Baha’i father and daughter sentenced to heavy prison terms
According to reports, Baha’i father Nematollah Bangaleh and his daughter Nazanin, who were detained in September 2016 and then released on bail, were each sentenced to five years of prison on Tuesday April 24 by the 1st Branch of the Shiraz Revolutionary Court.
The home of the Baha’i family was violently searched upon their arrest to the extent that their home appliances were severely damaged by agents.
It came just days after Iran’s Foreign Minister ignored how Iran mistreats ethnic minorities and claimed that no one is imprisoned for his or her faith.
Addressing the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “Being a Baha’i is not a crime. We do not recognize somebody as a Baha’i, as a religion, but that’s a belief. Somebody can be agnostic; somebody can be an atheist. We don’t go—take them to prison because they are an atheist. So this is the difference that you need to make. But being—also, being a Baha’i does not immunize somebody from being prosecuted for offenses that people may commit.”
The Baha’i religious community as a whole is effectively an illegal group, albeit in an unofficial fashion. Unlike Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, the Baha’i faith is not recognized in the Iranian Constitution, but Iranian officials regularly deny a policy of persecution. Nevertheless, the existence of such a policy is well established and can be corroborated with reference to repeated calls by the Supreme Leader and other authorities to combat ‘false beliefs’ in 2011 which have led to an increase in religious persecution.
According to Asma Jahangir, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, discrimination against Baha’is is legally sanctioned by a lack of constitutional recognition. “Baha’is continue to be systematically discriminated, targeted, and deprived of the right to a livelihood,” Jahangiri said in her March 6 report.