Iranian-Jewish human rights champion dies

Frank (Faryar) Nikbakht, an Iranian-Jewish community activist and expert on antisemitism propagated by the Iranian regime died on June 12 in Los Angeles. He was 68. Karmel Melamed writes an obituary in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles:

Frank Nikbaht: human rights advocate

A lifelong bachelor, Nikbakht spent the last four decades of his life as one of only a handful of Iranian Jewish activists publicly speaking out against the Iranian regime’s policy of abuse against Jews and other religious minorities living in Iran. 

Nikbakht was the founder and head of the L.A.-based “Committee for Religious Minority Rights in Iran”, a small group of local Iranian activists of different faiths that openly challenged the Iranian regime’s attacks against Jews, Christians, Baha’i’s, Zoroastrians and even Sunni Muslims living in Iran.

Iranian Jewish community members remembered him for his extensive knowledge of the Iranian regime’s crimes against Jews and the regime’s bias laws and policies against all non-Muslims.

In addition to his extensive knowledge of issues that took more than half of a century to develop, he was a genius,” said Dariush Fakheri, a close friend and former president of the “International Judea Foundation (SIAMAK), an L.A.-based Iranian Jewish non-profit group. “In spite of his unique talent, he was a humble intellectual, who objectively pursued justice, wisdom, and truth”.

Nikbakht, as the former public affairs director of the “Council of Iranian American Jewish Organizations (CIAJO)”, a now defunct L.A. Iranian Jewish non-profit group, was between 1999-2000 at the forefront of leading an international campaign with other American Jewish organizations to save 13 Jews from the Iranian city of Shiraz who were facing imminent execution at the hands of the Iranian regime. 

The “Shiraz 13” were falsely charged by the Iranian regime of spying for Israel but efforts lead by Nikbakht and a small group of Iranian Jews placed a negative media spotlight on the Iranian regime which ultimately resulted in the Jews being charged with treason but not being executed. After serving short prison sentences, all of the Shiraz 13 were quietly release by the regime several years later.

During the early 2000’s Nikbakht was heavily involved in raising public awareness about the plight of 11 missing Jews who during 1994-1997 attempted to escape Iran illegally but were arrested by the Iranian regime and whereabouts were never disclosed to their families.

In the 1990’s Nikbakht was also involved in the work of  the L.A.-based “Center for Iranian Jewish Oral History” by collecting and recording the experiences of older Iranian Jews who had lived in Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution. Likewise, he also wrote several chapters of “Esther’s Children”, a book the center published in 2002 documenting the contemporary history of Iranian Jewry.

He also wrote extensive articles in various Persian language publications, including the now defunct “Chashm Andaaz” L.A.-based Iranian Jewish magazine, about the Iranian regime’s campaigns of Holocaust denial and the regime’s spreading of antisemitic as well as Neo-Nazi conspiracy theories through their state-run media outlets.

Nikbakht was also a founding board member of the “Khanyon Sokhan” a Santa Monica-based group that for the last 30 years has been hosting Iranian speakers to openly discuss a variety of topics ranging from politics to societal issues.

In an interview with this reporter in 2018, Nikbakht spoke about his passion for supporting Israel and speaking out against the Iranian regime’s continued calls for a second genocide against the Jewish people.

“If the Holocaust has taught us anything, it’s that Jews can never afford to sit silent and allow the Jew-haters to slaughter us like sheep!” he said. “Whether it’s the Ayatollahs in Iran or any other group that wants to kill us and openly tells us that they want to kill us–  it is our duty to use every ounce of energy to stand up against them and fight back.”

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JNS News obituary

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