Nine Baha’is, members of a religious minority that has experienced decades of discrimination in Iran received lengthy prison sentences for their faith.
The Birjad court in Southern Khorasan province sentenced each of the Baha’i men and women to six years of prison and confiscated money raised by the Baha’i community in the city.
Iran’s Human Rights Activist News Agency published a report saying the trial for the nine Iranian Baha’is was held on July 3 without a lawyer.
Sheida Abedi (F), Firouz Ahmadi, Khalil Melaki, Simin Mohammadi (F), Bijan Ahmadi, Maryam Mokhtari (F), Saghar Mohammadi (F), Raf’at Talebi Fard, and Bahman Salehi were detained in 2017 but had been released on bail shortly after.
They have been sentenced to five years of prison for “membership in the illegal and security disruptive Baha’i organization” and one year of prison for “spreading propaganda against the system by promoting Baha’ism”.
Because their lawyer, Mazdak Etemadzadeh, was not approved by the Judiciary, he was not allowed to represent them in the trial and the proceedings went on without him.
Baha’i citizens are systematically deprived of their human rights while according to article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”
Iran has repeatedly charged detained Baha’is with national security-related offenses without disclosing evidence.
The Iranian regime’s systematic persecution of the Baha’is has also resulted in widespread religiously motivated hate crimes against them, with none of the attackers yet prosecuted or brought to justice.
Since 2005, for example, there have been at least 52 incidents of arson against Baha’i properties, crimes for which no one has been arrested.