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Biography of a Criminal: Fariba Kamalabadi

How’s this for a life of crime? Dad’s a doctor who loses his job for practising medicine while Baha’i (that’s known as a ‘PMWB’ offence, which went from a misdemeanour to a felony after the Iranian Revolution in 1979). He was imprisoned and tortured, though it probably did nothing to straighten him out. (You know how these people are!) His daughter Fariba seemed to think that, just because she had outstanding high school marks, her brazen attempt to go to university was somehow her RIGHT. The ruling authorities of the Islamic Republic, fortunately, were able to nip that nefarious plan in the bud. Ms. Kamalabadi, however, was incorrigible, embarking in her 30s on an extended, clearly delusional attempt at higher education from an underground university, the notorious “Baha’i Institute for Higher Education” (BIHE). She had a lengthy criminal record with a wide range of what are euphemistically called “volunteer activities” and was imprisoned several times. Finally, when her propensity for repeated, remorseless involvement with a gang of six other reprobates continued – why, these people were helping that illegal Baha’i element to learn, marry and other of their supposed “human rights” – she was among the seven who were finally rounded up and removed, dangers as they clearly were to law-abiding Iranian citizens, from decent society…

*Coughs*. That’s enough of that. Irony is hard. Sarcasm kills…

Pre-incarceration photo, likely much changed now -- except for that resolute chin.

Pre-incarceration photo, likely much changed now — except for that resolute chin.

[This is the second of my stubborn efforts to get to know more of the seven innocent Baha’is in Iran, who are the focus for the international #7Bahais7Years campaign, and so here’s a taste of the remarkable life of that “arch-criminal” Fariba Kamalabadi, 52. Again, thanks to intrepid Baha’i social networkers Danny and Pej, who have fed me with a steady diet of sad yet still ennobling information about this tragic, heroic and underreported story of the Quietly Magnificent Seven, prisoners of conscience in Iran for a week of years. This won’t take long; be sure not to miss her own description of her “crime” below.]

Fariba Kamalabadi spent eight years, starting in her 30s, to get an undergraduate degree in developmental psychology. She has three kids, the youngest of whom missed having her mother with her for all of her teenaged years. That might be the one getting married, the one whose mother was unable to attend her wedding/then allowed to/then refused/then permitted if the wedding was in Evin Prison with maximum 10 attendees/then refused even that somber wedding chamber. Ms. Kamalabadi has physically deteriorated under the primitive conditions in her small cell, yet remains serene and strives to be of service – can you believe it? – to her neighbours in prison. I recommend reading more of her story; my favourite part was how she and her friend Mahvash Sabet counselled and befriended the drug addicts and other hard cases that they were, at one point, thrown in with.

She couldn’t be at her daughter’s wedding, but you ought to read the letter she wrote to be read at the ceremony. This part — her “confession” — knocked me out:

“What are they afraid of? Are they afraid of a mother who has to spend twenty years of her life in prison only having committed the crime of believing in the Baha’i Faith…? My crime is the most beautiful crime in the whole world….My crime is to worship the One God, and to acknowledge the truth of all God’s religions. My crime is to work to bring about the principle of the unity of mankind, and universal peace.   My crime is to cultivate a longing to serve humanity in my mind, and a love for all human beings in my heart. My crime is to make efforts to revive our sacred country, Iran, and to promote its honor and exaltation…”

Man oh man, no wonder they lock these people up!

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