Baha'i Leaders Imprisoned in Qa'emshahr

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[On Wednesday, 29 October 2008, the organization Human Rights Activists of Iran posted the following report at: http://hrairan.com/Archive_87/1151.html. The same report was also echoed online by Iran Press News: http://www.iranpressnews.com/source/048384.htm . A translation follows. Ahang Rabbani.]

On 17 May 2008, in a warning by the Ministry of Intelligence in the town of Qa’emshahr [also spelled Ghaemshahr, the former Shahi] to the Baha’i community of that town, the Ministry demanded that the Baha’is should immediately stop using their cemetery at Darzikola, while the Ministry did not offer a new location for the burial of deceased Baha’is. (The cemetery in question was demolished by unknown perpetrators on 23 October.) (N.b. Previously three reports on this incident have been posted on this site: http://iranpresswatch.wordpress.com/2008/10/24/desecration-of-the-bahai-cemetery-of-ghaemshahr/, http://iranpresswatch.wordpress.com/2008/10/26/update-on-the-darzikola-cemetery/, and http://iranpresswatch.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/more-pictures-of-the-devastation-at-darzikolas-bahai-cemetery/.)

For this reason and using this demand as a pretext, officers of the Ministry of Intelligence on 29 May asked to meet with leading members of the Baha’i community in the town of Qa’emshahr. However, after this meeting, two of these leading Baha’is (khademin) from Qa’emshahr, by the names of Ali Ahmadi and Changiz Derakhshanian, were arrested in front of the Ministry’s building. At first, these individuals were taken to the police station of Davazdah-Iskandar-Kulah and afterwards to the office responsible for executing judicial rulings in the town of Qa’emshahr and incarcerated in the town’s prison.

After interrogation, the preliminary court sentenced Ali Ahmadi to ten months imprisonment and a year exile to Khalkhal. The same court also sentenced Changiz Derakhshanian to six months incarceration. It should be noted that in a subsequent appeal, the verdict of exile was set aside. The charge brought against them in the court was “teaching against the regime” and their prison sentence commenced from the time of arrest.

Having completed his term of imprisonment, Mr. Derakhshanian has been freed from captivity, but Mr. Ahmadi continues to languish in prison. For some undetermined reason, for a period of 32 days the latter was prevented from reading, contacting his family by telephone, from meeting anyone or having a temporary furlough from prison. He has been repeatedly and severely threatened with a new term of imprisonment. It is noteworthy that his interrogation took the form of an inquisition about his personal and religious beliefs. The Ministry of Intelligence not only has prevented him from benefiting from the customary temporary furlough from prison, but has also barred any temporary furlough on the provision of a cash surety.

If we were to survey recent events in the township of Qa’emshahr, it becomes clear that at first the Baha’i community of this town was threatened with being deprived of the use of their Baha’i Cemetery [in Darzikola] and then community leaders were arrested and sentenced because they dared to try to exercise their natural and civil right to bury their dead. Ultimately, the Baha’i cemetery was destroyed in the most shameful manner.

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