IranRaj Nair

Frank's Story - We Were Jews Trapped in the Iranian Revolution

IranRaj Nair
Frank's Story - We Were Jews Trapped in the Iranian Revolution

Watch Frank's Story

Frank Nikbakht was born in 1953, in Tehran, Iran. In the early eighties, there was a war underway between Iran and Iraq. There was also civil disturbance within Nikbakht’s own community between differing factions. In addition to the dangers of living in a war torn country, Nikbakht was faced with the added pressure of being Jewish, encountering religious persecution throughout his life. Realizing his only way of escape was to be smuggled out of his country he began his journey. Nikbakht successfully escaped Iran and eventually immigrated to the United States in 1982.

In 1999, 13 Jews living in Shiraz, Iran, were wrongfully arrested on charges of spying for Israel. The penalties for the erroneous charges brought against the men was execution.

Local Iranian Jews were convinced by leaders in their community to lay low as plans were being developed to free the 13 prisoners. Having experienced his own religious persecution while living in Iran, Nikbakht decided he could no longer keep quiet. He and a small, passionate group of Iranian Jews decided to break their silence.  

Nikbakht and his companions took further steps to push for justice. To do so, they strengthened alliances with several American-Jewish organizations. They developed volunteer campaigns that publicly illuminated the severity of the case. Without hesitation, they also lobbied for European officials and the U.S. to pressure the Iranian regime to release the falsely accused. Resultantly, the prisoners were able to breakout of the execution and were released.

Little did Nikbakht know, helping the 13 prisoners from Shariz was the beginning of a life-long advocacy for him. He remains devoted to the cause of helping religious minorities still living in Iran. For the past 30 years, he has spent his time documenting thousands of discriminatory laws. Many of these documents are still being used by journalists and scholars around the world.

Today, Nikbakht lives in Los Angeles, California, where he volunteers much of his time serving with The Committee for Minority Rights in Iran.