THE PLANK AUGUST 15, 2009
Abbas Milani is the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford, where he is the co-director of the Iran Democracy Project. His latest book is Eminent Persian: The Men and Women who Made Modern Iran, 1941-1979 (Syracuse University Press).
This Tuesday, seven leaders of Iran's Bahai movement will go on trial on capital charges of espionage and threatening national security. They have been in prison for more than a year. The group's two lawyers have not only been refused the legally required visits with their clients, but neither will be in court on Tuesday. One, Abdulfattah Sultani, is in prison on charges of participating in the "Velvet Revolution," while the other, the Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, stands accused by the regime of participating in the same "conspiracy"--but has been fortunately traveling in the West.
For the last few weeks, all around the world, there have been meetings in support of the Bahai Seven in Iran. And last Wednesday, at the San Fransisco Herbst Theater, where the meeting to draft the declaration of Human Rights was once convened, a delightfully multi-ethnic, multi-faith group came to show their concern for the fate of the Bahai Seven and solidarity with the 300,000 Bahais who still live in Iran. Ross Mirkarimi, an Iranian-American member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was among the political leaders who spoke at the gathering. The president of the University of San Francisco offered a few words of prayer to begin the meeting. I am not a member of the Bahai faith, and like many in the hall, I was there in solidarity with a much persecuted religious minority in Iran.