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Posts Tagged ‘BIHE’

At last some good news after so many years of prolonged injustice. Below is a short extract: for the full post see link.

Mahvash Sabet, one of seven members of the former leadership group for Iran’s Baha’i community, was released on the afternoon of Monday, September 18 after serving 10 years in prison. Sabet and six other members of the group known as “the Yaran,” or “the friends,” were arrested in early 2008. Sabet is the first of the group to be released.

Mahvash Sabet was summoned to answer questions in March 2008 and arrested soon after. She was taken to the intelligence ministry’s detention center in Mashhad and kept there for two months and three weeks, although she was occasionally sent to Vakilabad Prison because, according to prison officials, no female guards were on duty at night.

She spent two and half years in solitary confinement, and altogether served time in seven security and general prison wards.

Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Sabet was a school teacher and a school principal and worked with Iran’s National Literacy Campaign. After the revolution, like many other Baha’is, she was expelled from teaching. The Baha’is set up the ad-hoc leadership group the Yaran after the new Islamic government banned Baha’i formal institutions.

Her love for education led her to establish, along with a group of other Baha’is, the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) in 1987. As she told IranWire, she was charged with “espionage for hostile governments” and “forming an illegal group” as punishment.

“I did not expect prison,” she told IranWire after her release, “but they arrested me without a warrant. I thought I was to answer questions as the secretary of the Yaran. Instead I was arrested and interrogated every day at the intelligence ministry’s detention center. After that I was transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison and the interrogations started all over again. I went through three periods of intense interrogations each time that I was transferred, and spent the first two and a half years in a closed-door cell. I was in solitary for seven months before Fariba Kamalabadi [another Baha’i leader] was transferred to my cell.”

Two and a half years in a closed cell had damaging psychological and physical consequences. Sabet suffered from osteoporosis even before her arrest, and was denied medical attention in jail. When she did finally get medical attention the doctor suspected that her pelvis had been fractured. She was sent to a hospital under security measures and was hospitalized for 15 days. “They found out that it was not fractured after all,” she says, “but I had problems because I was kept in a closed cell. They gave me some medical attention.”

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The Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) was established in 1987 as a community initiative

The following was posted on the Bahá’í World News Service yesterday. For the full story, see link.

GENEVA — A coordinated series of raids have been carried out on the homes of several Iranian Bahá’ís, active in a community initiative to provide a higher education programme for young members who are barred from university.

Initial reports indicate that raids took place yesterday on houses in Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan, and Shiraz. As many as 30 people may already have been arrested.

“All of the targets were homes of individuals closely involved with the operations of the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education,” said Diane Ala’i, representative of the Bahá’í International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.

The Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) was established in 1987 as a community initiative to meet the educational needs of young Bahá’ís who have been systematically denied access to higher education by the Iranian government. The BIHE has been described by the New York Timesas “an elaborate act of communal self-preservation.”

“The Institute has been a remarkably creative – and entirely non-violent – response to the Iranian government’s on-going effort to stifle the normal human development of the Bahá’í community,” said Ms. Ala’i.

“The Iranian authorities – not content with debarring Bahá’ís from university solely on account of their religious beliefs – are now cruelly seeking to shut down the community’s efforts to provide its youth with higher education through alternative means.

“The government’s actions are utterly unjustifiable,” said Ms. Ala’i.

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