha’i Faith and were transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran. Every week, he traveled from Hamadan to Tehran with his four-year-old sister and eight-year-old brother, your aunt and uncle, to visit his parents in the Evin Prison for two consecutive days.

“Before that, in 1363 [1984/1985], your maternal grandfather (my father), who was a committed physician, a lover of the human race, had devoted all his life to serving and treating the sick and afflicted, was arrested and imprisoned in Sari and was subjected to harsh tortures. Today, in 1392 [2013/2014], I, your grandmother—while I miss seeing you, hugging you, or at least hearing your childish voice behind the communication wires—have been imprisoned for six years, as a result of my compatriots’ bigotry and prejudice.

“You must be wondering, what is wrong with believing in the Baha’i Faith that entails imprisonment and detention? When you grow up and read the history of the religions, you will find out that Christ, Who is today adored and is the the Beloved of the people of the entire world, during His lifetime, was crucified, accused of founding a religion that was new to the immature fanatics of his time and different from the religion of their forefathers.

“You will read that the purest believers in the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were tortured and persecuted during his blessed life and some were martyred. You will read that Imam Ali (PBUH) was struck by the sword of ignorance and prejudice. Imam Hussein (PBUH), with unique heroism, with His holy blood, testified to the greatness and supremacy of justice over oppression and you will read that the same Ibn Sina, the philosopher who was your father’s fellow citizen, was accused of blasphemy by shortsighted people. He told them in his response: [Persian poem][1]

“And today, in the holy country of Iran, the followers of the Baha’i Faith are suffering from the same calamities and persecutions:

- Since 1357 [1978/1979] till now, many of them have been arrested and imprisoned, and some have been martyred.

- All Baha’i employees have been fired from government offices.

- The pension funds of all Baha’i seniors have been terminated.

- All Baha’i properties and many of the assets of the Baha’is have been confiscated.

- In many cities, Baha’i cemeteries have been destroyed; the scope of these atrocities has crossed the borders of the living world and included the deceased Baha’is.

- All Baha’i youth are barred from pursuing university education; that is, they are either banned from entering the university or expelled as soon as they enter one, and ...

“My darling, you know, all these oppressions and persecutions took place in the name of being Muslim and in the guise of supporting Islam and under the rule of a government which is said to be Islamic.

“Do not make a mistake! The holy religion of Islam has not appeared for any purpose except for the establishment of justice and prosperity, and the holy people of this religion have not sacrificed their lives except for the welfare and comfort of the people, but sometimes oppression justifies itself in the clothing of justice and hatred wears the mask of love. For us Baha’is, in spite of this misuse of the holy religion of Islam to conceal the prejudices of ignorance, we never undermine Islam’s lofty status and do not tarnish its dignity. Whether in prison, or in Iran, and even in the world, we constantly defend the dignity and elevated status of the holy religion of Islam in the eyes of everyone, even Muslims themselves.

“I know you will ask your grandmother, why am I in prison? Let me tell you:

“We were a group of seven called the Yaran of Iran [Friends of Iran] who assisted the Baha’i community in Iran. We took care of their personal situations in accordance with the rules of the Baha’i Faith and protected them against oppression. If they were fired and unable to support themselves on a daily basis, with the help of other Baha’is we provided them with livelihood and vocational training. If they were unable to access medical treatment, we would have rushed to their aid, through Baha’i doctors. We provided facilities for the moral education of the children and young people, and with the help of Baha’i professors who had been dismissed from teaching at universities, we provided thousands of young Baha’is, including your parents, with the opportunity to continue their education in Baha’i homes and … The whole effort of this group was to defuse the activities aimed at ‘genocide’ of the Baha’i youth, through constructive measures, and this was done in such a way that today, not only does hatred of the government, Islam and Islamic government not exist in the hearts of any of the Baha’is of Iran, but individual Baha’is love their homeland and praise the sacred religion of Islam. They cherish the desire to serve Iran and Iranians, so much so that even some Baha’i youth have been sentenced to years of imprisonment, just for serving the children of their compatriots in deprived areas.

“Perhaps your other question is about why you did not stay in Iran. Why did your parents leave Iran and why were you born far from your homeland, even though your parents love Iran and their hearts beat for the upliftment of Iran? Your parents are among the thousands of young Baha’is who have studied at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education that was run by the Baha’i community in Iran. Many of the world’s most prestigious universities, observing the deprivation of talented Baha’i youth in Iran, have created opportunities for them to continue their education. Yes, the strangers have become acquainted with us. Those that were far from us have become close, and those who did not know us are now our friends. Your parents were forced to leave their homeland to continue their education in order to become stronger and better equipped to serve their beloved country and to fulfill their desire to glorify this holy land.

“My child, I hope I have responded appropriately to your possible questions. I am sure that my other compatriots will be faced with similar questions by their children and future generations in the not too distant future, asking ‘What did you do in the face of all this injustice done to your compatriots’?

“Today, it is my wish that they respect the dignity of justice and fairness and stand up for the rights of their compatriots in such a way that they will have a commendable answer for their children.”

Fariba Kamalabadi

Evin Prison

Aban 1392 [October/November 2013]

 

[1] [The original text is as follows:]

"کفر چو منی گزاف و آسان نبود - محکمتر از ایمان من ایمان نبود

در دهر چو من یکی و آن هم کافر - پس در همه دهر یک مسلمان نبود"