As some of you may know, despite the peculiarly British-sounding name (my husband’s, though he is actually French) and my globe-trotting childhood, my mother’s side of the family is partly Iranian, and Baha’i. It goes without saying, therefore, that events in the ‘old country’, left behind half a century ago, and those involving Iranian Baha’is in particular are very dear to my heart.
Connections persist in a community suffering ongoing persecution: people keep in touch, pass on news, share moments of pain and hope. It’s a matter of survival. Sometimes the situation is so harrowing it’s hard to maintain any optimism. But there’s some comfort in speaking out, some sense at least that in bringing even a few of these stories to light, I am not simply sitting by, both helpless and useless.
I am deeply grateful to Gillian Polack for giving me the chance to contribute this piece to her guest series for Women’s History Month. Mahvash Sabet is only one of the hundreds of people of all religious backgrounds who are unjustly imprisoned under the current regime in Iran. I hope that in telling her story, I may do something to highlight their collective plight.
EDIT April 2011: As it stands today, Mahvash’s sentence along with those of her seven Baha’i companions has been augmented again to 20 years.