Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is deeply concerned by reports indicating that seven Iranian Baha’í leaders have each received jail sentences of 20 years.
The seven prisoners are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm. They deny charges of espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, and ‘corruption on earth,’ among other allegations.
‘Given that independent observers were not allowed to attend the trial, and the history of persecution that the Baha’í community has faced in Iran, the outcome will do nothing to encourage faith in the Iranian justice system,’ says Carl Soderbergh, MRG’s Director of Policy and Communications.
‘MRG calls on Iran to quash the convictions and release the defendants immediately,’ he added.
The two women and five men had previously been held without charge for 20 months in Tehran’s Evin prison since they were arrested in 2008. According to the Baha’í International Community they were allowed barely one hour’s access to their legal counsel during their incarceration.
There are some 300,000 Baha’í in Iran. Their right to practice the religion is not recognized. Religious leaders are often arbitrarily arrested and detained without charge and the community also faces incidents of forced conversion to Islam.