Posts Tagged ‘Mahvash Sabet’

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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Seven imageHere is the link to the Bahá’í World News Service background article, published on 14 May, concerning the last two posts I’ve published on the subject of the Bahá’í leaders’ seven years in prison. Below is an extract: for the full post see link.

 — The Baha’i International Community has today launched a campaign to mark the seventh anniversary of the wrongful arrest and imprisonment of the seven former Baha’i leaders in Iran.

The campaign will run until 21 May 2015. Events are being planned around the world by Baha’i communities and others to call attention to the plight of the seven, who were arrested in 2008. The plight of some 90 other Baha’is in Iran – as well as other prisoners of conscience there – will also be highlighted.

“What the events of the past year have demonstrated ever more clearly to the people of Iran and others from around the world who promote peace and concord is the stark contrast between the peaceful intentions and selfless service of the Baha’i community and the lamentable and inhuman acts of those who, under the influence of ignorant religious prejudice, continue to perpetrate injustices against you,” wrote the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha’i Faith, in a letter to Baha’is in Iran earlier this month.

The campaign will take the theme “Seven Days in Remembrance of Seven Years for the Seven Baha’i Leaders.” Each day in the next seven days, events will focus on a different member of the seven, who are Mahvash Sabet, Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm.


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Seven YearsFurther to my post of yesterday I’d like to flag up two more important links to websites related to this distressing issue. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion and Belief is supporting the campaign via its website Freedom Declared https://freedomdeclared.org/ Also the seven Bahá’í leaders are featured on their ‘take action’ page: https://freedomdeclared.org/action/

Below is another moving poem of Mahvash Sabet’s to help convey the harsh reality of the seven’s predicament.



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Seven Years

From 14 May through 21 May, people around the world will join Bahá’ís in a global campaign to mark the seventh anniversary of the arrest and imprisonment of the seven Iranian Baha’i leaders. Each day is dedicated to one of the seven. The focus of the first day is on Mahvash Sabet as she was the first to be arrested.  The poem below is taken from her powerful collection – ‘Prison Poems.’ There is a related Facebook page at link.

Lights Out

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Mahvash Sabet

Mahvash Sabet

Yesterday’s Guardian contained a moving letter from one writer in freedom to another in prison, part of an international campaign of protest. Below is a short extract: for the full text see link.

Alberto Manguel writes an open letter to the poet, imprisoned in Iran for her defence of the Bahá’i Faith
News: Leading authors mount international protest to defend persecuted colleagues

Dear Mahvash Sabet,

It’s almost an impertinence, I feel, to write to a poet who is being kept behind bars for her words and beliefs. King Lear, imprisoned at the end of the play with his daughter Cordelia, tells her that they will become “God’s spies”. That is what you as well have become, bearing witness to society’s injustices, prejudices and inability to understand that no matter what society might do to a poet, the poet’s words will still be free in the minds of the readers, and continue to conjure up ideas, engage the mind in conversation. Perhaps there’s consolation in this.

You end one of your poems saying that “You can’t see the sorrow after lights out,” and that you therefore “long for the dark, total black-out.” I hope, for your dear sake, that the end of your sorrow is near but not as that “total black-out” you speak of: instead, as a resolution of freedom, as the free sunlight that is every person’s natural right, a right no one is entitled to take away. . . . . . .

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5y2 many

For the period of the campaign announced earlier this month by the Baha’i International Community, I felt that it would be more fitting, rather than using my own, to post poems taken from Mahvash Sabet’s powerful collection – ‘Prison Poems.’ For the latest update on the campaign’s progress see link.


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