Translation by Iran Press Watch
HRANA News Agency – Farid Zirgi Moghaddam, a Baha’i citizen living in Birjand, was sentenced to one additional year in prison by the Birjand Criminal Court in the secondary stage of his case. Previously, Mr. Zirgi Moghaddam had been sentenced to six years in prison by the Birjand Revolutionary Court, during the primary stage of his case. Mr. Zirgi Moghaddam was arrested by the security forces in August of 2019 and released on bail a month later, pending trial.
According to the HRANA news agency, the news arm of the Human Rights Activists in Iran, Farid Zirgi Moghaddam, a Baha’i citizen living in Birjand, was sentenced by the Birjand Criminal Court to one additional year in prison during the secondary stage of his case.
According to the verdict, issued by Branch 102 of the 2nd Criminal Court of Birjand, presided over by Judge Mehdi Shiri Abbasabad, Mr. Zirgi Moghaddam was sentenced to one additional year in prison on charges of “insulting the sanctities of Islam.”
Notification of this verdict was sent to him today, August 19, 2020. Farid Zirgi-Moghaddam had been previously sentenced to six years in prison by Branch 1 of the Birjand Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Jafar Eslamkhah, in July of this year in the primary stage of his case on charges of “membership in the illegal Baha’i organization and propaganda against the regime.”
As evidence for charges against Mr. Zirgi Moghaddam, the court referenced cyberspace materials published by him as well as reports of the Intelligence Office of Southern Khorasan Province.
Regarding the additional year of prison on the charge of insulting the sanctities, a source close to Mr. Zirgi Moghaddam said,
“The charge of insulting the sanctities brought against him by the court is in the context of the Baha’i interpretation of the Qur’an, denial of Mahdism, the finality of the Prophet, and the Resurrection, mentioned in a telegram channel. While basically these things were not written by him, but were only forwarded by him in a group, and were about his own personal beliefs and are not considered insulting to the sanctities.”
If this sentence is upheld at the appeal stage, with the application of Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, the maximum punishment for the charge of “membership in the illegal Baha’i organization” will be applicable to him.
Farid Zirgi Moghaddam arrested on these charges occurred August 20, 2019 in Birjand by the Ministry of Intelligence agents. He was transferred to the detention center of the Ministry in Birjand. Prior to his arrest, officers searched his home and confiscated some of his personal belongings, including Mr. Moghaddam and his family’s cell phones and personal computers. He was released on September 7, 2019, on 150 million Tomans bail.
At the time, pro-government media, citing the General Intelligence Office of Southern Khorasan Province, reported the arrest of a citizen in Birjand. This security agency also claimed, without mentioning his identity, that the man had been “active in intensifying sanctions” against Iran in the Alborz and Southern Khorasan provinces and was a member of the “deviated sect.”
Security agencies and pro-government media often refer to Baha’is as members of the “deviated sect.”
Mr. Zirgi Moghaddam, son of Behrouz, was born in 1995 and is a resident of Birjand. He is the youngest child of the family. His father is deaf, and his older brother has a spinal cord amputation, and his mother also suffers from various medical conditions.
Baha’i citizens in Iran are deprived of the right practice their religion. This systematic deprivation of their rights occurs despite Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which entitle any individual to freedom of religion and belief and also freedom to express it individually or collectively and in public or in private.
According to unofficial sources, there are more than 300,000 Baha’is in Iran, but Iran’s constitution only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism and does not recognize the Baha’i faith. For this reason, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated over past years.