Editor’s Note: The following report was posted in Persian on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, also known as RadioFarda. The bulk of what is reported in this report, however, has previously been reported by Iran Press Watch at: http://www.iranpresswatch.org/2009/04/fourth-charge/
Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, announced on Tuesday that, “the seven leaders of the Baha’i Faith” in Iran have been imprisoned for about a year and it is likely that they will face the death penalty.
Bani Dugal stated that their families have been told that these individuals could possibly be accused of being “corrupters of the earth” [mufsed fil-arz], that carries the threat of the death penalty under the penal code of the Islamic Republic of Iran. She added that some followers of the Baha’i Faith have faced execution for the same accusation throughout the entire 30 year history of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
These seven leaders have been incarcerated for about a year and have no access to their lawyer, Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and human rights activist in Iran.
In an interview with RadioFarda, Diane Alaei, the representative of the Baha’i community at the UN office in Geneva, stated that last week the seven imprisoned Baha’is and their families were told it was likely that they would be accused of being “corrupters of the earth”. She added, “The Baha’i International Community has become deeply shocked and worried about the case, because several weeks have passed since their interrogation was concluded.”
Hassan Haddad, the Tehran Revolutionary Court judge and deputy prosecutor for security, has announced that their charge is to a greater extent due to “the establishment of an illegal foundation for spying for the benefit of foreigners.”
In a letter to Hojjatu’l-Islam Dorri Najafabadi, the Head of the Supreme Administrative Court of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Baha’i International Community office has demanded a just and equitable provision for the consideration of these charges, while reminding him of the past persecution of the Baha’is and refuting the charges against the seven imprisoned Baha’is.
Moreover, the same letter states that the persecution of Baha’is deeply affects not only the security and livelihood of the Baha’i community in Iran, but also the future of every Iranian citizen.
Last April [sic — six were arrested on 14 May 2008; Mrs. Mahvash Sabet was arrested 5 March 2008], seven Baha’i leaders who in accordance with statements of the Baha’i community abroad were responsible for attending to the problems of the Baha’is in Iran were arrested by intelligence officials of the Islamic Republic.
With reference to criticism of the situation of the Baha’is in prison, IRNA [Islamic Republic News Agency] reports that the judge presiding over this case has stated, “The Islamic Republic of Iran does not permit any movement, through its illegal and unlawful administrative activities, to threaten the national security of the country.”
These seven imprisoned unofficial leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran are: Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm.
Official activities of the Baha’i community in Iran have been formally banned ever since 1983 following the order of the Iranian Prosecutor General of that time; Mr. Najafabadi in his recent letter has emphasized this matter. [The group of Yaran (Friends) was established after the banning of the formal Baha’i administration in 1983 with the full knowledge of the Iranian government to informally oversee the needs of Baha’is in Iran with respect to marriages, deaths, burials, etc. – Translator]
Regarding the statements of Baha’is abroad, the arrested Baha’is are members of an unofficial National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i community in Iran known as the “Yaran” (Friends) who were responsible for overseeing issues affecting the Iranian Baha’is.
“National Spiritual Assembly “is a designation that Baha’is use for the group of their elected leaders in different countries.
The Baha’is state that the last time members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i community in Iran were arrested, in the early 1980s [all nine members, on 21 August 1980] was after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. No news has ever been published regarding what happened to them, though it is generally believed that they were executed. [Eight members of the subsequently-elected National Spiritual Assembly were executed on 27 Dec 1981 as well.]
According to a report of Amnesty International, more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran; however the Iranian Constitution does not recognize Baha’is and the followers of this Faith are under continuous persecution, harassment, and discrimination.
Iran’s government does not accord the Baha’i Faith any form of legal recognition, and accordingly does nothing to prevent harm and injury to Baha’is, who are thus completely deprived of the most basic protections of citizenship.
[Posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2009, at http://www.radiofarda.com/content/f3_bahai_leaders_Iran/1683917.html. Translation by Iran Press Watch.]