Iran’s Battle Against the Baha’is

An adherent of the Baha'i faith reads from the holy book Al-Kitab al-Aqdas. (STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Mitra Aliabouzar has plenty of bad memories from her time in Iran’s Evin prison: hours-long interrogations; no contact with family, who for weeks didn’t know whether she was alive; and 39 days of solitary confinement in a cell scarcely large enough to stretch her legs. 

But the painful memory that stands out “clearly and visibly” more than a decade later is saying goodbye to her cellmates, Baha’i activists Fariba Kamalabadi and Mahvash Sabet. Both at the time were four years into 10-year sentences.

“I had 30 minutes to pack and I just spent the whole 30 minutes in Fariba’s arms. I didn’t want to leave,” Aliabouzar said in an interview with The Dispatch. “I left my other family back in prison.”

Kamalabadi and Sabet—a psychologist and a poet, both grandmothers—now face another decade behind bars for their political and spiritual leadership in the Baha’i community. The two women have become the public faces of the regime’s persecution of the religious minority group, serving as a source of inspiration to all Iranians fighting for freedom from the Islamic Republic’s repressive rule. 

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