Don't be silent on Baha'i imprisonment

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There is a current theory that everyone on the planet is connected by six degrees of separation. The world in which we live is too small for the amount of enmity and violence that seems so prevalent.

In the past I have written regarding the Baha'i held at Evin Prison in Tehran. Their trial has been slated and postponed several times. Just recently another trial threat was listed in international news. As it turns out, I know the daughter of one of the men who has been held in that prison for over a year. She works as a physical therapist in Beijing. This is the second time her father has been held and tortured.

If one member of the family is imprisoned, soon other family members are picked up. In the past year Farita's niece was taken to prison, and now her brother is there as well. Farita's family is devastated, as one might well imagine.

The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion for the United Nations has stated that the Iranian public is encouraged to identify persons who adhere to the Bah?°'?? Faith and monitor their activities. Such reports are used as a basis for increased persecution of, and discrimination against members of the Bah?°'?? Faith, a clear violation of international standards.

The charges against the Baha'i are as follows: espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, propaganda against the Islamic Republic and spreading corruption on Earth. Each of the charges carries the death sentence.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed R175 and the Senate passed R71. Both resolutions condemn the torture and imprisonment of the Iranian Baha'i. Amnesty International also sent a condemnation of this injustice.

Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer and Nobel peace Laureate, has remained in the States to try to use her influence to gain release of the prisoners. Meanwhile her sister has been imprisoned in Iran.

Ten more Baha'i were arrested on Jan. 3, 2010. They are always asked to recant their faith.

'Abdu'l-Bah?° said at a much earlier time, "If these companions be not the true strivers after God, who else could be called by this name."

The roundup continues, but we mustn't be silent. For, we are told, our silence will mean the certain death of these precious souls. The Baha'i of Walla Walla ask that you remember these friends in your prayers.

Todd Oleson
Walla Walla

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