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Iranian daughter remembers kidnapped father

Jinous Nourinejad's father disappeared in 1980 during religious and political conflicts in Iran.
Jinous Nourinejad displays a photo of her family in Tehran along with her father before his disappearance in 1980. Photo submitted

Jinous Nourinejad collapsed at the news. It was August 1980.   

Her father, along with 10 other high-ranking Baha’is, disappeared in Tehran and was never heard from again.  

“For me, it’s like an open wound.  It’s never closed and it’s never healed,” said Nourinejad, a long-time Richmond resident and local business owner.

Last week, at a home near Railway Avenue and Blundell Road, Nourinejad and other members of the Richmond Baha’i community gathered to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the disappearance of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran. Her father was among the members of that assembly.

“My father and the others disappeared on Aug. 21, 1980, and to this day, we don’t know what happened to them,” she said.    

“On that fateful night, the nine members and two auxiliary board members gathered for an urgent meeting when a group of armed revolutionary guards entered the room, handcuffed and blindfolded them, and took them to an unknown location.”

The host of where the meeting was held alerted the families, who went to every government agency, but all denied any knowledge or responsibility.  

“To this day, we know nothing of their fate,” added Nourinejad.

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, “the mullahs of different cities began to persecute the Baha’is by burning their homes, closing their stores, imprisoning and torturing them, and denying their children education,” according to Nourinejad.

As the revolution became more firmly established, the persecutions escalated.  

“The central government had a policy to systematically eradicate the Baha’i faith, which is Iran’s largest religious minority,” she said.  

“They started by firing all Baha’i government employees and freezing their pensions.”  

As there is no clergy in the Baha’i faith, the next step was to target the institutions of the faith, she explained.  

“They wanted to arrest the head of the Baha’i faith in Iran. They thought by doing that, it would destroy the faith once and for all.

“Since 2005, more than 700 Baha’is have been arrested and the number of Baha’is in prison has risen from fewer than five to more than 115 — all solely because of their religious belief.”  

Those beliefs include the oneness of humanity, equality of men and women, harmony of science and religion, universal education, and elimination of all forms of prejudice.