Sunday, August 08, 2010

Iran's Baha'i Leaders Reportedly "Sentenced"

The Baha'i World News Service has just released the following information regarding the imprisoned seven Baha'i leaders in Iran:

Reports say Iran's Baha'i leaders "sentenced"
8 August 2010

NEW YORK — The Baha'i International Community has received reports indicating that seven Iranian Baha'i leaders have each received jail sentences of 20 years.

The two women and five men have been held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison since they were arrested in 2008 – six of them on 14 May and one of them two months earlier.

"If this news proves to be accurate, it represents a deeply shocking outcome to the case of these innocent and harmless people," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

"We understand that they have been informed of this sentence and that their lawyers are in the process of launching an appeal," said Ms. Dugal.

The prisoners – Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm – were all members of a national-level group that helped see to the minimum needs of Iran's 300,000-strong Baha'i community, the country's largest non-Muslim religious minority.

The trial of the seven consisted of six brief court appearances which began on 12 January this year after they had been incarcerated without charge for 20 months, during which time they were allowed barely one hour's access to their legal counsel. The trial ended on 14 June.

The defendants were accused of espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, and the establishment of an illegal administration, among other allegations. All the charges are completely and categorically denied.

7 comments:

  1. This is very sad news. My heart aches for them and for the Iranian Baha'is. Is this unprecedented? I don't recall ever reading about Baha'is receiving such a long prison sentence before (other than the Baha'is who were imprisoned with Baha'u'llah in Akka).
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  2. As a jail sentence...yes. Many Baha'i leaders have been executed in Iran in the 1980s though.
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  3. It is amazing that the Iranian regime can so blatantly and flagrantly defy justice and decency and get away with it. History will witness how such strong opposition will change the course of events and these hijackers of Islam will find themselves alone and desolate. The book "The Prisoner and the Kings" tells the story of defeat and triumph. May the entire free world support these wronged souls and pray for God's mercy to shower them with strength in the face of adversity and injustice.
    Nabil
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  4. You will already be aware from yesterday’s Baha'i World News Service article of the verdict rendered in the trial of the former members of the Yaran in Iran. All National Spiritual Assemblies received today a letter dated 8 August 2010 sent on behalf of the Universal House of Justice conveying the following:

    “The Universal House of Justice has directed us to convey to you, on an urgent basis, the following information concerning the legal proceedings against the seven former members of the Yaran.

    “As you may be aware, the final session in the trial of these Baha'is was held on 14 June 2010. It has now just been learned that a member of their legal team has been informed by the judge who is presiding over the case that each of the defendants has been sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment. This ruling against individuals who are absolutely innocent of the charges against them represents a shameless miscarriage of justice and a gross violation of the rights of the prisoners to a fair trial. The attorneys who are acting on behalf of these believers are in the process of launching an appeal. …

    “The House of Justice invites you and the believers throughout your communities to join it in offering prayers that the dearly loved, stalwart former members of the Yaran and their loved ones, as well as our cherished sisters and brothers throughout the Cradle of the Faith, may be comforted and sustained through the watchful care and unfailing grace of the Blessed Beauty.”

    Local Spiritual Assemblies and Regional Baha'i Councils will be relied on to invite the believers to offer prayers as the House of Justice has advised.

    Regarding contact with the media, Local Spiritual Assemblies and their media committees or representatives are free to share any news published in the Baha'i World News Service ... with their local media contacts. You may wish to link this international story with a note on how this flagrant injustice in Iran has affected local Baha’is.
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  5. Their lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, in exile in Paris, declares that their case is totally void of any valid charges and that the IRI is acting against the laws it has itself established. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P57D26H0hvE
    "Iran should release seven Baha'i prisoners accused of espionage because it does not have any evidence against them, their lawyer Shirin Ebadi told CNN on Saturday.In the files, in the case basically, there is nothing, no reason that basically convicts them," said Ebadi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate."
    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/08/16/iran.bahai.trial/

    19 Facts about Baha'i "Spies" (a funny satirical article by a Baha'i)
    http://www.examiner.com/x-7873-Sacramento-Bahai-Examiner~y2009m6d27-19-Facts-about-Bahai-Spies
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  6. Thank you for the links.
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  7. According to iranpresswatch, the seven Baha'is have been transferred to a different prison.
    http://www.iranpresswatch.org/post/6315
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