Intensification of Judicial and Security Pressures on Baha’is of Yazd

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Source: iranwire.com

Translation by Iran Press Watch

Monday, March 2, 2015

By Kian Sabeti

A large number of Baha’i citizens have been arrested or summoned to serve their sentences within the last month. In addition to widespread and simultaneous arrests of Baha’is in Tehran and Isfahan in the past month, a number of Baha’i citizens of Yazd have been detained or have had to report to prison to begin serving their sentences.

Among them, three members of one Baha’i family, including parents and their son, were arrested within a short time.

An informed source has told Iran Wire: “On February 21st, the mother of this family, Fariba Ashtari Bagheri reported to Yazd prison to start her two year prison term. She and 19 other Baha’i citizens were sentenced to one to four year prison terms by Branch 1 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Yazd. Two nights ago, however, agents of Yazd’s Ministry of Information went to the home of Naser Bagheri’s (Fariba Ashtari’s husband), and, for the third time in the past two years, inspected his house and confiscated some of his personal belongings. Afterwards, the agents arrested Naser Bagheri and his son Faez, and took them to the Ministry of Information. With their arrest, three members of the Bagheri family had been detained in Yazd’s prison in less than one week.”

This individual described the conditions of Fariba Ashtari’s trial: “Fariba and 16 other Baha’is were arrested as part of a widespread and simultaneous effort in the cities of Yazd, Isfahan, Arak and Kerman on July 31, 2012. A few days later, three more Baha’is were added to the number of detainees. After one month of solitary confinement, the men were released on payment of $65,000 bail, and the women on payment of $41,000 bail each. A year later, on August 24, 2013, these 20 Baha’i citizens were sentenced to one to four year prison terms by the Revolutionary Court of Yazd, charged with propaganda against the regime and acting against national security. All their sentences were upheld in the appeals court in April of 2014. Fariba Ashtari is one of the individuals convicted as part of this case. She was sentenced to two years imprisonment and a one year suspended sentence.”

Nine of those convicted, including Saba Golshan, were sentenced to four years imprisonment and a 1 year suspended sentence each. These nine are Baha’is from Esfahan who have not yet been summoned for serving their sentences. However, since a month ago when Shahram Fallah – the only defendant from Kerman – started his prison term, the summoning of others has also started.

Continuing the same trend, Shahram Fallah, who was sentenced to three years imprisonment and a one year suspended sentence, began serving his sentence in Kerman prison on January 22nd. Later, on January 31st, Navid Haghighi, who was the only defendant from Arak, started serving a similar prison term as Mr. Fallah in Arak prison. A few days later, on February 10th, Farah Baghi, one of the Baha’is of Yazd, was summoned to Yazd prison and started serving a one-year imprisonment and a one year suspended sentence.  Mehran Islami, another defendant from Yazd, was summoned to Yazd prison on February 16th. However, the start of his prison term was postponed because he had to undertake physical therapy due to a leg injury. Another individual from Yazd convicted in this case named Fariborz Baghi was also summoned, and will start serving his sentence in a few days.

Moreover, Shamim Ettehadi, the earliest Baha’i prisoner in Yazd, who was sentenced to three years imprisonment, charged with sending videos of the destruction of Yazd’s Baha’i cemetery to the Manoto TV channel*, is now eligible for a furlough, but has been denied one despite his family’s and his own repeated requests. His mother, Azam Motahhari, has also been sentenced to one year in prison. She is also waiting to receive her summons to serve her sentence. In addition, two other Baha’i citizens, Iraj Lohrasb and Tannaz Mohammadi, have been imprisoned in Yazd since July of last year, charged with posting information related to human rights violations of Baha’i citizens on social media. Iraj Lohrasb is serving two years and Tannaz Mohammadi is serving a one-year prison term.

*Manoto1, or “I and You” TV channel is described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manoto_1

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