Translation by Iran Press Watch
HRANA – Nine Baha’i citizens ‒ Rahmatollah Deimi, Atieh Salehi, Ataollah Malaki, Farzaneh Deimi, Nasrin Ghadiri, Banafsheh Mokhtari, Arezoo Mohammadi, Saeed Malaki and Roya Malaki ‒ have been sentenced to a total of 51 years and 8 months in prison by the Birjand Revolutionary Court. The trials of these citizens were held on April 20th of this year.
According to the HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists in Iran, nine Baha’i citizens were sentenced by the Birjand Revolutionary Court to a total of 51 years and eight months in prison.
According to the verdict issued by Branch 2 of the Birjand Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Hojjat Nabavi, Birjand Baha’is Atieh Salehi, Ataollah Maleki, Farzaneh Deimi, Nasrin Ghadiri, Banafsheh Mokhtari, Arezoo Mohammadi, Saeed Malaki and Roya Malaki were each sentenced to six years in prison. Rahmatollah Deimi was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison, due to his advanced age.
The charges against these citizens are “membership in the illegal and anti-security deviant Baha’i sect, and propaganda in favor of the Baha’i group as an organization opposed to the sacred Islamic Republic.”
A well-informed source told HRANA: “During the celebrations of the bicentenary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet of the Baha’i Faith, the arrest of Baha’is and the sealing of their businesses took place in various cities in Iran. The city of Birjand was also not spared these attacks on the Baha’i community; in mid-October 2017, the security forces of Birjand entered the homes of these individuals, searched their homes, and confiscated a number of their personal belongings. These citizens were summoned to court again in 2019 for interrogation, and their trial date was set for April 20, 2020. However, on April 21 2020, they were notified via text that their verdicts had already been issued; on April 22, their sentences were made accessible via the court website.”
Regarding the circumstances of Nasrin Ghadiri, who is not from Birjand, this informed source told HRANA: “Ms. Qadiri is 60 years old and is a resident of Mashhad. She only resided in Birjand temporarily, from 2014 to 2017, to care for her sick father. In October 2017 when, on orders of the Intelligence Ministry, security forces went to the homes of these Baha’is, Ms. Ghadiri was in Mashhad and not in Birjand; nevertheless, security forces went to her father’s home in Birjand and confiscated her personal belongings anyway. She had been previously arrested and imprisoned in 1983 and 2010.
Nine other Baha’i citizens were also tried in Birjand in July 2019 and sentenced to prison. They were sent to prison in December 2020 to serve their sentences, and are currently on leave as a result of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country.
Baha’i citizens of Iran are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory, all people are entitled to freedom of religion, belief, and changes thereof, as well as the right to express and practice those beliefs as individuals or collectives, in public or in private.
Though unofficial, sources estimate the Baha’i population of Iran at more than 300,000. Iran’s Constitution officially recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. As a result, the rights of Baha’is in Iran are systematically violated.