Ex-Political Prisoner Faces Legal Action Over Baha’i Burial Remarks

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Source: www.iranintl.com

Niloufar Goudarzi

Former political prisoner Mehdi Mahmoudian has disclosed he is facing two charges, one regarding his comments about the Baha’i minority in Iran and the other for an infestation of bedbugs in Evin Prison in Tehran.

The activist revealed that Behesht Zahra Cemetery, administered by Tehran’s municipal authorities, has lodged a formal complaint against him for the comments he made about the Baha’is in Iran, specifically their struggles with burial procedures for their loved ones.

In February, during a political discussion published on Didarnews, an Tehran-based news outlet, the political activist engaged with MP Mehdi Mousavinejad on various issues, including the rights of minorities in Iran.

“How can we discuss equal rights in Iran?” A large number of Iranians–between 100,000 and 400,000–were denied official birth certificates for years. They were unable to register their marriage. They couldn’t book a hotel with their spouses despite having children,” Mahmoudian said.

“Presently, they are deprived of the basic right to bury their kin. We have citizens who, for centuries, inhabited Iran, yet they are barred from laying their families to rest. The Bahá’í community is unable to inter their loved ones in the lands rightfully theirs, which they have acquired through rightful purchase.

“Instead, authorities retain the deceased for a span of 10 to 20 days before clandestinely conducting burials. Their autonomy in choosing the final resting place is severely restricted,” Mahmoudian explained.

Unofficial estimates suggest that Iran is home to over 300,000 Baha’i adherents. According to Amnesty International, Baha’is are Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority.

However, their rights are violated in a vast and systematic manner, including “arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, forcible closure of businesses, confiscation of property, house demolitions, destruction of cemeteries, and hate speech by officials and state media, and are banned from higher education,” according to Amnesty.

Mahmoudian, who has been arrested more than eleven times and has spent eight years in prison for political activities, posted on X in May that Taleghani Hospital in Tehran had declared it would no longer accept dialysis patients from Evin Prison due to bedbug contamination.

According to the activist, the hospital provided a sample canister of bedbugs to Evin’s head of the medical department to support the claim.

Previously, Zia Nabavi, a student activist and political detainee, detailed the severe conditions caused by the infestation, including sleep deprivation; he was later moved to solitary confinement.


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