Letter sent to the office of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, Ms Asma Jehangir:
The Bahá'ís tell me that six members of the national-level group that helps see to the minimum needs of Bahá'ís in Iran in the absence of the formal elected Baha'i institutions, were arrested in their homes early on Wednesday (May 14) morning and taken to Evin prison in Tehran. Government intelligence agents spent up to five hours searching each home, before taking the Baha'is to prison.
Those arrested were Mrs Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr Afif Naeimi, Mr Saeid Rezaie, Mr Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr Vahid Tizfah. A seventh member of the coordinating group (known as the Friends in Iran), Mrs Mahvash Sabet, had been detained in Mashad on 5 March and has been held since then in Evin.
My informants recall similar episodes in the 1980s when scores of leading Iranian Baha'is were rounded up and killed. (All nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iran were abducted on August 21, 1980 and disappeared without trace, but certainly that they were murdered. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iran was reconstituted soon after that, but eight of its members were executed on December 27, 1981. All the elected Baha'i councils, national and local, were disbanded after that and have never been reelected since.)
Mrs Sabet was due for release quite some time ago, but her detention has been extended, without legal process.
The effect of these detentions is to create fear and uncertainty amongst the Iranian Baha'is and to enhance the suspicion that the regime's longer-term aim is to extinguish the Baha'i Faith in the land of its birth.
Could the Special Rapporteur ask the Iranian authorities why they have arrested these leaders? I'd be most grateful if you could let me know of any action you decide to take.
I have also written in similar terms to the Country of Origin Information Service, the source of information used by the immigration appellate authorities to help them determine who is a genuine refugee.
For further information see www.bahai-egypt.org/2008/05/world-condemns-iran-for-arresting-bahai.html