Baha’i Fariba Ashtari Sentenced to Six Years in Prison

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Translation by Iran Press Watch

HRANA – Fariba Ashtari, a Baha’i citizen residing in Yazd, was sentenced to six years imprisonment by the Revolutionary Court of that city. If this sentence is confirmed at the court of appeals, a maximum imprisonment of five years of this sentence will be implemented, citing Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code.

Based on a report by HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists in Iran, Fariba Ashtari, a Baha’i citizen residing in Yazd was sentenced to six years of imprisonment by the Revolutionary Court of that city.

Based on this sentence, issued on 20 June 2020 by Branch One of the Revolutionary Court of Yazd presided over by Associate Justice Mohammad Reza Dashtipour and communicated to Mrs. Ashtari on 21 June 2020, Fariba Ashtari was sentenced to five years in prison for the charge of “membership of groups that are against the Islamic Republic of Iran Regime”, to one year in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic Regime and in favor of groups against it”, for a total of six years of imprisonment.

Following is the exact text of a section of the court order: “The perverse Bahaist Sect’s administration is not recognized as a religious minority in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and any activity under any name in favor of Bahaism and propagation of the deviant and false beliefs of this perverse, forged sect is indeed the negation and denial of the Shia, the Twelver Sect, the Islamic Republic, and the twelfth Imam; as is belief in the station of Ali Mohammad the Bab, an illegitimate child of worldwide dictatorship, as the Mahdi, the twelfth Imam and the Seal of the Prophets. Considering current conditions, the issue of Baha’ism is not merely a religious matter. The head of this baseless sect in the fake country of Israel finds the secret of its sustenance through opposition to the holy Regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the unwavering and comprehensive support of its opposition groups; it is engaged in propaganda activities under the teachings and guidance of the House of Justice, and aims to weaken the intellectual and ideological foundations of society, particularly among youth and junior youth, as well as portraying a dire situation for followers of this sect in the country. In addition, the activities of the defendant somehow justify the thoughts of the seditious Bahaist Sect and prepare propaganda for like-minded media in order to exert increased pressure to land strikes against the holy Regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran in line with the same intentions and interests. These are clear examples of the criminal titles mentioned in Articles 499 and 500 of the Islamic Penal Code ratified in 1996 (the fifth book of correction and preventative punishments).”

If this sentence is confirmed at the court of appeals, the maximum punishment of five years of this sentence will be implemented on Mrs. Ashtari for the charge of “membership in groups opposing the Regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, citing Article 134 of Islamic Penal Code.

Fariba Ashtari was arrested at her home in Yazd by agents of the Ministry of Information on 2 December 2019, and was transferred to an unknown location. In January/February 2020, she was temporarily released from prison on bail until the end of her trial proceedings.

Fariba Ashtari was born in 1972/73. She is married and is the mother of two children. This Baha’i citizen is afflicted with heart disease, and after being arrested last year has had two surgeries.

Prior to this, in 2014/15, Fariba Ashtari was sentenced to two years in prison and one year of suspended imprisonment, and spent two years in Yazd Prison, from 2014 to 2016. Mrs. Ashtari’s husband, Naser Bagheri, who was serving a 9-month sentence in Yazd Prison, was released in March 2020, after completing his prison sentence. In addition, Faez Bagheri, Fariba Ashtari’s son, was arrested in March 2015, at age 17, and released after five months until the end of court proceedings by setting bail. Faez Bagheri was ultimately sentenced to three years in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Yazd. This sentence was reduced to a one million touman fine (approx $237) during the appeals process.

Baha’is in Iran are deprived of liberty to practice their religious beliefs. This systematic deprivation occurs even though Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights entitle any individual to freedom of religion and belief as well as freedom to express it individually or collectively, in public or in private.

According to unofficial sources, there are more than 300,000 Baha’is in Iran, but Iran’s constitution only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not recognize the Baha’i Faith. For this reason, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for many years.


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