One day, Roxana Saberi may show off the pink-and-rose colored bracelet she’s cherished for years to the woman who wove it. The bracelet had to travel through many hands and halfway across the world for four years just to get to its recipient—the most precious gift Roxana has ever received. It was made from the threads of a towel she’d left behind in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, where she had spent 100 days.
Today she is happy because the woman who wove the bracelet—Fariba Kamalabadi—is free after spending the last 10 years of her life in Evin for the crime of her faith in the Baha’i religion.
A decade ago, Fariba and six of her fellow members of the religion were convicted by the Iranian court of “spreading propaganda against the regime” and “engaging in espionage,” simply because their Baha’i faith is not recognized by the ruling government in Iran. The seven were sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.
In 2013 the mandatory sentence for this “crime” was reduced to 10 years, and so today, Fariba Kamalabadi is free, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. Fariba is the second of the seven Baha’i prisoners to be freed, following the release of Mahvash Sabet last month. In a short time, hopefully, the remaining five prisoners will gain their freedom as well.
Fariba Kamalabadi spent eight years studying to obtain an undergraduate degree in developmental psychology in Iran. She has three children, the youngest of whom lived through her entire teen years without her mother. When she married, her mother was there only in the form of a letter, which read:
“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?”
Baha’i teaches that all religions have essential worth and fosters the unity and equality of all people.
Now Fariba will be reunited with her children and with her religion, which she never denied during her decade of imprisonment. And perhaps she will be reunited with Roxana Saberi some day, who still holds dear that precious gift from Fariba. As Roxana wrote one year ago of the prisoners:
“Every time I wear my bracelet made from my prison towel, I am reminded of the light of their kindness, compassion and courage.”