Worldwide Action Calls for Immediate Release of Bahá’í Leaders and Other Iranian Prisoners of Conscience
In 12 cities around the world on Sunday, April 8, 2012, supporters of seven imprisoned Bahá’í leaders marched, held signs, rode bikes, and organized mobile billboard tours in an initiative coordinated by United for Iran and the international Bahá’í community. The day of action marked a combined total of 10,000 days the seven have spent in prison solely due to adherence to their faith.
Photographs of the seven Bahá’í leaders traveled throughout cities by bike, boat, bus, and on banners, shirts, signs and pamphlets. On billboards, their image was a mosaic of smaller photographs of hundreds of people currently jailed in Iran including journalists, trade unionists, politicians, student and women’s activists, and religious leaders.
Thousands handed informational pamphlets to the public, and hundreds sent letters to Iranian authorities calling for their release, which we encourage you to take part in today. Click here to send your own letter!
In Amsterdam, Netherlands, organizers opted for a billboard carried on canal boats on the waters of the city. About 85 participants came in support, some on bikes, others walking. Their starting point was the museum Hermitage. From there they walked to the Magere Brug (“Skinny Bridge” on the Amstel), and continued alongside the famous Prinsengracht. On the bridges, they held signs printed from Mad Graffiti Week Iran.
In Berlin, Germany, organizers rode billboard bikes around town, stopping at locations including the Berlin Wall. German Member of Parliament Serkan Tören joined the call, saying, “I urge the Iranian Government to grant the Bahá’í faith community the right of religious freedom to which Iran has an obligation under international law.
In Brasilia, Brazil, about 70 human rights activists wore shirts with “Free Bahá’ís Iran,” or “Libertem Bahá’ís Irã” in front of the main buildings of Brasília including the Supreme Federal Court, Foreign Ministry and Federal Congress. “I hope the Iranian society can see that we are all on their side, for justice and human rights all over the world,” said Mary Caetana Aune, a local Bahá’í.
In London, England, about 50 people gathered at various locations, many in shirts that read “10,000 Days Too Many – Free The Innocent Bahá’ís.” The mobile billboard toured areas including Parliament Square, Big Ben, Harrods, and Victoria and Albert Museum. Actor and comedian, Omid Djalili, gave interviews and posed for photos, along with others including relatives of Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, one of the Bahá’í Seven.
In New Delhi, India, around 200 supporters carrying banners marched in an action co-supported by the Trans Asia Alliance and the Asian Center for Human Rights. The Center’s director Suhas Chakma said, “Iran has failed to respect international human rights standards on fair trial and therefore must release the seven unconditionally.” They stopped at landmarks including Red Fort and India Gate, and distributed 2,500 leaflets.
In Paris, France, organizers started their billboard tour at Trocadero, a symbolic location near Human Rights Plaza, in front of the Eiffel Tower. Two of the main stops were Trocadero-Eiffel Tower and La Bastille. At each stop around 30 people passed by and took photographs, and the organizers were able to speak to the public about the campaign. They also took a picture in front of the Iranian embassy.
In Johannesburg, South Africa, a public transportation bus displayed the image of the Bahá’í Seven. Students stood in front of the bus to film messages of solidarity. The video clips are being used for a YouTube campaign in April to raise awareness about the plight of the seven leaders. Organizers have also called for a month of awareness on four campuses: University of Cape Town; University of Pretoria; University of the Witwatersrand; and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
In Sydney, Australia, the campaign started in Kirribilli, against the backdrop of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Organizers were joined by family members of the Bahá’í Seven. A billboard truck traveled through North Sydney, supported by a team wearing t-shirts with a stencil of the Bahá’í Seven from Mad Graffiti Week Iran. One couple encouraged the team “to keep praying” for the Yaran.
In Wellington, New Zealand, a billboard was parked near traffic lights, where people read it as they were stopped in their cars. A traffic warden came past and marked the car tire. But when organizers told him about the campaign, “he said we could stay as long as we wanted… We had some amazingly interested people…Those who stopped to find out more were all keen to sign the petition,” an organizer said.
In Washington, D.C., demonstrators gathered on the Washington Mall near the U.S. Capitol, wearing shirts with stencils from Mad Graffiti Week Iran. The billboard passed the following sites: the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House. “Despite the seriousness of the occasion, there was a wonderful sense of spirit among the group,” an organizer said.