South Carolina residents, please write your own emails ASAP.
Dear Senator DeMint,
On Dec. 3 Senate Resolution 694 (S. Res.694) was introduced to the US Senate by U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, condemning Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of religious minorities and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights. This resolution condemns the abuses of Baha'is, Christians, Jews, and Sufis in Iran. This resolution is currently pending before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, of which I understand that you are a member. I also understand that the Committee will be holding a hearing on the resolution this coming Tuesday, Dec. 14. I am writing to beg you to co-sponsor this resolution before it goes to committee.
I am deeply proud of being the citizen of a country that shows concern about the rights of people around the world to be free from oppression, violence, and terror. I have been proud to see my government pass resolution after resolution against the treatment of religious minorities in Iran.
I have never been to my mother's country, I do not know her language. I am deprived of everything having to do with my heritage on that side of my family because of the violent intolerance of my family's religious beliefs. My mother's family has literally been torn to shreds due to the fanatical perversion of the worship of God which happens there, and the situation over there continues to escalate. Members of the Baha'i Faith have been systematically persecuted since the beginning of this faith in 1844. I do not have to explain to you that South Carolinians care about their people. We care about our heritage. Sir, half of my heritage has been stolen from me.
I am certain that you have been acquainted with the situation in Iran, but allow me to add a detail or two of the millions out there. My great-grandmother's grave and the graves of many other Baha'is were bull-dozed and covered with a parking lot a few years ago. I have a close friend who had recently returned from Bolivia where he visited with his sister whom he had not seen in 38 years and finally heard the whole story of how her husband was taken in the night from her home and how how she and her 9-year-old son visited with him for 30 minutes every other week until he was, without warning, brutally killed. The guards once hit the boy in the head just for sport when he ran to his father on one of those visits. Another friend had to be given away at her wedding by her uncle since her father's visa was denied in the weeks before her wedding, depriving her of having her father walk her down the aisle. There are Baha'is in prison there for running a non-religious tutoring program teaching children in the ghetto to read. There are Baha'is in prison there for attempting to help Baha'i college students who have been kicked out of the university for being Baha'is to progress in their studies. This treatment is not unlike the treatment meted out in that country to any other religious minority, including Iranian Christians, Jews, and Sufis. I do not have to remind you that prison there does not look like prison here. These things are unacceptable by any standard of human rights known to man.
The Baha'i International Community recently wrote an open letter to the Head of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The final paragraph of that letter asks: "With our hearts filled with love for Iran and our earnest hopes for the exaltation and glory of that land, we urge you, in your capacity as the Head of the Judiciary, to release the former members of the Yaran from prison and, along with them, all the Bahá’ís who are incarcerated across the country. These include Miss Haleh Rouhi, Miss Raha Sabet, and Mr. Sasan Taqva, the three young Bahá’ís who have now entered the fourth year of imprisonment in Shiraz for the crime of helping impoverished children to learn how to read and write. We likewise request that the Bahá’ís in that country be granted their full rights of citizenship, in order that they may be able to fulfill their heartfelt aspiration to contribute, alongside their fellow citizens, to the advancement of their nation. This, indeed, is no more than what you rightfully ask for Muslim minorities who reside in other lands. Bahá’ís merely seek the same treatment from you."
I am the daughter of a chiropractor who wishes that he spent more time hunting and a counselor who works with substance addicts and AIDS victims in the Upstate. I graduated from West-Oak High School in Westminster, SC, the University of South Carolina, and am now attending graduate school also at USC studying to become a marriage and family counselor. I have worked with foster children. My granddaddy, a chiropractor from Easley, South Carolina, used to remind me to remember where I come from. I never every forget, and to say that I am sad that I know almost nothing about the Iranian side of the family is an understatement of massive proportions.
Please co-sponsor of this resolution. Sir, I cannot watch my home state, the only place I have ever known to be home, not stand up and speak about the rights of my people across the ocean. I cannot read about what is happening to my people in Iran, knowing what horrible pain every member of my mother's family here continues to suffer, and know that my own government has not done everything that it can to speak out about the suffering and injustice happening in Iran.
I have always been proud to be from South Carolina. I don't ask for much, but I am determined to do everything I can to serve the people of my home state. I may not always agree with every decision that is ever made here, but I can proudly say that I am a citizen of a state that stands up and speaks its mind. I love that about us. We are not afraid to speak our truth.
Please, sir. I'm begging you. Those are my people in Iran being torn to shreds. Let this be something about which we speak.