United4Iran - Dozen Cities Organize Mobile Billboard Campaign Calling for Release - Former American Prisoner of Conscience Sarah Shourd Joins Their Call
Berkeley, California – Sunday April 1, 2012 will mark 10,000 total days that seven leaders of the Baha’i community have spent behind bars in Iran. On this day, United4Iran and local communities are raising awareness in 12 cities across the globe through mobile billboards featuring a call to “Free Baha’i Leaders: Prisoners of Conscience in Iran.”
Former imprisoned activist and hiker Sarah Shourd is joining United4Iran in calling for their immediate release.
While imprisoned, Shourd experienced a touching encounter with one of the imprisoned Baha’i leaders.
“Fariba Kamalabadi and I were being led blindfolded to the prison clinic. We were walking in single file and the first thing she did was reach out and rub my back affectionately. She smiled at me, whispering that she was sorry that I was alone, then hastily told me who she was,” Shourd said. “Later, when I was released and was able to learn more about the seven Baha’i leaders, who are being held without proper legal representation or a fair trial, I was even more astounded by Fariba’s kindness and bravery that day.”
Shourd is joining the call for the release of Kamalabadi and her colleagues, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm.
“They are being held solely for their religious beliefs, for demanding the right of Baha’is to civil rights and an education,” Shourd said. “The Iranian government is in serious violation of international law regarding these cases and they must all be released immediately.”
Prior to their arrests in 2008, the seven were members of an informal national-level group that attended to the spiritual and social needs of Iran’s Baha’i community. They were each sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after six brief court sessions characterized by a lack of due process.
In an initiative coordinated by United4Iran, mobile billboards depicting the prisoners are expected to be on display in major world cities, including Amsterdam, Netherlands; Berlin, Germany; Brasilia, Brazil; Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg in South Africa; London, England; Paris, France; Sydney, Australia; Washington, D.C., United States; Wellington, New Zealand. In New Delhi, India, organizers are expected to hold a peace march with banners from the Baha’i temple to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON) temple in Delhi.