Friday, 11 June 2010

Trial of the Yárán (12th June 2010)

The beloved Yárán (Friends, pl. of Yár) are an informal body (well, were a body, prior to 2008) of Bahá'ís in Persia (Írán) whose purpose was the meet the minimal needs of the Bahá'í Community of that nation. According to the New Mini Companion Aryanpur Progressive Persian-English Dictionary (p. 603), yár has a number of meanings including friend, follower and teammate. Steingass's A Comprehensive Persian English Dictionary Including the Arabic Words and Phrases To Be Met Within Persian Literature (p. 1525) gives similar definitions, such as "friend, lover, companion, comrade; an assistant, defender... equal", etc. It seems to denote the concept of an intimate friend or companion, as in yár-i-ghár, "a companion in a cave, i.e. an intimate friend, confidant (in allusion to Abū Bakr, who was hidden in a cave with Muhammad before setting out on their flight to Madīnah); hence, a name of Abū Bakr".

The Yárán were not an administrative body as the Bahá'í Administrative Order was dissolved in Írán, following the Islamic revolution, when the Íránian government arrested and executed the National Spiritual Assembly (twice actually, it was re-elected after the first Assembly was executed). The Íránian government has always known about the activities of the Yárán, who were not a secret or clandestine organisation. On the contrary, the Yárán abided by the law and were respectful to the Islamic Republic. Nevertheless, they were falsely accused and arrested in 2008.

According to the Bahá'í World News Service:

"The seven Baha'i leaders imprisoned for more than two years in Iran are scheduled to make their fourth court appearance on 12 June, the Baha'i International Community has learned.

The date coincides with the first anniversary of last year's contested presidential election in Iran, as well as a global day of action aimed at calling attention to human rights abuses in that country.

The trial of the seven began on 12 January after they had been incarcerated without charge in Tehran's Evin prison for 20 months.

At the first hearing, held in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, the Baha'is categorically denied charges of espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, and "corruption on earth," among other allegations.

A second appearance on 7 February was concerned mainly with procedural issues.

The third session on 12 April, which was purportedly a closed hearing, was adjourned after the seven – with the agreement of their attorneys – refused to be party to the proceedings because of the presence of nonjudicial personnel.

"To have spectators, including a film crew, in a supposedly closed hearing while denying entry to the defendants' families was unacceptable," said Diane Ala'i, Baha'i representative to the United Nations in Geneva. "There would be no objection if the trial were to be open and conducted in accordance with international standards."

"In the court sessions held so far, no evidence of wrongdoing has been presented. As their lawyers have confirmed, the defendants are completely innocent and are being persecuted solely for their religious belief," Ms. Ala'i said.

"The Iranian government should know that its actions against these innocent citizens are under scrutiny throughout the world," she said.

"Once again we call for their immediate release. Failing that, the seven should – at the very least – be released on bail pending a fair trial."

The seven defendants are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm. Before their imprisonment, they attended to the spiritual and social needs of Iran's Baha'i community, which numbers more than 300,000. Mrs. Sabet was arrested on 5 March 2008 and the others on 14 May 2008.

There are currently some 38 Baha'is in detention in various cities in Iran.
 The  Bahá'í World News Service further reports that:

On the eve of the fourth court hearing for Iran's seven imprisoned Baha'i leaders, voices are being raised around the world for them to be freed.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Delhi has addressed Iran's Supreme Leader calling for the release of the seven, "or at the very least for them to be released on bail and await a fair and open trial in accordance with the international standards of jurisprudence."

"In the court sessions held so far, no evidence of wrongdoing has been presented, as their lawyers have confirmed," Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao wrote in a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, dated 5 June 2010.

Yesterday, the social activist and spiritual leader, Swami Agnivesh, led a peaceful procession through the streets of New Delhi to Hyderabad House, a government-owned venue used for major events and press conferences.

Campaigners – many of them wearing masks – carried banners and placards depicting the seven Baha'i leaders, as well as images of other prisoners currently being held.

Swami Agnivesh told the gathering that humanity demands love and respect for all and should allow people of different belief systems and ideologies to co-exist in peace and solidarity, reported The Hindu newspaper...

In the United Kingdom, a mobile billboard depicting the seven Baha'i leaders has been launched in London in order to bring attention to their plight.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Representative Frank R. Wolf, yesterday submitted a statement to the Congressional Record calling for renewed support for the seven.
"The world cannot turn a blind eye to this regime's brutal repression of its own people," said Mr Wolf.

"We must continue to advocate for due process and a fair trial for these seven Baha'i leaders and for basic rights for the community as a whole which according to the recently released report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, "has long been subject to particularly severe religious violations in Iran."" he said.
I salute these noble endeavours. I do not apologise for quoting such large chunks from the  Bahá'í World News Service website, as my purpose is to highlight this issue and raise awareness.

According to Bahá'í News UK:

The Baha’i International Community will be amongst a range of organisations cosponsoring the 12 June Global Day of Action demanding an end to human rights abuses in Iran, reports the Baha’i World News Service.

The initiative is coordinated by human rights group United4Iran. Cosponsors include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the Baha’i International Community, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, FIDH (Federation Internationale des ligues des Droits de l’Homme), and Pen International.

“In our support for this nonpartisan initiative, we are standing together with ordinary citizens throughout the world to draw attention to the continuing and widespread abuse of human rights in Iran,” said Diane Ala’i, representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.

The prominent nongovernmental organizations are joining with a wide range of local, student and Internet-based groups to host simultaneous events in cities and on campuses around the globe. Online initiatives include sending messages to specific recipients in support of individual prisoners of conscience.
Bahá'u'lláh has assured us that whatever opposition may come, God's Faith and Cause will be victorious in the end. Bahá'ís have endured over a century of persecution and the Faith has grown as expanded beyond anyone's expectations. From an obscure movement in the 19th century, the Bahá'í Faith has emerged as the second most widespread religion on the planet and the newest and most modern of the great world religions. Persecution is like oil poured on the eternal flame of God's holy Faith. That flame can never be put out. Bahá'u'lláh says:

"Armed with the power of Thy name nothing can ever hurt me, and with Thy love in my heart all the world's afflictions can in no wise alarm me. Send down, therefore, O my Lord, upon me and upon my loved ones that which will protect us from the mischief of those that have repudiated Thy truth and disbelieved in Thy signs. Thou art, verily, the All-Glorious, the Most Bountiful."
(Baháí Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Baháulláh, the Báb, and Abdul-Bahá, p. 145)

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