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Abstract:
Lengthy survey of events, and life stories of participants.

Persecution of the Bahá'í Community of Iran:
1983-1986

compiled on behalf of Universal House of Justice.
published in Bahá'í World, Vol. 19 (1983-1986), pages 176-226
Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1994
[page 176]
[Picture with the Caption]: One of a spray of roses molded from dough by a Bahá`í woman prisoner as a gift for her husband to commemorate their wedding anniversary which occurred during the term of their imprisonment. The woman mixed the dough from her ration of bread and water. Subsequently, the floral arrangement was coloured and framed and presented to the Universal House of Justice.

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2. THE PERSECUTION OF THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY OF IRAN
140, 141 and 142 of the Bahá`í Era (21 April 1983-20 April 1986

For information about the persecution of the Bahá`í community of Irán in the period from 21 April 1979 to 20 April 1983, see `Persecution of the Bahá`í community of Irán', by Geoffrey Nash, the Bahá`í World, Vol. XVIII, 1979-83, pp. 249-289, and other related articles in that volume.

A. SURVEY OF EVENTS

The violent oppression and hostility that were meted out to the followers of the Báb, and later to those of Bahá`u'lláh, have always thrown their dark and sinister shadows across the fortunes of the Bahá`í community of Irán. No decade from the 1840s to the present has been without its martyrs.[1] The persecution inflicted upon the Bahá`ís has sometimes taken subtle forms and has sometimes--as was notably the case in 1955[2]--erupted into episodes of cruelty and barbarism that have shocked and outraged the world.

Although the persecution of the Iranian believers in the Cradle of the Bahá`í Faith during the years immediately preceding the pre-revolutionary period was for the most part covert and insidious, since 1979 the Revolutionary Government of Irán has virtually declared war on the hapless Bahá`í community, and has launched a systematic and organized campaign to destroy every trace of the Faith in the land of its birth. `It is absolutely certain that in the Islamic Republic of Irán there is no place whatsoever for Bahá`ís and Bahá`ism', the President of the Revolutionary Court in Shiráz announced in February 1983.[3] `Before it is too late, the Bahá`ís should recant Bahá`ism, which is condemned by reason and logic. Otherwise, the day will soon come when the Islamic nation will deal with them in accordance with its religious obligations, like it has dealt with other hypocrites who have appeared in more dangerous garb and have religious and satanic gatherings.' It was perfectly clear that a program was at hand designed to exterminate the Bahá`ís of Irán.

`The decline of religious and moral restraints has unleashed a fury of chaos and confusion that already bears the signs of universal anarchy,' the Universal House of Justice stated in its message to the Bahá`í world at Naw-Rúz 136 B. E. (21 March 1979). `Engulfed in this maelstrom, the Bahá`í world community, pursuing with indefeasible unity and spiritual force its redemptive mission, inevitably suffers the disruption of economic, social and civil life which afflicts its fellow men throughout the planet. It must also bear particular tribulations. The violent disturbances in Persia, coinciding with the gathering of the bountiful harvest of the Five Year Plan, have brought new and cruel hardships to our long-suffering brethren in the Cradle of our Faith and confronted the Bahá`í world community with critical challenges to its life and work. As the Bahá`í world stood poised on the brink of victory, eagerly anticipating the next stage in the unfoldment of the Master's [`Abdu'l-Bahá's] Divine Plan, Bahá`u'lláh's heroic compatriots, the custodians of the Holy Places of our Faith in the land of its birth, were yet again called upon to endure the passions of brutal mobs, the looting and burning of their homes, the destruction of their means of livelihood, and physical violence and threats of death to force them to recant their faith. They, like their immortal forebears, the Dawn-Breakers, are standing steadfast in the face of this new persecution and the ever-present threat of organized extermination.'

  1. `The persistent and decisive intervention of the Russian Minister, Prince Dolgorouki, who left no stone unturned to establish the innocence of Bahá`u'lláh ...' (See Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 104).
  2. Possibly a reference to the Qur`án, súrih 5, verse 33.
  3. Reported in Khabar-i-Jumúb, issue of 22 February 1983.
  4. The executions took place on 8 September 1980. Ayatollah

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On 13 May 1983, early in the period under review, it was the sad task of the Universal House of Justice to inform the Bahá`í world of the execution on 1 May 1983 of Mr. Suhayl Safá`í and Mr. Jalál Hakimán, who had been imprisoned since October 1982 in Isfáhán. More than a week went by before the families and friends of these Bahá`ís learned that they had been executed in Tihrán.

Mr. Suhayl Safá`í, aged 35, after attending high school in Isfáhán had graduated from university in Tihrán where he studied literature. For a time he was the manager of the Zamzam Company's plant in Isfáhán, a firm owned by a Bahá`í. After the company was taken over by the new regime, and its employees dismissed, Mr. Safá`í, who was married and had two young sons, opened a small stationery shop from which he derived a meagre living. He was active in teaching Bahá`í youth and was making notes for use in compiling a Bahá`í encyclopedia. These notes and his sizeable library of Bahá`í books, were used in support of the accusations made against him, principally that he was engaged in `propagation of the misled sect'. Neither a will nor his notebooks came to his family after his death, nor did his library, only his shoes and a small bag, and a copy of Will Durant's The Story of Philosophy which he had read in prison and on the flyleaf of which he had written a verse by Háfiz:

O Bird of Paradise!
On the journey to the Loved One
Let longing march by my side
For the destination is distant
And I, a novice traveller,
Seek a seasoned guide.

Mr. Jalál Hakimán, aged 62, was a retired writer whose fields of interest when he was a student had included the study of literature, English and psychology. He had served as a translator in the Ministry of Health. Mr. Hakimán was a profound student of the Bahá`í Faith and devoted himself assiduously to study and research. He was not married. His relatives and friends were concerned about him because he sometimes became so engrossed in his study of the Faith that he would forget to eat. A few months before his arrest he wrote to a friend about the transitoriness of the mortal world and stated, `If my life does not last, I will also, God willing, go to my destiny--do not grieve or feel despondent about what is happening, but resign yourself to the will of God and be assured that there is no father kinder than Him.' He was, throughout his life, noted for his courtesy and graciousness and his grasp of the Bahá`í teachings. At the time of his arrest he was engaged in writing a series of books recording the history and development of thought and civilization in the world, and was working on a dissertation on dreams.

Then Shiráz suddenly became the focus of attention, as it had been in the early years of the revolution, and so often before in Bábí and Bahá`í history. On 23 October 1982 the militia had invaded the homes of a number of Bahá`ís in the area of Shiráz and arrested over forty men and women and imprisoned them. After months of confinement and torture, the fate of some of these prisoners was now revealed.

With great sorrow, the House of Justice announced on 20 June 1983 that in Shiráz on 16 June six Bahá`ís had been executed by hanging: Dr. Bahrám Afnán, aged 50, a prominent physician specializing in heart and internal diseases; Mr. Bahrám Yaldá'í, aged 28, who had studied to obtain his doctorate in economics; Mr. Jamshíd Síyávushí, aged 39, who owned a clothing shop; Mr. Ináyatu'lláh Ishráqí, aged 61, who had worked for the Irán Oil Company and was retired; Mr. Kúrush Haqqbín, aged 34, an electrical technician specializing in the repair of radio and television sets; and Mr. `Abdu'l-Husayn Azádí, aged 66, a veterinarian who had been an employee of the Ministry of Health. Of this group, all save Mr. Ishráqí and Mr. Yaldá'í were members of Local Spiritual Assemblies in Shiráz or surrounding communities.

Dr. Bahrám Afnán--his name indicating that his family is related to the Báb--had, before his arrest, voluntarily visited Bahá`í prisoners and tended to their needs and relayed messages, but he was denied a medical permit by the authorities and had to discontinue this service. Because of his lineage he was subjected to an unusual degree of abuse and humiliation after his arrest, and tortured so severely that he suffered a heart attack on two occasions.Despite his condition--his body `torn and bleeding and skeletal', according to an eyewitness--the prison authorities had to resort


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to his assistance because of his medical competence, and he was asked to tend to the sick prisoners. Doctors in the city continued to consult him about their patients. His last gesture before being taken from the cell for execution was to remove a gold crown from his tooth and present it to a friend. `I have not written a will; I leave all I have in your hand!' he remarked.

Mr. `Abdu'l-Husayn Azádí, who was from Burázján, a town in Bushihr county, and who in 1978 pioneered to Akbarabád near Shiráz, was a warm-hearted believer. He was married with three daughters and four sons. Although he keenly missed his wife during his imprisonment and suffered painful disorders to his respiratory and digestive systems due to being tortured, nevertheless he remained cheerful, good-natured and concerned for others. He was very entertaining to be with and was a source of joy and amusement to his fellow prisoners, raising their spirits when they sank under the weight of sorrow.

Mr. Kúrush Haqqbín was from a devoted and well-known Bahá`í family of Yazd. Born in 1949, he spent his childhood in comfort, and was an obedient child. He was hard-working and serious both in school and in Bahá`í classes, and enjoyed good relationships with his teachers and fellow students. After finishing elementary school he was forced to find work because of the financial circumstances of his family, but he continued his education by taking night classes. With his parents, he pioneered to Sar-i-Pul-i-Dhaháb, Kirmánsháh, where he participated in Bahá`í activities, acquired the skill of repairing radio sets, and attended school classes. He performed his military service in Shiráz during which time he graduated from high school, majoring in mathematics and then, in response to a dream about `Abdu'l-Bahá, he pioneered to Marvdasht, a community not far from Shiráz, settling in Suhaylábád which had only a Bahá`í group and not yet a Local Spiritual Assembly. After the Spiritual Assembly was formed, the two administrative districts were merged and he served on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Marvdasht. Meanwhile, he opened a radio repair shop. In 1976, he married, and following the birth of the first child the following year, he and his wife pioneered to Sar-i-Pul-i-Dhaháb where they settled in an agricultural co-operative. Mr. Haqqbín studied Kurdish, the language used in that area, to facilitate his teaching the Faith, and he travelled to neighbouring villages to acquaint the residents with the Bahá`í principles. A Spiritual Assembly was formed in Sar-i-Pul-i-Dhaháb. Three years after the Haqqbín family arrived there, when war broke out between Irán and Iráq, the couple left Sar-i-Pul-i-Dhaháb which was situated on the border of the two countries. At this time they were expecting their second child. They returned to Marvdasht where Mr. Haqqbín opened a shop for the repair of radio sets, undeterred by the fact that the shop he opened there earlier, as well as his shop in Sar-i-Pul-i-Dhaháb, had been set afire by fanatics hostile to the Faith. It has been written of him, `Whoever met Kúrush, even once, would feel affection for him; he was good-natured, kind and generous to all without expectation of return.' After his arrest on 8 December 1982 he said to his mother, when she visited him in prison, `Why do you cry? All these calamities have been encountered in the path of God and in service to the Cause of Bahá`u'lláh. If we are fortunate and depart from this mortal realm with a good end, our souls will be elevated in the next world. Do not grieve; mother, pray for us.' He was especially concerned about his elder brother who had been arrested and imprisoned with him, and rejoiced when his brother was freed. `Now I can stay in prison without anxiety,' he remarked. Although of slight stature he had a powerful spirit, and he delighted his fellow prisoners by chanting in a melodious voice some of the many prayers he had memorized. On the last occasion that his family visited him in prison, his father recorded, Kúrush Haqqbín already knew of his sentence of death, and appeared to be in another world. He consoled his family, urged them not to sorrow, seemed oblivious to the tears of his children whom he loved so deeply, and took his leave of them without glancing back. It was already too late for his nearest and dearest, and the loyalties of this world, to keep him from his destination.

Mr. Ináyatu'lláh Ishráqí who came from Najafábád, Isfahán, had been arrested and imprisoned in 1980, together with his family, but they were all released the following day. On 29 November 1982, he and his wife and teenage daughter, Rúyá, were again arrested and imprisoned, the women being sent to the women's prison. `Mr. Ishráqí,' one of his fellow


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inmates wrote, `was imperturbable; his qualities of dignity and acquiescence were more than I can describe. No incident would disturb him, and he remained constantly calm and thankful.' Mr. Ishráqí was an assistant to an Auxiliary Board member, and served on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Shiráz. Both he and his wife had served as marriage counsellors. He was the first of the group of six to be summoned to the court, and was called four times in two successive days, but no matter how the authorities tried they could not persuade him to recant. By pure chance, after leaving the interrogation room on the first day, Mr. Ishráqí encountered his beloved wife for a brief moment on the stairs. `May my life be a sacrifice for you!'she exclaimed--a Persian expression of utter love and devotion--before the guards whisked him away. It was the last time they were to see one another. When the sentence of death was passed, one of the friends remarked lightly that the authorities might only be bluffing. `Don't worry, boys, sometimes these people play-act,' he said. `But we have come here for the real thing!' Mr. Ishráqí replied.

Originally from Yazd, Mr. Jamshíd Síyávushí spent the last few years of his life in Shiráz where he was arrested on 1 November 1982. Because he served as treasurer of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Shiráz, the interrogations to which he was subjected were more rigorous than those experienced by others. He was also severely tortured in an effort to have him reveal the hiding place of the large sums of money authorities mistakenly assumed he had under his control. He was placed in solitary confinement for a considerable period and frequently lashed on the soles of the feet with electric cables. So unbearable did his sufferings become that he sought to take his own life by slashing his wrists and throat with a broken tile, but he was prevented from doing so. Separation from his wife, to whom he had been married for about twelve years and who was also imprisoned and uncertainty about what might befall her added to his misery. One day the authorities told Mrs. Síyávushí that they were going to torture her husband until he died and to prove their point they summoned her to the interrogation chamber. Her husband was led in by two guards who had to support him under his arms. He had been tortured and deprived of sleep for seventy days; his back was covered by festering wounds caused by lashings, and his toenails had been removed and were also infected. Only with difficulty was he able to speak. On another occasion which proved to be their final meeting, the jailers again brought husband and wife face to face. Each was told beforehand the falsehood that the other had recanted and become a Muslim. In their last hurried moments together, the couple assured one another that they had remained steadfast.

On 23 October 1982, Mr. Bahrám Yaldá'í and his mother and father were arrested. Bahrám's presence in prison, a fellow prisoner testified, was a source of consolation and tranquility, and a cause of the spiritual strengthening of the imprisoned Bahá`í friends. Although his father was freed after a short time, his mother was not, and Bahrám was deeply concerned about her fate. He devoted his time to teaching Arabic and to explaining the relationship of the Qur'án to the Bahá`í Writings. His courage and audacity in defending the Faith during the interrogations, and his knowledge of both the Bahá`í teachings and the Qur'án, won the admiration of all who heard him, even his questioners, though this did not prevent his being transferred to a more secluded prison cell and given harsher treatment for seventy days. Still, his spirit was not broken and he faced death with equanimity.

A still greater shock now swept through the Bahá`í world. Although by Ridván 140 B.E. (21 April 1983) almost a score of Bahá`í women of all ranks had been executed, mobbed, assassinated, or disappeared without a trace, including Iran's first woman physicist, a concert pianist, and the illiterate wife of a shepherd, the fate of some of the women who had been rounded up in the area of Shiráz in October 1982 became known.

The Universal House of Justice on 20 June 1983, reported to the Bahá`í world that on the evening of 18 June ten Bahá`í women, ranging in age from 17 to 57, were hanged in Shiráz, after months of imprisonment and torture during which they refused to renounce their faith. `THE EXECUTION OF THESE GUILTLESS WOMEN IN THE NAME OF RELIGION MUST SHOCK CONSCIENCE HUMANITY', the House of Justice telexed, `THEY WERE ARRESTED FOR ACTIVITIES IN BAHA'I COMMUNITY INCLUDING EDUCATION OF YOUTH.'


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Even the youngest among the women fearlessly admitted during the interrogations during which it was sought to have her recant that she had been conducting classes for the spiritual training of children. She had seen it as her duty, once the children were barred from attending regular schools.

The telex of the House of Justice continued: `FOLLOWING LONG INTERROGATION IN PRISON THEY WERE WARNED THAT THEY WOULD BE SUBJECTED TO FOUR SESSIONS PRESSURING THEM RECANT THEIR FAITH ACCEPT ISLAM AND IF BY FOURTH TIME THEY HAD NOT SIGNED PREPARED STATEMENT RECANTING FAITH THEY WOULD BE KILLED. ALL PREFERRED DIE RATHER THAN DENY THEIR FAITH. FEW HOURS PRIOR EXECUTION WOMEN MET WITH FAMILIES NONE OF WHOM KNEW [OF] IMPENDING EXECUTION. NEWS THIS DASTARDLY CRIME NOT PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED OR FORMALLY GIVEN TO FAMILIES. AUTHORITIES REFUSED ALLOW FAMILIES RECEIVE BODIES FOR BURIAL OR EVEN TO SEE THEM.'

In the same communication the Bahá`í community was reminded that between October and November 1982 over 80 Bahá`ís were arrested in Shiráz. The authorities later revealed that 22 persons among the 80 were condemned to death if they failed to recant. The names of these 22 were never revealed, however, intensifying the psychological stress endured by Bahá`í prisoners.

Not only the fellow prisoners of the ten women but their executioners too were affected by the heroism with which these women met their fate, remarking that they sang and chanted as though they were enjoying a pleasant outing. One of the men attending the gallows confided to a Bahá`í, `We tried saving their lives up to the last moment, but one by one, first the older ladies, then the young girls, were hanged while the others were forced to watch, it being hoped that this might influence them to recant their belief. We even urged them to say they were not Bahá`ís, but not one of them agreed; they preferred the execution.'

A witness reported, `The bodies of the women were taken to the morgue at 10:00 p.m. The following day, when relatives went to take delivery of the bodies of the six Bahá`í men who had been executed two days before [16 June 1983], they learned that the ten women were also martyred. The news spread rapidly throughout Shiráz. Soon it was impossible to buy flowers in the city as all had been purchased and sent to the relatives of the martyrs as an expression of sympathy. On 19 June the militia removed the bodies to the Bahá`í cemetery of Shiráz without informing the families, and they were buried with their clothes on and without washing and shrouding.'

There was no further humiliation to which the enemies of these Bahá`í women could subject them, now they were in the hands of God, and their names had been inscribed among the immortals.

The names of these women are: Miss Shahín (or `Shirin') Dálvand, aged 25, who held a degree in sociology; Mrs. `Izzat Jánamí Ishráqí, aged 57, a homemaker, the wife of Ináyatu'lláh Ishráqí, who was executed but two days before; Miss Ru`yá Ishráqí, aged 23, a second-year student of a veterinary college and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ináyatu'lláh Ishráqí; Miss Muná Mahúdnizhád, aged 17, the youngest Bahá`í and the youngest female to be martyred up to this point in the present onslaught, who was in her last year of high school at the time of her arrest and imprisonment and whose father, Mr. Yadu'lláh Mahúdnizhád, had been executed on 12 March of that year; Miss Zarrín Muqímí-Abyánih, aged 28, who held a B.A. in English and who wrote excellent poetry; Miss Mashid Nirúmand, aged 28, who had qualified for a degree in physics though it was denied her because of her being a Bahá`í; Miss Símín Sábirí, aged 25, who held a high school diploma; Mrs. Táhirih Arjumándí Siyávushí, aged 30, who had qualified as a nurse and was the wife of Jamshíd Siyávushí, martyred two days earlier; Miss Akhtar Thábit, aged 25, a nurse; and Mrs. Nusrat Ghufrání Yalda'í, aged 47, a brilliant teacher of the Faith, who was a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly and the mother of several children, including Bahrám Yalda'í, who had been executed on 16 June. Although the provisions made for hangings varies from prison to prison it seems clear from reports that the desired end is generally not accomplished by the method in which the body drops from a considerable height, the neck is broken and death is swift, but by the less humane method of having the victim stand on a chair or low support which is then removed, or sometimes by slow elevation of the victim by a pulley, with, in either case, resultant strangulation and the maximum of suffering.


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Even before the details of the lives of these women were known a storm of public protest was registered by leaders of thought and by the media. The Guardian of 25 June 1983 carried a story, representative of those describing the hangings, under the headline `Bahá`í Women Sing and Pray on Way to Meet Hangman'. Other newspapers, echoing a paid advertisement inserted in major newspapers by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, tersely declared `Now They Are Hanging Women', while many editorials spoke of `genocide', `bloodletting', and the `reign of terror'.

Miss Shahín Dálvand, nicknamed `Shirin', was born to a Bahá`í family in Shiráz in December 1956. She was extremely diligent and was recognized as an outstanding student. Her senior thesis at the university of Shiráz where she earned her bachelor of science degree was accorded much praise by her professors. During her final year of school, Shirin's parents were in England, but despite the possible danger and her family's request that she move somewhere where she would be safer, she remained in Shiráz with her grandparents. She was, until her arrest and imprisonment on 29 November 1982, active on various Bahá`í committees, and would often visit the families of Bahá`í prisoners and martyrs. Asked during her trial if she would be willing to die for her beliefs, she replied in an unruffled manner that she was, and expressed the hope that God would help her to be steadfast in such circumstances. An eyewitness said that her responses to the interrogator seemed inspired. `Shirin had a generous and sensitive spirit and was calm and content in prison', a Bahá`í woman who was imprisoned with her has written. `I remember one day in the prison when we were having a meal together, and Shirin told us that it was her birthday, and that the year before her mother had given her a beautiful new dress as a birthday gift, and that this year her gift was to be a prisoner for Bahá`u'lláh. Since we had nothing else, each of us took a little morsel of food and placed it in Shirin's mouth, and thus celebrated her birthday.'

Imprisonment was not a new experience for Mrs. `Izzat Jánamí Ishráqí, nor for her daughter Ruyá, as they had been previously arrested and then released, but they refused to leave Shiráz, choosing instead to remain there to help the Bahá`í community. After the revolution, Mr. Ishráqí's pension was withheld because of his being a Bahá`í, but in spite of their growing hardship the Ishráqí's home continued to be used as a haven for the disconsolate and those believers who had been rendered homeless. During one of Mrs. Ishráqí's interrogations in which, because she was blindfolded she experienced great difficulty in walking, the questioner taunted her, saying, `Are you so blind that you cannot walk?' She replied, `I am merely outwardly blind, but you are inwardly blind.' Ruyá, who was training as a veterinarian until she was dismissed in the second year of her course because of her adherence to the Bahá`í Faith, was possessed of beauty and a radiant personality; she was one of the most popular Bahá`í youth of Shiráz. She led an active life and loved sports such as mountain climbing. Her sister, Ruzitá, became engaged the same day her father was killed. When Ruzitá, two days later, told her mother and sister about the death of Mr. Ishráqí, her sister said `Thank God!' and her mother calmly said, `I knew, I knew, I knew.' Ruyá had a deep affection for her father and on one occasion persuaded the judge to let her speak to her father during their interrogation. Noticing the tender exchange between them, the judge sought to capitalize on it. `What a pity,' he said. `You put yourselves through this agony only for one word; just say you are not a Bahá`í and I'll see that the three of you are released, and payment of the pension of your father resumed.' Ruyá was quick to respond. `Your honour, the love of father and mother for their daughter is a natural sentiment, but my love for my Lord and my attachment to His Cause must take precedence over my love for my parents. I will not exchange my faith for the whole world.' Asked, then, if she would insist on saying she is a Bahá`í even until the moment of her execution, Ruyá replied that she hoped to remain firm in her belief and steadfast in her love of the Blessed Beauty to the end of her life. As a child of five or six, she had dreamed one night that she was lost in a wheatfield among stalks so high that she could not find her way home, and was rescued and taken home by two men of brilliant countenance on horseback, one of whom was Bahá`u'lláh and the other `Abdu'l-Bahá.

The youngest of this group of martyrs, Miss Muná Mahúdnizhád, a schoolgirl, who as a


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result of her extreme youthfulness and conspicuous innocence became, in a sense, a symbol of the group, and whose martyrdom was greatly publicized, was born on 10 September 1965 in Yemen where her parents were pioneering, a child of the Ten Year Plan. The family returned to Irán in 1969 when the Government expelled all foreigners. Muná possessed a fine singing voice, was a good student, and had a warm, loving nature and a frank, inquisitive mind. An essay she wrote in 1981 on the topic `The fruit of Islám is freedom of consciousness and liberty; whoever tastes it benefits therefrom,' in which she expressed her frustration at being restricted, as a Bahá`í, to offering guarded private responses to questions posed about the Faith to fellow students, caused a furor in the school that resulted in the principal, a fanatical man, prohibiting her mentioning the Bahá`í religion on the school grounds, an injunction with which he she faithfully complied. When Muná and her parents were arrested on 23 October 1982, her mother protested to the guards that Muná was only a child. One of the men, who in ransacking the house had come across a poem written by Muná, retorted, `Do not call her a child. You should call her a little Bahá`í teacher. Look at this poem, it is not the work of a child. It could set the world on fire. Some day she will be a great Bahá`í teacher.' In prison she was bastinadoed, lashed on the soles of the feet with a cable, and forced to walk on her bleeding feet. Sneering guards taunted her and the other victims by setting, just out of reach, a glass of water that would have been balm for their physical agony. A book entitled The Story of Muná 1965-1983, produced by the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada in 1985, and a videotape of the Canadian musician Doug Cameron performing his composition `Muná with the Children', produced by Jack Lenz and Mr. Cameron in collaboration with other Canadian friends, were disseminated throughout the world and reached both Bahá`í and general audiences. Muná, in death, fulfilled the guard's prediction that she would be a great Bahá`í teacher. It has been stated by one of the guards that Muná asked to be the last to be hanged, and that she prayed for the `murderers' of her martyred friends. Then she is reported to have said, `In the Bahá`í Faith the kissing of hands is prohibited, and we are only allowed to kiss the hands of those who kill us for our beliefs.' Seizing the executioner's hand she kissed it lightly, then kissed the rope and placed it around her throat and, smiling, said goodbye to this world. Muná's mother, Mrs. Farkhundih Mahmúdnizhád, succeeded in gaining entry to the mortuary after the hangings, and wrote to Mrs. Táhirih Dálvand, mother of Shírín (Shahín), who was residing in the United Kingdom with her husband, `I visited them all and kissed them, and then I returned to kiss Muná once again and bid farewell to my beautiful little daughter. My eye fell upon Shírín Dálvand. I arose from bending over the pure and sanctified body of Muná and went toward Shírín. I said, "Shírín, dear, I shall give you two kisses, one on behalf of your mother, and the other on behalf of your father; accept these kisses from me!" and I bent down and kissed her twice.'

`Whether you accept it or not, I am a Bahá`í. You cannot take it away from me. I am a Bahá`í with my whole being and my whole heart.' These were words uttered by Miss Zarrín Muqímí-Abyánih at one point during her interrogation after her arrest when, having failed to convince her with arguments, the interrogator began to use foul language. Her singing, melodious voice, and her vigorous defense of the Bahá`í Faith, caused one of her interrogators to declare that she should have obtained a degree in public speaking. Zarrín, the daughter of Umm-i-Hání and Husáyn Muqímí-Abyánih, was born on 23 August 1954 in the beautiful village of Abyánih, located at the foot of a mountain between Isfáhán and Káshán, and was raised in Tihrán. Even as a child she used to stand on a chair and recite prose and poems in her clear voice. She was an honour student in high school and at age 21 graduated from the University of Tihrán where she obtained her degree in English literature. She memorized the entire text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, made a thorough study of the Qur'án, and was tireless in service to the Faith. A deep attachment existed between Zarrín and her father and the two would spend hours discussing the Bahá`í teachings. When her attempt to obtain employment as a school teacher in Abyánih where the villagers made clear she was welcome was rejected because the authorities did not want a Bahá`í residing there, she accepted a job as administrative assistant, interpreter and accountant in a petrochemical plant near Marvdasht, not far from Shiráz,


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where her father was in charge of maintenance of the house of the Báb and other Bahá`í properties, but she was discharged after the revolution, with seven other Bahá`í employees. In taking leave of her supervisor, Zarrín so brilliantly expounded the Cause that her dismissal became a means of proclamation throughout the company. When news of her death reached the company driver who used to transport Zarrín to her office, he exclaimed: `O God! Why should I have known and served an angel, and now hear the anguish of her martyrdom!' An accomplished poet, Zarrín wrote the following stanza in honour of one of her dearly loved Bahá`í teachers, Mr. Háshim Farnúsh, who was martyred on 23 June 1981:

O God! My teacher is now the teacher of Holy Souls,
He sings the divine song among the denizens of eternity.
He offered his breast as a target for the burning arrows of the enemies,
He chanted new refrains of love and sacrifice,
And at last he tinged with his crimson blood
The pale leaves of history.
He wrote a final counsel for his pupils:
`If we are true lovers of that Peerless Beloved,
Why should we shrink from His test?'

Time after time during her trial, the judge who was Zarrín's interrogator pressed her to recant, and threatened her with execution if she did not. On one occasion she replied, `How can I make you understand that my being exists solely for Bahá`u'lláh, the object of my hope and love is Bahá`u'lláh, and my heart is also of Bahá`u'lláh.' `I will tear your heart out of your breast,' the judge replied. `Even then that heart will cry out "Bahá`u'lláh!", "Bahá`u'lláh!", "Bahá`u'lláh!"' Zarrín retorted. Later, she wearily reminded him of his first interrogation of her. `Do you think that I can deny the truth? I told you the first day I would not recant. If you try me for months and years, my response will be the same.' Zarrín's parents were also arrested but were subsequently released.

A graduate in physics from the University of Shiráz in 1979, Miss Mahshíd Nirúmand was ridiculed by her interrogator, who boasted that although he did not complete high school, he was in a position of power and was questioning a university graduate: `What an education! A graduate in physics!' he jeered.

Mahshíd was born in Shiráz in 1955. Until her arrest December 1982 she had served as a youth advisor and as a member of a number of Bahá`í service committees. She was also an assistant to an Auxiliary Board member. Throughout her long imprisonment she was strong, steadfast, and solicitous of others, often sharing her food with her fellow prisoners and encouraging them to be staunch. She was, by nature, sensitive and retiring, and although she was a lioness in the strength of her faith, she had a calm and soothing disposition, and a dignified bearing. She spoke little, but when she did it was to the point and revealed her profound grasp of the teachings of Bahá`u'lláh.

Noticing her demureness even when being cross-examined, the judge who was conducting her interrogation exclaimed, on one occasion, `Your meekness and your non-interference in politics are banners that you Bahá`ís hold in your hands to conquer the world, and so far you have been successful. All the foreign radio broadcasts are talking about the Bahá`ís being wronged in Irán!' Confronted with the death sentence for failing to recant, Mahshíd replied, `I have found the path to Divine Reality and I am not prepared to abandon it. Therefore, I am willing to abide by the court's verdict.' A young Bahá`í who was able to view the bodies of the women after their martyrdom wrote a poignant report in which he described Mahshíd as appearing to be in a deep, peaceful sleep. Muná, the youngest, lay close by, her head resting on Mahshíd's shoulder, as if seeking strength and solace.

Miss Símín Sábirí was the daughter of Husayn and Tavus Pampúsíyán Sábirí and was born on 2 March 1958 in the village of Dahbíd in Fárs Province. Her father was from a Muslim background, and her mother from a Jewish one, but her father, and the parents of her mother, had independently investigated and accepted the Bahá`í Faith. Símín's father was a widower when he married her mother and had two sons and four daughters by his first marriage. Símín was the youngest of the five children born of the new union. After completing high school Símín studied typewriting and acquired other secretarial skills and found employment in an agricultural company in Marvdasht.

In November 1978 when the homes of many Bahá`ís in Shiráz were burned and looted, the


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Sábirí residence was attacked by a raging mob who threw stones and broke windows and threatened the family. Although she was injured by broken glass, Símín remained cheerful throughout the incident. She and her family took refuge with relatives and about a month later their home in Shiráz was confiscated, as were the homes of other Bahá`í families. Ultimately on 26 October 1982, Símín was imprisoned.

Símín Sábirí has been described as one of the most fearless of the group of women who were martyred together. She had been a member of the Bahá`í Education Committee in Shiráz, responsible for the continuing education of Bahá`ís about their Faith and its Writings, and she was the youngest assistant to a member of the Auxiliary Board. During her interrogations, she would constantly try to refute the accusations and correct the misinformation of her interrogators. Throughout her imprisonment she remained strong and resilient, and did not yield to sorrow, but comforted and encouraged the other believers.

A Bahá`í who was imprisoned with her has written, `Símín was radiant, courageous and swift-thinking. Her whole being was suffused with love of Bahá`u'lláh, and she had a happy and smiling face. Even in prison she did not stop smiling. She was a symbol of absolute detachment, a true lover of the spiritual path and aflame with a desire to serve the Cause of God. "It is not important how they treat us here", she was often heard to remark in prison, "but what is important is that our interrogators realize the goal of the Bahá`í Faith and its administrative order. We have unveiled the nature of the Bahá`í administrative order and introduced and proclaimed the Faith. It is important that the truth is being made known to judges all across Irán in order that they might understand that the Bahá`í Faith is a religion, not a political movement." She appeared willing to overlook the more cynical view that the stronger the sunlight grows, the blinder bats become.' When a female relative called at the prison to collect `Símín's clothing after her martyrdom, she apologized to the guards and other workers that her relation had been their guest for so many months and said aloud, as she signed the receipt in the prison book, `Dear Símín, may my life be a sacrifice to you! We are proud of you, and I am happy to sign a document that testifies so eloquently to your success.' Though some of the guards and workers bowed their heads with shame, others defended the right of the Islamic Republic to execute those who it regards as enemies. `Símín was twenty-four years and four months old at the time of her martyrdom, her mother has stated. She tried very hard to prepare her parents for their loss. `Don't expect that I shall be allowed to leave here,' she warned her mother on one occasion. And always she pleaded with her family to recognize that she was content with the will of God and prayed that they would be able to reconcile themselves to separation from her.

Mrs. Táhirih Arjumándí Siyávushí had served as a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Yásúj, near Shiráz, had been active as an assistant to the Auxiliary Board and as a member of the committee on deepening, and she had memorized, as had Miss Muqímí-Abyánih, the entire text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Mrs. Siyávushí, a nurse, had been fired from her job for being a Bahá`í but had later secured employment in a private hospital. After being imprisoned she was, for a time, held in solitary confinement where the cells have no bathrooms or toilets--facilities the prisoners may use only three times in twenty-four hours, at the discretion of the prison guards. Frequently, to make her recant, the guards told her that her husband would be tortured to death. When the prison authorities brought Mr. and Mrs. Siyávushí together in an effort to persuade them that the other had recanted, she could barely recognize her husband because he had been so severely beaten, and indeed the prison personnel did not think he would live through the night. The guards felt so sorry for him that they asked his wife to send him some fruit, but he could not eat it. Although he recovered to some degree, he was hanged shortly afterward. When Mrs. Siyávushí realized that she, too, would be executed, she encouraged her family not to mourn. When she saw her father for the last time, she said, `Look how beautiful I am!' And she was laughing. Some time after Mrs. Siyávushí's execution, a Bahá`í who had been imprisoned with her but who was later freed, brought to the World Centre a pair of grey heavy cotton ankle-length socks which had belonged to Táhirih, and which she insisted her fellow prisoner wear when the latter was taken away


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to be whipped on the soles of her feet, in order to provide a greater degree of protection, as she had only thin stockings. When the prisoner spoke of her intention, if released, of presenting the socks to the Universal House of Justice, Táhirih wished her the fulfillment of her heart's desire. `If you are released, it will be with honour,' she said. Then she counselled: `Leave Irán and tell the world what we suffered, what the enemies did to us. And tell the Bahá`ís, too, so they will utterly detach themselves from material things, will not be content with the glitter and illusions of this contingent world, and will devote their lives to service to the Cause.'

Born in 1958 in Sarvistán, about fifty miles from Shiráz, to a family of modest means, Miss Akhtar Thábit was a model pupil, as her teachers have testified, cheerful and willing and always ready to assist her classmates in the study of their lessons. Humility, kindness of heart, respect for her elders and an eagerness to serve others were among her distinguishing characteristics. While attending school she had to accept employment in order to assist her family. She was always attractively attired in simple and becoming clothes that she made herself. Ever devout in nature, and faithful in her duties, she served as a teacher of children's classes and was an assistant to a member of the Auxiliary Board. Hostile elements among the population of Sarvistán often attacked and molested the Bahá`ís, murdered them, and plundered their properties. On 8 November 1978, when she was still a teenager, Akhtar and her family and a large number of Bahá`ís had to abandon their homes when the enemies launched an attack. Undismayed, and with firm resolve, she continued her studies in Shiráz, graduated as a pediatric nurse and found a job caring for children in a hospital in that city. After her arrest on 23 October 1982 the hospital manager telephoned and pleaded with the authorities to release her as she was extremely capable and her services were needed. But her release was conditional upon her recanting her faith, an impossible demand. Till the time of her death she served the other prisoners, washed their clothing (considered untouchable and `defiled' by the authorities because it belonged to `infidels') and hung the clothing to dry on a line she had improvised from plastic bags; put her nursing skills at the disposal of all including the non-Bahá`í drug addicts and immoral women in other wards who relied upon her for help, claiming that the peacefulness of her countenance alone was an aid to them; and, on one occasion, restoring to consciousness a Bahá`í prisoner who had blacked out due to a heart attack, `Even at the expense of your life do you intend to remain firm in your belief?' Akhtar was asked during one of her interrogations. `I hope so, by the grace of God,' was her reply.

A member of the local Spiritual Assembly of Shiráz, Mrs. Nusrat Ghufrání Yalda'í, was known for her kindness and hospitality, and her home was considered one of the centres of Bahá`í community life in Shiráz. Like her close friend, Mrs. Túbá Záirpúr, who held a degree in Persian literature and who had been martyred on 12 March 1983, Mrs. Yalda'í had been a pupil of the noted Bahá`í teacher, Mr. Nasru'lláh Chihrihnígár. She was extremely knowledgeable about the Faith and allowed her home to be used for deepening classes and other Bahá`í gatherings. Intransigent neighbours on various occasions made trouble over the years, harassing and seeking to annoy her, and complaining to the police on the pretext that she and her guests were disturbing the peace, although their real objection was that the purpose of the meetings was to discuss the Bahá`í teachings. On at least one occasion when the police asked her to desist from holding Bahá`í meetings in her home, she refused on the grounds that it was her religious obligation to be hospitable, and to open her doors to friends and strangers alike. But that was back in what, in retrospect, might be seen as a period of relative calm, before the nightmare began in Shiráz in October 1982 when she and so many others, including her husband and son, were swept into prison. Mrs. Yaldá'í was one of the several women who were tortured and she was twice given severe beatings of as many as 200 lashes. Those who saw her after those beatings testified that the strips of her blood-soaked clothing were embedded in the weals that covered her body. Her wounds, an eyewitness recounted, were still visible after she was hanged. During her imprisonment she was cursed and reviled by her interrogators who pressed her to announce on radio and television that she had spurned the Bahá`í Faith and was inviting the Bahá`ís to follow her example by recanting and becoming Muslims. `I am but a drop compared to the ocean of the Cause of


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Bahá`u'lláh,' she replied. `Do you think that you can stop the sun from shining? Do you think I was a member of the Bahá`í Assembly when this religion was established? You should understand that the light of the Cause of God will not disappear even if I and others were to recant.' Her son, Bahrám, who was executed on 16 June 1983, it was learned, on hearing of his decree of death, danced from the courtroom to the prison--a truly worthy son of such an outstanding mother.

`Outrage in this country [U.S.A.] has continued to build following the public hanging in June of 17 Bahá`ís--ten of them women and teenage girls--in the southern city of Shiráz,' declared a report in the 29 August 1983 issue of U.S. News & World Report. `Official charges, such as spying for foreign powers, have grown more transparent in recent killings of girls and adolescents ... Most observers have little hope that the situation will change very soon.'

A report reached the World Centre about this time, illustrating conditions in the prisons: `Being unwilling to touch the `unclean' Bahá`ís, the guards blindfold the Bahá`í prisoners, give them the end of a folded newspaper the other end of which they hold in their hand, and lead them to the interrogation room. In the interrogation room the blindfolded prisoners are made to sit down next to and facing the wall. Then the blindfold is removed and each prisoner is given a file containing questions which must be answered either in writing or verbally without turning around. The responses often produce insult and investive on the part of the judge or examiner, who seeks by every means to humiliate the prisoners. Non-Bahá`í prisoners at first shun the Bahá`ís because they are told they are unclean, but soon they become friendly and realize that all the allegations against Bahá`ís are false. There are a few spies among the prisoners, but the Bahá`í prisoners conduct themselves in a manner above reproach. Prisoners take turns in cleaning up and performing other duties in prison, but the young Bahá`ís often take the place of their elders. Bahá`ís are prevented from saying prayers in prison; they have to rise in the middle of the night when others are asleep and whisper their prayers. Trial of the prisoners is carried out in three stages. Stage one is the investigation in which the prisoner is asked to give information about himself and other Bahá`ís inside or outside the prison. Sometimes the prisoner is taken to a room next to the torture basement, where he or she can hear the cries of agony of those being tortured, and is threatened with the same punishment if he or she withholds information. Stage two is verbal or written interrogation in the courtroom by the district attorney. Stage three is the court procedure in which the religious magistrate acts as a judge and issues the final verdict. In many instances Bahá`í prisoners are subjected to physical torture.'

The response of the Universal House of Justice to the tragedy in Shiráz was to send the following cable on 24 June 1983 to `Bahá`í Youth Throughout the World':

RECENT MARTYRDOMS COURAGEOUS STEADFAST YOUTH IN SHIRAZ, SCENE INAUGURATION MISSION MARTYR-PROPHET, REMINISCENT ACTS VALOUR YOUTHFUL IMMORTALS HEROIC AGE. CONFIDENT BAHA'I YOUTH THIS GENERATION WILL NOT ALLOW THIS FRESH BLOOD SHED ON VERY SOIL WHERE FIRST WAVE PERSECUTION FAITH TOOK PLACE REMAIN UNVINDICATED OR THIS SUBLIME SACRIFICE UNAVAILING. AT THIS HOUR OF AFFLICTION AND GRIEF, AND AS WE APPROACH ANNIVERSARY MARTYRDOM BLESSED BAB CALL ON BAHA'I YOUTH TO REDEDICATE THEMSELVES TO URGENT NEEDS CAUSE BAHA`U'LLAH. LET THEM RECALL BLESSINGS HE PROMISED THOSE WHO IN PRIME OF YOUTH WILL ARISE TO ADORN THEIR HEARTS WITH HIS LOVE AND REMAIN STEADFAST AND FIRM. LET THEM CALL TO MIND EXPECTATIONS MASTER FOR EACH TO BE A FEARLESS LION, A MUSKLADEN BREEZE WAFTING OVER MEADS VIRTUE. LET THEM MEDITATE OVER UNIQUE QUALITIES YOUTH SO GRAPHICALLY MENTIONED IN WRITINGS GUARDIAN WHO PRAISED THEIR ENTERPRISING AND ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT, THEIR VIGOUR, THEIR ALERTNESS, OPTIMISM AND EAGERNESS, AND THEIR DIVINELY-APPOINTED, HOLY AND ENTHRALLING TASKS. WE FERVENTLY PRAY AT SACRED THRESHOLD THAT ARMY OF SPIRITUALLY AWAKENED AND DETERMINED YOUTH MAY IMMEDIATELY ARISE RESPONSE NEEDS PRESENT HOUR DEVOTE IN EVER GREATER MEASURE THEIR VALUED ENERGIES TO PROMOTE BOTH ON HOMEFRONTS AND FOREIGN FIELDS, CAUSE THEIR ALL-WATCHFUL AND EXPECTANT LORD. MAY THEY MANIFEST SAME SPIRIT SO RECENTLY EVINCED THEIR MARTYR BRETHREN CRADLE FAITH, SCALE SUCH HEIGHTS OF ENDEAVOUR AS TO BECOME PRIDE THEIR PEERS CONSOLATION HEARTS PERSIAN BELIEVERS, AND DEMONSTRATE THAT THE FLAME HIS OMNIPOTENT


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HAND HAS KINDLED BURNS EVER BRIGHT AND THAT ITS LIFE-IMPARTING WARMTH AND RADIANCE SHALL SOON ENVELOP PERMEATE WHOLE EARTH.'

Scarcely had the Bahá`í world community assimilated the distressing news of the hangings of the ten women in Shiráz when, on 3 July 1983, the Universal House of Justice sent another cable:

`SWIFT ON HEELS EXECUTION YOUNG BAHA'IS SHIRAZ ANNOUNCE DISTRESSING NEWS YET ANOTHER YOUNG SERVANT BAHA`U'LLAH THAT CITY, 24 YEAR OLD SUHAYL HUSHMAND, HANGED 28 JUNE, BRINGING TO 142 TOTAL NUMBER BAHA'IS KILLED SINCE BEGINNING OF ISLAMIC REVOLUTION, NOT INCLUDING 14 WHO DISAPPEARED. FATE OTHER PRISONERS SHIRAZ IN BALANCE ...'

Mr. Suhayl Húshmand was born in Sarvistán in the Province of Fárs. He was arrested in Shiráz with others, in October 1982, and, as attested to by non-Bahá`í prisoners, was subjected to fierce interrogations and maltreatment, including torture. Enemies of the Faith, in an effort to weaken the morale of the other Bahá`í prisoners, almost immediately spread the rumour that Suhayl had broken down under pressure and recanted, but his strength of character was too well known among his friends, and the falsehood was not believed. `He suffered beyond human endurance,' one friend wrote, `but he remained steadfast.' When Mr. Húshmand learned of the execution of the six believers on 16 June he was distressed not to have been included, and related to a friend that it was perhaps because he had not yet been spiritually purified. `God has ordained that I go to His Threshold with a perfectly clean soul; I will be summoned one of these days,' he said. A few days later, hearing his name called over the loudspeaker, he put on the fresh clothing he had prepared for this eventuality, embraced and took leave of his fellow prisoners, and a few hours after sunset went to meet the hangman calmly and triumphantly.

On 4 July 1983 yet another message was sent by the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá`ís of the world:

`ATROCITIES MOUNTING AGAINST BRETHREN CRADLE FAITH, NOW DIRECTED TOWARDS DEFENSELESS VILLAGERS NEAR SARI IN MAZINDARAN. IN VILLAGE OF IVAL OVER 130 BAHA'IS INCLUDING WOMEN AND CHILDREN WERE HELD CAPTIVE FOR THREE DAYS IN WALLED-IN OPEN FIELD WITHOUT FOOD AND WATER. WHEN PRESSURES TO RECANT FAITH ACCEPT ISLAM FAILED THEY WERE ALLOWED TO RETURN TO THEIR HOMES. HOWEVER, SAME NIGHT, JULY 1ST, THEY WERE ATTACKED BY VILLAGERS AND FORCED HIDE IN NEARBY FOREST.

`FURTHER DISTRESSING NEWS TWO PROMINENT BAHA'IS TIHRAN, JAHANGIR HIDAYATI AND AHMAD BASHIRI, KIDNAPPED. APPEALS TO AUTHORITIES SO FAR UNHEEDED, ANY KNOWLEDGE THEIR ABDUCTION OR WHEREABOUTS DENIED...'

On 27 July 1983 the Universal House of Justice sent the following message to Bahá`í communities:

`PRESSURES MOUNTING AGAINST BAHA'IS IRAN, PARTICULARLY IN TIHRAN WHERE MEMBERS OF BAHA'I INSTITUTIONS ARE BEING HUNTED, THEIR HOMES RAIDED. IF NOT FOUND, THEIR FAMILIES ARE BEING HARASSED...'

The House of Justice went on to say that 22 believers including 11 women were arrested between 11-20 July, and that on 16 July several Bahá`ís of Yazd, among whom were three who had been imprisoned in that city, were banished to Khásh, Baluchistan.

The above news was followed by the announcement telexed by the House of Justice on 3 August 1983 that `PERSECUTIONS IRANIAN FRIENDS REMAIN UNABATED. WAVES ARRESTS PROMINENT BAHA'IS RECENTLY INTENSIFIED...'

The Iranian authorities, early in 1979, had seized all the records of the National Spiritual Assembly of Irán; on 21 August 1980 they abducted all nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly who were never seen again; and on 27 December 1981 they executed eight of the nine believers who had been elected to replace the first group (the ninth having absented himself from the meeting due to illness). Then, in what the authorities surely must have regarded as the crowning blow to the Bahá`í community, on 29 August 1983 they banned all Bahá`í administrative and community activities and made membership of a Spiritual Assembly a criminal offense.

The Universal House of Justice on 13 September 1983 communicated this information to the Bahá`í world by cable in these words: `SORELY TRIED COMMUNITY GREATEST NAME IRAN HAS IN RECENT DAYS SUSTAINED YET ANOTHER CRUEL BLOW OPENING NEW CHAPTER ITS TURBULENT HISTORY. ON 29 AUGUST


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IN UNPRECEDENTED MOVE REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT THROUGH STATEMENT ISSUED ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNOUNCED BAN BAHA'I ADMINISTRATION, RECITING USUAL FALSE ACCUSATIONS STATING EXISTENCE ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALLY CONSIDERED TO BE AGAINST LAWS CONSTITUTION COUNTRY. HOWEVER STATEMENT SAID BAHA'IS MAY PRACTICE BELIEFS AS PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS PROVIDED THEY DO NOT TEACH OR INVITE OTHERS TO JOIN FAITH, THEY DO NOT FORM ASSEMBLIES OR HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ADMINISTRATION. SERVING IN BAHA'I ADMINISTRATION NOW SPECIFIED AS CRIMINAL ACT. THIS LATEST ONSLAUGHT MERCILESS COMMUNITY CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED IMPLACABILITY FANATICAL ELEMENTS IN THEIR DRIVE SUPPRESS LIGHT GOD'S INFANT FAITH IN LAND ITS FIRST GLEAMING...'

The House of Justice went on to report that the National Spiritual Assembly had immediately taken action to dissolve the Bahá`í administration. The House of Justice also expressed its confidence that the steadfast Iranian believers would face their new situation with radiant fortitude. Bahá`ís residing elsewhere were called upon to `VINDICATE BY THEIR RECONSECRATION TO IMMEDIATE SACRED TASKS UNABATED SUFFERING THEIR GRIEVOUSLY WRONGED IRANIAN BRETHREN. INDEED ALL NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES URGED TAKE STEPS STRENGTHEN FOUNDATION BAHA'I INSTITUTIONS THEIR COUNTRIES AS TRIBUTE SACRIFICES COURAGEOUSLY ACCEPTED MEMBERS COMMUNITY BAHA`U'LLAH'S NATIVE LAND.'

In response to the ban, on 3 September 1983, the National Spiritual Assembly immediately informed the Attorney-General of its willingness to obey the law, and took the opportunity to refute all the false charges that had been made against the Bahá`ís. The text of this document, `An open letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá`ís of Irán about the banning of the Bahá`í Administration', copies of which were distributed to more than two thousand important officials and other prominent people in Irán, and, through the Universal House of Justice, to all National Spiritual Assemblies, is as follows:

`Recently the esteemed Public Prosecutor of the Islamic Revolution of the country, in an interview that was published in the newspapers, declared that the continued functioning of the Bahá`í religious and spiritual administration is banned and that membership in it is considered to be a crime. This declaration has been made after certain unjustified accusations have been levelled against the Bahá`í community of Irán and after a number of its members--ostensibly for imaginary and fabricated crimes but in reality merely for the sake of their beliefs--have been either executed, or arrested and imprisoned. The majority of those who have been imprisoned have not yet been brought to trial.

`The Bahá`í community finds the conduct of the authorities and the judges bewildering and lamentable--as indeed would any fair-minded observer who is unblinded by malice. The authorities are the refuge of the people; the judges in pursuit of their work of examining and ascertaining the truth and facts in legal cases devote years of their lives to studying the law and, when uncertain of a legal point spend hours pouring over copious volumes in order to cross a "t" and dot an "i". Yet these very people consider themselves to be justified in brazenly bringing false accusations against a band of innocent people, without fear of the Day of Judgement, without even believing the calumnies they utter against their victims, and having exerted not the slightest effort to investigate to any degree the validity of the charges they are making. "Methinks they are not believers in the Day of Judgement." (Háfiz)

`The honourable Prosecutor has again introduced the baseless and fictitious story that Bahá`ís engage in espionage, but without providing so much as one document in support of the accusation, without presenting proof in any form, and without any explanation as to what is the mission in this country of this extraordinary number of "spies": what sort of information do they obtain and from what sources? Whither do they relay it, and for what purpose? What kind of "spy" is an eighty-five-year-old man from Yazd who has never set foot outside his village? Why do these alleged spies not hide themselves, conceal their religious beliefs and exert every effort to penetrate, by every stratagem, the Government's information centres and offices? Why has no Bahá`í "spy" been arrested anywhere else in the world? How could students, housewives, innocent young girls, and old men and women, like those blameless Bahá`ís who have recently been delivered to the gallows in Irán, or who have become targets for the darts


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of prejudice and enmity, be "spies"? How could the Bahá`í farmers of the villages of Afús, Chigán, Qal`ih Malik (near Isfáhán), and those of the village of Núk in Birjand, be "spies"? What Secret Intelligence documents have been found in their possession? What espionage equipment has come to hand? What "spying" activities were engaged in by the primary schoolchildren who have been expelled from their schools?

`And how strange! The Public Prosecutor perhaps does not know, or does not care to know, that spying is an element of politics, while non-interference in politics is an established principle of the Bahá`í Faith. On the contrary, Bahá`ís love their country and never permit themselves to be traitors. `Abdu'l-Bahá, the successor of the Founder of the Bahá`í Cause, says: "Any abasement is bearable except betraying one's own country, and any sin is forgivable other than dishonouring the government and inflicting harm upon the nation."

`All the other accusations made against the Bahá`ís by the honourable Public Prosecutor of the Revolution are similarly groundless. He brands the Bahá`í community with accusations of subversion and corruption. For example, on the basis of a manifestly forged interview, the falsity of which has been dealt with in a detailed statement, he accuses the Bahá`í community of hoarding, an act which its members would consider highly reprehensible. The Prosecutor alleges that the Bahá`í administration sanctioned the insensible act of hoarding, yet he subtly overlooks the fact that with the proceeds that might be realized from the sale of unusable automobile spare parts whose total value is some 70 million tumáns--the value of the stock of any medium-sized store for spare parts--it would be impossible to overthrow a powerful government whose daily expenditures amount to hundreds of millions of tumáns. If the Public Prosecutor chooses to label the Bahá`í administration as a network of espionage, let him at least consider it intelligent enough not to plan the overthrow of such a strong regime by hoarding a few spare parts! Yes, such allegations of corruption and subversion are similar to those hurled against us at the time of the Episcopalian case in Isfáhán when this oppressed community was accused of collaboration with foreign agents as a result of which seven innocent Bahá`ís of Yazd were executed.[1] Following this the falsity of the charges was made known and the Public Prosecutor announced the episode to be the outcome of a forgery. `Bahá`ís are accused of collecting contributions and transferring sums of money to foreign countries. How strange! If Muslims, in accordance with their sacred and respected spiritual beliefs, send millions of tumáns to Karbilá, Najaf and Jerusalem, or to other Muslim Holy Places outside Irán to be spent on the maintenance and upkeep of the Islamic Sacred Shrines, it is considered very praiseworthy; but if a Bahá`í--even during the time in which the transfer of foreign currency was allowed--sends a negligible amount for his international community to be used for the repair and maintenance of the Holy Places of his Faith, it is considered that he has committed an unforgivable sin and it is counted as proof that he has done so in order to strengthen other countries. `Accusations of this nature are many but all are easy to investigate. If just and impartial people and God-fearing judges will only do so, the falsity of these spurious accusations will be revealed in case after case. The Bahá`í community emphatically requests that such accusations be investigated openly in the presence of juries composed of judges and international observers so that, once and for all, the accusations may be discredited and their repetition prevented. The basic principles and beliefs of the Bahá`ís have been repeatedly

    * Khomeini, in his lectures on Islamic Government (1973), had for his own purposes falsely linked the Christian missions in Irán with the Bahá`ís as corrupters of Muslim youth. In August 1980 pressure against the Christian community in general began to mount. The 27 August 1980 issue (No. 1079) (5 Sháhrivar 1359 A. H.) of the Tihrán-based newspaper Kayhán carried a story released through the Paris agency about the discovery in an Episcopalian church in Irán of a document purporting to be a receipt of US $500 million signed by a clergyman who was said to be spying for the C.I.A. The sum was, the report said, to be split among various agencies including `the head of the Bahá`ís and anti-revolutionary groups' and was described as a preliminary step in the anticipated terrorist activities including bombing the residence of Ayatollah Khomeini. Soon after the hanging of the seven Bahá`ís, and it may be concluded because groups other than Bahá`ís were affected, the Public Prosecutor announced that the document was a forgery.


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proclaimed and set forth in writing during the past five years. Apparently these communications, either by deliberate design or by mischance, have not received any attention, otherwise accusations such as those described above would not have been repeated by one of the highest and most responsible authorities. This in itself is a proof that the numerous communications referred to were not accorded the attention of the leaders; therefore, we mention them again.

`The Bahá`í Faith confesses the unity of God and the justice of the divine Essence. It recognizes that Almighty God is an exalted, unknowable and concealed identity, sanctified from ascent and descent, from egress and regress, and from assuming a physical body. The Bahá`í Faith which professes the existence of the invisible God, the One, the Single, the Eternal, the Peerless, bows before the loftiness of His Threshold, believes in all divine Manifestations, considers all the Prophets from Adam to the Seal of the Prophets as true divine Messengers Who are the Manifestations of Truth in the world of creation, accepts Their Books as having come from God, believes in the continuation of the divine outpourings, emphatically believes in reward and punishment and, uniquely among existing revealed religions outside Islám, accepts the Prophet Muhammad as a true Prophet and the Qur'án as the Word of God.

`The Bahá`í Faith embodies independent principles and laws. It has its own Holy Book. It prescribes pilgrimage and worship. A Bahá`í performs obligatory prayers and observes a fast. He gives, according to his beliefs, tithes and contributions. He is required to be of upright conduct, to manifest a praiseworthy character, to love all mankind, to be of service to the world of humanity and to sacrifice his own interests for the good and well-being of his fellow kind. He is forbidden to commit unbecoming deeds. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: "A Bahá`í is known by the attributes manifested by him, not by his name; he is recognized by his character, not by his person."

`Shoghi Rabbani, the Guardian of the Bahá`í Faith, says: "... a person who is not adorned with the ornaments of virtue, sanctity, and morality, is not a true Bahá`í, even though he may call himself one and be known as such".

`He also says: "The friends have been required to be righteous, well-wishing, forbearing, sanctified, pure, detached from all else save God, severed from the trappings of this world and adorned with the mantle of a goodly character and godly attributes."

`The teachings and laws of the Bahá`í religion testify to this truth. Fortunately, the books and writings which have been plundered in abundance from the homes of Bahá`ís and are available to the authorities, bear witness to the truth of these assertions. Bahá`ís, in keeping with their spiritual beliefs, stay clear of politics; they do not support or reject any party, group or nation; they do not champion or attack any ideology or any specific political philosophy; they shrink from and abhor political agitations. The Guardian of the Bahá`í Cause says, "The people of Bahá, under the jurisdiction of whatsoever state or government they may be residing, should conduct themselves with honesty and sincerity, trustworthiness and rectitude.... They are neither thirsty for prominence, nor acquisitive of power; they are neither adepts at dissimulation and hypocrisy, nor are they seekers after wealth and influence; they neither crave for the pomp and circumstance of the high office, nor do they lust after the glory of titles and ranks. They are averse to affectation and ostentation, and shrink from the use of coercive force; they have closed their eyes to all but God, and set their hearts on the firm and incontrovertible promises of their Lord.... Oblivious to themselves, they have occupied their energies in working towards the good of society.... While vigilantly refusing to accept political posts, they should whole-heartedly welcome the chance to assume administrative positions; for the primary purpose of the people of Bahá is to advance the interests and promote the welfare of the nation.... Such is the method of the Bahá`ís; such is the conduct of all spiritually illumined souls; and aught else is manifest error."

`Also, Bahá`ís, in accordance with their exalted teachings, are duty bound to be obedient to their government. Elucidating this subject, Shoghi Rabbani says: "The people of Bahá are required to obey their respective governments, and to demonstrate their truthfulness and good will towards the authorities.... Bahá`ís, in every land and without any exception, should ... be obedient and bow to the clear


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instructions and the declared decrees issued by the authorities. They must faithfully carry out such directives."

`Bahá`í administration has no aim except the good of all nations and it does not take any steps that are against the public good. Contrary to the conception the word "administration" may create in the mind because of the similarity in name, it does not resemble the current organizations of political parties; it does not interfere in political affairs; and it is the safeguard against the involvement of Bahá`ís in subversive political activities. Its high ideals are "to improve the characters of men; to extend the scope of knowledge; to abolish ignorance and prejudice; to strengthen the foundations of true religion in the hearts; to encourage self-reliance and discourage false imitation; ... to uphold truthfulness, audacity, frankness, and courage; to promote craftsmanship and agriculture; ... to educate, on a compulsory basis, children of both sexes; to insist on integrity in business transactions; to lay stress on the observance of honesty and piety; ... to acquire mastery and skill in the modern sciences and arts; to promote the interests of the public; ... to obey outwardly and inwardly and with true loyalty the regulations enacted by state and government; ... to honour, to extol and to follow the example of those who have distinguished themselves in science and learning". And again, "... to help the needy from every creed or sect, and to collaborate with the people of the country in all welfare services".

`In brief, whatever the clergy in other religions undertake individually and by virtue of their appointment to their positions, the Bahá`í administration performs collectively and through an elective process.

`The statements made by the esteemed Public Prosecutor of the Revolution do not seem to have legal basis, because in order to circumscribe individuals and deprive them of the rights which have not been denied them by the Constitution, it is necessary to enact special legislation, provided that legislation is not contradictory to the Constitution. It was hoped that the recent years would have witnessed, on the one hand, the administration of divine justice--a principle promoted by the true religion of Islám and prescribed by all monotheistic religions--and, on the other, and coupled with an impartial investigation of the truths of the Bahá`í Faith, the abolition or at least mitigation of discriminations, restrictions and pressures suffered by Bahá`ís over the past 135 years. Alas, on the contrary, because of long-standing misunderstandings and prejudices, the difficulties increased immensely and the portals of calamity were thrown wide open in the faces of the long-suffering and sorely oppressed Bahá`ís of Irán who were, to an even greater degree, deprived of their birthrights through the systematic machinations of Government officials who are supposed to be the refuge of the public, and of some impostors in the garb of divines, who engaged in official or unofficial spreading of mischievous and harmful accusations and calumnies, and issued, in the name of religious and judicial authorities, unlawful decrees and verdicts.

`Many are the pure and innocent lives that have been snuffed out; many the distinguished heads that have adorned the hangman's noose; and many the precious breasts that became the targets of firing squads. Vast amounts of money and great quantities of personal property have been plundered or confiscated. Many technical experts and learned people have been tortured and condemned to long-term imprisonment and are still languishing in dark dungeons, deprived of the opportunity of placing their expertise at the service of the Government and the nation. Numerous are the self-sacrificing employees of the Government who spent their lives in faithful service but who were dismissed from work and afflicted with poverty and need because of hatred and prejudice. Even the owners of private firms and institutions were prevented from engaging Bahá`ís. Many privately-owned Bahá`í establishments have been confiscated. Many tradesmen have been denied the right to continue working by cancellation of their business licences. Bahá`í youth have been denied access to education in many schools and in all universities and institutions of higher education. Bahá`í university students abroad are deprived of receiving money for their education, and others who wish to pursue their studies outside Irán have been denied exit permits. Bahá`ís, including the very sick whose only hope for cure was to receive medical treatment in specialized medical centres in foreign lands, have been prevented from leaving the country. Bahá`í cemeteries have been confiscated and bodies rudely


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disinterred. Numerous have been the days when a body has remained unburied while the bereaved family pleaded to have a permit issued and a burial place assigned so that the body might be decently buried. As of today, thousands of Bahá`ís have been divested of their homes and forced to live as exiles. Many have been driven from their villages and dwelling places and are living as wanderers and stranded refugees in other parts of Irán with no haven and refuge but the Court of the All-Merciful God and the loving-kindness of their friends and relatives.

`It is a pity that the mass media, newspapers and magazines, either do not want or are not allowed to publish any news about the Bahá`í community of Irán or to elaborate upon what is happening. If they were free to do so and were unbiased in reporting the daily news, volumes would have been compiled describing the inhuman cruelty to and oppression of the innocent. For example, if they were allowed to do so, they would have written that in Shiráz, seven courageous men and ten valiant women--seven of whom were girls in the prime of their lives--audaciously rejected the suggestion of the religious judge that they recant their Faith or, at least, dissemble their belief, and preferred death to the concealment of their Faith. The women, after hours of waiting with dried lips, shrouded themselves in their chádours, kissed the noose of the gallows, and with intense love offered up their souls for the One Who profereth life. The observers of this cruel scene might well ask forgiveness for the murderers of Karbilá, since they, despite their countless atrocities, did not put women to the sword nor harass the sick and infirm. Alas, tongues are prevented from making utterance and pens are broken and the hidden cause of these brutalities is not made manifest to teach the world a lesson. The Public Prosecutor alleges that they were spies. Gracious God! Where in history can one point to a spy who readily surrendered his life in order to prove the truth of his belief?

`Unfortunately it is beyond the scope of this letter to recount the atrocities inflicted upon the guiltless Bahá`ís of Irán or to answer, one, by one, the accusations levelled against them. But let us ask all just and fair-minded people only one question: If, according to the much publicized statements of the Public Prosecutor, Bahá`ís are not arrested and executed because of their belief, and are not even imprisoned on that account, how is it that, when a group of them are arrested and each is charged with the same "crime" of "spying", if one of them recants his belief, he is immediately freed, a photograph of him and a description of his defection are victoriously featured in the newspapers, and respect and glory are heaped upon him? What kind of spying, subversion, illegal accumulation of goods, aggression or conspiracy or other "crime" can it be that is capable of being blotted out upon the recantation of one's beliefs? Is this not a clear proof of the absurdity of the accusations?

`In spite of all this, the Bahá`í community of Irán, whose principles have been described earlier in this statement, announces the suspension of the Bahá`í organizations throughout Irán in order to establish its good intentions and in conformity with its basic tenets concerning complete obedience to the instructions of the Government. Henceforth, until the time when, God willing, the misunderstandings are eliminated and the realities are at last made manifest to the authorities, the National Assembly and all Local Spiritual Assemblies and their Committees are disbanded, and no one may any longer be designated a member of the Bahá`í Administration.

`The Bahá`í community of Irán hopes that this step will be considered a sign of its complete obedience to the Government in power. It further hopes that the authorities--including the esteemed Public Prosecutor of the Islamic Revolution who says that there is no opposition to and no enmity towards individual Bahá`ís, who has acknowledged the existence of a large Bahá`í community and has, in his interview, guaranteed its members the right to live and be free in their acts of worship--will reciprocate by proving their good intentions and the truth of their assurances by issuing orders that pledge, henceforth:

    To bring to an end the persecutions, arrests, torture and imprisonment of Bahá`ís for imaginary crimes and on baseless pretexts, because God knows--and so do the authorities--that the only "crime" of which these innocent ones are guilty is that of their beliefs, and not the unsubstantiated accusations brought against them;


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    To guarantee the safety of their lives, their personal property and belongings, and their honour;
  1. To accord them freedom to choose their residence and occupation and the right of association based on the provisions of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic;
  2. To restore all the rights which have been taken away from them in accordance with the groundless assertions of the Public Prosecutor of the country;
  3. To restore to Bahá`í employees the rights denied them by returning them to their jobs and by paying them their due wages;
  4. To release from prison all innocent prisoners;
  5. To lift the restrictions imposed on the properties of those Bahá`ís who, in their own country, have been deprived of their belongings;
  6. To permit Bahá`í students who wish to continue their studies abroad to benefit from the same facilities that are provided to others;
  7. To permit those Bahá`í youth who have been prevented from continuing their studies in the country to resume their education;
  8. To permit those Bahá`í students stranded abroad who have been deprived of foreign exchange facilities to receive their allowances as other Iranian students do;
  9. To restore Bahá`í cemeteries and to permit Bahá`ís to bury their dead in accordance with Bahá`í burial ceremonies;
  10. To guarantee the freedom of Bahá`ís to perform their religious rites; to conduct funerals and burials including the recitation of the Prayer for the Dead; to solemnize Bahá`í marriages and divorces, and to carry out all acts of worship and laws and ordinances affecting personal status; because although Bahá`ís are entirely obedient and subordinate to the Government in the administration of the affairs which are in the jurisdiction of Bahá`í organizations, in matters of conscience and belief, and in accordance with their spiritual principles, they prefer martyrdom to recantation or the abandoning of the divine ordinances prescribed by their Faith;
  11. To desist henceforth from arresting and imprisoning anyone because of his previous membership in Bahá`í organizations.

`Finally, although the order issued by the Public Prosecutor of the Islamic Revolution was unjust and unfair, we have accepted it. We beseech God to remove the dross of prejudice from the hearts of the authorities so that, aided and enlightened by His confirmations, they will be inspired to recognize the true nature of the affairs of the Bahá`í community and come to the unalterable conviction that the affliction of atrocities and cruelties upon a pious band of wronged ones, and the shedding of their pure blood, will stain the good name and injure the prestige of any nation or government, for what will, in truth, endure are the records of good deeds, and of acts of justice and fairness, and the names of the doers of good. These will history preserve in its bosom for posterity.

    `Respectfully,
    (signed) The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá`ís of Irán
    (12 Sháhrivar 1362) [3 September 1983]'

But the troubles of the Bahá`ís of Irán were not at an end despite the swiftness of their obedience in suspending administrative activities. On 7 November 1983 the House of Justice informed the Bahá`ís of the world that `intense pressures' continued to be directed against the Bahá`í community by the authorities. `Many of these pressures are being exerted', the House of Justice wrote, `in the hope that the Bahá`ís will recant their faith and trade their love of Bahá`u'lláh for the comfort and security which the authorities offer to them in exchange.' The message went on to say that many imprisoned Bahá`ís were being tortured in an effort to make them recant and that although `no Bahá`ís have been executed since the statement calling for the disbanding of the administration of the Faith was made by the Attorney-General on 29 August, it has been reported that on 19 September a Bahá`í farmer in the town of Khuy, Mr. Akbar Haqiqí, died as the result of a beating by a mob incited by the clergy. Moreover, at least 140 Bahá`ís have been arrested in all parts of the country following the Attorney-General's statement, 50 of whom were detained on 30 October in the Caspian Sea area.' Although some Bahá`ís had been released, the Universal House of Justice reported, its records showed that the total number still imprisoned in Irán stood at over 150.

Mr. Akbar Zá'iri-Haqiqí was born in 1939 in


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the village of Ivoghli, in Khuy, Adhirbáyján, the son of Muhammad-`Alí and Zahrá Haqiqí. He finished primary school in Ivoghli and became a farmer. In 1971 he married Miss Gulsanam Samandarí, and the couple had three children. He was a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Ivoghli for several years, and he often encountered problems from the villagers for being a Bahá`í. Once in 1964 and again in 1974 he was arrested for his faith. On 19 September 1983 at about 9:00 a.m., he went to his farm with his son. There, a village youth began to argue with him. The youth picked up a long, heavy branch and when Mr. Haqiqí turned away from him, refusing to argue, the youth beat him with the branch until he collapsed. Neighbors took Mr. Haqiqí to Khuy, to the hospital, but treatment was ineffective and he passed away.

Mr. Husayn Nayyirí-Isfáhání, aged 64, had been imprisoned in Isfáhán since 19 July 1981, and died just as he was going into court for his trial on 29 November 1982. He had been born into a religious family in Isfáhán, the youngest son of Siyyid-Javád, a well-known Muslim divine, who witnessed the execution in a public square of two young followers of Bahá`u'lláh and was so affected by this occurrence that he investigated and embraced the Bahá`í Faith. Mr. Nayyirí-Isfáhání's mother, Zahrá-Bagum, was a kind-hearted Muslim who acquiesced to her husband's request that Husayn be taught the Bahá`í principles. After completing his primary and secondary education in Isfáhán, Husayn entered the Agricultural College in Karaj, but later, upon returning to his native city, he became interested in accounting and pursued his career in this field. He married Miss Bahiyyih Nikúbin, a descendant of Mullá Ja'far, the sifter of wheat who was the first in Isfáhán to accept the Báb. The couple had three children, a daughter and two sons. Mr. Nayyirí-Isfáhání served as a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Isfáhán. Imprisonment was especially difficult for Mr. Nayyirí-Isfáhání because of his age and his not being able to receive treatment for his diabetic condition, but the more he suffered the more steadfast he became in his faith. `I want nothing from this mortal life,' he told a fellow prisoner, `save the safety of my family.' Having obeyed the instructions of the prison officials to be present in Isfáhán for the funeral of Mr. Nayyirí-Isfáhání on 30 November 1982, his daughter and son-in-law were not in their house in Shiráz when the revolutionary guards called at their house to arrest them. Mr. Nayyirí-Isfáhání is buried in the Bahá`í cemetery of Isfáhán.

Mr. Ahmad-`Alí Thábit-Sarvistání, aged 67, died in prison in Shiráz on 30 June 1983. He was born on 25 March 1912 in Sarvistán, Fárs. Having lost his mother when he was only a small child, he was raised by his sister. His father, Karbarlá'í Shukru'láh, a recipient of a Tablet from `Abdu'l-Bahá, was a knowledgeable teacher of the Faith. His son, too, had an insatiable desire for knowledge and studied the Bahá`í writings from early childhood, and grew up to be a most humble and pleasant man who was known for his sincerity. Mr. Thábit-Sarvistání and his wife, Afsaru'sh-Sharí'ih `Idálat, had nine children, five daughters and four sons. In 1944, Mr. Thábit-Sarvistání pioneered to the goal area of Khafr, remaining there for twelve years despite hardships and problems created by fanatical elements among the population. Later they settled in Takht-i-Jamshid and then in Marvdasht. He earned his living by a means practised in Persia of treating the afflicted with traditional herbal remedies. On 4 December 1982 he was summoned to prison and although Muslim relatives offered him a means of escape he considered that to accept would be a betrayal of his Faith, and apologized to them for not being able to accompany them. He submitted to his fate, took leave of his family, and went to prison where, in part due to his age, he became ill, though he never complained. His fellow prisoners gave up their own sheets in order to provide a shroud for him when he passed away. His body was given to his relatives, and burial was arranged in the Bahá`í cemetery.

Mr. Muhammad Ishráqí, who died in prison in Tihrán on 31 August 1983, was 81 years of age and was a member of the Auxiliary Board.

When he was a 13-year-old boy in Yazd, he witnessed a crowd abusing the body of a Bahá`í


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martyr, Muhammad Bulur Furush. He later told his family, "It was as if a pot of fire had been poured on my head: I was filled with an extraordinary feeling and longed to be taken and martyred with him". Some 70 years later, after a lifetime of service to the Faith, his wish came true and he became a martyr himself. Born in 1899 in the city of Gurgán, he was the son of Hají Muhammad Táhirí Ghandiharí -- one of the merchants of Yazd whose father, Hají Muhammad Mullá Táhirí Ghandiharí, was a famous Mujtahid of Yazd and an early believer in Bahá`u'lláh -- and Bibí Ghouhar, who had become a Bahá`í before her marriage. Theirs was a spiritual home, and prominent Bahá`í teachers often stayed with them when they were in Yazd. Muhammad Ishráqí grew up to be very knowledgeable and strong in the Faith. From the age of 16 he helped the secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly in Kirmán with his correspondence and when 21 he was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Kirmán. As a young man he went to Hamadán to study the Bahá`í Writings with Mr. Sadru'l-Sadúr. Subsequently he went to Tihrán to continue his studies with prominent Bahá`í scholars there. Four years later he returned to Kirmán, from where, after two years, he proceeded to Isfahán for Bahá`í activities. In 1929 he married Miss Nayyírith Zandi. The couple had five children, the first of whom died at the age of 13. At about the same time, he had the privilege of going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and being in the presence of the Guardian for 18 days. Mr. Ishráqí worked for the Post and Telegraph Office for 14 years, then worked for the National Bank of Irán for 21 years before he retired in 1955. During the Ten Year Plan he homefront pioneered to Arák to help develop the Bahá`í community there, then in 1959 he moved again to Isfahán and was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly of that city. It was during this time that he was appointed as a member of the Auxiliary Board. During the 45 Months Plan he pioneered to Natanz, then to Shahr-i-Kurd, then returned to Isfahán and again to Tihrán. During all of this time he served on many national committees, and was delegate to many national conventions in Irán. In 1980 he was appointed an advisor along with Mrs. Zhinús Mahmúdí and Mr. Shápúr Markazi in working with the National Spiritual Assembly in the absence of Hands of the Cause and Counsellors. When at last Muhammad Ishráqí was called by phone to go to the prosecutor, it was not unexpected as all knew that his name was on the list of leading Bahá`ís in Irán, and when he left his home to drive to the court he told his daughter that it was a great day in his life. He left his house at about 7:00 a.m. on 16 February 1983 to be there on time, and he did not get home until 4:30 p.m. When he returned there were three people with him, and he told his daughter to bring tea and cookies for their guests. The "guests" took some of Mr. Ishráqí's books and papers and sealed his library, then took him away again, telling the family that he would be returned the next day. After five days the guards went to his home and took the remainder of his books. The family had no news of him for some months. When finally they were allowed to visit him, he was spiritually as strong as ever. His family asked him whom they should see to ask for his release he said "Nobody, God is taking care of us". He was later transferred to Qasr prison where his family was allowed to continue to visit him occasionally, always finding him thankful to Bahá`u'lláh and never complaining. Five months later, on 6 September, while visiting the family was told that he had been taken to court. When they went to the court they were informed that his body had been taken to the morgue, at the morgue they were sent to the cemetery to see the list of people who had been buried recently. There they learned that a death certificate had been issued for Mr. Muhammad Ishráqí on 31 August 1983.

In that same message of 7 November 1983, the Universal House of Justice wrote, `Word has also recently been received that in the city of Dizfúl, a Bahá`í woman, Mrs. Irán Rahimpúr (Khurmá'ní), was executed on 12 May 1982 [that is, almost eighteen months earlier] after giving birth to her child. The baby was taken away by the Muslims and his fate is unknown.'

Mrs. Irán Rahimpúr was born in the summer of 1938 in Tihrán to a Muslim family, the fourth of five daughters, two of whom eventually became Bahá`ís. After receiving her education at the Girls' School of Tihrán, Irán found employment in the local office of the Ministry of Communications (Telephone, Telegraph and Post). In 1958 she married Mr. Muhammad-i-Riyádat who later divorced her, the marriage being without issue. In 1964 she married Mr.


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Hasan Akbarí and bore two daughters, but the union was not a happy one and it terminated in divorce in 1975. Anguished by separation from her children and by family disunity, Irán turned to serious thought and began to read books of history, philosophy and comparative religion. Although she had read material written by authors who were antagonistic to the Bahá`í Faith, and was so obstinately opposed to it that for six months she severed all relations with her two sisters who had espoused its teachings, she became attracted to a co-worker who in time revealed that she was a Bahá`í. Soon Irán embraced the Faith, was reunited with her sisters, became ablaze with a fervour for teaching, arranged for a transfer to the communications office in Dizfúl, and went pioneering to nearby Andímishk where she had a small property. `How she had changed when we met in 1978,' one of her sisters wrote. `She talked about nothing but the Cause of God and how to spread the message of Bahá`u'lláh.' Later her family learned that she married one of her colleagues who had accepted the Bahá`í Faith. In January 1981 news reached her sisters that a month before, Irán, now an expectant mother in her fifth month of pregnancy, had been arrested together with her husband, and that she was still in prison. `She tried to alleviate our anxiety during our brief phone conversations by reminding us of the tribulations of Bahá`u'lláh, the Báb and the early believers,' her sister wrote. `And she would speak enthusiastically about her teaching efforts in the prison.' In April 1981 word reached the family that she had given birth to a son whom she had named Kámyár. In May 1982 it was learned that Irán had been executed on 12 May after being in prison for 17 months, that her husband had recanted after a few lashes of the whip, was fined and sent to the war front, and that the child was in a nursery in the custody of one of the guards. Irán's home had been looted, her car confiscated, and access to the child has been denied to her family. When her sister inquired at the court-house the reason for the execution of Irán Rahimpúr the reply was, `She was a Bahá`í, and Bahá`í means Zionist spy.'

The Universal House of Justice concluded its message of 7 November 1983 by saying, `One of the most obvious examples of persecution and proof of the evil intention of the Iranian authorities to uproot the Faith in that land is the destruction and desecration of Bahá`í cemeteries. Recently there was an official advertisement in the newspapers in Irán indicating that the tombstones in the Bahá`í cemetery in Tihrán were being put up for sale. Since all markers on the graves are apparently being eliminated, it is possible that no trace of the Bahá`í cemetery will remain in future.'

The year 1984 opened on an ominous note with a disturbing message being relayed to the Bahá`í world by the Universal House of Justice. On 3 January it telexed: `DISTRESSED INFORM YOU THAT RECENTLY IRANIAN GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED ANOTHER OPPRESSIVE MEASURE AGAINST BAHA'I PRISONERS. IN ORDER TO BE RELEASED PRISONER MUST SIGN FOLLOWING UNDERTAKING: "UNDERSIGNED (DETAILS OF PERSONAL STATUS INCLUDING RELIGION) UNDERTAKE NOT TO HAVE IN MY POSSESSION ANY BOOK, PAMPHLET, DOCUMENT, SYMBOL OR PICTURE OF THIS MISGUIDED, ZIONIST, ESPIONAGE GROUP OF BAHA'IS. IF ANY OF THE ABOVE-MENTIONED ARTICLES BELONGING TO THIS HATED UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT IS FOUND ON MY PERSON OR IN MY HOME, THIS WILL BE TANTAMOUNT TO MY BEING OF THOSE WHO WAR AGAINST GOD AND THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL WOULD BE FREE TO DECIDE AGAINST ME IN THE MANNER IT DEEMS FIT." THE TERMINOLOGY "WHO WAR AGAINST GOD" IS A TERM USED BY PRESENT REGIME TO SIGNIFY A CRIME DESERVING SENTENCE OF DEATH. BAHA'I PRISONERS HAVE REFUSED SIGN SUCH AN INFAMOUS DOCUMENT FALSELY IMPUGNING THEIR FAITH. MOREOVER SIGNING SUCH A DOCUMENT WOULD LEAVE BAHA'IS OPEN TO HAVING SUCH ITEMS PLANTED ON THEIR PERSON OR IN THEIR HOMES. WAVE OF RECENT ARRESTS OF BAHA'IS SUGGESTS THAT AUTHORITIES PLAN EXERT PRESSURE ALL BAHA'IS TO SIGN SUCH AN IMPOSSIBLE UNDERTAKING...'

The next telexed report from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá`í world community about the situation in Irán was dated 17 January 1984:

`PRESSURES AGAINST BELEAGUERED BRETHREN CRADLE FAITH INCREASING. THREE MORE STALWART SUPPORTERS GREATEST NAME JOINED RANKS MARTYRS, AS FOLLOWS: MR. `ABDU'L-MAJID MUTAHHAR IMPRISONED ISFAHAN 4 SEPTEMBER DIED SHORTLY AFTER CONFINEMENT; MR. RAHMATU'LLAH HAKIMAN PASSED AWAY


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IN PRISON IN KIRMAN EARLY JANUARY 1984 AFTER BEING IMPRISONED; ON 19 NOVEMBER IN VILLAGE OF MUHAMMADIYYIH NEAR ISFAHAN, MR. BAHMAN DIHQANI, WELL KNOWN AND RESPECTED BAHA'I, DIED AS A RESULT OF MOB ATTACK. SINCE BURIAL NOT ALLOWED HIS VILLAGE, BAHA'IS CARRIED BODY TO NAJAFABAD AND BURIED HIM THERE. FULL DETAILS CIRCUMSTANCES ALL THREE DEATHS UNKNOWN...'

Mr. `Abdu'l-Majíd Mutahhar was born in 1919 to a Bahá`í family in Shahridá, a city not far from Isfáhán. After studying to the highest level that was possible in the place of his birth he then entered the army where, in view of his being unusually well educated, he might have rapidly advanced through the ranks and achieved a comfortable standard of living. However, after a few years he came to the conclusion that the life of a service man and military values were not compatible with the tenets of his belief; therefore, he left the army and entered the field of education. At about the same time he married Miss Aqdas `Aqdá`í who had been raised in a Bahá`í family as well. The couple decided to pioneer to remote areas of the Province of Isfáhán. They obtained permission to build primary schools in villages that did not have any and sought to develop existing primary schools in order to teach higher grades. To the extent possible they endeavoured to improve local public health. Their tireless and sacrificial services to the community, rendered in the face of prejudice and fanaticism, and in circumstances of hardship, won them an uncommon degree of popularity among the villagers and no doubt contributed to their protection in an area of the country where fanatical elements could easily rally mobs. Even in this period Mr. Mutahhar continued to further his education, bicycling long miles along the dusty shoulders of the inter-village roads in order to participate in various teacher-training classes and thus better qualify himself to fulfil his duties. His clear perception and generosity of spirit made him reluctant to impose his views on others but his life was such an attractive and irresistible example that it drew others close to him automatically. After pioneering in various rural areas of the Province of Isfáhán for about 14 years, Mr. and Mrs. Mutahhar settled in the city of Isfáhán in 1961. Mr. Mutahhar immediately started to render his wide range of activities in the Bahá`í community. He was the secretary of the Spiritual Assembly of Isfáhán, a member of various committees and a teacher of Bahá`í classes for many years. The firesides at the home of the Mutahhars were always so crowded with seekers that many called their home `Isfáhán's second Hazíratu'l-Quds'. Despite Mr. Mutahhar's many activities he was never negligent in the matter of the education of his own children and sacrificed all that he could for their material and spiritual well-being. During the last four years of his life, in addition to his regular Bahá`í activities, he spent considerable time coaching Bahá`í students who had been expelled from their schools, to enable them to obtain a high school diploma by passing an extracurricular exam. Although he had many ailments, he bore them cheerfully. At 3:00 a.m. on 4 September 1983 five armed men entered the Mutahhar home, went through Mr. Mutahhar's personal belongings including books, family photo albums and children's address books, blindfolded him and took him away. They also took away one of his sons who was later released. Later it became clear that Mr. Mutahhar was confined in the Bahá`í Centre of Isfáhán which had been expropriated and turned into a prison. The pleas and requests of his wife and children to see him were not heeded. Even his doctor who had accepted to examine him in the prison was not given access to him. Mr. Mutahhar was denied his essential and critically needed medications. The repeated requests of his family for a date to visit him were postponed from one week to the next. He died in prison on 15 December 1983. `The news of his death reached us through the relatives of some prisoners,' one of his sons wrote. `Our broken hearts are filled with pain because of the loss of this burning candle of the love of God, this hero of resistance and courage... Father would tell me: "Do not weep and mourn for me after my death. Instead, reflect on the fact that everybody must pass away some day, and the only important point is in what path you give up your life."' The Bahá`í cemetery of Isfáhán having been confiscated, it was not possible to bury Mr. Mutahhar's body there; instead, he was buried in a small town in the Province of Isfáhán. Despite the danger to their lives, about 400 Bahá`ís from Tihrán and Isfáhán attended a memorial gathering to honour Mr. Mutahhar, a meeting which lasted several hours and terminasted only by order of the revolutionary guards.


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Mr. Rahmat`u'lláh Hakimán, a member of a well-known Bahá`í family of Yazd, and the youngest of six children born to Sádiq and Kubrá Hakimán, was only five years of age when his father died. After completing his studies he was engaged in the service of an international welfare organization and fter three years transferred to the Department of Agriculture in a post which necessitated his repeated visits to towns and villages to assist the people, who came to love him greatly. In 1958 he married Miss Parvin Katibí and three children were born to them. After 28 years of loyal service to his country, Mr. Hakimán was discharged from Government service because he was a Bahá`í and, simultaneously, his wife was dismissed from her employment for the same reason. The family had to sell carpets and other household goods to raise some capital with which to open a small stationery store. A few months later both the family home and the shop were confiscated and the contents plundered. Mr. Jalál Hakimán, Rahmat`u'lláh's brother, after some months' imprisonment and torture, was executed on 1 May 1983. On 30 December 1983, Rahmat`u'lláh Hakimán was arrested together with eight other members of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Kirmán. The wives of these men brought food each day to the prison but were not permitted to see their husbands. On 9 January 1984, Mr. Hakimán's family learned that a certificate of death had been issued for him on 6 January. It was understood that he died as a result of severe torture. His body was not delivered to his family but was buried during the night.

Mr. Bahman Dihqání Muhammadí, the son of Hájí Muhammad and Zaha' Baygum Dihqání was born on 3 January 1941 in the village of Muhammadiyyih Karvan outside of Najafábád in Isfahán. He married his wife, Shahnáz, in 1964 and they had seven children. He had an elementary education and had a business in his village for some time, then later became a farmer. He served as a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Muhammadiyyih Karvan until he was martyred. On 15 November 1983, around midnight, a group of villagers stoned him to death. As burial was not allowed in his village, the Bahá`ís carried his body to Najafábád and buried him there.

The message of 17 January 1984 from the House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies went on to say:

`SINCE LAST REPORT 7 NOVEMBER OVER 250 BAHA'IS INCLUDING INFANTS AND CHILDREN HAVE BEEN ARRESTED IN ALL PARTS COUNTRY. NEARLY 70 OF THESE WERE DETAINED BETWEEN 31 DECEMBER 1983 AND 3 JANUARY 1984. OTHER DESPICABLE ACTS AGAINST BAHA'IS INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS PERMITTED ENTER BAHA'I HOMES WITHOUT WARRANTS, CONFISCATE VALUABLE PERSONAL POSSESSIONS. COMPLAINTS TO AUTHORITIES UNAVAILING. SOME IMPRISONED BAHA'IS WHO WERE EXPELLED FROM THEIR JOBS HAVE BEEN PROMISED RELEASE IF THEY REPAY ALL SALARIES PAID TO THEM FROM BEGINNING THEIR EMPLOYMENT, SOMETIMES UP TO 30 YEARS...'

The next report of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá`ís of the world was telexed on 10 April 1984. It announced that the persecution of the Iranian Bahá`ís `PERSISTS, TAKING EVEN MORE INSIDIOUS TURN' and explained that in March `AT LEAST THREE PRISONERS DIED UNDER MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES, TWO IN TIHRAN AND ONE IN RAFT, KIRMAN'. The body of Muhsin Radaví, a fifty-seven-year-old businessman, `SHOWED EVIDENCE OF HANGING' while the other two men, Ghulám-Husayn Hasanzádih-Shákirí, aged 80, and Nusratu'lláh Díyá'í, aged 61, `WERE BURIED WITHOUT FRIENDS RELATIVES BEING INFORMED...'

Mr. Muhsin Radaví was born on 6 July 1926 in the town of Sirishábád, Hamadán, to Hamídih and Hasan Radaví. Muhsin's father, before accepting the Bahá`í Faith, had been a Muslim clergyman who discarded his clerical garb and with his wife travelled around to teach the Cause. Muhsin was born on one of these journeys. Because of his family's financial circumstances and a chest ailment which caused shortness of breath, he was unable to pursue higher school studies despite his aptitude and eagerness to learn. At age 15 he left his home in search of employment, finally settling in Tihrán where he engaged in a number of enterprises including operating a shop that sold spare parts for automobiles. In 1956 he married Miss Parvíndukht Himmatí; two daughters and one son were born of the union. In 1971 Mr. Radaví entered Government service where he served first in the Forestry Department and subsequently in the Ministry of Health until he was


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discharged for being a Bahá`í; his arrest took place on 5 May 1983 and his death on 4 March 1984. He had pioneered with his family to a number of goal towns within Irán, serving as a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly in each. He was obliged to leave his last post, Afsaríyyih, because the populace recognized that he was a Bahá`í and refused to permit him to rent a house, so he located in Tihrán-Párs. The family learned of his execution through a telephone call from the office of the Attorney-General during which they were advised that he had already been buried. On 19 January 1985, the family home was confiscated.

Mashhad was the birthplace of Mr. Ghulám-Husayn Hasanzádih-Shákirí. Born in 1903 into what he described as a `prejudiced Muslim family', he devoted his adolescence, in his own words, to `becoming the most wicked and mischievous young man of his time'. Even his investigation of the Bahá`í Faith was conducted, he admitted, with a view to harassing the Bahá`ís. Eventually, under the guidance of the famed Bahá`í teacher, Mr. Ishráq Kávarí, he became a devoted and knowledgeable believer. He was fond of saying `Bahá`u'lláh Himself saved me!' After settling in Tihrán, Mr. Hasanzádih-Shákirí married Miss Báhirih Zamániyán, and devoted all his time to performing administrative duties for the Faith, even when he reached an advanced age and had become seriously ill. In 1982, Mr. Hasanzádih-Shákirí's pension was cut off, and on 10 April 1983 he was imprisoned. He told his wife when she visited him that his interrogators kept asking him to recant his belief and he would be freed due to his old age and illness, but he would not agree to do so. On 10 March 1984, in his eightieth year, he was executed, a fact which the Universal House of Justice was only able to establish and report in a message dated 15 April 1984 when it advised the Bahá`ís of the world that it had verified that he `WAS ALSO EXECUTED BY FIRING SQUAD INSTEAD OF DYING MYSTERIOUSLY IN PRISON AS REPORTED'.

Mr. Nusratu'lláh Díyá'í of Báft was 61 years of age when he died in prison on 19 March 1984. He was a retired employee of the Post and Telegraph Department and had suffered a stroke a few years earlier which had temporarily paralysed his right leg and left his right arm permanently impaired. On 31 December 1983 Mr. Díyá'í's home was invaded and ransacked by the militia, and he was arrested along with his wife and their son, Mihrán, who was home because of illness, and who begged to be allowed to accompany his parents and to help his father. Mihrán was placed in solitary confinement for about eleven days enduring, as he has recounted, `insults and lack of necessities' as well as frequent interrogations instigated at about 1 a.m. and lasting from three to four hours during which he was forced to wear a blindfold. His answers to the interrogator's questions were rewarded with severe beatings, and after several weeks he and his mother were released under a security bond of 60,000 tumáns. His mother's back, he has testified, was black and blue from being beaten with a rubber hose. The elder Mr. Díyá'í, however, was kept in prison and sustained the same treatment meted out to his son--interrogations, mental torture and physical beatings. His son reported that he saw his father's head smeared with blood and his legs grew so infirm that he could hardly stand or walk. In one conversation Mr. Díyá'í told his son, `I have been kicked all over my body, worse than on earlier occasions, and they have issued the verdict for my execution.' With delight, he showed his son the paper containing the verdict at the bottom of which he had inscribed a poem, an act for which he was punished when the guard discovered it. At one point the pain in Mr. Díyá'í's waist which originated with the first beating became so intense that he was permitted to enter a hospital for a brief time but was returned to prison before recovery was effected. As mentioned in the message above, burial occurred without the family's being notified.

The message of 10 April 1984 from the House of Justice reflects the difficulties being experienced by the Bahá`ís of Irán at that period. It stated, `ARRESTS CONTINUE WITH LEAST AMOUNT PUBLICITY. SINCE LAST REPORT 17 JANUARY ALTHOUGH SOME BAHA'I PRISONERS RELEASED, 111 HAVE BEEN ARRESTED, MOST OF WHOM WERE MEMBERS OF SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES BEFORE THEIR DISSOLUTION LAST YEAR. NUMBER BAHA'IS KNOWN TO BE IN PRISON IN IRAN TOTALS 704.

`ACCURATE INFORMATION IN HAND DESCRIBES TORTURES PERPETRATED AGAINST SOME VERY PROMINENT BAHA'IS. FOR EXAMPLE ONE BAHA'I SEVERELY TORTURED UNDER EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES FORCED CONFESS TO FALSE CHARGES. OTHERS SIMILARLY TORTURED RESISTED PRESSURES


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EXERTED ON THEM TO MAKE FALSE PUBLIC CONFESSIONS FOR BENEFIT RADIO TELEVISION ...'

Five days later, on 15 April 1984, another message was sent by the Universal House of Justice reporting a still more sinister turn of events. On a date not then established, but which was later confirmed to be 4 April 1984, three more believers had been executed by firing squad in Evin (if transliterated, Ivin) prison, Tihrán. The executions were not announced and the bodies were unceremoniously buried without the families or relatives being informed, which gave the House of Justice grounds to fear that other Bahá`í prisoners might meet the same fate. The three who died on 4 April were the following:

Mr. Kámrán Luftí, a 32-year-old university professor who had graduated in mechanical engineering from Tabríz university and who, until the revolution, had taught in the Simnán Technology faculty. He had languished in prison from 5 May 1983, suffering the maltreatment commonly accorded Bahá`í prisoners.

Mr. Rahím Rahímíyán, a 52-year-old businessman, who had also been imprisoned since 5 May 1983.

Mr. Yadu'lláh Sábiríyán, a 64-year-old manager of a print shop, whose arrest had occurred on 9 February 1982.

Kámrán Luftí, the son of Yadu'lláh and Aqdas Luftí, was born in Isfahán on 27 January 1952. He completed his primary and secondary education in the city of his birth and in 1971 entered the College of Technology in Tabríz, graduating in 1976 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Upon completion of his military service in 1978, he married Miss Farzánih Safá'í. A son was born to them. In February 1979, Mr. Luftí obtained a teaching position at the College of Technology in Simnán where he continued to work until September 1982 when he was discharged because of his being a Bahá`í. He was always active in the Faith, working on various committees in Isfahán, Tihrán and Tabríz, conducting deepening classes in Tihrán, and serving as a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Simnán. He was appointed an assistant to a member of the Auxiliary Board, and served on a supervisory regional committee for Nármak and surrounding communities. After his arrest in May 1983, he spent three months in solitary confinement in Gawhardasht prison near Karaj, and was denied the privilege of receiving visitors. During the period when he was in Evin prison, his parents, wife and son were permitted to telephone him once every three weeks but were not allowed to see him. No information is available about the two-and-a-half months he spent in the sanatorium of Evin prison, as his family's visiting privileges were withdrawn during that time. From Mr. Kámrán Luftí's will and testament it was determined that he was executed on 4 April 1984. Since that time, no further information has come to light.

Mr. Rahím Rahímíyán, the grandson of the well-known and highly respected physician, Hakím Rahím, for whom he was named, was born on 1 May 1932, the third son in a family of six brothers and four sisters. His birthplace was Arák, and there he spent his childhood. Due to financial problems, Mr. Rahím Rahímíyán's father was forced to settle in Tihrán. Rahím, at age 14, started to work, first in the steel industry and then in plastic manufacturing. Denied the opportunity of pursuing higher education, Rahím nevertheless acquired a sound knowledge of the Bahá`í teachings and was active, as a youth, in the community. His devotion, his friends noticed, further intensified after he made his pilgrimage to the House of Báb in Shiráz in 1954. Two years later, Mr. Rahímíyán took up residence in the village of Nármak as a homefront pioneer, and served for a number of years on the Local Spiritual Assembly there. He, like his colleague, Mr. Kámrán Luftí, served on the regional committee for Nármak and adjacent territories, until the time of his arrest. In 1964, Mr. Rahímíyán married the writer, Miss Aráq Murád-`Alí, and two sons were born to them. In October 1977, the Rahímíyáns left Irán for a pioneering post in India, but being unable to obtain residence visas, they were forced to return eight months later. Mr. Rahímíyán then placed himself entirely at the disposal of the National Spiritual Assembly of Irán and was engaged in ceaseless activities on behalf of the Bahá`í Faith until his arrest in May 1983. He was held in solitary confinement in Gawhardasht prison for three months, and then was transferred to the general prison. His family received permission to visit him on three occasions. On their last visit, which took place on 2 October 1983, he informed his family that his trial had been held and he was


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under sentence of death. In the afternoon of the same day, prison officials took him to his home under guard, made a list of all his properties and possessions, and returned him to Gawhardasht prison. He was then transferred to Evin prison. and was denied visitors; his family were distressed to learn they could not even deliver to him some necessary items of clothing. His properties were confiscated and the members of his family were evicted from their home. In a telephone conversation with his family on 18 March 1984 he said he experienced no anxiety, and expressed the hope that he would remain firm in his convictions to the last moment of his life. When his family learned about him on 10 April 1984, they were informed that he had been executed because of his refusal to be `guided back to Islám'. No information has been made available about the exact date of his martyrdom or the place of his burial. His brief will and testament, in which he assigned his few remaining possessions to his family (one watch, one string of prayer beads, a little cash, some clothing, a driving licence and a pair o glasses) concluded with a line from a prayer revealed by `Abdu'l-Bahá, `O my God, may my life be a sacrifice to Thy loved ones ...'--words which the prison officials felt it necessary to cross out.

Mr. Yadu'lláh Sábiríyán, the son of Muhammad Hassan and Khayru'n-Nisá Sábiríyán, was born in 1920 in Simnán. His father, originally a Muslim, had accepted the Bahá`í Faith through contact with his business partner; his mother, although sympathetic, did not register as a believer. Yadu'lláh, the only son, spent his youth in a Muslim environment and often took part in Islamic passion plays playing the role of a martyr. He espoused the Bahá`í Faith when he reached maturity. One of his sisters also accepted the Bahá`í Faith and married Mr. Badí`u'lláh Yazdání, who was martyred on 6 May 1980. Mr. Sábiríyán married Miss Mulúk Núri'd-Dín; two sons and a daughter were born to them. After working for some time in a printing firm, Mr. Sábiríyán, in partnership with a friend, opened a print shop in 1951 which they called Badí` Printing House. During the thirty years in which he operated this company he attempted to demonstrate to his customers the Bahá`í principles of justice and fair dealing. For several years he served on various local and national committees in Tihrán and then in 1960 he settled in the village of Nármak where he was elected first to the regional Spiritual Assembly and subsequently to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Nármak. He accepted his responsibilities with joy and enthusiasm and was noted for his willingness to serve, and for his hospitality. He lavished praise on his wife for providing their children with a loving home and a good education. In February 1982, Mr. Sábiríyán was arrested and charged with printing Bahá`í material in his shop. He wrote to his family from prison assuring them that he was well and that his only concern was for their welfare. In a letter to his wife he wrote, `The moment I think about you, tears of joy stream from my eyes. At midnight, when I pray to God, the beautiful faces of you and the children shine before me. My last advice to you is to preserve your unity now and forever, and if, God forbid, a difference should occur among you, try to resolve it in a spirit of fellowship, and replace it with love and friendship.' The same sentiment was expressed in the very short will he wrote in prison in which he admonished his wife, his children and his relatives to conserve to the end of their lives the love that united them. The prison authorities granted his request to ask for photographs of his grandchildren, but as the girls did not wear Islamic headdress in the pictures, they were withheld from him. On 19 February 1984, his family home was confiscated and Mrs. Sábiríyán was left homeless. Then, after more than two years' imprisonment, Mr. Sábiríyán was executed. A week elapsed before his family were informed that he had been killed. When his wife enquired why he had been put to death, the chief attorney exclaimed, `What crime is worse than not responding to three months of guidance in Islám and refusing to recant belief in heresy!'

On 22 May 1984 the Universal House of Justice sent a further report to the Bahá`í world describing events in Irán. It stated that since the beginning of the revolution more than 300 residences of Bahá`ís had been plundered or set afire; some 170 Bahá`ís had been killed by a variety of methods, but principally through execution by firing squads and by hanging; in urban areas personal properties belonging to several hundred Bahá`í families had been seized, while in rural areas many orchards had been destroyed and farms and arable land confiscated. Petitions to the authorities for redress


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of grievances were ignored. In addition, the Ministry of Works and Social Affairs had formally instructed industrial and commercial institutions not to pay the salaries or pensions of their Bahá`í staff; more than 10,000 Bahá`ís employed in government offices or in the private sector had been summarily discharged and their rights to pensions and other employment benefits revoked, and some had received demands for refund of salaries they had received for the duration of their employment; Bahá`í students had been dismissed from all universities and other institutions of higher learning; in most cities and provinces, Bahá`í children had been denied entry to schools and therefore were without access to basic education; some 700 Bahá`ís including men, women and children were being held in various prisons throughout Irán; for more than nine months visits to 40 Bahá`í prisoners had been prohibited by the authorities and their fate unknown; and in Evin and Gawhardasht prisons a number of Bahá`í prisoners were undergoing relentless torture including floggings of all parts of the body, but especially the legs and feet, involving sometimes up to 400 lashes. The hapless prisoner was then forced to walk and finding this impossible he or she perforce had to crawl on hands and knees back to a dark cell. In Mashhad and Yazd, Bahá`í prisoners were being regularly whipped on the head and face with thick plastic tubes, and similar procedures were being followed to a lesser degree in other prisons. A number of these victims of torture had lost their sight and hearing, others their mental competence. The bodies of four prisoners subjected to such treatment were seen before being buried in unknown graves. `It is therefore feared', the House of Justice stated, `that other prisoners whose bodies have been similarly buried without their families being notified suffered the same fate,'

Nor were the Bahá`ís who were not imprisoned safe. The same report revealed that Bahá`í homes were being entered at will, day or night, by revolutionary guards, who harassed the inhabitants by insulting, threatening and beating them. When the guards failed to find a particular Bahá`í at home, they would seize other members of the household, even children, as hostages, and would ransack the place, confiscating whatever they pleased. `Whenever the head or some other important member of the family had been killed,' the report concluded, `and often when such a person has been imprisoned, those remaining behind have been forced from their homes and not permitted to take any belongings, even in the dead of winter. The victims of such treatment have no recourse to justice since their petitions to the authorities are ignored. Bahá`í families in Isfahán, Mashhad, Tihrán, Urúmíyyih and Yazd in particular are affected by these conditions.'

The martyrdoms of four more Bahá`ís were announced in the report of 22 May: Mr. Jalál Payraví and Mr. Maqsúd `Alizádih who were executed on 5 May in Tabríz and who had been imprisoned on 22 October 1981 and 27 January 1982, respectively; Mr. `Alí-Muhammad Zamání and Mr. Jahángír Hidáyatí who were executed on 15 May in Tihrán, the former having been arrested 5 May 1983 and the latter having been abducted in June 1983. It was also noted that Mr. Asadu'lláh Kámil-Muqaddam died in prison on 2 May in circumstances which were then unknown.

Mr. Jalál Payraví was born in Milán on 26 March 1937 to Ahmad and Táhirih Payraví, devoted Bahá`ís. He was the fourth of five children and, as their only son, was doted upon by his parents and sisters. The family later moved to Tabríz where Jalál studied engineering and was employed by the government as manager of the Institute for Development of Agricultural Machinery, first in Ardibíl and later in Tabríz. In December 1965 he married Miss Símín Dáná and two sons were born to them. He had been active as a youth in the affairs of the Faith and had served on the Spiritual Assemblies of the communities in which he resided. He was a member of the Auxiliary Board. In 1970, Mr. Payraví was transferred by his employers to Gurgán then to Urúmíyyih, and in 1979 to Tihrán. In May 1981 he was discharged for being a Bahá`í and in October of that year he was arrested. His mother, sorely afflicted by separation from her son, died three months after his arrest. `He was always thinking of the welfare of others,' one of his sisters wrote of him. `When I visited him in prison he would urge me to call on the families of the martyrs to see if they were getting along well and whether I could be of assistance to them. In prison he was liked and respected by all, and during visits he was found to have a smile on his lips at all times, and his eyes were illumined with the light of love for his Master. In many of the letters he wrote to


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us from prison he cited the words of `Abdu'l-Bahá, "He doeth as He doeth, and what recourse have we?"'[1] After more than thirty months in prison, Mr. Payraví was shot by a firing squad. One of his sisters received a letter from him dated the day of his execution in which no mention was made of his impending fate, indicating that he was not aware of the sentence until he was taken from the prison. The Bahá`ís learned of his death the following day. The decree of execution, it was reported, stated that Mr. Payraví was to be put to death because of `intense involvement with Zionism and membership in the misled sect of Bahaism'.

The parents of Mr. Maqsúd `Alizádih, Ahmad and Túbá `Alizádih, had both been raised in Bahá`í families, and they were living in Míyán-Duáb when Maqsúd, their second son, was born on 28 September 1940. In pursuit of his advanced studies, Maqsúd went to live with his uncle in Tabríz where he attended high school and went on to obtain a diploma in biology from the Agricultural College in Varámín. After graduation he was engaged by the Department of Land Improvement in the section devoted to promotion of agriculture. In October 1967 Mr. `Alizádih married Miss Manízhih Na`ímíyán, and from this union two daughters were born. Mrs. `Alizádih continued her studies in Tabríz, obtained a degree in Laboratory Science, and found employment in the Health Centre Laboratory in Ridá'iyyih. Mr. `Alizádih served on the youth committee and other service committees and in 1977, with his wife and eldest daughter, he made his pilgrimage to the World Centre. During 1978-1979, when the homes of the Bahá`ís of Míyán-Duáb and suburbs were set on fire, the `Alizádih family and other friends spent most of their time helping to resettle those who had lost their homes and property. Although he was transferred to the Tihrán office of the Department of Land Improvement in 1979, he managed to make short trips to Ridá'iyyih once every three weeks. In 1981, after twenty years of service, he was retired, and in 1982 his pension was cut off. He then returned to Ridá'iyyih. While he was visiting Tabríz his home in Ridá'iyyih was plundered, as were those of other Bahá`ís in that community. In January 1982 he was arrested. His family found him to be cheerful when they visited him in prison, his conversation full of encouragement and references to the need for prayer, study and perseverance. The day after his execution, when his wife and small daughter and his mother-in-law went to the prison, they were informed that he had been killed by firing squad with his fellow believer, Mr. Jalál Payraví.

Mr. `Alí-Muhammad Zamání, who was killed in Tihrán on 15 May 1984, had been born in June 1929 in the town of Girawgán-i-Jásb. His father, Abu'l-Qásim Zamání, had suffered imprisonment as a Bahá`í and had been honoured with a Tablet revealed by `Abdu'l-Bahá. His mother, Shawkat Haydar, was not a Bahá`í at first but later embraced the Cause. `Alí-Muhammad had three sisters and one brother. Part of his childhood was spent in the village of Khániábád where he attended primary classes for Bahá`í children. He pioneered for a time to the village of Hamídának and worked for the Hand of the Cause Valíyu'lláh Varqá, and then sold dairy products; finally he entered military service and worked in the communications section of the army. Upon completion of his military service he was employed by a private company. He married Miss Mansúrih Farahání, and at the time of his martyrdom their three children were aged 7, 13 and 14 years. He took an active interest in the spiritual education of his children and organized Bahá`í children's classes in the community; these and other Bahá`í meetings were held at his home at least five days each week. He was an active member of the Bahá`í community wherever he lived, and his services on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Vahídiyyih extending over a twelve-year period were described as having a revitalizing effect on that body. Generosity characterized all his actions and he was unstinting in giving to the Bahá`í funds. On 5 May 1983 at 10:00 p.m. 12 militiamen acting on the instructions of the Attorney-General invaded the home, confiscated a number of Bahá`í books and tapes, a photograph of `Abdu'l-Bahá, and a family album, and arrested Mr. Zamání as well as Mr. Kamrán Luftí, Mr. Kamrán Thábit and Mr. Muhsin Radaví. For seven months, Mr. Zamání was detained in Gawhardasht and then was transferred

  1. Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 51.

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to Evin prison, where visitors were allowed once every twenty days. It was reported that on one occasion during his trial when the judge was late in arriving, Mr. Zamání said, `I've been waiting for you here and have been worried that perhaps you had experienced a mishap,' to which the judge replied indignantly, `Don't worry about me, worry about your own situation.' One of his Bahá`í fellow prisoners commented, `Despite Mr. Zamání's poor health and the difficulties he suffered from kidney stones, he would wash my clothes.' He was fond of chanting a verse written by Laqá'íy-i-Káshání: `The tumult of the crowd at my back, the roll of the drum at my front, and me dancing toward the square; how wonderful!' On 8 May 1984 Mr. Zamání's family were informed that he had been found guilty of a `serious offense' and executed. The sum of 11,000 tumáns, said to be the cost of the bullets and the charge for preparing the body for burial, was demanded of his brother and paid. The body was not shown to the family nor was the place of burial revealed, but it is known that Mr. Zamání and his friend, Mr. Jahángír Hidáyatí, who was executed on the same day, had suffered torture.

Born in 1923 in `Alíábád, a village near Yazd, the son of a farming family of Zoroastrian background, Mr. Jahángír Hidáyatí was about 13 years of age when he was orphaned, and was thereafter cared for by his older sister and brother. He completed his secondary studies in Yazd and went to Tihrán to attend college. After graduation he obtained employment in the Ministry of Roads. In response to the call of Shoghi Effendi for homefront pioneers, he settled in Khunsár, a town on the road to Isfahán, but he contracted malaria and found it necessary to move to Isfahán, where he devoted much of his time to serving the Bahá`í community as a member of the youth committee. He also took part in preparing and constructing the monuments on the graves of the King of Martyrs and the Beloved of Martyrs. After his military service in Tihrán, Mr. Hidáyatí worked for the Department of Civil Aviation. He was married to Miss Mihrangíz Zamadí in 1953; three children were born to them. Mr. Hidáyatí was sent to England by the Civil Aviation Department for further study for two years; subsequently he did postgraduate work at the University of Tihrán and obtained a degree in civil engineering. From his home base in Mihrábád, where he served on the Spiritual Assembly, he contributed his time over the course of eighteen years to a number of national and local committees. He was recognized as an accomplished civil engineer and given responsible positions. As the assistant manager of the Department of Planning and Development, he was in charge of planning and supervising the construction of nearly all Iranian airports. When he retired from Government service in 1975 he was engaged by a private firm and sent as a consultant to Somali and the Philippines. For four years he served as the assistant project manager during construction of the airport in greater Tihrán. After the Islamic revolution, Mr. Hidáyatí was summoned several times along with other members of the Board of Directors of Nawnahálán, the Bahá`í investment company. In January 1982 he was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly and despite the obvious danger joyously consented to serve. He was re-elected in 1983 and 1984 and continued to serve until the dissolution of the National Assembly. On 30 June 1983 he was arrested and held in solitary confinement for eleven months during which he was tortured repeatedly in an effort to persuade him to appear on television and openly recant the Faith. His wife was not permitted to visit him and only through persistent enquiries was she able to learn that he was in Evin prison. Finally, she was granted one full minute with him. `Don't worry, I am all right,' was the message he gave her. On 20 May when she went to the prison hoping for another meeting with her husband she was informed that he had been executed five days before.

Asadu'lláh Kámil-Muqaddam was born in Bábul in 1920, the son of Valíyu'lláh and Fátímih. His wife Khadijih was also from Bábul. They were married in 1943, and had four children. After their marriage they moved to Bihshahr, where they lived for eight years while Mr. Muqaddam worked as account manager in the Bihshahr Fabric Plant. Then the family moved to Tihrán where he worked for the Mázadarán Fabric Plant until 1970 when he began working in a real estate business until his retirement in 1978. He had been a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly while living in Bihshahr, and was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Ariashar when he and his family lived in that suburb of Tihrán. From the begin-


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ning of the revolution in Irán he was always under pressure in his neighbourhood for being a Bahá`í and on 27 October 1983 he was arrested in his home in Ariashar. Two Revolutionary Guards went to his house, and after three-and-a-half-hours of searching and collecting his books and his belongings they took him to jail. He was moved around to different prisons, then after a month he was transferred to solitary confinement in Evin prison. In March 1984 he was transferred to a public room, and he was there until the day he had a heart attack and passed away in prison. On 25 April 1984 he was buried in Khatum-Abad Cemetery by the Guards. His family was not allowed to see his last will and testament.

The distressing news emanating from the World Centre was accompanied by reports of achievement of an unprecedented degree of recognition of the Bahá`í Faith throughout the free world. Clear evidence was seen on every side of the emergence of the Cause of Bahá`u'lláh from obscurity. In its message to the Bahá`í world at Ridván of that year (21 April 1984; 141 B.E.) the House of Justice paid tribute in these words:

`The year just closing has been overshadowed by the continued persecution of the friends in Irán. They have been forced to disband their administrative structure, they have been harassed, dispossessed, dismissed from employment, made homeless and their children are refused education. Some six hundred men, women and children are now in prison, some denied any contact with their friends and relatives, some subjected to torture and all under pressure to recant their faith. Their heroic and exemplary steadfastness has been the mainspring in bringing the Cause out of obscurity, and it is the consolation of their hearts that their suffering results in unprecedented advances in teaching and proclaiming the Divine Message to a world desperately in need of its healing power. For this they embrace the final service of martyrdom...'

On 3 July 1984 and again on 5 July the Universal House of Justice informed the Bahá`í world about the situation in Irán: On 17 June in Mashhad Mr. Nusratu'lláh Vahdat had been hanged, and an additional 51 believers were being held in prisons, making a total of 751. `A NUMBER OF FRIENDS ARE NOW IN PARTICULAR DANGER', the House of Justice telexed, stating that after eleven months' imprisonment, Mr. Ibsánu'lláh Kathírí was executed in Tihrán on 17 June and his body unceremoniously buried by the authorities without informing his family.

Mr. Nusratu'lláh Vahdat, the son of Valiyu'lláh and Zahrá Vahdat, was born in the village of Sangsar in 1933, one of eight children. He was six years old when his father died, and forty days later his eldest brother, aged 18, died as the result of the hardships suffered by the friends in that area during the persecutions in 1939. After completing secondary school in 1956, Mr. Vahdat entered the Military Officers' College and upon graduation was assigned to duty in the region of Kurdistán, serving in Sanandaj and Mariván, and becoming known as an honest and efficient officer, and a faithful and devoted Bahá`í. Subsequently he was transferred to Tabríz, Dizfúl, Shiráz, and finally, again, to Kurdistán. In time, he rose to the rank of Colonel. He married Miss Munírih Pársá in 1961 and four children were born to them. After completing an army staff training course in 1979, Mr. Vahdat was assigned to duty in Kirmánsháh until he was dischardged later that year for being a Bahá`í. He met with high officials in the army and political authorities of the revolutionary regime in an attempt tp convey to them a clear understanding of the spiritual ideals of the Bahá`ís, and although the majority of them expressed regret concerning the order for his dismissal they could do nothing to prevent its being implemented. After his discharge he joined his family in Mashhad and actively involved himself in the affairs of the Bahá`í community to such a degree that threats were made to his safety, but he ignored them, feeling it would be cowardly to flee. On 23 July 1983 he and his wife were arrested but were released after fourteen days during which they were terrorized and bullied. On 10 October of that year revolutionary guards came to arrest Mr. Vahdat, and not finding him home arrested his son, Jaláyir, and daughter, Mándáná, and held them as hostages. Mándáná's husband of five months, Mr. Dávar Nabílzádih, was also placed under arrest, as was her uncle, Mr. Muhammad-`Alí Vahdat. Ten days later, Mr. and Mrs. Vahdat presented themselves to the court. They were imprisoned and their children released. Colonel Vahdat telephoned home after the court's verdict was conveyed to him, in order to take his leave of his family. As only his


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youngest daughter was at home he could not find it in his heart to break the news to her and instead merely enquired how the family was faring. Half an hour later he was hanged. When Mándáná visited her mother to inform her of the execution of her father she congratulated the prison attendant on having successfully achieved the aim of putting her father to death. `You'd better come back when your mother's case has been finalized and you can congratulate me on achieving our aim with regard to both,' was the reply. Advised of the passing of her husband, Mrs. Vahdat told her children they could well be proud of their father. `He was an honourable man,' she said, `and he is now happy in the presence of his Beloved. You also should be happy and grateful forever.'

A fifth-generation Bahá`í, descended from one of the Báb's early followers, Mr. Ibsánu'lláh Kathírí was born on 3 August 1936 in the town of `Arab-Khayl. He lost his father at an early age and his education was interrupted; nevertheless he completed his secondary studies and obtained employment with the Ministry of Health, in the branch concerned with the eradication of malaria, and later with the Customs Department. With his wife, Baháríyyih Mazlúm, he settled in Karaj. Three children were born to them. The youngest, named Muná in honor of Miss Muná Mahmuúdnizhád who was martyred a few months before the baby's birth, was but 15 days old when her father was arrested on 28 July 1983; the other children were aged 11 and 7. Two and a half years before his arrest, and after having served on various committees, Mr. Kathírí was elected to the Spiritual Assembly of Karaj and gained a reputation for being meticulous and faithful in carrying out his duties. In January 1976, accompanied by his mother, he made his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and the following year arranged for the pilgrimage of his wife while he stayed home and cared for the children. In 1979, Mr. Kathírí retired and managed to live on a small pension while devoting his life to the service of the Faith. He was, in the words of one admiring friend, `neither an eminent Bahá`í figure nor a man of wealth and reputation; he was simply a good-natured and humorous young man whose heart was filled with the love of God. All the torture inflicted on him by the authorities, and all their trickery to make him recant, were of no avail, and therefore they decided to end his life.' When their house was invaded and looted by the militia at 4:00 a.m. on 28 July, and her husband was being taken to prison, Mrs. Kathírí found the courage to ask the militia to produce a warrant for his arrest. `This is our order,' said one of the men, striking her on the head with his gun. Sixteen other Bahá`ís were arrested that night, many of whom were subsequently executed. During the eleven months he spent in prison, no information could be obtained about Mr. Kathírí's trials and interrogations, but two friends who were imprisoned with him later related that he was in high spirits, and was friendly and courteous to the guards who developed respect for him to the degree that one of them, who had been especially unkind to the Bahá`ís, totally changed his manner after coming to know Mr. Kathírí. At her husband's request, Mrs. Kathírí rejected traditional black mourning clothing in favour of white and was a radiant figure in the memorial gatherings held in his honour. `Neighbors and non-Bahá`í friends were puzzled', she wrote, `not realizing that no matter how unbearable the loss of a dear one may be, we draw consolation and contentment from the thought that the crown of martyrdom has been bestowed by the will and good pleasure of the Blessed Beauty.'

The execution of yet another Bahá`í in Irán was reported in a telex sent by the Universal House of Justice on 24 August 1984. Dr. Manúchihr Rúhí had been killed by a firing squad on 16 August in Bujnúrd, Khurásán Province, after having had his properties confiscated and spending eleven months in prison. The House of Justice shared its concern for the lives of twenty-five other Bahá`ís imprisoned in different parts of the country and against whom death sentences had already been pronounced.

Dr. Manúchihr Rúhí, a pharmacist, was born on 26 June 1936 in Záhidán, the son of Rúhu'lláh and Sharbánú Rúhí. Shortly after his birth the family moved to Gunábád. He was a small child when fanatical people in the town rose against the Bahá`ís; his brother, Husayn, aged 20, was killed by a mob, and his uncle was blinded. The family left Gunábád and settled in Mashhad. Manúchihr was fifteen years old when his father passed away and the burden of meeting the expenses of the family fell on his shoulders. He secured a job as an apprentice in a pharmacy and pursued his studies in the


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evening and thus replaced his father in taking care of his sisters and a young brother. In 1960 he married Miss Badru'n-Nisá Thábití by whom he had two daughters. After years of hard work he was able to purchase his own pharmacy in 1965, in partnership with a friend. He was much loved for his kind and gentle disposition, for his generosity to the poor and for his spirit of public service. In September 1980 the Islamic Revolutionary Court accused him of embezzlement of funds from the public treasury and fined him a hundred thousand tumáns. On 24 September he was arrested, and the following day his house was ransacked and stripped of Bahá`í books. Within two days, seven members of the Local Spiritual Assembly were placed under arrest. It was reported that only Dr. Rúhí was placed in solitary confinement. On 1 October, Dr. Rúhí's wife and sister were also arrested but were subsequently released on bail due to illness. On 29 October the homes of all the Bahá`ís were entered and looted and the occupants terrorized. The pharmacy was confiscated on 5 December 1983 and turned over to the Red Crescent Society. After being denied visiting privileges for three months, Dr. Rúhí's family were finally granted a three-minute visit, and were then able to arrange for fortnightly visits. He was also permitted to see his blind uncle. On one occasion he told his family, `I have given up everything and think only of the Beloved. They have told me if I don't recant they will execute me. I said to them that I am not equal even to a single hair of those they have executed so far; I have no other wish but to give up my life in the path of God and for the sake of reaching my goal.' The authorities informed his family that as he was a spy, there was no recourse but to execute him.

      On 11 October 1984 two more deaths were announced by the Universal House of Justice. Mr. Shápúr (Húshang) Markazí, described by the House of Justice as an outstanding servant of the Faith, had been a member of the previous National Spiritual Assembly and a member of the Auxiliary Board. He had suffered cruel tortures, the telex stated, whose purpose was to force him to admit false charges implicating the Bahá`í institutions as a network involved in espionage and himself as a spy. `HIS GROWING RESISTANCE INCREASED INTENSITY TORTURES WHICH MAY HAVE CAUSED HIS DEATH 23 SEPTEMBER', the telex continued. He was buried on 25 September without the knowledge of his relatives and friends.

      In the same telex it was announced that Mr. Aminu'lláh Qurbánpúr, aged 60, a mason, had died in prison of unknown causes on 25 August 1984. His blood-stained clothes were turned over to his family together with his recently washed shoes. The fact that his shoes had been washed aroused suspicion about the circumstances of his death. His body, too, was buried without the knowledge of his relatives.

      Mr. Shápúr Markazí was born in the summer of 1929 in Hamadán, although the family home was in Burújird where his father, Khalíl, operated a pharmacy. In 1934 the family transferred their residence to Tihrán where Shápúr attended school and quickly distinguished himself as an intelligent student, excelling in literature and composition. He also ranked high among the students who attended Bahá`í study classes. After the death of his father, Shápúr interrupted his studies and pioneered with his mother to the mountain village of Zarnán, situated about twenty miles from Tihrán and accessible only by mule or donkey. For two years they lived contentedly in a cold, damp room next to the place where sheep and cattle were kept, and Shápúr organized classes for Bahá`í children, teaching both conventional studies as well as Bahá`í lessons. He contracted jaundice and had to be taken to hospital. After recovering he remained in Tihrán until a few years later when he served as a pioneer to Bahrayn Island. Until he could settle there he took the uncomfortable journey by boat from Búshihr where, because of his blue eyes, he was suspected of being a European spy and was severely beaten and robbed of his money and books. He remained in Bahrayn for seven years, at first finding only unsuitable jobs but later obtaining work as treasurer of a large supermarket. He married Miss Paríchihr Azádih and the couple had two children. Upon his return to Tihrán, Mr. Markazí was engaged to work in the statistical department of the Institute of Irrigation, and because of his recognized efficiency he was promoted to positions of increased authority and served in various areas of the country. Often he was elected to serve on the Local Spiritual Assembly of the town to which he was posted. In 1980, Mr. and Mrs. Markazí were privileged to make their pilgrimage to the World Centre. In September 1983, when returning to his home


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in Gurgán from a teaching trip, Mr. Markazí was arrested and taken directly to prison. During the course of his imprisonment his torturers broke his ribs and damaged one eye so badly that it seriously impaired his vision. After executing him, his captors buried him in a place they call `Káfaristán', meaning the place reserved for infidels.

      Mr. Aminu'lláh Qurbánpúr, who died in prison in his fifty-ninth year, was born into a well-known Bahá`í family in Adhirbáyján. His father, Rúhu'lláh, and his mother, Nargís, who were among the early believers of the area near Tabríz, travelled on foot from their home village, Bábákandí, to the Holy Land to make their pilgrimage, and had the privilege of meeting Shoghi Effendi. From earliest childhood, Aminu'lláh had the love of Bahá`u'lláh in his heart. As a young man he served on the youth committee of Bábákandí and after his military service he was elected a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly and served on that body for four years. He was noted for his courage and audacity, and if ever he heard anyone speaking against the Faith he would arise, introduce himself as a Bahá`í, and present the truth about its teachings and principles. If he learned that the Islamic propaganda group planned to hold a meeting for the purpose of vilifying the Bahá`í Faith, he would attend the gathering, obtain the chairman's permission to address the audience, and standing behind the microphone he would give an effective talk in defense of the Cause. In 1944, he married Miss Ihyá' Mashhadí who bore him seven children. The family moved in 1955 to Majídíyyih, a suburb of Tihrán, where Mr. Qurbánpúr earned his living by operating a dairy farm, and for seven years served on the Local Spiritual Assembly. Then, in 1967, he moved his family to a goal community east of Tihrán called Khák-i-Sifíd where pioneers were needed. While in the process of building a home for his family he was recognized as a Bahá`í and the residents of the place started a campaign of harassment. Despite this, the Qurbánpúr family remained there and formed a Local Spiritual Assembly on which Mr. Qurbánpúr served until the administrative structure of the Faith was disbanded by Government decree. He was also the representative of the Local Spiritual Assembly in meetings of the regional committee of the Assemblies in East Tihrán. In 1976, he and his wife made their pilgrimage to the Holy Land. At midnight on 20 May 1984, the revolutionary guards invaded his home and took him first to the headquarters of the central committee, then to prison. On 11 September, when the family went to visit him in Gawhardasht prison, they were told he had been transferred to Evin, but after going back and forth between the two prisons they eventually learned from a prisoner that Mr. Qurbánpúr had grown ill and died. With great difficulty, and due to the good memory of a mortuary attendant, the family were able to identify the unmarked gravesite in Bihisht-i-Zahrá, the Muslim cemetery. Here they also saw Mr. Qurbánpúr's name on the list of those who had been executed. His clothing which they retrieved from prison contained fragments of glass and bloodstains; his shoes, too, despite having been washed, were stained with blood.

      On 11 October 1984 a letter was written by a Bahá`í in Irán which graphically depicts the circumstances under which the Persian believers laboured. Bearing the salutation `Greetings to my dear brother', it reads:

      `Nowadays we learn that a martyrdom has taken place when the person responsible for the graves in the Bahá`í cemetery, or the so-called burial places for the infidels, finds out that a new grave has been occupied. Then referring to the list of executions, we see the name of one of the friends who was executed the day before: Oh, Mr. Shápúr Markazí!

      `This information starts the process in motion. Then the relatives of the martyr go to the prison to investigate. Ater waiting quite a while, a man with black bushy whiskers and unkempt clothing steps forward and says, "We killed him last night, go to Bihisht-i-Zahrá cemetery and find out where they have buried him." Such is the reply from a Government prison representative. Thus it is discovered that a dear friend has lost his life through the tortures inflicted upon him by the prison executioners.

      `The authorities so far have not derived any benefit from the execution of the Bahá`ís. Recently a man called Tulú`í, who is one of the principal torture-mongers of this regime, has told one of the Bahá`í friends, "We need you in the oil company. I've been asked to talk to you--if you don't want to become Muslim, you may return to your previous religion and become a Zoroastrian." The Bahá`í replied,


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"You have confiscated my properties; my life is also at your disposal. I am, however, a believer in my religion and attached to it; I cannot change. If you want me to return to my job you must apologize and give back my properties. Then, if you give me a questionnaire to fill out and sign for re-employment, in the column for creed I will cross out the word `creed' and write `Bahá`í religion'." Such is the perseverance of the friends in Irán.

      `The Bahá`í friends have used up all their savings; they have no jobs, and do not engage in swindling and fraudulence. Nevertheless, they are confident and trust in the Lord. In truth, God is great and grants them strength to continue being alive and active. As the cruelty of the persecutors intensifies, the patience of the friends increases proportionately.

      `Last night one of the friends who has had confiscated all his property including his factory, was a guest at our house. A few days ago, men from the Prime Minister's office entered his house and took an inventory of all of his belongings in front of his wife and children. They went into the garage to take away his car and said to him, "You must vacate the house." "Where can I take my family?" he pleaded. "That is your affair," they replied. "You are supposed to vacate the house and let us have it." Then my friend invited me to have supper and spend the evening with him before the house is taken from him. The house has an estimated value of 20 million tumáns and like all confiscated properties will be at the disposal of the Prime Minister who is free to sell it and keep the proceeds.

      `At present there are about 750 Bahá`ís in prison. After the martyrdom of Mr. Markazí another grave was dug next to his, and someone has been buried in it overnight. The person's identity is not yet known. No doubt he is a Bahá`í, because it is in the area reserved for the Bahá`ís.

      `These days there is no execution by firing squad. The Bahá`ís give up their lives to the Bestower of Life while they are being tortured in prison, and all alone cry out "Yá Bahá`u'l-Abhá!" [O Thou the Glory of Glories!]. Such is the situation of innocent Bahá`ís in the prisons of Irán.

      `Write a new history like Nabíl's Narrative. You may call it whatever you want, but I would give it the title "Massacre of Bahá`ís under the Islamic Regime of Irán". Write and publish the life accounts of the martyrs. their wills, and their photographs--fill as many volumes as may be required--Vol. I, II, III and IV, each volume containing the life accounts of fifty martyrs. Let us pray that Vol. V may not be needed and that the era of execution may come to an end.

      `The Bahá`ís of Irán are mostly wanderers, distressed and jobless, but thankful and happy; anxious at heart, but serene and with smiling countenances. "Whoever cannot see, serves him right."

      `The other day I happened to meet and take a stroll with a new friend of mine to whom I said, "Dear friend, I am a Bahá`í; perhaps you don't know. But I tell you all this so that nothing may remain secret between us." He replied, "My wife has told me several times that she believes you are a Bahá`í, as it can be seen from your attitude and conduct. Now that you have mentioned it, I see she has guessed correctly. I am glad of it, and more than that, I congratulate you." He said the reason his wife suspected I was a Bahá`í was that she had lived in a Bahá`í family, although she is not a Bahá`í herself, but she knows how the Bahá`ís behave.

      `You can see how the Bahá`ís are distinguished in the community!

      `Dear reader, I don't know what you will do with this letter. Only remember this is a letter written by an Iranian Bahá`í. What may be your reaction to the letter is entirely your business. If you choose to translate and publish it, that is also your business. But please don't throw it away.'

      Another believer wrote to the World Centre stating that he visited the grave of his wife frequently, but was forbidden to erect a marker over the resting-place of an `infidel'. Any time he had left a small piece of paper with her name to mark the grave, it had been either removed, or had obscenities scrawled on it. He reported that a number of Bahá`í tombs had been defaced and that the walls of the cemetery were covered with graffiti defaming the Bahá`ís.

      On at least one occasion the Persian press outside Irán carried a story about someone who claimed to be a Bahá`í, perhaps with a view to obtaining increased sympathy for the victim and to discredit the Government. An example is found in the 25 October 1984 issue of the German magazine Punte which carried a translation of a story that appeared in a Persian


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newspaper published outside Irán by groups antagonistic to the present regime. The article, which appeared to be fictional, contained details of what purported to be the martyrdom of two Bahá`ís in Shiráz, and the torture and subsequent escape of their daughter, but no such incident was reported to the World Centre nor was there any record of a girl bearing the name used in the article among the daughters of Bahá`í married couples in Shiráz.

      The executions of three more Bahá`ís were announced by the Universal House of Justice in a message sent on 9 November 1984. Mr. Ahmad Bashirí, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly which had been disbanded on 29 August 1983, and Mr. Yúnis Nawrúzí-Iránzád, a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Karaj, the House of Justice stated, had been executed by hanging, while the third believer, Mr. Fírúz Purdil, died by means not then known. The telex continued, `IT IS CERTAIN THAT MR. BASHIRI IN HIS FIFTEEN MONTHS' IMPRISONMENT SUFFERED CRUEL INHUMAN TORTURES DESIGNED TO OBTAIN FALSE DECLARATION FROM HIM IMPLICATING DISBANDED BAHA'I ADMINISTRATION IN IRAN AS ESPIONAGE NETWORK. HIS ENDURANCE, STEADFASTNESS, LIKE THAT OF HIS HEROIC FELLOW BELIEVERS, THWARTED INFAMOUS DESIGNS. MR. BASHIRI AND MR. NAWRUZI [IRANZAD] ALONG WITH MR. SHAPUR MARKAZI PREVIOUELY REPORTED WERE INCLUDED IN LIST BAHA'IS ALREADY CONDEMNED TO DEATH. THIS CAUSES GRAVE CONCERN FATE REMAINING VALIANT SOULS LANGUISHING IN PRISON...'

      Mr. Ahmad Bashirí was born in 1915 into a Muslim family residing in Isfahán. His father, Faraju'lláh, died when Ahmad was seven, and he was raised lovingly by his mother and brother. Sultán, his mother, converted to the Bahá`í Faith when she learned of it from her other son, Muhammad-`Alí, who had accepted the Cause in Yazd. Thus Ahmad was raised as a Bahá`í child. After completing his primary and secondary education he enrolled in the Teachers' College in Isfahán and upon graduation was employed by the Department of Education as a teacher and school principal in Gulpáyigán. In order to fulfill the compulsory service requirement, Mr. Bashirí has written, `I spent one year in the Officers' College and one year in the first army division. I started serving in the Ministry of Culture after completion of my military service. For three years, I worked as a teacher and as supervisor of the education and endowment office in Tafrísh and Ashtíyán. I was transferred, then, to Isfahán and served there for twenty-one years in teaching, headmastership, a legal advisory capacity and as head counsellor of legal affairs in the Ministry of Culture of the Province of Isfahán. I continued my education while I was working. After obtaining a diploma in literature, I entered the school of law in Tihrán University and in 1951 obtained my Bachelors' degree in legal studies.' In Isfahán he was active in Bahá`í community life and was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly. He served also on the Spiritual Assemblies of Tajrish and Iláhíyih and on local and national Bahá`í committees. In the winter of 1965, through the intrigue of people hostile to the Faith, he was banished to Yazd; a year later, he retired, after thirty years' dedicated public service in the field of education. `A point worth mentioning,' he recorded in the brief summary of his life that he prepared, `is that since I started serving, I accomplished my assignments with meticulous care, sincerity and a sense of responsibility which was always admired, appreciated and rewarded by my supervisors. I have also had a calm and clear conscience. I considered work as an act of worship, a moral obligation and an ethical matter. During the entire expanse of my service, I tried to perform the assigned task to the best of my ability.' With the approval of the Spiritual Assembly of Isfahán, Mr. Ahmad Bashirí went to Tihrán and continued to serve the Cause in the capital where, after several years, he was elected to serve on the Local and National Assemblies. In the period of the revolution he often worked twelve to fourteen hours a day until, in July 1983, he was arrested and imprisoned. On 1 November 1984, he was hanged. He left three sons and three daughters--Mahshíd, Mahvash, Mihrshíd, Mihrán, Mihrdád and Mihryár--the fruit of his union with Miss Táhirih Furúghí, the daughter of Isfandiyár and Bushrá Furúghí, whom he had married in October 1965.

      Mr. Yúnis Nawrúzí-Iránzád's family roots were in Russia from whence his parents, Abdu'lláh and Ma'súmih Nawrúzí-Iránzád, migrated to Irán and settled in Tabríz where they learned of and accepted the Bahá`í Faith. Yúnis was born on 8 August 1926 in Marand, Adhirbáyján, where he attended primary


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school, completing his secondary studies in Tihrán. After completing his military service, he was engaged as a teacher by the Ministry of Education and worked in Abádán until he was discharged for being a Bahá`í. Unemployed for a while, he eventually found work in the National Bank and was sent to Sírján in the Province of Kirmán, and then to Fasá, a town in Fars. At last he was transferred to the central branch in Tihrán where he worked until retirement. In his various communities of residence, he taught children's classes and served on committees. He was, for a time, a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Karaj. In addition to his Bahá`í activities in Karaj, Mr. Nawrúzí-Iránzád served as an accountant to the committee for combating illiteracy, and his competence and dedication were highly appreciated and praised by the authorities. After the untimely death of his first wife, Miss Shahíndukht Muhájir, by whom he had three children, he married Miss Vajíhih Masrúrí, to whom two children were born. In 1981, he was deprived of his pension for being a Bahá`í, and on 27 July 1983 he was arrested at his home and placed in prison. After fifteen months' imprisonment and torture, he was executed on 28 October in his fifty-eighth year. One of his sons wrote of him, `No doubt, many of those heroic Bahá`í martyrs in Irán have been just that--very special persons, outstanding in their professions or careers, as well as in their services to their Faith. But among them have also been lesser, unknown persons, largely anonymous in society and equally unobtrusive in their devotion to Bahá`u'lláh. It is these martyrdoms which seem the most pointless. Yet, the smallest and the ordinary too have their place in the Bahá`í Faith. For the stories of these simple lives have caused thousands of Bahá`ís world-wide to restructure their definition of "heroism"; and they have served as an eye-opener to the rest of the world, clearly showing the massacre of the Bahá`ís of Irán in a new light ... by what stretch of imagination could [my father], a banker and a music teacher, be accused of "warring with God"?'

      Mr. Fírúz Purdil was born in February 1944, the son of Munir and Mardíyyih Ghulámí Purdil, who came to Irán from `Ishqábád, settling first in Tihrán and later in Mashhad. Fírúz was called for military service after graduation with a degree in mechanics from the Technical College of Tihrán University, and then he worked for the National Iranian Oil Company and later in a communications operation. Because of being a Bahá`í he was discharged after the revolution began. His marriage to Miss Nasrín Thábití in 1971 resulted in the birth of two daughters. In 1973, Mr. and Mrs. Purdil made their pilgrimage to the World Centre. Increasingly, he devoted all his free time to service on the Bahá`í youth committee and to teaching children's classes. In 1979, as a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Mashhad, he devoted his energies to attending to the needs of persecuted Bahá`í families. His activities led to his being arrested in September 1983. In prison he was severely lashed but he uttered to complaint. His family reported that whenever they visited him they found him perfectly calm and serene, and he counselled them to be content with whatever God had ordained for him. On 30 October 1984, Mr. Purdil was executed, but the family was not informed until 2 November, their anxieties being fed by rumours and suspicions as to his fate. Through the fearless insistence of his wife, Mr. Purdil's body was delivered to his family on 4 November and, under the supervision of the militia, they were able to make preparations for his burial. In the presence of a group of militia men, eight family members chanted prayers for the deceased, but were forbidden to weep or lament. Nevertheless, so poignant an atmosphere was created that tears streamed from the eyes of at least one observer. Many floral tributes were received by the family among which was one from a Bahá`í prisoner who had been sentenced to life imprisonment. With it was a card bearing the message: `Dear Fírúz, congratulations to you on donning the robe of martyrdom!' And when they were informed of the death of Mr. Purdil, some of his fellow prisoners composed a poem in his memory, praising him as pure-hearted lover of God who remained firm in the covenant and proved worthy of attaining the rose garden of martyrdom. The esteem in which Mr. Purdil was held among non-Bahá`ís was clearly demonstrated by the presence of large numbers of them at the memorial meetings held in his honour.

      Grim news was communicated to the Bahá`í world again on 17 December 1984 when the House of Justice announced the execution of six Bahá`ís in Tihrán. Although the executions


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took place on 9 December the details were unknown at that point, as neither the relatives nor friends of the martyrs were informed, and the fact of the executions was discovered only eight days later. Those who gave up their loves were: Dr. Rúhu'lláh Ta`lím, Mr. Fírúz Atharí, `Ináyatu'lláh Haqíqí, Mr. Jamshíd Púr-Ustádkár, Mr. Jamál Káshání, and Mr. Ghulám-Husayn Farhand. Another telex followed on 18 December in which the Universal House of Justice stated that after four months' imprisonment and torture, Dr. Farhád Asdaqí had been hanged on 19 November; and that, although the cause of death had not been established, Mr. `Alí-Ridá Níyákán died on 11 November, and Mr. Díyá'u'lláh Maní'i-Uskú'í died on 6 November, both in Tabríz prison, where they had spent two and a half years.

      Dr. Rúhu'lláh Ta`lím was born on 29 September 1937 in Tihrán. His father was a Bahá`í of Jewish background and of humble means, and although his mother did not convert from her Jewish faith, she was content to have her children raised as Bahá`ís. An extremely bright, docile and well-behaved child, Rúhu'lláh excelled in his studies, was among the top students in his school, and at age 19 entered medical college. After graduation, he specialized in gynecology, and worked as a trainee in various hospitals in Tihrán. He then established a private practice in Kirmánsháh where he became well known for his spirit of dedication to the people. The size of his practice grew very large. Eventually he established a hospital called Aryá and for the benefit of his fellow physicians he created a company in which they could become shareholders. In 1972 he married a young woman of Muslim background by whom he had two daughters. On 5 December 1983 he was arrested, later released, and then arrested again. In his will he took tender leave of his family and closed with the words, `... in a few moments I will say goodbye to you forever. I ask you to forgive me. I apologize. You, my dear daughters, I ask you to assist your mother whom I love above all others.'

      Mr. Fírúz Atharí was born in 1932 in Miyán-Duáb, Adhirbáyján. His grandfather, Táhir Mírzá Qájár, although not a believer, assisted the Bahá`ís at one point, and for this was praised in a Tablet addressed to him by `Abdu'l-Bahá. Mr. Fírúz Atharí's parents spent their lives as pioneers, a service which included twenty-five years in the town of Máh-Kú. In his turn, Fírúz Atharí served the Faith of Bahá`u'lláh as a pioneer, first in the Fort of Máh-Kú, then in Sháhín-Dizh-i-Afshár, a town near Miyán-Duáb, and finally in Karaj, a town near Tihrán. He was employed by a Bahá`í firm in Tihrán called Fírúz Company, but he made his residence in Karaj. In 1963, he married Miss Táhirih Thábit-Imání, of a well-known Bahá`í family of Yazd, and the fruit of this union was two daughters. Mr. Atharí was a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Karaj at the time of his arrest in October 1983 when his home was invaded in the small hours of the morning and stripped of valuables. Mr. Atharí was led away blindfolded and his family was unable to obtain information concerning his whereabouts until Naw-Rúz, 1984, when he was permitted telephonic contact with them. Later, permission was granted him to receive, once every three weeks, visits from members of the family and close relatives over forty years of age. One of his sisters who saw him two days before his execution described his condition in these words: `His body has been wasted; all his teeth are broken or missing; the torture he endures becomes more intense every day; all that is left is skin and bones and one great spirit. We are waiting anxiously to visit him again in two weeks' time, although on each occasion that I see him it ages me ten years.' But the anticipated visit did not take place. As one of his daughters wrote: `We had ten visits with dad during which he always consoled us and repeated the same counsel, that we should be patient and firm in facing tribulations, that we should not be disturbed because of what has taken place, and that we should be content with the divine will and place our trust in God. On the eleventh occasion, when we went to get the visitors' pass, we were told that my father's name was not on the list of prisoners. They denied ever having had his name in their book. Finally, we were given a telephone number to contact. Very anxious and worried, we returned home and called the number. We were asked to leave our number, and were told they would be in touch with us later. We realized there was something amiss, and they were trying to conceal the truth from us. Accompanied by several friends, we went to the Bíhisht-i-Zahrá cemetery. There we were given the number and location of the grave and the date of burial.


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We had to go to another cemetery to visit dad's grave. We found out he had been buried thirteen days before, and we hadn't been informed.' No answer was forthcoming when the family enquired about the circumstances of the death of Mr. Fírúz Atharí, but on his identification card, which they later saw, was written, `Cancelled because of hanging.'

      Mr. `Ináyatu'lláh Haqíqí, the son of Fathu'lláh and Fátímih Sultán Haqíqí, was born on 13 August 1933 in Najafábád where he attended primary school, completing his secondary studies in the Technical School of Isfahán in 1957. After completing his military service, he went to Tihrán where he found employment as a technician in a power station. In 1960 he married Miss Núráníyyih Dayhímpúr, and three sons were born to them. In 1969, Mr. Haqíqí, an active Bahá`í since his youth, was elected as a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Daryán-i-Naw. Twice he made pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his wife, in June 1975 and in February 1977. He transferred his residence to Karaj in 1976, and in 1980 was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly. He was a studious Bahá`í and acquired a copy of each new book the Publishing Trust produced. At Nineteen Day Feasts, he gave brief summaries of the books and was in charge of book sales. In June 1982, after twenty-three years' faithful service in the Department of Electric Power, he was discharged for being a Bahá`í. Two hours after midnight on 28 July 1983 he was arrested at his home and taken to prison. `Our last visit with him was on 2 December 1984,' his wife has written. `His face radiated with joy and happiness and he kept repeating that we should trust the Lord and remain unperturbed.' When his wife attempted to see him on 16 December, she was advised that he had been executed. She wrote, `At that moment I felt like a bird that had lost one wing; how can a bird fly with only one wing?'

      Simnán was the birthplace of Mr. Jamshíd Púr-Ustádkár. He was born on 6 September 1953. His father, Hidáyatu'lláh, was from Sangsar, and his mother, Sadíqih, was from Shahmírzád; both were deeply committed Bahá`ís. The family, consisting of the parents and four sons and two daughters, established their residence in Gulshahr-Vílá, a suburb of Karaj, after Jamshíd cxompleted his military service in 1974. He qualified as an accountant and worked as chief accountant for a well-known firm in Tihrán, commuting from Gulshahr-Vílá where he served on the Local Spiritual Assembly. In 1979, he married Miss Mahvash Mutlaq Arání, who bore a son. The child was three years of age when his father was executed. In March 1982 Jamshíd was discharged from his employment for being a Bahá`í and, unable to find a job, he started to transport passengers in his motor car between Karaj and Tihrán. In the early hours of 28 July 1983, he was arrested after the militia had searched for him in his father's home. For two hours they slapped the faces and lashed the bodies of his father and his 13-year-old brother, following which they entered the home of his mother-in-law, lashed her son until he fainted, and attempted to terrorize her by making her stand on a chair, placing a noose about her throat, and threatening to hang her when she protested their removing her Bahá`í books, and freeing her only when it was apparent she had no fear of death. The house was stripped of all valuables, and the militia left. For three months after the arrest of Mr. Púr-Ustádkár there was no news about where he had been taken, or whether he was alive or dead. When it was learned that he was in prison, visits were allowed once every fifteen days, and each time the prison guards demanded money for the expense of washing his clothing. After eighteen months' imprisonment he was executed, although his family has been unable to learn by wehat means. In his will dated 4 December he states that his relationship with his wife began with the remembrance of God and that in the short time in which they lived together she brought him great happiness; he urges her to do the best she can for the education of their son; he expresses gratitude to his parents for their unselfish care of him; he extends his loving greetings to his wife's parents, and to his brothers and sisters; and he commits all of them to the care of God.

      Mr. Jamál Káshání was born in the autumn of 1949 in Tihrán, the son of `Alí-Akbar and Báhírih Sulaymání Káshání. Jamál's father was descended from a martyr who died for the Bahá`í Faith in the time of Bahá`u'lláh. When Jamál was four years of age his parents pioneered to the village of `Alíabád-Tapánchih where they remained for three years, experiencing great difficulty in finding employment or earning a livelihood, until they moved to


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another pioneering post near Gunbad-i-Qábús where they farmed, grew a few vwgetables, and raised sheep and cattle. Their living conditions were very primitive, their home being made of reeds and wattle, hot in summer and cold in winter, and they had to draw their drinking water from a well, strain it to remove worms and other impurities, and then boil it. The family remained there twelve years and with the arrival of other pioneers a Local Spiritual Assembly was formed. Jamál and his brother and sister stayed with their grandmother in Gunbad-i-Qábús where they attended school. The family then moved to Gurgán where Jamál attended high school. At age sixteen, Jamál trained in Tihrán as an electrical technician, and at age twenty-four he married Miss Afsánih (Ilhám) Shahídí who was also descended from an early martyr. Two daughters were born to them. For nine years Jamál and his wife lived in Dihqán-Vílá where he served on the Local Spiritual Assembly. Most of the meetings of the Spiritual Assembly were held in the Káshání home. On 24 July 1983, Mr. Káshání was arrested. His mother wept, she wrote, when on one of her visits to the prison she noted that his fingers were pale yellow and his nails were blackened. `Don't grieve, mother,' he told her, Trust in God; whatsoever He has ordained for us is to our true benefit.' Three non-Bahá`ís who befriended Mr. Káshání when they were imprisoned with him later visited his father and told him of the bravery and steadfastness of his son whom they had nicknamed `Valiant'. They described his returning from the interrogations with bruises on his face and throat, but, they said, he would not recant and he was uncomplaining. On 17 December 1984, when Jamál Káshání's father visited the prison, he was informed that his son had been executed on 9 December, and was handed his clothing in a bundle.

      Mr. Ghulám-Husayn Farhand, the son of Rahmatu'lláh and `Atá Farhand, was born in Hamadán in March 1927, the second of the seven children born to this couple. When Ghulám-Husayn was still a youngster, his father's people ostracized Rahmatu'lláh and `Atá, expelling them from the family, and the couple moved to Ahváz as they were no longer welcome in Hamadán. After completing his secondary school education in Ahváz, Ghulám-Husayn Farhand found employment with the National Oil Company. He was a young man when his father passed away and he had to assume responsibility for the whole family. At age twenty-five, he married Miss Akram Jahángirí, and four children were born to them. Mr. Farhand served in various capacities on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Ahváz. In 1961, his company transferred him to Tihrán and in 1978 he pioneered with his wife and family to Karaj where he was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly and served, variously, as secretary and chairman. At the beginning of the revolution he was discharged from his employment because of his being a Bahá`í, so he earned his living by doing carpentry work. He was arrested on 27 July 1983 together with six other members of the Spiritual Assembly. Although Mrs. Farhand was visiting in Tihrán at the time of her husband's arrest, two of their sons, Farshád and Fardád, were at home when the militia burst into the family home in the early hours of the morning. Farshád, aged twelve, woke up feeling the cold metal of a gun against his temple, and witnessed the painful scene of his father being beaten and the house being looted of all valuables, including even the pocket money which the boy had received from his father the previous evening. When his brother, Fardád, protested the injustice of his father's arrest he, too, was beaten. It fell to Fardád's lot to acquaint his mother in Tihrán with the bad news; later, Mrs. Farhand and her children took refuge in the basement of a relative's home. After ten months of anxious enquiry, Mrs. Farhand finally received news of her husband's whereabouts. Her first visit with him took place in Evin prison in April 1984, and thereafter she was able to see him every few weeks until his execution on 9 December 1984. The family came to know about his execution some thirteen days after it occurred. When they called at the prison to visit him they were told he had been transferred to another prison. Because they persisted in their enquiries, they were given a phone number of the prosecutor who had given orders for the executions of Mr. Farhand and others. After insulting Mrs. Farhand and swearing abusively, the prosecutor, known to the Bahá`ís as `Mr. Tulú'í', finally admitted that Mr. Farhand had been executed.

      Tihrán was the birthplace of Dr. Farhád Asdaqí who was born on 22 September 1952, the son of staunch Bahá`ís whose ancestors


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had accepted the Faith during the time of Bahá`u'lláh. After graduating from Alburz High School with excellent marks he studied medicine at the National University of Irán. In 1979 he enlisted for military service, was stationed in Bírjand, and opened a private office for medical practice. Since there was no ophthalmologist in that town he studied the subject and tried, so far as possible, to extend assistance to the people needing treatment in that line. After his military service was over, he remained in Bírjand in private practice, offering his services without charge to those unable to pay. For a time he was a member of the Spiritual Assembly of that town. Throughout his youth he had been active in service to the Cause of Bahá`u'lláh and he served on a number of committees including the youth committee of Tihrán, the national teaching committee, and the national youth committee. He was one of those who were instrumental in establishing the youth teaching institute in Tihrán and, with others, he pioneered to Shíyán to establish a Local Spiritual Assembly. In addition, he was an assistant to the Auxiliary Board and was later appointed to the Board. In September 1981 he was arrested but to everyone's surprise he was granted his freedom on 13 December, the very day the members of the second National Spiritual Assembly were arrested, and the following day he was called to Tihrán to serve on the national body. Despite numerous obstacles and difficulties, he served diligently on the National Spiritual Assembly until it was dissolved in September 1983. In obedience to government regulations under which physicians were to contribute one month's service annually to the poor in the war zone, Dr. Asdaqí went to Bandar-i-`Abbás in May 1983. A few days later his home was invaded by the militia who had orders to arrest him. Therefore, he did not return to his home but became a wanderer. In June 1982, Dr. Asdaqí married a young woman from Mashhad whose father, Mr. Ni`matu'lláh Kátibpúr-Shahídí, had been martyred the previous year. Their son was born in July 1983, but Dr. Asdaqí did not dare visit his wife in hospital. Because their home was being watched, Mrs. Asdaqí with the infant became an itinerant, staying in a different place every night, just as her husband was. Only two and a half months later was Dr. Asdaqí able to see the child, and from that time on the three wandered from town to town and from house to house until he was arrested in June 1984. Before his arrest, he devoted his energies to assisting the oppressed and homeless Bahá`ís, but he sensed what was in store for him, and often spoke of his impending arrest and torture. `I have pledged this to the Blessed Beauty,' he said on one occasion. His family found him resigned to the will of God on the two occasions when they were permitted to visit him in prison. The third time they were not allowed to see him, and on the fourth occasion they were told of his execution.

      At the time this volume of The Bahá`í World was sent to press, due to the difficulties involved in communicating with the Bahá`ís in Irán, no biographical information about Mr. `Alí-Ridá Níyákán, or further details surrounding his martyrdom, had reached the World Centre.

      Mr. Díyá'u'lláh Maní'i-Uskú'í was born in 1920 in `Ishqábád of Bahá`í parents of Persian nationality. When Díyá'u'lláh was seven years of age his parents returned to Irán. After completing his primary and secondary education and his military service, Díyá'u'lláh at the age of 19 volunteered to go pioneering under the 45-month teaching plan of the National Spiritual Assembly and was assigned to Zábul where the climate and living conditions were considered the worst in the country. It was difficult to earn a living but after enduring hardships for several years Mr. Maní'i-Uskú'í was able to open a small photo studio which enjoyed success despite the fact that religious extremists in the town would sometimes harangue his customers for doing business with a Bahá`í. In 1948 Mr. Maní'i-Uskú'í married Miss Tulú`íyyih Majídí; their home in Zábul became a centre for gathering the Bahá`í friends. One of their sons developed severe mental problems in 1974 as a result of the harassment and ridicule he suffered from the students and teachers at school, and upon the recommendation of a physician his mother and the other children moved to Tihrán where the boy, aged 13, could be treated. Mr. Maní'i-Uskú'í was reluctant to abandon his pioneering post where he had spent so many years, but in 1978, with the approval of the Universal House of Justice, he joined his wife and children, and chose to settle in Urúmíyyih for the purpose of better serving the Faith. He opened a shop and also conducted classes for Bahá`í youth. To the amazement of the doctors,


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his son recovered. On 27 July 1981, at the peak of the revolutionary period in Irán, Mr. Maní'i-Uskú'í was taken to prison, the first Bahá`í to be arrested in Urúmíyyih. When his wife asked the authorities what crime her husband had committed, she was told he was guilty of attempting to attract people to the Bahá`í Faith not by words but by his example of showing loving kindness. The result of his trial was that he was condemned to death, but in view of his age the court later mitigated the sentence by ordering that he spend ten years in prison. On 6 November 1984 he died as a result of a heart attack after a life of service distinguished by humility and lack of ostentation. In his will he expressed heartfelt love and gratitude to his wife for her many sacrifices, and to his two sons and two daughters for their commitment to the Faith, and drew to their attention the words of `Abdu'l-Bahá about joy and sorrow, and about the perils of pride and egotism.

      On 29 January 1985, when the Universal House of Justice again reported to the Bahá`ís of the world, it announced that it had just received word of the execution in Yazd of Mr. Rúhu'lláh Hasúrí, and confirmation of the death in prison of Mr. Rustam Varjávandí who died on 15 September 1984. The number of Bahá`ís in prison, the House of Justice stated, as far as could then be ascertained, totalled 707. The telex continued, `GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES WHO WERE DISMISSED OR THEIR PENSIONS STOPPED BECAUSE OF THEIR FAITH ARE NOW BEING SUMMONED BY ATTORNEY GENERAL AND COMPELLED PAY BACK ALL THE SALARIES RECEIVED FOR MANY YEARS, EVEN DECADES, FAILING WHICH THEY WILL BE IMPRISONED. CAUSE MANY RECENT IMPRISONMENTS IS INABILITY TO PAY BACK SALARIES BAHA'IS HAD RECEIVED WHLE LAWFULLY EMPLOYED BY GOVERNMENT.'

      Mr. Rúhu'lláh Hasúrí was born in 1942 in the village of Sharífábád, near the city of Yazd, the son of Yahyá and Rubábih Hasúrí. He had three brothers and one sister. After some years of study in the primary school in the place of his birth, Rúhu'lláh Hasúrí continued his education by taking night classes while working in Tihrán. Even after his marriage in 1967 to Miss Nusrat Mírzá'í, the dauhgter of Ghulám-Ridá and Túbá Mírzá'í, he continued to pursue his studies, qualifying himself as an electrical technician. When Rúhu'lláh was 15 years of age, his father took ill, and because Rúhu'lláh's older brother was married, responsibility for the welfare of the family fell on Rúhu'lláh's shoulders. Two years later, his father passed away; his mother had died previously. Rúhu'lláh went to Tihrán with his family after his father's death. The many difficulties and obstacles he faced there challenged him and perhaps contributed to the depth of his character. He held various jobs including working as an optician, and six months after his marriage he began work as a driver for a radio and television organization. Subsequently, on obtaining his diploma as an electrical technician, he followed that line of employment, and in 1976 transferred to Yazd where he helped inaugurate television facilities. In addition to his principal responsibilities, he was also a director and broadcast operator of the station. In the summer of 1980, he was fired because of his being a Bahá`í, but due to the protests raised by his colleagues, the decree was altered and he was `retired'. Even after his forced withdrawal from his job, his co-workers continued to refer to him for technical assistance and advice. He would go to the station without hesitation and lend them whatever help and support he could. In this period he was called to Tihrán three times by the television authorities who would have been glad to reinstate him because of his skill, but as he would not deny his Faith his pension was terminated. Thereafter, although he did odd jobs like plumbing and electrical wiring, he devoted most of his time to serving the Faith. Although while in Tihrán he had formerly conducted children's classes and performed other services, he now was able to increase his labours. In 1981, he was appointed an assistant to Mrs. Zhínús Ni'mat Mahmúdí, a member of the Auxiliary Board, and the following year he was elected to serve on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Yazd. The year after that he was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly again, and was vice-chairman, as well as being a member of the Covenant Committee. Two sons were born to Mr. and Mrs. Hasúrí. `My husband was by nature very kind and he helped everyone in any possible way,' Mrs. Hasúrí has written. `He listened to people's problems and would suggest solutions. He was extremely sensitive when talking with friends. At his job, or when serving the Faith, he felt deeply responsible and always did his best. He always told me not to worry


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about any uncompleted housework or any unaccomplished chores. "Don't worry about them," he would say, "the work of the Cause has priority over every other task."' One of Mr. Hasúrí's brothers said in tribute to him, `I didn't notice anything but kindness, a giving attitude and sacrifice on Rúhu'lláh's part, both when he was a child and also when he matured. His sole purpose in life was serving mankind and, at the end, he sacrificed his life for this.' Rúhu'lláh Hasúrí's arrest took place on 16 May 1982. The doorbell of the Hasúrí's home rang at 12:30 p.m. A man's voice speaking over the intercom system said, `I have come to read the counter on the water metre.' Mrs. Hasúrí noticed a man on the roof as she stepped out to open the door, a man who had been instrumental in the arrest of the group of seven martyrs of Yazd, and who had used every opportunity to persecute the Bahá`ís and plunder their properties; within a few days of the arrest of Mr. Hasúrí, this individual was himself arrested on charges of bribery, extortion and theft, and was sentenced to prison. Although Mr. Hasúrí was not at home at the time, the guards awaited his return and arrested him. He was released, but was required to return to the court house the next day which he did, telling the Bahá`í friends, `I do not retreat from the front line and desert my friends.' After 25 days, through the persistent efforts of his family, a brief meeting was arranged before the assistant prosecutor; Mr. Hasúrí had grown a long beard and it was clear that he had been in solitary confinement. Mr. Hasúrí and four of his friends were transferred to another prison in November 1983. In the following month he was transferred to yet another prison and for about 45 days no one had news of his whereabouts, the authorities, as was the case for the most part with Bahá`í prisoners, refusing to release information, or in some instances releasing false information. From the militia prison he was taken to court, and then to the police prison again. Finally, on 21 January 1985, in his forty-third year, he was executed by firing squad.

      Mr. Rustam Varjávandí was born on 30 November 1917 in Marayamábád, near Yazd. At the time of his birth his father, originally a Zoroastrian, had just embraced the Bahá`í Faith but his mother had not yet converted. In accordance with Zoroastrian rites, she bathed the seven-day-old child in open air, as a result of which he caught a cold which developed into pneumonia and threatened his life. This led to serious discussion between Rustam's parents and the acceptance by his mother of the new teachings. After Rustam completed his primary school studies, Rustam's father, himself a well-known merchant of Yazd, apprenticed his son under a five-year contract to a Zoroastrian relative who owned a wholesale business in Tihrán. Although delighted to pursue his studies in a large centre, Rustam's movements were monitored by his employer who forbade the young man to attend Bahá`í classes and ridiculed him for refusing wine. Rustam, however, was able to buy Bahá`í books and study in his free time. Eventually, his employer's mother-in-law, who lived with them, grew sympathetic to Rustam, defended him against insults, and encouraged him to attend Bahá`í classes on Friday mornings while excusing his absence on the grounds of his visiting the public baths. When the five years ended, Mr. Varjávandí worked for another two years with the same employer as a partner on behalf of his father, then spent two years in military service. After that he worked in a wholesale company established in Saráy-i-Amír, Tihrán, by his father, for the sale of textiles from Yazd, as well as imported fabrics. In 1941 he and his cousin, Miss Qudsíyyih Varjávandí, were married, and two sons and two daughters were born to them. The family pioneered to Sárí for two years but the climate aggravated Mr. Varjávandí's asthma, a condition to which his illness in infancy had predisposed him, and they moved to Darrús and then to Chízar to form a Local Spiritual Assembly, after which they settled in Rustamábád Shimírán. Mr. Varjávandí commuted to work in Tihrán and became a well-established merchant in the bazaar until he was forced out of business through the machinations of envious merchants who resented having a Bahá`í in their midst. With complete resignation, Mr. Varjávandí sold everything he owned, settled his debts, and became a keeper of stores for a pharmaceutical company which employed him during the period 1964-1974. After sustaining a stroke from which he made a remarkable recovery, in 1976 he started to work in the office of the National Spiritual Assembly, his services being brought to a halt when the revolution gained momentum. On 30 October 1983, Mrs. Varjávandí was seized as a hostage and taken to


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prison where she was interrogated for three days. Learning that she had been incarcerated, Mr. Varjávandí surrendered himself to the militia and begged them to release his wife, but she was brought to trial with him and Mr. Sohráb Varjávandí, and after refusing to deny her belief was, as they were, accused of bribing Muslims with cash to convert to the Bahá`í Faith, among other things. On 15 October 1984 Mr. Varjávandí's daughters were informed that their father had died of heart failure. Although permission was granted to his wife to have three days' leave to attend the funeral, through a misunderstanding the order permitting this did not reach her until the burial had taken place. After serving her sentence, she was released from prison on 19 November 1984.

      After a few weeks of peace, on 14 March 1985 the Universal House of Justice informed the Bahá`í world of the deaths of two more blievers. Mr. Rúhu'lláh Bahrámsháhí, who was executed in Yazd on 25 February 1985, and Mr. Nusratu'lláh Subhání, who was executed in Tihrán on 5 March 1985.

      Mr. Rúhu'lláh Bahrámsháhí was born in 1933 in the village of Ráhatábád, a suburb of Taft. His father, Gushtásb, who had accepted the Faith after investigation, was privileged to go on pilgrimage and attain the presence of `Abdu'l-Bahá and, much affected by the story of the martyr Rúhu'lláh Varqá, named his son after him unaware, of course, that his son, too, would wear the crown of martyrdom. Rúhu'lláh Bahrámsháhí's mother, Surúr, who passed away one week after the execution of her son, had been raised in a Bahá`í family. She was young when she was widowed and experienced much hardship in raising her four children, but spared no effort for their education. After the seventh grade, Rúhu'lláh joined a group of young people, travelled to Pakistan and India, and found work in a shop in Bombay. Learning of the call issued by Shoghi Effendi for pioneers, he consulted the National Spiritual Assembly of India and was sent to the virgin territory of Alláhábád where he rented a room in a Persian hotel, and together with a young relative from Taft started a small bakery shop. They spread the Bahá`í teachings throughout a vast area and, with the establishment of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Alláhábád, won the praise of Shoghi Effendi. After their return to Irán, Rúhu'lláh married Miss Táhirih Daymarání. About a year later he returned to India with his bride. In time, however, realizing that his mother was alone, the couple went back to Taft, and then settled in a suburb of Yazd to aid in forming a Local Spiritual Assembly. Five years later they moved to Yazd. Mr. Bahrámsháhí worked in a textile mill as personnel manager but was discharged after the upheaval of 1955 when Bahá`ís throughout Irán were persecuted. In 1980, he was appointed an assistant to a member of the Auxiliary Board, and in 1981 and 1982 he served on the Spiritual Assembly of Yazd. On 16 May 1983, while Mr. Bahrámsháhí was in Taft, the militia entered the family dwelling and, not finding him at home, they struck Mrs. Bahrámsháhí on the head with a book, attempted to frighten and humiliate her, and took away all Bahá`í photographs, documents and books. Finally, on 18 May 1984, their true quarry was located in Taft, and arrested. Mr. Bahrámsháhí was held for fifteen days without his family having news of his welfare. After a long struggle they were permitted to see him. He was barely recognizable, with unkempt clothing, long whiskers, a shaved head, and inflamed lips and cheeks. He was in pain and could hardly speak. He kissed his mother and begged her not to weep. His wife and aunt, on their last visit, when his mother lay ill in bed, found him attired in clean clothing and looking radiant. `Tonight I am going to the Abhá Kingdom!' he exclaimed. His wife attempted to see the Imám-Jum`ih of Yazd to beg him to intercede, not to stop the execution but to delay it long enough for the mother to bid farewell to her son, but the guard at the chief mulláh's gate refused her entry because of the lateness of the hour. However, after enquiring, he kindly informed her that the body had been delivered to Khuld-i-Barín cemetery. When news of Mr. Bahrámsháhí's execution was delivered to his mother who was critically ill, she roused herself briefly and uttered the last words she ever spoke: `Good for him!'

      Mr. Nusratu'lláh Subhání was born in Sháhí in 1932 and was raised as a Bahá`í. Even as a child he enjoyed memorizing the Bahá`í Writings. His father recalls having a temporary memory lapse, on one occasion, while chanting the long obligatory prayer, and his son, then aged six, who had the prayer by rote, spontaneously completing the recitation for him. When Nusratu'lláh Subhání was nine years old,


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his family pioneered to Shírv'an during the course of the 45-month teaching plan and, this period being one during which the believers experienced strenuous opposition from bigoted elements in the population, for a year lived in the only quarters they could find, a garage. Subsequently the family moved to Gunbad-i-Kávús where Nusratu'lláh Subhání spent most of his life. He married and five children were born of the union. He was always active in the Faith and, in 1975, with his wife and children, he pioneered to India for five years. Upon returning to Irán, he found a new spirit which intoxicated him, and his devotion to the Cause of Bahá`u'lláh waxed even stronger. The last four years of his life, before his imprisonment, were spent entirely in the service of the Bahá`í Faith. About two months before his arrest on 11 June 1984, a member of the revolutionary guards visited him and, feigning friendly concern, informed him about his forthcoming arrest; in reality, he expected a bribe. Mr. Subhání who was always even-tempered and kind, was unperturbed and made clear to his informant that he did not fear imprisonment. However, recognizing the inevitability of his being arrested, he made plans to visit friends in Isfahán and Shíráz in order to say farewell. On 17 June he left his home in the morning to visit friends and never returned. After a week of anxious searching, his wife and relatives at last learned his whereabouts, but for six months no visitors were permitted to see him in prison. Even his wife's letters to him, and sums of money for his expenses in prison, did not reach him, although they were handed over to the prison authorities. Then, in the period of one month, his wife was permitted to visit him twice. Following that, he was transferred to another location and visiting privileges were denied. The day before his execution, his wife was summoned to the prison and was able to spend a few moments with him, but left without knowledge of the fact that he was to be killed. Two days later the family received the news that he had been hanged on 5 March 1984. In his will and testament, Mr. Subhání expressed his love for his family, and urged them to remain steadfast and follow the path of truth. He concluded the brief document by expressing thanks to God that he had no material substance to bequeath anyone. `Although his neck was scarred and bruised,' said a relative who glimpsed him at the time of his burial, `his face was serene and content, and his lips conveyed the hint of a smile.'

      In March 1982 a report entitled The Bahá`ís of Irán, published by the Minority Rights Group Ltd., an international research institute based in the United Kingdom, had been distributed to National Spiritual Assembles by the Universal House of Justice. In August 1985 a corrected and updated copy of the document was disseminated. And then, on 19 September 1985, after a few months' cessation of executions of Bahá`ís in Irán, the Universal House of Justice telexed the news of two further executions. On 1 August, Mr. `Abbás Idilkhání was executed in prison without his family's being notified, his grave being accidentally discovered near Tihrán. At that time, the manner of his execution was not known. He had been imprisoned on 26 April 1982 in Zanján where he remained until April 1985 when he was taken to Tihrán. Mr. Rahmatu'lláh Vujdání, who was arrested in Bandar-`Abbás in July 1984, was executed by firing squad on 28 August 1985. `FROM THE END JANUARY TO SEPTEMBER 1985', the House of Justice stated in its telex, `63 BAHA'IS WERE ARRESTED AND 39 RELEASED. TOTAL NUMBER PRISONERS NOW 741. THIS FIGURE INCLUDES 39 PRISONERS RELEASED DURING PERIOD. BAHA'I STUDENTS OF ALL LEVELS HAVE TO COMPLETE ADMISSION FORMS WHICH INCLUDE SPACE FOR ONLY FOUR OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED RELIGIONS. BAHA'I STUDENTS WHO STATE THEY ARE BAHA'IS ARE DENIED SCHOOLING OR IF ADMITTED FACE TREMENDOUS PRESSURE AND HARRASSMENT, OTHER FORMS PERSECUTION INNOCENT BAHA'IS PERSIST.'

      Mr. `Abbás Idilkhání was born in 1931 in Zanján. His father, Asadu'lláh, had embraced the Bahá`í Faith through his own effort and investigation, but his mother was a Muslim. `Abbás spent his youth in Tihrán training as a blacksmith, and later he qualified himself as an electrical technician specializing in installation and repair of air-conditioning units. His scholastic education did not go beyond primary school, but he learned a great deal through the study of the Bahá`í Writings. When he was about thirty years of age, Mr. Idilkhání married Miss Parvín Faná'íyán; two children were born to them, a boy and a girl. The couple made their home a centre for teaching the Faith, and when Mr. Aydilkhání addressed gatherings of


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seekers he deeply impressed them by his eloquent exposition of Bahá`í teachings and principles. A few years after their marriage, the Idilkhánís settled in Zanján as pioneers where they constructed a building to serve as their living quarters and place of business. Enemies of the Faith mistook the structure for a Bahá`í Centre and caused trouble for Mr. Idilkhání, but he dealt with the situation in good humour and showed friendly conduct toward the neighbours, and completed the construction. Moreover, after living among them for a few years, he won the hearts of the townspeople to a degree that was remarked upon by anyone who visited. `The people of Zanján would write a book two metres thick if they were asked to describe his virtues and qualities, so loved and respected was he!' his brother-in-law has written. Throughout his imprisonment he put his skills at the service of his jailers. One year after being arrested, his family were denied the opportunity to visit him. On 4 August 1985, Mrs. Idilkhání received a telephone call from the public prosecutor who instructed her to visit her husband. She went to the prison and was herself incarcerated and not allowed to return home. A few days later, the family was told by the authorities that `Abbás Idilkhání had died of heart failure on 1 August, but when they called for his belongings they heard various accounts of his death and were unable to obtain definite information. Mrs. Idilkhání was imprisoned, her family concluded, in order to avoid having the people of Zanján visit her in large numbers to console her when news of the death of her husband reached them.

      Mr. Rahmatu'lláh Vujdání, the son of Safar-`Alí and Fátimih Vujdání, was born in Bandar-`Abbás in 1928. His father had accepted the Faith as a result of his own investigations, and had then introduced it to his wife who also accepted it. As a child, Rahmatu'lláh was distinguished among the children for his intelligence, and as a Bahá`í youth he excelled others in literary talent; his chanting of the Holy Writings and prayers in meetings attracted the hearts of all those present. After completing his education he was employed by the Ministry of Education as a teacher in a village not far from Bandar-`Abbás. He spent four years in the township of Hájíábád and formed the first Bahá`í group there. In 1949 he married Miss Ishráqíyyih `Azímí; six children were born to them. In 1953 he was transferred to the township of Mínáb where the first Local Spiritual Assembly was formed, largely through his efforts. Fanatical and prejudiced people in the town, enraged by the formation of the Spiritual Assembly, complained to the authorities about the Vujdání family and as a result Mr. Vujdání was, as a punishment, transferred to the remote island of Súzá, which has a difficult climate and where camels are the sole means of transportation. Here, together with his expectant wife, two small children, and his blind brother, he spent two trying years under arduous circumstances, but he succeeded in delivering the Bahá`í message to the inhabitants of the island. In March 1955, he was suspended from service for eight months because of registering as a Bahá`í on a questionnaire, but after strenuous efforts he succeeded in appealing the verdict of dismissal and was reinstated in his job in Súzá. Subsequently he was transferred to the island of Qishm, then to Bandar-`Abbás and finally to Mínáb where he remained for five years, his sincerity and effectiveness resulting in his being appointed supervisor of physical education in the township. Meanwhile, he continued his studies and eventually obtained his degree in literature. In July 1972, while living in Isfahán, the Vujdánís learned of the death of their son, Farámarz, a student at Mindanao State University in the Phillipines, who with two of his Bahá`í friends had been murdered there while on a teaching trip to a rural area inhabited by Muslims.[1] Upon Mr. Vujdání's return to Bandar-`Abbás in 1977 he was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly and served as its secretary. At midnight on 24 July 1984 he was arrested, and he gave up his life in the path of his Beloved on 28 August 1985, his body being consigned for burial in the section of the Muslim cemetery reserved for infidels, despite the family's protestations. Nevertheless, the family was able to arrange to wash and shroud the body, and offer Bahá`í prayers. The guards assigned to supervise the funeral became so affected by the serenity and dignity of the family and the other Bahá`ís that they asked many questions about the Bahá`í teachings; they laid aside their guns to participate in the burial, expressed their regrets for the martyrdom of one so loved and respected, and embraced members of the family

  1. See `In Memoriam', The Bahá`í World, vol. XV, pp. 514-16.

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at the end of the ceremony. One non-Bahá`í among the many who attended the funeral was heard to exclaim, `Mr. Vujdání was well known for his good character and his gentleness; why have they done this to him?'

      It was reported to the World Centre on 21 November 1985 that Mr. Núru'd-Dín Tá'ifí died of a heart attack in the hospital prison in Pahlavídizh (Gurgán) on 12 October 1985. His body was given to his family in Gurgán, and he was buried with a Bahá`í burial ceremony. Mr. Tá'ifí, one of whose maternal uncles had been martyred for the Faith in Sháhrúd, was born into a devout Bahá`í family about 1925. He trained as a pharmacist and in his thirty-first year pioneered to a small village in the vicinity of Gurgán where he established a pharmacy which, despite his not being from the area, was always full of customers who reported great trust in him. Often those who were without funds were given free medicine. His geniality, honesty, hospitality and good moral character resulted in his acquiring many friends. He never lost an opportunity to speak about the principles of the Faith when talking with his acquaintances and associates, and because of his familiarity with Islamic traditions he was able to present eloquently the verities of the Faith. He constantly participated actively in the work of the Bahá`í Faith and served on a number of committees including the translation committee. He was tireless in his encouragement of pioneers and travelling teachers to outlying areas, and generous in his support of the Bahá`í Fund. In the mid-1950s he married Miss Táhirih Thaná'í; seven sons were born to them. With three other members of the Local Spiritual Assembly, Mr. Tá'ifí, who had suffered a heart ailment for many years and required medication, rest and a special diet, was arrested on 30 October 1983. He was transferred from one prison to another and was unable to follow his normal medical regimen. His requests for medication and medical treatment, which he offered to pay for, were ignored. He was constantly subjected to severe psychological torture not only by his interrogators but by a circle of political prisoners into whose midst he was thrown. He experienced physical torture, too. On one occasion, clad only in his thin underclothing, he was led out of doors by the guards and left standing for several hours in the bitter cold with his hands tied, one arm being placed behind his head, and the other twisted behind his back. He refused to recant his Faith and bore his sufferings with dignity. The uncertainty of his fate and that of his friends added to his difficulties and anguish. When the verdict of the court was finally handed down, Mr. Tá'ifí was sentenced to six years' imprisonment. The effects of his maltreatment took their toll. On one of the visits from his family, they found him disoriented and bewildered. Once when he was at last able to see a physician the doctor warned the authorities that unless Mr. Tá'ifí were able to have rest and medication, he would die within six months. The warning went unheeded. After many months' imprisonment he sustained a massive heart attack. A number of hours went by before he was moved to a hospital. But it was too late. Despite the diligent efforts of the doctors, he died ten days later.

      On 24 November 1985 the Universal House of Justice released to the Bahá`í world news of the execution by firing squad on 19 November 1985 of Mr. `Azízu'lláh Ashjárí, a Bahá`í prisoner in Tabríz, who had been imprisoned for over four years. His body was given to the family, as was not the case with many other executed Bahá`ís, and burial took place on 22 November, the House of Justice stated. It concluded the message by pointing out that 767 Bahá`ís were still reported to be in prison.

      Mr. `Azízu'lláh Ashjárí, who was martyred in hs fiftieth year, was born in Karaj to Bahá`í parents, his mother, Rubábih, being descended from an early martyr of Yazd, and his father, Muhammad-`Alí, being also a devout believer, though both lived circumspect lives and concealed their association with the Faith in order to avoid arousing hostility among their Muslim neighbours. As a youth, `Azízu'lláh showed no inclination toward religion but idled his time away in cafes and bars, drinking with youth who had sympathy for communistic ideologies. Through meeting a Bahá`í youth from Kirmán, about 1956, he became attracted to the Faith, to the delight of his parents, and a year or so later devoted himself to it wholeheartedly. In time, he became a home decorator and ran a factory that manufactured mosaic tiles. He suffered business losses through the machinations of former friends who conspired against him, angered by his association with the Bahá`í


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Faith. Although his formal education did not extend beyond junior high school, as a result of assiduous study of the Bahá`í teachings he became a knowledgeable Bahá`í teacher and speaker. In 1959, Mr. Ashjárí married Miss Manízhih `Abbúdí. The fruit of this union was a daughter and a son. In 1973, Mr. and Mrs. Ashjárí pioneered from Tihrán to Ardibíl in the Province of Adhirbáyján where Mr. Ashjárí served as an assistant to the Auxiliary Board, travelling throughout the Province to encourage Local Spiritual Assemblies and groups. He was arrested in Ardibíl on 7 September 1981. Until his death in November 1984, he wrote letters to his family from prison, urging them to be patient and trust in the Lord.

      Although the end of the year 1985 did not mark the cessation of oppression of the believers in Irán, it brought significant news which was surely a direct result of the sacrifices of the Persian friends in that land. On 17 December the Universal House of Justice telexed the Bahá`í world: `WITH JOYFUL HEARTS WE ACCLAIM UNPRECEDENTED RECOGNITION BAHA'I COMMUNITY THROUGH ADOPTION BY UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF RESOLUTION MAKING SPECIFIC REFERENCE PERSECUTED FRIENDS IRAN. FOR FIRST TIME NAME PRECIOUS FAITH BAHA'LLAH MENTIONED HIGHEST MOST WIDELY REPRESENTATIVE INTERNATIONAL FORUM YET ESTABLISHED THUS FULFILLING LONG-CHERISHED WISH BELOVED GUARDIAN. SIGNIFICANCE THIS MOMENTOUS DEVELOPMENT ALSO UNDERSCORED BY FACT THAT ONLY IN THREE INSTANCES BEFORE HAS GENERAL ASSEMBLY INSELF ADOPTED RESOLUTIONS CENSURING PARTICULAR COUNTRIES FOR BAD HUMAN RIGHTS RECORDS. PROCESS WHICH RESULTED SUCH A REMARKABLE OUTCOME BEGAN TWO YEARS AGO WITH DECISION UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TO SEND REPRESENTATIVE IRAN INVESTIGATE VIOLATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS INCLUDING THOSE DIRECTLY AFFECTING BAHA'I COMMUNITY. THE COMMISSION DETERRED IN ITS INTENTION BY IRANIAN AUTHORITIES REFERRED ISSUE TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY WHERE MATTER WAS DISCUSSED FIRST IN THIRD COMMITTEE WHEN INTERESTS FAITH WERE VIGOROUSLY UPHELD BY REPRESENTATIVES VARIOUS COUNTRIES AND RESOLUTION WAS PROPOSED AND THEN IN PLENARY SESSION WHICH RATIFIED RESOLUTION ON 13 DECEMBER. NOTABLE CONSEQUENCE IS RETENTION ISSUE AGENDA GENERAL ASSEMBLY THUS PERMITTING INTENSIFICATION EFFORTS RELIEVE SITUATION SUFFERING BELIEVERS IRAN IN ANTICIPATION DAY COMPLETE EMANCIPATION FAITH GOD THAT LAND. WARMLY COMMEND ACKNOWLEDGE UNTIRING EFFORTS UNITED NATIONS REPRESENTATIVES BAHA'I INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY RESOLUTELY SUPPORTED BY NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES ALL CONTINENTS.

      `OCCURING IN CONJUNCTION WITH PRESENTATION PEACE STATEMENT BY AMATU'L-BAHA RUHIYYIH KHANUM TO SECRETARY-GENERAL UNITED NATIONS ONLY FEW WEEKS BEFORE, WITH ONGOING DELIVERY SAME STATEMENT TO HEADS STATE THROUGHOUT WORLD AND WITH UNEQUIVOCAL PUBLIC DEFENSE IRANIAN BAHA'IS BY PRESIDENT UNITED STATES AT HUMAN RIGHTS DAY CEREMONY, THIS INESTIMABLE ACHIEVEMENT DEFINITELY AFFIRMS EMERGENCE FAITH OBSCURITY HERALDS NEW PHASE IRREPRESIBLE UNFOLDMENT DIVINELY APPOINTED WORLD ORDER BAHA'U'LLAH.'

      The love, courage, and steadfastness of the friends in the Cradle of the Faith, despite the hardships heaped upon them by an intolerant fanaticism in that country in the years since the Islamic revoltion of 1978, have been a source of constant inspiration to Bahá`ís throughout the world, giving impetus to their activities and impelling them to increased and more audacious efforts to acquaint their fellow men with the healing message of Bahá`u'lláh. The steadfastness of the Iranian believers was further symbolized by a gift of 184 red roses, purchased by the donations of Bahá`í prisoners in three prisons in Irán, and presented to a number of National Conventions--Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States--at Ridván 1986. An accompanying note said: `An offering of love presented by the friends of the Cradle of the Faith in memory of the known martyrs of Irán and those who have disappeared in that land to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá`ís of ... in grateful appreciation of your continuing efforts to vindicate the rights of Iranian believers--rights that are not yet recognized and of which they are still deprived.'

      Telex reports from National Conventions conveyed the impact of this touching gesture on the receiving communities. The Australian National Convention responded. `OVERWHELMED EMOTION RECEIPT RED ROSES FROM IMPRISONED IRANIAN BELIEVERS BEHALF MAR-


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TYRS. IN RESPONSE DELEGATES MOVED RECOMMEND NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY LAUNCH UNPRECEDENTED NATIONAL CAMPAIGN OF PUBLICITY BRING NAME TEACHINGS BAHA'U'LLAH TO ALL AUSTRALIANS.'

      The National Spiritual Assembly of Germany replied in acknowledgement of the gift: `MOST TOUCHING, MOST MOVING, MOST OVERWHELMING EVENT ON EVE 2 MAY 1986 WHEN MORE THAN 400 BELIEVERS FROM GERMANY AND OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES ASSEMBLED ... MEMORIAL GATHERING MARTYRS CRADLE FAITH IN PRESENCE COUNSELLORS ADIB TAHERZADEH, HARTMUT GROSSMANN 184 RED ROSES CONTRIBUTED BY THE ADMIRED BELIEVERS PRESENTLY IMPRISONED IN THREE MAJOR PRISONS OF IRAN WERE BROUGHT INTO HALL IMPELLING CRYING ASSEMBLAGE TO ARISE AND STAND UP AS SYMBOL OF LOVE AND URMOST RESPECT LISTENING TO SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM FRIENDS IRAN. FEELINGS OF RESPECT SORROW LOVE NEW DEDICATION IMPOSSIBLE TO DESCRIBE ... AFTER ADDRESS OF COUNSELLOR TAHERZADEH WHO CONCENTRATED THOUGHTS OF BELIEVERS ON SPIRITUAL REALM, THE ASSEMBLAGE PROCEEDED--ESCORTED BY ROSES FROM IRAN--TO MASHRIQU'L-ADHKAR WHERE 195 LIGHTED TORCHES SURROUNDED HOUSE OF WORSHIP AND WELCOMED WITH THEIR BRIGHT FLAMES THE PROCESSION WHICH CIRCUMAMBULATED MOTHER TEMPLE EUROPE TO ENTER INNER HALL ... A MOVING MEMORIAL SERVICE WAS HELD ... OUR PROMISE GOES TO THE FRIENDS IN THE PRISONS OF IRAN FOR NEW SERVICE NEW EFFORTS INCREASED TEACHING BELOVED FAITH.'

      The National Convention of Canada opened the Convention report with `OVER 1000 BAHA'IS GATHERED CONVENTION CANADA THRILLED, HUMBLED, HEART-RENDING GIFT BAHA'I PRISONERS IRAN.'

      The National Conventon of the United Kingdom telexed: `THE MOST MOVING CLIMAX OF CONVENTION OCCURRED WHEN 184 DEEP RED ROSES, SYMBOLS OF THE IRANIAN BAHA'IS' SACRIFICIAL LOVE, WERE PRESENTED. ALL HEARTS WERE PROFOUNDLY STIRRED AND MANY EYES FILLED WITH TEARS AT THIS BEAUTIFUL EVIDENCE OF STEADFAST LOVE FOR BAHA'U'LLAH BY SOULS OVERSHADOWED BY DEATH AND PERSECUTION. SUCH SUBLIME LOVE MUST SURELY INSPIRE A DEEP RESOLVE IN ALL OUR HEARTS TO SERVE THE FAITH WITH THE UTMOST DEDICATION, AND TO ENSURE THE SUCCESS OF THE SIX YEAR PLAN.'

      The friends gathered at the National Convention of the United States sent the message: `THE LOVE EXPRESSED THROUGH THE WORDS AND THE ROSES SENT TO US BY OUR STALWART PERSIAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS HAVE DEEPLY MOVED OUR HEARTS AND CHALLENGED US TO ACTION.'

      Expressions of appreciation, pledges, and reports of projects initiated in the name of the `gift of red roses' or in honour of the prisoners and martyrs, reached the World Centre from every corner of the globe.

      In its message to the Bahá`ís of the world at Ridván 1986 in which the Universal House of Justice reviewed the conspicuous progress of the Bahá`í Faith during the preceding year, and in which it described the Seven Year Plan as `a Plan which will be remembered as having set the seal on the third epoch of the Formative Age', tribute was paid to those who gave their lives. It was stated: `The opening of that Plan coincided with the recrudescence of savage persecution of the Bahá`í community in Irán, a deliberate effort to eliminate the Cause of God from the land of its birth. The heroic steadfastness of the Persian friends has been the mainspring of trmendous international attention focused on the Cause, eventually bringing it to the agenda of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and, together with world-wide publicity in the media, accomplishing its emergence from the obscurity which characterized and sheltered the first period of its life. This dramatic process impelled the Universal House of Justice to address a Statement on Peace to the Peoples of the World and arrange for its delivery to Heads of State and the generality of the rulers.'

      Thus, even in the flush of victory, the followers of Bahá`u'lláh remembered with awe, gratitude and admiration those whose blood was spilled to water the tree of the Cause of God and who, from the invisible realm, hasten the inevitable day when its outreaching branches will shelter all mankind.

      But even as the Bahá`í world rejoiced yet another atrocity was about to be perpetrated upon the hapless Iranian Bahá`í community, an event which was to yield the youngest martyr to give his life in the period under survey and indeed, so far as is known, the youngest since the beginning of the Islamic revolution in 1979. Although the exact date of the incident is unknown, it would have occurred not long


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before 28 April 1986 when it was reported to the World Centre. Communicating the news to the Bahá`í world community on 12 May 1986, the Universal House of Justice stated, `FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD PAYMAN SUBHANI TOGETHER WITH HIS FATHER RUHU'L-AMIN WAS TAKEN BY A GROUP OF FANATICS, ENCOURAGED BY OFFICIAL RELIGIOUS ELEMENTS, TO THE MOUNTAINS, WHERE THEY WERE BEATEN AND STONED. BOTH WERE PRESUMED DEAD AND THROWN OVER A CLIFF. ACCIDENTALLY A VEHICLE STRAYED INTO THE AREA AND FOUND THEM. THE FATHER, BARELY ALIVE, WAS TAKEN TO A HOSPITAL IN TIHRAN WHERE HE IS STILL IN SERIOUS CONDITION. THE SON, PAYMAN, WAS DEAD. THESE CRIMES AFTER RELATIVE QUIET PERIOD IN IRAN HAVE CAUSED CONCERN SAFETY, WELL BEING IRANIAN BAHA'I COMMUNITY ...'

      Approximately twenty-five years ago, Táhirih and Rúhu'l-Amín Subhání, the parents of Paymán Subhání, pioneered to Súrán, a town about twenty-five miles from Saráván, in the Province of Balúchistán and Sistán, and established a small business there. Paymán's father became well-known among the townspeople for his good conduct and his trustworthy character, but at the beginning of the Islamic revolution, hostile elements in the community spoke against him, and on one occasion a ruffian tried to invade Mr. Rúhu'l-Amín Subhání's home. Although the police promised to guard Mr. Subhání's house when he reported the incident, he and his family were frequently threatened by fanatical townsmen, and in 1981 he settled his family first in Saráván and then in Yazd, and returned alone to Súrán to attend to his shop. He was subsequently informed that he was to be arrested and brought to trial, so for two years he went into hiding and then returned to Súrán to reopen his shop. He was on one or two occasions taken into custody and questioned about his service as secretary to the Bahá`í community of Súrán, and one of his sons was also interrogated at least once. In 1983, Mr. Rúhu'l-Amín spent twelve days in prison and was released after two Muslim Baluchis, who were his friends and business associates and who patiently endured the insults of the prison officials, signed as guarantors. One spring morning in 1986 a stranger entered the shop owned by Mr. Subhání and purchased some bales of cotton. Saying that he had no car, he asked Mr. Subhání to give him a lift with the goods to a nearby address. Paymán who often assisted his father in the shop asked to join them, as he and his father intended to proceed to their home after delivering the merchandise. In the middle of town the passenger asked Mr. Subhání to stop for two of his friends who flagged them down, and these two men who were also unknown to Mr. Subhání climbed into the back of the small van. As they reached the outskirts of the town, Mr. Subhání began to suspect a plot. Before he could bring the van to a halt, one of the men riding in the back jumped into the front seat, pushed him aside and took the wheel, saying, `This is a holdup.' Mr. Subhání said they could have the van and his money, and the key to his home and cafe, but pleaded with them to spare their lives. He and Paymán were then blindfolded and their hands were bound. Their captors drove them unto the wilderness about two hours' journey from town, and ordered them to step out. Mr. Subhání was given the choice of being beheaded, having his skull crushed under the wheels of the van, or being thrown down the mountain. Paymán, his father later reported, cried out, `Don't separate me from my father; let me die with him!' But his request was ignored. After begging that Paymán not be injured and being assured that he would not be, Mr. Subhání chose to be thrown from the cliff. He was beaten senseless, his body cast from the heights, and he was left for dead. He regained consciousness afer eighteen hours, crawled up the side of the mountain, hailed down a truck that was loading rocks, and was eventually able to obtain much-needed medical assistance. Mr. Subhání made a partial recovery, although his face is now paralysed, he is deaf in one ear and has impaired hearing in the other, and his vision has seriously dewteriorated. Despite this, he speaks of the incident with spiritual poise and mental tranquility. Only when he mentions his young son, Paymán, can one detect the depth of Mr. Subhání's grief and shock. Several days after the incident described above, the body of Paymán was discovered in a field. His hands and feet were bound, and his body had been savagely stoned, beaten and mutilated. Shortly after the tragic loss of Paymán, his mother, who at the time of his martyrdom was pregnant, gave birth to twin daughters.

      At age fifteen, Paymán Subhání is thus far the youngest Bahá`í to have given his life for


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the Bahá`í Faith in the present episode of persecutions; the first do do so within the Six Year Plan which opened on 21 April 1986 and terminated on 20 April 1992; and again the first to do so during the earliest hours of the fourth epoch of the Formative Age--that age whose inception, the Universal House of Justice declared in its letter of 2 January 1986 to `the Bahá`ís of the world', was recognized in the `new development in the maturation of Bahá`í institutions' through the setting of national goals of the Six Year Plan `largely formulated by National Spiritual Assembles and Boards of Counsellors'.

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