In a statement released on May 18 the Baha’i International Community (BIC) warned about the increased persecution of Baha’is in Iran despite the coronavirus health crisis.
“In recent days, two Baha’is in Isfahan have been arbitrarily arrested, seven Baha’is in Shiraz have been sentenced to long prison terms ranging from one to thirteen years,” the statement said adding other persecution instances of the banned religious group.
More than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. Unlike Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians whose religions are recognized as minority religions by the Iranian Constitution, Baha’is are deprived of the freedom to practice their religion, are not admitted to higher-education institutions or allowed to run their own schools.
According to the statement two Baha’is who were released due to the coronavirus pandemic, have been summoned back to prison despite widespread international calls for the release of prisoners of conscience in Iran due to the pandemic.
“The Baha’i International Community is appalled by the sentences handed down to these innocent individuals who were guilty of nothing other than selflessly serving their communities,” Diane Ala’i, Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva, declared in the statement.
The Baha’i community has to share many of the economic and health-related consequences of the current pandemic with the rest of the population, the statement said and reiterated that the followers of the banned faith face additional layers of pressures including arbitrary arrests and imprisonment only for their faith.
“This is an abhorrent treatment of an entire community at a time when lives and livelihoods in Iran are already under such severe strain,” it added.
These individuals are not criminals and they do not belong in prison. During this global pandemic, when prisons are hotbeds of infection, returning these #Bahai-s to prison is akin to handing down a death sentence #Iran #Covid_19 https://t.co/i0vwvE6HUV
— Diane Alai (@DianeAlai) May 19, 2020
In a tweet on Tuesday the spokesperson of BIC once again protested to returning Baha’i prisoners to jail despite the danger of getting infected. “These individuals are not criminals and they do not belong in prison. During this global pandemic, when prisons are hotbeds of infection, returning these Bahai’s to prison is akin to handing down a death sentence,” she wrote.