Translation by Iran Press Watch
HRANA News Agency – Abolfazl Ansari, Ruhollah Zibaei, Roein Kohansal, and Mohammad Sadegh Rezaei, four Baha’i citizens, were collectively sentenced to four years in prison by the Karaj Revolutionary Court on charges of “propaganda against the system and for the benefit of the Baha’i Faith.” The sentence was announced to them on Sunday, January 26, 2020. The court cited cases such as “defendants’ allegation that Baha’i propaganda is a religious affair.” The verdict was issued last year when a branch of the Alborz Province Court of Appeals acquitted a Baha’i citizen of the charge, citing that propaganda for the Baha’i faith is not fundamentally propaganda against the system. The trial for the charges against these citizens was held without the presence of their elected lawyers, and the defendants were silent in protest at the trial.
According to the verdict issued by the first branch of the Karaj Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Asif al-Husseini, the defendants (Abolfazl Ansari, Ruhollah Zebaei, Roein Kohansal, and Mohammad Sadegh Rezai), were convicted on charges of “propaganda against the regime in favor of the Baha’i Faith.” Each was sentenced to one-year in prison.
According to the content of the verdict, regarding these individuals: “With regard to the charges against Mr. Roein Kohansal, son of Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Sadegh Rezaei son of Ali Akbar, Abolfazl Ansari son of Abul Hassan and Ruhollah Zebaei son of Ghulam, the propaganda campaign against the holy system of Islamic Republic and for the benefit of the misguided Baha’i Cult, according to the Alborz Provincial Intelligence Office’s report and their unjustified defense and the justification of the defendants claiming that Baha’i propaganda is a religious affair, using the comments of some of our colleagues who are unaware of security issues or lack of good familiarity with religious and belief systems, or they do not know about House of Justice, the center of the Baha’ism which is the illegitimate child of Great Britain this old fox, based in Israel, and according to the full contents of the criminal case attributed to the nominees, and subject to Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code approved in 1979, each of the defendants will be sentenced to one-year imprisonment. The verdict was in person and can be appealed to the Alborz Court of Appeals Court within twenty days of the notification.”
This verdict was issued while last year, when a branch of the Alborz Province Court of Appeals acquitted a Baha’i citizen of the charge, citing that propaganda for the Baha’i faith was not fundamentally propaganda against the system.
The sentence was announced to them on Sunday, January 26. The verdict is said to have been announced via text message to the defendants, and after the presence of these four Baha’i citizens in the first branch of the Revolutionary Court, they learned that the verdict has been transcribed. The branch refused to provide the originals of the verdict and only allowed them to transcribe.
Trial of the charges against these citizens was held on January 18, 2020, without the presence of their elected lawyers in the first branch of Karaj Revolutionary Court. The defendants were silent in protest at the trial.
A source close to the family of one of these citizens had earlier told HRANA: “After the lawyers of these citizens went to court, the head of the first branch of the Karaj Revolutionary Court did not allow them to study the defendants’ case and asked them to give up their defense for them so that they could be replaced with appointed lawyers and otherwise they would not be allowed to appear in court. ”
The source said: “Mr. Ansari suffers from heart failure and his heart is working with batteries. Thus, mental and nervous stresses can have irreparable consequences for his health. Also, Mr. Zibaei has had to undergo ongoing medical treatment due to the remaining shrapnel from the Iran-Iraq War in his body, amputation of one of his legs, and loss of a kidney and part of the liver. Mr. Zibaei was also subjected to psychological torture in solitary confinement with having severe physical injuries and not having a leg, a kidney, one eardrum, lung embolism, a broken shoulder, one leg without skin and 381 sutures.”
Abolfazl Ansari and Ruhollah Zibaei were arrested on August 3, 2019, and Roein Kohansal on August 4 by security forces in their homes in Karaj and taken to solitary confinement cells in ward 8 of Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj, known as the IRGC detention center.
Mr. Zebaii was arrested by seven security forces at his home in Karaj Baghestan. After detainment, officers, during a search of the home, seized his cellphone and personal computer and taken away. Mr. Ansari was also arrested by people introducing themselves as law enforcement officers by presenting ID cards.
These Baha’i citizens were charged with “propaganda activity against the system” during interrogations and were released on bail by the end of the interrogation phase in September, until the end of the proceedings.
Earlier in January 2011, Ruhollah Zibaei’s home was also searched, and his personal belongings were seized by security forces, and he was also summoned.
Baha’i citizens in Iran are deprived of their freedoms related to religious beliefs, while systematically deprived of their right to freedom of religion and to change their religion according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The freedom to express it individually or collectively, in public or in secret.
According to unofficial sources, there are more than 300,000 Baha’is in Iran, but the Iranian constitution only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism and does not recognize the Baha’i faith. For this reason, Baha’is’ rights in Iran have been systematically violated over the years.