In #NotAnotherYear, #ReleaseBahai7Now, Fariba Kamalabadi, News

Mrs Fariba Kamalabadi

An Irish prisoner won’t live a life of luxury behind bars, but nevertheless will have access to a bed and bedding, to a library, to education up to and including an Open University degree, and to adequate medical and psychological services. By contrast, a Bahá’í prisoner in Evin prison in Iran may sleep on a cement floor without a mattress. Fariba Kamalabadi is one such prisoner, who has been incarcerated in Iranian prisons since 2008 along with the other members of the Yaran, the informal group of friends who together helped to take care of the needs of the 300,000-strong Bahá’í community in Iran. American-Iranian Journalist Roxana Saberi shared a prison cell in Evin Prison with Fariba Kamalabadi and Mahvash Sabet in 2009. In an account published in One Country, June-November 2009, Ms. Saberi spoke of how they gave her strength and inspiration as she faced the interrogations of her keepers and the harsh conditions of the jail itself. She said they showed her what it means to be selfless and to care more about one’s community and one’s beliefs than oneself. Ms. Saberi’s description of the conditions facing the two Baha’i women offers considerable insight into what it is like to be unjustly incarcerated in Iran— a situation experienced not only by Baha’is, but by hundreds if not thousands among the journalists, women’s activists, human rights defenders, and peaceful protestors who are currently held in Iran. According to Ms. Saberi’s 2009 report, the two Baha’i women were confined in a small cell about four meters by five meters in size, with two little, metal-covered windows. They had no bed, no pillows and used their cloaks as sheets. “The floor is cement and covered with only a thin, brown carpet, and prisoners often get backaches and bruises from sleeping on it. The bathroom is down the hall, and prisoners must get permission to use it,” said Ms Saberi. Eight years later, 54 year old Fariba Kamalabadi is still in prison. By profession a developmental psychologist, she was denied the chance to study at a public university as a youth because of her Baha’i belief. Instead, in her mid-30s, she embarked on an eight-year period of informal study and ultimately received an advanced degree in developmental psychology from the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), an alternative institution established by the Baha’i community of Iran to provide higher education for its young people. Mrs. Kamalabadi’s experience with persecution extends beyond her immediate situation. She had already been arrested and imprisoned twice for short periods before her third arrest in 2008 and her father was fired from his job as physician in the government health service in the 1980s because he was a Baha’i. He was later imprisoned and tortured. Read more about Fariba at

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