On December 13, Baha’i citizens Mitra Bandi Amir-Abadi and Hiva Yazdan Mehdi-Abadi were arrested at their home by security forces and sent to Yazd Prison to serve their sentences.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Amir-Abadi and Mehdi-Abadi, along with two other Baha’i citizens, had been sentenced by Branch 2 of Yazd’s Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Reza Javad Mousavi. They were sentenced to a combined 13 years and 4 months on the charge of “membership in Baha’i anti-regime groups and propaganda against the regime”. On appeal, they were acquitted from the first charge and the verdict was changed to 8 months imprisonment each.
Amir-Abadi and Mehdi-Abadi were arrested on May 30, 2020, and released on bail after three months of detention. Both women had previously faced other arrests and convictions. In December 2017, Mehdi-Abadi was detained for “teaching music to children” and transferred to Yazd Prison. She was released on bail on December 25 of that year.
Regarding the prosecution and harassment of Baha’is by Iran’s regime, HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator Skylar Thompson stated that HRA strongly condemned these discriminatory acts against religious minorities in Iran. She asked that the regime take action to ensure Iranian people, and particularly Baha’i citizens, are entitled to the freedom of religion and can perform religious acts freely.
According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.
This deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.