The Gilan Province Court of Appeals has maintained the prison sentence for the Baha’i couple, Vesal Momtazi and Anisa Samieian.
Originally sentenced by the Rasht Revolutionary Court, Momtazi and Samieian received a combined term of nine years and six months. Mrs. Samieian’s sentence encompasses three years and six months for “engaging in educational activities and propaganda against Sharia law,” in addition to seven months and 16 days for “propaganda against the regime.” Meanwhile, Mr. Momtazi has received seven months and 16 days for “propaganda against the regime,” along with one year and three months for “insulting the Supreme Leader of Iran” and three years and six months for “insulting Sharia law.” He is also facing a fine of 38 million tomans. Both individuals are further subjected to social restrictions lasting a decade.
Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code dictates that each of them will serve three years and six months in prison.
According to an HRANA source close to the family, more than 50 individuals, including friends, colleagues, art students, and their parents, compiled an affidavit attesting to the couple’s adherence to the law. Regrettably, this affirmation was not permitted for presentation during the appellate court proceedings.
On November 4, 2022, security forces searched their residence, resulting in their apprehension. Following his arrest on December 6, 2022, Momtazi was granted bail. Samieian, who was pregnant at the time of her arrest, secured her release on bail after undergoing two interrogation sessions. It’s noteworthy that this Baha’i couple is responsible for the care of two young sons, aged five and about four months.
The Baha’i faith is not recognized as a legitimate religion by Iranian authorities, leading to systematic and longstanding violations of the rights of Baha’is in the country. This includes the denial of their fundamental right to practice their religion, which constitutes a clear breach of both Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.