Translation by Iran Press Watch
HRANA news agency – Mahvash Edalati Aliabadi and Sepideh Keshavarz, Baha’i citizens living in Tehran, have been remanded to Evin prison to begin serving their one-year prison sentences.
According to HRANA news agency, the news organ of the Human Rights activists in Iran, Mahvash Edalati Aliabadi and Sepideh Keshavarz, Baha’i citizens living in Tehran, have been remanded to Evin prison to begin their sentences. Each will be serving a one-year prison sentence. The charges brought against these citizens included, “propaganda activity against the system” and “assembly and collusion”.
On December 21st, 2020, Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolution Court, headed by Judge Mohammad Reza Amoozad, issued a verdict of guilty on all charges. Mahvash Edalati Aliabadi and Sepideh Keshavarz were each sentenced to 3 years and 7 months imprisonment for the charge of “acting against the security of the country through the administration of the Baha’i organization.” An additional 8 months was added to the sentence for “propaganda activity against the regime through propaganda and promotion of Baha’i faith”.
On appeal the sentencing was brought down to 3 years and 7 months of imprisonment by the 36th branch of the Court of Appeal of Tehran Province, for the charge of “acting against the security of the country through the administration of the Baha’i organization”. This ruling was overturned in the 11th branch of the Supreme Court and referred to the 54th branch of the Court of Appeal, which reduced their sentences to one-year each.
The charges levied against Mahvash Edalati Aliabadi stem from a raid on her house by security forces on November 20th, 2018. Forces seized a number of her personal belongings, including religious books. On November 26, 2018, Mahvash was summoned to the Evin Prosecutor’s Office. She underwent interrogation and was arrested and held until November 28th, 2018, when she was released on temporary bail for the duration of the proceedings.
Sepideh Keshavarz was arrested by the security forces on October 23rd, 2018, and released from Evin prison a day later upon posting bail, pending the completion of the proceedings. At the time of her arrest, the officers performed a search of her home and confiscated some of her books and personal belongings.
Baha’i citizens in Iran are deprived of the liberty to practice their religious beliefs. This systematic deprivation of liberty directly violets 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 and the freedom to express it individually or collectively and in public or in private.
According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. The Iranian Constitution recognizes only Islam as the official religion, but recognizes Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Baha’i faith is deemed illegitimate by the authorities, and they have used that as justification to systematically violate the rights of Baha’is in Iran since the beginning of the Islamic Regime.