Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA)- Mehran Eslami Amirabadi, Yazd native and member of the Baha’i religious minority, has turned himself in to serve an 18-month jail term, 12 months of which must be served in exile in Saravan (located in Sistan & Baluchestan, a southeastern province known for extreme heat, drought, and few natural resources).
A source close to Eslami confirmed the news to HRANA, adding that he decided to turn himself in upon the detainment of his co-defendant Mehran Bandi Amirabadi, who is subject to the same sentence.
Five others who were tried in the same court face a 3-year suspended prison sentence: Sorour Foroughi Mehdi Abadi, Farzad Rouhani Monshadi, Ramin Hosri Sharaf Abadi, Mohammad Ali Tadrisi, Ahmad Jafari Naimi.
Along with several other Baha’is, Eslami was tried several months ago in Branch 3 of Yazd Provincial Appeals Court on the charges of “disseminating propaganda against the regime” and “propaganda on behalf of groups or organizations acting against the regime.” All were sentenced in that trial to one year in prison, and a one-year suspended prison sentence. Given this prior sentence, Eslami will likely spend a year and a half behind bars.
Baha’i citizens of Iran are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all people are entitled to freedom of religion, belief, and changes thereof, as well as the right to express and practice those beliefs as individuals or collectives, in public or in private.
Though unofficial sources estimate the Baha’i population of Iran at more than 300,000, Iran’s Constitution officially recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. As a result, the rights of Baha’is in Iran are systematically violated.