Since its establishment in the mid-1800′s, the Bahá’í religious community has endured successive waves of persecution in Iran, the land of its birth. Three years ago, signaling a new wave of attacks, the seven members of the Yaran, or ‘Friends’, the Iranian Baha’i community’s former acting leadership group, were all arrested, imprisoned, and later convicted on false charges including espionage. Since then there has been an outcry from governments and public figures around the world. To commemorate the third anniversary of the Yaran’s imprisonment, on May 12, 2011 the national administration of the Bahá’ís of the United States organized an event on Capitol Hill in order to draw more attention to the plight of these prisoners in particular and Iran’s human rights situation in general.
The evening featured presentations by Senator Mark Kirk (IL), Representative Michael Grimm (NY), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Secretary General of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States Ken Bowers, actress Eva LaRue (CSI: Miami), and Iraj Kamalabadi, brother of one of the imprisoned Bahá’ís. There was also music by a multinational group of artists led by Grammy-winning producer KC Porter. These diverse voices strongly asserted the injustice at work against these innocent men and women who are prisoners of conscience, and urgently called for more work to be done to pressure to Iranian government to grant them their freedom.
More information about the situation of the Iranian Bahá’í community can be found here.