Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha, through no crime of their own, spent the better part of their lives in exile and imprisoned, but they never became embittered although they were the victims of injustice. Bahai teachings

Mahvash Sabet had to go to Mashhad.


Though she was a professional woman – teacher and later head of a number of schools – it was not in this capacity that she was travelling. She had lost her job many years before and was barred from working in public education.

She was the director of an alternative higher education institute but her qualifications in this area were not what took her to Mashhad.

Nor was it her skills in literacy that were wanted. Although as part of her work she had collaborated with the National Literacy Committee of Iran, this job too had stopped.

She was a psychologist but could not practise and it was not for her abilities in this area that she was wanted in Mashhad.

She had taught management but although the Islamic Azad University in her home town of Ardestan teaches this subject, Mahvash would not be able to teach there herself. This talent was not the reason for her journey to Mashhad.

She had been training for Iran’s special education corps, which sent recent graduates to remote areas in Iran to teach in schools. But she was thrown off the programme and her abilities in this direction were not required in Mashhad.

Mahvash had been born Mahvash Shahriyari in 1953. Her home town of Ardestan, some 400 km south of Tehran, near Isfahan, sits in the eastern foothills of the central mountains. It is, by most accounts, an old city, where local farmers grow a special kind of fig and the mulberries and pomegranates much loved by Iranians. Was the family happy there? I don’t know. Years later homes of Bahá’ís in Ardestan would be sprayed with insulting graffiti. When Mahvash was 9 or 10, in the fifth grade, she moved with her parents to Tehran, where she went to school. She must have done well because she went on to university to study psychology and got a bachelor’s degree. She married when she was 20, moved to Hamadan and had two children, a boy and a girl.

So, there stood Mahvash on that day during the Bahá’í fast in March 2008, holding the phone in her hand. The call had come from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and National Security. The voice on the other end demanded that she come to Mashhad. Now.

What could the Ministry of Intelligence possibly want to know that they could not ask her today by phone or email? Why did she need to go all the way to Mashhad, more than 900 km away? Couldn’t they ask her in Tehran?

It seems she was wanted to answer questions about the burial of an individual in the Baha’i cemetery in Mashhad. Why would she know the answers to these questions? Perhaps because she acted as secretary to the `Yaran’, the `Friends’ –  an informal group of seven Bahá’ís who attended to the spiritual and social needs of the several hundred thousand Baha’is in Iran.

So it was that Mahvash, 55 years old, left her home for Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city and a site of pilgrimage to the shrine of the eighth Imam, Reza. What did she pack? Probably just enough clothes for a few days. Definitely a coat, for the temperature in Mashhad on that not-quite-spring early March day did not rise above 7 degrees C. An umbrella? Maybe not, as it rained only one day that whole month – on the 5th. In any case, she would not need her umbrella again.

We do not know exactly what Mahvash did when she arrived in Mashhad but we do know that she did not return home. On that rainy Wednesday, 5 March, she was arrested. No one knew what had happened. She was held incommunicado. She was not allowed to see a lawyer. She had, effectively, disappeared.


Eventually Mahvash was transferred to Evin prison. One day she was taken to a public place by Intelligence Ministry agents. A family member had a moment to identify her.

Other than this, no one visited Mahvash. Her  family was not permitted to see her. She was not allowed telephone calls. She had no access to a lawyer.

Then, on 14 May, she was joined by the six other `Friends’. They too had been arrested, at their homes in Tehran. They too were not permitted visitors, phone calls or legal advice.

Mahvash was held in solitary confinement for about four months. She did not know what she was charged with.

In September 2008 Mahvash was relocated within Evin prison to another cell. To her surprise, this was the cell of  another `Friend’, Fariba Kamalabadi, who had also been in solitary confinement,
The five men `Friends’ were in a cell together elsewhere in the prison.

Mahvash’s cell was small, about four metres by five metres in size. Two small metal-covered windows let in some light but not enough to see by unless a light was switched on. Her bed was a blanket on the thinly carpeted concrete floor. Her bed sheet was her chador, her pillow a tightly rolled blanket.

One year passed.

A second year, bar two months, passed.

On 12 January 2010 Mahvash and the other `Friends’ appeared in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court. She was charged with `espionage’, `propaganda activities against the Islamic order’, `insulting the sacredness of Islam’ and `corruption on earth’.

She appeared again on 7 February.

Then, on the eve of the joyous Baha’i festival Intercalary Days, Mahvash’s family was able to visit. Such a wonderful gift for her!

But two days later, on 27 February 2010, Iran’s Attorney-General, Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi, stated that Mahvash and the other `Friends’ had confessed. She had not, nor had they.

The next court hearing was on 12 April. Shortly afterwards Mahvash and the `Friends’ were charged with an additional crime: `Aiding, teaching and propagating the Baha’i religion in Iran’. This is the same as `spreading corruption on earth’, a crime that carries the death penalty.

Then, over three days in June, Mahvash and the `Friends’ were tried in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. She pleaded `Not Guilty’. She was not guilty.

Mahvash was returned to her cell at Evin prison to await sentence. It was clear to all the world that the charges against her were trumped up. Would it be equally clear to the judge?

No. Mahvash and the six other `Friends’ were sentenced this week to 20 years in prison.

Twenty years in prison for being a Baha’i.

Each one is a person. Each one has a story like Mahvash. Here are their names:

Behrouz Tavakkoli, Saeid Rezaie, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi and Mahvash Sabet.

Here are their faces:


Today there are many apparently more important and dramatic stories that grab the headlines and find their way onto the main news broadcasts. It is right that we are alarmed and worried about the millions of people who are affected by the flooding in Pakistan, by the potential devastation that a powerful earthquake in Vanuatu and its resulting small tsunami could wreak and by the massive loss of life in the landslides in China.

But there are others, too, who are suffering, not from natural disasters but from human-made ones, people like Mahvash Sabet, a mother, a teacher, a woman of my own generation, who is today sitting in a jail cell somewhere in her homeland, a cell she will occupy for 20 years, because some people don’t like her beliefs.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

7 Responses to “Behind Bars: One Woman – and Her Friends”

  1. Rodgeron 04 Dec 2016 at 05:25

    Spot on with th?s w?ite-u?, I ab?olutely t?ink thhis amazing site needs a lott m?re attention. I’ll prob?bly be returning t? ?ead through mor?, thanks f?r the inform?tion!

    Visit my page; Litter Boxs Cabinets – Rodger,

  2. antique samurai swords for saleon 04 Dec 2016 at 09:41

    I love this sword! The coloring is beautiful and it came oiled with a plastic covering to protect the blade during shipping. I would have given it a full five stars, but the sheathe does not actually fit the blade, so the Katana knocks against the wood when it’s sheathed, unlike the Mashiro that I bought earlier. Still a beautiful and sharp sword, just disappointed in the ill fit.

  3. Adamon 04 Dec 2016 at 11:41

    ?i ther?! Thi? i? m? first comment here ?o Ijust w?nted tto give a qhick
    shout ?ut and say I truly enjoy reading your
    posts. Can you s?ggest anyy ?ther blogs/websites/forums
    that deal ?ith the same subjects? ?hanks a ?ot!

    Feel free to surf to my web ?age :: Litter Box Furniture Mahogany – Adam

  4. Wholesale Jerseyson 04 Dec 2016 at 12:12

    If you say to your mind you’re capable of conquering your fears and anxieties, but deep inside you’re feeling that you can’t control it, your negative emotions will take over. loft water supply tank -Check new fittings for potential leakages (in case you come across any leakages, tighten the screws or make sure that the pipes are pushed all the way into the fitting).”If he does make a move, it’ll be welcome,” Bautista said of Alex Anthopoulos. Command your brain and subconscious that you are ready and able to face any panic attack or anxiety that may come. The truth is, many people fail to achieve their dream because they cant get a solid, clear pictures in their mind of what they really want out of life.

  5. aktuelle Nachrichtenon 04 Dec 2016 at 23:56

    Okay, sie haben sich anders entschieden.

  6. nutzen Sie diesen Linkon 05 Dec 2016 at 02:00

    Spanien, dem Zelt am Hippie-Strand Torremolinos, 1967, als Apples Mutter eine wilde Affäre mit Karl hatte.

  7. vsfgefotfon 05 Dec 2016 at 05:07

    Wendi’s Wanders » Blog Archive » Behind Bars: One Woman – and Her Friends

  8. lace frontalon 05 Dec 2016 at 05:20

    These are sooo especially plushy! (: I wanted to get it throughout desert sand, however retailer was without these folks during that tone and then my personal measurement, well, i ended up being becoming saying. It’s extremely superior! So i’m which means that relieved I didnrrrt purchase them with crushed lime stone! I’ve got merely enjoyed these some days, however i really think most of these lace frontal and so i results in being appearing great good friends! We’ve now worn out individuals on elements, and in addition they last effectively. They didn’t blemish! They may be thus worth the bucks. (:

  9. fantasie bras online usaon 05 Dec 2016 at 08:54

    I’ve identified the following bras as being completely positively 10 on the lovable scale.

  10. betterscooter.comon 05 Dec 2016 at 10:29 produit en tenant très domestique qualité alors envoi rapide. Merci et continuez identiquement cela!

  11. replica Rolex Air King watcheson 05 Dec 2016 at 11:28

    It really is very developed, durably is maintained and precisely functions so your type can help you for your life time time.

  12. jordan 11 space jam buy onlineon 05 Dec 2016 at 12:09

  13. replica breitlingon 05 Dec 2016 at 12:25

    Watcheden—A Trusted Web-site For Top quality Replica Watches Salvaging Your Cash

  14. Annon 05 Dec 2016 at 16:09

    We are a gaggle of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.

    Your web site offered us with helpful info to work on. You have done
    an impressive task and our whole neighborhood might be grateful to you.

    Look into my page: CBD Oil (Ann)

  15. HaydenZSiskoon 05 Dec 2016 at 17:36

    Amazing blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start out my own, personal site soon but I’m
    a little lost on everything. Can you suggest beginning with a free of charge platform like
    Wordpress or get a paid option? There are plenty
    of options around that I’m totally overwhelmed ..
    Any suggestions? Cheers!

    Feel free to visit my homepage :: HaydenZSisko

  16. flowers-leading-siteon 05 Dec 2016 at 20:04

    Excellent blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or
    go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that
    I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Kudos!

  17. Jimon 05 Dec 2016 at 21:42

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Well written!

    Feel free to surf to my blog post: Jim

  18. Dougon 06 Dec 2016 at 00:23

  19. uggs for menon 06 Dec 2016 at 02:17

  20. hier drübenon 06 Dec 2016 at 02:43

    Ich träum heute noch der heissen Bewährungshelferin.

  21. Ulrichon 06 Dec 2016 at 07:02

    If you’d like to get you should look for registered property developers working according to a
    specific code of conduct.

    Also visit my homepage … real estate license az
    school, Ulrich,

  22. The advantages of testosterone shots include body hair, muscle and strength development and skun thickening, improvement in sexua desire, and fell irritability and depression.

    Here is mmy web site …

  23. Margueriteon 06 Dec 2016 at 08:34

    And many girls have a knee-jerk feeling that any hormone treatment can raise their risk oof breast cancer.

    Look into my blog: anti aging supplements forr skin (Marguerite)

  24. Herberton 06 Dec 2016 at 13:38

    Amongst other androgenic hormones, testosterone is
    most abundantly found in the male body and is accountable for the growth of the male reproductive system and secondary sexual
    characteristics including facial hair, chest hair and a wider bone structure.

    Also viswit my website … anti aging supplemens for
    men; Herbert,

  25. ein Ersatzon 06 Dec 2016 at 14:36

    Diese Objekte der Begierde erleben eine Renaissance Attalais Skulpturen.

  26. MayraCTaddeion 06 Dec 2016 at 16:15

    Now I am disappearing to complete my breakfast, afterward having my breakfast coming
    over again to learn other news.

    Also visit my web site :: MayraCTaddei

  27. wankyon 06 Dec 2016 at 18:22

    Hi, i believe that i saw you visited my website thus i came to return the choose?.I’m attempting to to
    find issues to improve my web site!I assume its adequate
    to make use of a few of your ideas!!

  28. adidas yeezy boost 350 hombreon 07 Dec 2016 at 02:28

    hvor man kan købe adidas yeezy boost 350

  29. Billon 07 Dec 2016 at 04:00

    Hi there would you mind letting me know which web host you’re utilizing?
    I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different browsers and I must say this blog loads
    a lot faster then most. Can you suggest a good web hosting provider at a reasonable price?
    Kudos, I appreciate it!

    Feel free to surf to my web-site Bill

  30. air jordan 11 low space jam for saleon 07 Dec 2016 at 12:09

    how much are space jam 11s

  31. Cheap Jerseys Chinaon 07 Dec 2016 at 15:26

    Check out the homepage here about the best belly fat exercises by clicking on losebellyfattoday. Pour the mixture on your pet and rub. The doctor can see the joint on closed-circuit television and make repairs to it, while talking through a microphone.The deal not only avoids arbitration this year but also buys out his final year. Regular exercise improvises cardiac health and contributes to better life expectancy.
    Cheap Jerseys China

  32. LeisaASantoron 07 Dec 2016 at 20:42

    Wonderful post! We are going to be linking to this particular great article on our website.
    Keep up to date the excellent writing.

    Feel free to visit my site :: LeisaASantor

  33. verkaufenon 07 Dec 2016 at 21:28

    Irgendetwas kitzelte sanft meinen dildosex Ober-körper.

  34. japanese katanaon 08 Dec 2016 at 02:30

    Great Very nicely made and looks quite authentic.

  35. 3d wooden puzzleson 08 Dec 2016 at 03:57

    What you may should do to find out about watch well before you are left out.
    3d wooden puzzles

  36. homeon 08 Dec 2016 at 13:26


Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply