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A Faith Denied: The Persecution of the Baha'is of Iran

Mrs. Samímí explained that on the day of the arrests, December 13, 1981, the Assembly had, contrary to its usual practice, met in plenary session - only Gitti Qadímí Vahíd (who was undergoing surgery) was missing. Mrs. Samímí provided the IHRDC with the following account of what happened next:

[T]wo of the members, Ginous and another Assembly member, were saying goodbye and leaving. But a few minutes later, they returned, accompanied by three Revolutionary Guards with guns. It seemed that several other Revolutionary Guards were surrounding the house, we could hear them outside. When the Revolutionary Guards came, they immediately told everyone to stand with his or her face to the wall without making any noise. So we all obeyed and they searched our bodies… They knew everything: that I wasn’t a member of the Assembly, that I was Kamran’s wife, detail by detail, they knew everything… They did not show us a warrant. Mr. Mehdi Amín Amín who was a lawyer (there was three lawyers altogether on the Assembly) asked them if they had a paper for our arrest, but the Revolutionary Guards didn’t need any warrants. Whatever they said would go. They just said get ready… they blindfolded and simultaneously questioned every one and said that they would take us but didn’t say where.165

The National Spiritual Assembly members and their two hosts were blindfolded, put into a van and driven to Kakheh Javanan, a temporary holding facility. Once there, Mrs. Samímí was interrogated at least once a day:

We were at Kakheh Javanan a total of 5 days (maybe a week). We were interrogated every day. Ginous’ interrogations were written and not oral and she was questioned more extensively because she was an NSA member. When we returned to the cell we would share the details of our interrogations with each other…
Our first interrogation was unlike any of the others. They took Ginous to another room and then four people came to where I was. Out of the four, three were clergy. The fourth one was one of the Revolutionary Guards who had arrested us… One of them was a Majles representative and the other was a representative of some sort… They entered the prison, only this one time I was not blindfolded for interrogation. They started to ask me questions. They said if I told them a single lie they would know and they would send me to Evin. They would ask questions that they already knew the answers to; I knew this because when I would make a mistake they would correct me.
During the daily interrogations they would take off my blindfold and position me so that I was facing the wall and couldn’t see who my interrogator was, but I know that it was a man. I don’t know if he was a Revolutionary Guard, I never saw him, but I doubt it because the person asking the questions seemed to have more knowledge than an ordinary Revolutionary Guard would. During these interrogations, they always asked us for names of other Bahá’ís. 166

As reported by Mrs. Samímí, statements by the interrogators made it clear that the Bahá’í prisoners were being targeted for their religious beliefs:

There were two other Bahá’ís in a different cell, a man and a woman; God knows what they did to one of them, because she recanted her faith. The authorities asked questions and she answered and finally recanted. And so they brought us sweets and offered them to us to eat, telling us that those two have recanted from our wayward sect and have come to Islam. It was never clear to us what happened that made them recant. The other person was in the same situation and was made to recant.
During my first interrogation… the Revolutionary Guard asked me if I wanted to recant my faith and become a Muslim. I said no and said that if being a Bahá’í is a crime, then I’m a criminal. They would try this with everyone. Before we were arrested, Kamran and I would always buy the newspapers and the names of those who had recanted were printed in them. They always asked these questions. They did not use torture, at least with me, though I don’t know what happened
with others. 167

After being held for nearly a week, Mrs. Samímí was released, but the Assembly members she had been arrested with remained behind in Kakheh Javanan.168 While processing her release, Samímí’s jailers demonstrated that they had previously gathered extensive information on the activities of her and her husband. They knew the locations of each building the couple had lived in previously, despite the fact that they had moved frequently and tried to keep their whereabouts closely held:

[H]e [the Revolutionary Guard] took me to Gitti Ghadimi’s house… he asked me if I knew where we were. I said no... He listed all the places that Kamran and I had lived in, all the places that we had thought no one knew about; he knew about all of them. 169

[165]Statement of Farídeh Samímí, supra note 162.
[166]Id.
[167]Id.
[168]It appears that Farídeh Samímí was released because her husband convinced the Revolutionary Guards that she had no useful information to provide, since she was not an Assembly member and had no senior position in the Bahá’í administration.
[169]Statement of Farídeh Samímí, supra note 162.

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Baha'i, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Illegal Search and Seizure, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Conscience