Translation by Iran Press watch
HRANA News Agency – Elaheh Samizadeh and Soodabeh Haghighat, Baha’i citizens living in Shiraz, were sentenced to a total of 12 years in prison by the First Branch of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz. If the sentence is upheld by the Court of Appeals, in accordance with Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, the maximum punishment of 5 years imprisonment for the charge of “membership in anti-regime groups” can be enforced against these citizens. The two Baha’i nationals were detained by security forces in September 2018 and released on bail after 25 days, while awaiting a court date.
According to the HRANA, the news arm of the Human Rights Activists in Iran, Elaheh Samizadeh and Soodabeh Haghighat, Baha’i citizens, were sentenced to a total of 12 years in prison by the Shiraz Revolutionary Court.
According to this ruling, which was issued and announced by the First Branch of the Shiraz Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Seyyed Mahmoud Sadati. Soodabeh Haghighat and Elaheh Samizadeh have been sentenced to six years in prison each on charges of “propaganda against the regime and membership in anti-regime groups.”
In the case that the sentence is upheld by the Court of Appeals, then, in accordance with Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, the maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment for “membership in anti-regime groups” will be enforced against these citizens.
The trial of Ms. Samizadeh and Ms. Haghighat was held on Sunday, May 10, 2020 in the presence of lawyers, and on the order of a judge, without the presence of the defendants. This ruling comes as these citizens are also awaiting trial in another criminal court.
Elaheh Samizadeh and Soodabeh Haghighat were arrested by security the forces on September 15, 2018 and released on bail of 150 million Tomans after 25 days, until the end of the Shiraz Intelligence Detention Court processing.
Elaheh Samizadeh was summoned to the Shiraz Revolutionary Court in late March of 2020 and charged with “membership in the Baha’i organization.” During the interrogation, Ms. Samizadeh was questioned regarding “membership in the Baha’i organization” and three previous charges: “forging a degree, propaganda against the regime, and collaborating with “dissident groups.”
The charges against Ms. Samizadeh were “propaganda against the regime” and “collaboration with “dissident” groups”. Examples of these accusations include her work as a teacher in the mother and child creativity classes within the official institutions of the country, which was being conducted with a valid technical and professional degree. This Baha’i citizen was given an additional charge of “forging a degree” in July of 2019, leading to her previous bail to increase by 60 million tomans.
Earlier, an informed source told HRANA: “Ms. Samizadeh’s being accused of forging of a diploma is due to Baha’is being barred from education in the universities inside of Iran. She attended and earned her degree from the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (online university), known as BIHE. Ms. Samizadeh has been summoned and interrogated several times since her release on bail.”
Baha’is in Iran are systematically deprived of freedoms related to their religious beliefs. This systematic deprivation occurs while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), “All persons have the right to religious freedom, the right to change their religion or beliefs, and the freedom to express their beliefs individually or collectively, in public or private”
According to unofficial sources in Iran, there are more than 300,000 Baha’is living in Iran, but Iranian 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.