[bahai.us, 3 Nov. 2011] iranhumanrights.org, Nov. 2 – Following the sentencing of seven Baha’isassociated with the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, their families’ only hope is that the Appeals Court will change the ruling. They were each sentenced to four or five years in prison and were all transferred from Evin Prison to other prisons several days after the lower court ruling.
Naim Sobhani, son of Riaz Sobhani, who was sentenced to four years in prison by the lower court on the charge of providing financial assistance to the Baha’i University, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that, “We have no recourse other than trying to change the judicial ruling [at the appeals stage]. Even though we know the Judiciary does whatever it wants on an arbitrary basis. We can’t even believe my father was sentenced to four years in prison for no crime or wrongdoing. Only for the reason of having helped the Baha’i University. Our father is very ill and may not last even one year in prison. He has heart problems and is under medical treatment, he also has digestive problems, and his eyesight is weak. He’s an old man after all.”
Judge Moghisseh, presiding over Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, sentenced Kamran Mortezaie and Vahid Mahmoudi each to five years. The same court sentenced Ramin Zibaie, Mahmoud Badavam, Farhad Sedghi, Riaz Sobhani and Noushin Khadem to four years in prison. A few days after the trial, without any explanation, Khadem was transferred to Rajee Shahr Prison in Karaj and the other six were transferred to Gohar Dasht Prison in Karaj.
Mahtab Mortezaie, daughter of Kamran Mortezaie who was sentenced on charges of teaching and administrative tasks for the Baha’i University, told the Campaign, “My father is in Evin Prison and has developed back and knee pain. Apparently when he was in Evin he was held with three to four people in a very small cell. His leg pain is due to the fact that he only had enough space to stretch one leg out. He also developed back pain because in Evin he was forced to sleep on the floor. Now apparently his cell in Gohar Dasht Prison is a little bigger and also has a bed. Either way he’s had the need to be seen by a doctor a few times.”
Media briefing on BIHE
Freedom House and the Baha’i External Affairs Office in Washington hosted a media briefing titled: “Education discrimination in Iran leads to creative use of technology by Bahai online university.” Mahtab Mortezaie was one of the panelists and spoke about her father’s condition and the difficulty in retaining legal services.
Freedom House President David Kramer delivered opening remarks, and panelists included:
-Anthony Vance, Director of External Affairs for the Baha’is of the United States
-Niknaz Aftahi, San Diego resident and recent graduate of the institute’s new architectural program
-Mahtab Mortezaei Farid, George Mason University graduate whose father was arrested in the May 22nd raids in Iran the same day as her graduation ceremony in Virginia
-Behrooz Sabet, BIHE administrator who coordinated American and Canadian online instructors from his base in Louisville, KY