I am a Baha'i prisoner... Haleh Rouhi


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I am Haleh Rouhi, a Baha’i Prisoner

By Haleh Rouhi-June 12th, 2009


Editor’s Note: In May 2006, a group of over 80 dedicated individuals were arrested in and around the city of Shiraz. They were involved in a teaching project benefiting underprivileged children of several neighborhoods. The volunteers taught the children basic personal hygiene, moral principles and kind ways to interact with others, including parents and siblings. At first children came only slowly to the volunteers, some with their pocket knives ready! Their attitude soon changed. They even started getting up early on the days of their class to tidy the open field, clearing away the garbage and debris, sprinkling water to reduce the dust in their gathering area and generally preparing the field for their class.

The volunteers had obtained permission from the Islamic authorities of the city to conduct their activities. Muslim members of the group were immediately released. However, 54 Baha’is were detained for a few days, but later released on bail. In August 2007, these Baha’is were tried by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court. They were charged with “offences relating to state security”.

Three of them, namely, Raha Sabet, Haleh Rouhi and Sasan Taqva, were sentenced to four years imprisonment for “organizing illegal groups” and “propaganda on behalf of groups that are opposed to the Islamic regime”. The other Baha’is in the group received a one year suspended sentence provided they participate in a three year “Islamic studies’ course, much of which consists of anti-Baha’i propaganda, to which students are not allowed to respond.The essay below is written by Haleh Rouhi, one of the three Baha’is sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment. Translation is by Iran Press Watch.

By Haleh Rouhi ( on May 21, 2009)

With utmost sincerity, I traveled for a year to a district near Shiraz known as Sahl-Abad in order to help a small group of underprivileged residents, hoping that I could bring joy to a heart, comfort a soul and help a weak spirit.

One day, as I was driving home alone in the car, I was stopped and arrested by Islamic authorities. When I asked for an arrest warrant, I received a harsh reaction, and was taken into custody without seeing any warrant. On the same day, a few Islamic militants showed up at my home while my mother was alone. They forced their way inside, took all my personal belongings and all our family photos. To this date none of the items have been returned.

I was interrogated for 28 days at the detention centre of the Ministry of Intelligence. During the whole process, I explained with the greatest honesty all the activities in which we had been engaged. Again, at the court proceedings, I clearly explained in detail all the humanitarian services we performed to the respected judge assigned to my case.
In October 2007, after interrogations were concluded, I was sentenced to four years of imprisonment. I could not believe what I was hearing. I appealed, requested a revision of my case and of the charges against me. As I was waiting for the result, I was summoned to the office of the Ministry of Intelligence by a phone call. Upon arrival, I was taken to a cell and two days later, I was told: “you are here to serve your jail term and you will remain here for four years”.

Today over 18 months have passed since that day.

During these months:

I have been deprived of contact with other prisoners and have been denied even the social life to which regular prisoners are entitled. I have only been granted a 5 minute family visit each week. Prisoners are allowed daily phone contacts with their families; however, I have been denied this. For the first 8 months, I was even deprived of having a book.

Prisoners are entitled to family leave, they are granted 5 days for every 25 days of imprisonment. The leave has turned into a struggle for me and my family. For no valid reason, and for a long time, the intelligence office and the courts force my family to go from one government office to another, before I am finally granted a leave. The time between my leaves is generally 3 or 4 months and sometimes even longer. In order to renew my family leave, we have to spend hours and hours in the courts with the hope of obtaining permission for an additional 5 days or a week with my family.

A prisoner has to be in jail, but I am kept in a detention centre that is normally used only for initial questioning. My cell has no openings; my food is left for me behind the door. If I need to get out of the cell, that is not possible. I have to spend the whole day in the confined area. If I am taken out at any time, I am blindfolded. I am only allowed 10-20 minutes a day out of my cell, in an enclosed area without a roof, for fresh air. Even the timing of this short break is determined by the prison guards; nor is there any possibility to extend these few minutes.
<LI class=txt>Is a ten minute break sufficient for a person who is kept 24 hours a day in a closed cell?

I have let go of whatever happened before the issuance of my prison verdict. Today, if I am a prisoner, treat me like one. If I am a prisoner, take me to a prison, let me get fresh air, let me have access to a telephone, let me have contact with others, let me have the same social life and rights to which prisoners are entitled, etc. Did the organization in charge of overseeing the prisons include this detention centre (called Plock 100) in its list of prisons? Does the prisons organization accept the conditions of the detention centre in which I am held as a prisoner? Does the organization accept this detention centre as a prison?

Signed Haleh Rouhi


I am Haleh Rouhi, a Baha?i Prisoner - Iran Press Watch
Just looking around, Iran is special to Bahais since it is where your movement started. There must be a lot of you over there.
Just looking around, Iran is special to Bahais since it is where your movement started. There must be a lot of you over there.

It's estimated there are about three hundred fifty thousand Baha'is in Iran and for the most part over the past forty years or so they have been deprived of higher educational opportunities and do not have access to the legal system for the most part.. Baha'i cemeteries have been desecrated.. and the House of the Bab in Shiraz has been destroyed.. Our National Center was seized. It is illegal to be a Baha'i and there are fatwas issued against the Faith. In Iraq another Holy Place the House of Baha'u'llah was also seized by extremist elements some years ago.

There are today however more Baha'is in India and they enjoy considerable freedom .. It is estimated there are over two million Baha'is there..

The House of Worship near New Delhi draws many visitors.

- Art
Haleh Rouhi is in a squeeze box. Under such duress, why doesn't a Baha'i just convert to Islam? In fact I thought Bahai's were unbelievers until now, but you are a bunch of believers not unbelievers.
Wouldn't it be "easier"...?

Haleh Rouhi is in a squeeze box. Under such duress, why doesn't a Baha'i just convert to Islam? In fact I thought Bahai's were unbelievers until now, but you are a bunch of believers not unbelievers.

Thanks Dream for your post!

I have no idea what you mean by

"In fact I thought Baha'is were unbelievers until now.."

Baha'i Faith is an independent religion with it's own revealed Writings for this day.

Being a Baha'i Haleh Rouhi accepts Baha'u'llah as fulfilling prophecies of past religions.. the latest Manifestation of God.

You ask

"Why doesn't a Baha'i just convert to Islam?"

Well that is the hope of many of our Muslim friends .. It would make life "easier". They would be accepted in society and be able to go on to higher education and have the protection of the laws of the land and be "accepted" in the larger society.

With some exceptions over the past hundred and sixty years or so Baha'is have been persecuted and denied the right to practise their religion for the most part in the country where our Faith began..

Wouldn't it have been easier for Prophet Muhammad to have given up His mission and joined His pagan relatives? He already had wealth and position in Meccan society.

Wouldn't it have been easier for Jesus to have submitted Himself to the Sanhedrin .. I mean why be crucified?

I'll let you decide the answers for yourself..

- Art
This is a very sad story indeed. There have been many other high profile cases like this already, but it is always sad to see a young person like this, who is dedicated to doing good, and whose life might be ruined by this dictatorship :mad:.

And with the recent outcome of the Iranian election, it is unlikely that things will change much there in the near future.

Thanks for bringing it to our attention.