Baha’i Citizen Saeedeh Khozuei Arrested in Tehran

Baha’i citizen Saeedeh Khozuei, a resident of Tehran, was arrested after an appearance at Branch 2 of Evin Courthouse.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, on Monday, April 11, 2022, Bahai’ citizen Saeedeh Khozuei was arrested following the appearance at Evin Courthouse.

It was the second time in recent days that this individual had been summoned by Evin Courthouse.

Saeedeh Khozuei is the mother of Araslan Yadani who was arrested by security forces in Tehran on September 1, 2021, and transferred to a detention center in Evin Prison. On September 30, 2021, security forces searched their house and confiscated some of Mr. Yazdani’s belongings including his laptop, other electronic devices and documents. Subsequently, Arsalan Yazdani was released on bail on October 17, 2021.

Such restrictions on the freedom to practice religion are a breach of 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.

Three Christian Converts Sentenced to Total of 15 Years in Prison

Recently, the Revolutionary Court of Rasht City sentenced three Christian Converts, Ahmad Sarparast, Ayoub Pourrezazadeh and Morteza Hajeb Mashhood-Kari each to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of 18 million tomans.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the Revolutionary Court of Rasht notified lawyer Iman Soleimani about the verdict against his clients. According to this verdict, Ahmad Sarparast, Ayoub Pourrezazadeh and Morteza Hajeb Mashhood-Kari have been sentenced to five years imprisonment on the charges of “holding home church services, propaganda against the regime, association with Zionism and Branhamist sect”. They have also been fined in the amount of 18 million tomans.

In an interview with HRANA, attorney Iman Soleimani said, “This trial did not go through a legal process as the judge was affected by judicial officers’ efforts to ensure the conviction, unlike the fact that the defendants did not commit any crimes punishable under Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code. Rather, the defendant exercised their rights to freedom of opinion. The conviction stands at odds with the prohibition of inquisition and the principle of resolution of ambiguities in favor of defendants. These individuals would not have been  convicted in a fair trial.”

On September 5, 2021, these three Christian converts were arrested by security forces in Rasht. Thirteen days later, in a phone call to their families, Ahmad Sarparast and Morteza Hajeb Mashhood-Kari mentioned their relocation to Lakan Prison. On September 22, 2021, they were released on bail of 400 million tomans until the end of legal proceedings. One day later, Ayoub Pourrezazadeh was also released on bail of the same amount.

The prosecution of Christian converts stands in blatant violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which state that every individual has the right to freedom of religion and belief and freedom to express it openly or secretly.

Baha’i Citizen Shahram Najaf-Tomaraei Jailed in Evin Prison

Last Sunday, March 13, 2022, Baha’i citizen Shahram Najaf-Tomaraei was sent to Evin Prison to serve his two-year sentence. Earlier, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced him to two years imprisonment.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Baha’i citizen Shahram Najaf-Tomaraei was jailed in Evin prison for sentencing.

On November 25, 2015, the security forces arrested him and after a while released him on bail for the duration of legal proceedings. During the arrest, the agents searched his house and confiscated some of his personal belongings.

Ultimately, in December of 2019, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced him to two years imprisonment.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam as the official religion, in addition to Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Bahai faith is not considered legitimate by the authorities, and the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

Freedom of religion is a breach of 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 practice religion freely, freedom of converting to a religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

Baha’i Citizen Shahnaz Sabet Arrested and Sent to Adel-Abad Prison

On Saturday, March 12, 2022, Baha’i citizen Shahnaz Sabet was arrested by security forces and transferred to Adel-Abad Prison in Shiraz city.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, on Saturday, March 12, 2022, Iranian Bahai citizen Shahnaz Sabet was arrested and sent to Adel-Abad Prison in Shiraz for her sentencing.

According to an informed source close to Ms Sabet, while she was still awaiting the final verdict of the Supreme Court of Iran, they arrested her and took her to prison. Ms Sabet suffers from severe back pain and kidney stone, which raises concerns about her health conditions in prison.

On September 1, 2019, the security forces arrested Shahnaz Sabet at her house in Shiraz. After a while, she was released on bail until the end of legal proceedings. At the time of the arrest, the agents searched her house and confiscated some of her personal belongings.

On May 10, 2020, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz sentenced her to six years imprisonment on the charges of “propaganda against the regime and membership in anti-regime groups.”

In July of 2020, in a trial in absentia, the Court of Appeals of Shiraz reduced the sentence to two years in prison.

On October 12, 2020, she was arrested to serve her sentencing. On May 2, 2021, she was released temporary from prison after the approval of her request for a retrial by the Supreme Court of Iran.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam as the official religion, in addition to Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Bahai faith is not considered legitimate by the authorities, and the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

Freedom of religion is a breach of 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 practice religion freely, freedom of converting to a religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

Three Baha’i Citizens Arrested to Serve Sentences Without Prior Notice

On March 7, three Baha’i citizens, Sedigheh Aghdasi, Behrooz Farzandi and Ghasem Masoomi, were arrested and transferred to Adel-Abad Prison to serve their sentences. The arrest occurred without any notice and followed summons by the Revolutionary Court under the pretext of answering questions. Initially, these citizens had been each sentenced to 39 months in prison. On appeal, the sentence against Farzandi and Masoomi was upheld, while 25 months of Aghdasi’s sentence term was suspended.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, an informed source stated that during a court appearance, they were arrested and transferred to prison from the back door of the court without informing their families, who were waiting for them in front of the court building.

On April 6, 2021, they were arrested along with three other citizens by security forces. They were detained in solitary confinement cells of a police detention centre in Shiraz City. In May of 2021, they were released on bail until the end of legal proceedings.

In November of last year, the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz sentenced each to seven months and 16 days in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the regime” and 31 months and 16 days on the charge of “membership in anti-regime groups.” On appeal, 25 months of Aghdasi’s sentence was suspended and the sentences against two others were upheld.

Regarding the prosecution and the harassment of Baha’i people by Iran’s regime, HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator Skylar Thompson stated that HRA strongly condemned these discriminatory acts against religious minorities in Iran. She asked that the regime take action to ensure Iranian people, and particularly Baha’i citizens, are entitled to the freedom of religion and can perform religious acts freely.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

The deprivation of the freedom to practice religion is a breach of 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.

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Nine Christian Converts Acquitted on Appeal

Branch 34 of the Tehran Province Court of Appeals acquitted nine Christian converts, Abdolreza Ali HaghNejad, Behnam Akhlaghi, Shahrooz Eslam-Doost, Mehdi Khatibi, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Khalil Dehghanpour, Hossein Kadivar, Kamal Namanian and Mohammad-Reza Vafadar. Each of them had been sentenced to five years in prison by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, following the Supreme Court of Iran’s agreement to hold a retrial, the case was sent to Branch 34 of the Tehran Province Court of Appeals. The citizens were charged with “acting against national security through holding underground church services and promoting Evangelical Christianity and Zionism.”

Their lawyers have argued that “as believers, [their] clients follow Christian faith and practices and have not done anything whatsoever against national security in preaching and explaining their faith, just as the Bible asked believers to be subject to governing authorities.”

These citizens had been sentenced to five years in prison. Branch 36 of the Tehran Province Court of Appeal upheld these verdicts in June of 2020. In November of last year, Branch 28 of the Supreme Court of Iran announced that promoting Christianity and forming a home church is neither a crime nor an act against national security. Consequently, their appeal was accepted and they were acquitted by Branch 34 of the Tehran Province Court of Appeals.

The prosecution of Christian converts stands in blatant violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which state that every individual has the right to freedom of religion and belief and freedom to express it openly or secretly.

Baha’i Citizen Saba Sefidi Released from Evin Prison

On February 23, Baha’i citizen Saba Sefidi, a resident of Tehran, was released on temporary bail pending legal proceedings.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Sefidi was released on a bail of 1.5 billion tomans.

On January 11, she was arrested after an appearance at Branch 2 of Evin Courthouse in Tehran City. The reason for her arrest and the charges against her are still unknown.

Regarding the prosecution and the harassment of Baha’i people by Iran’s regime, HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator Skylar Thompson stated that HRA strongly condemned these discriminatory acts against religious minorities in Iran. She asked that the regime take action to ensure Iranian people, and particularly Baha’i citizens, are entitled to the freedom of religion and can perform religious acts freely.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

The deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of 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.

One Year Imprisonment Against Baha’i Citizen Shiva Khalili Upheld on Appeal

Recently, the Court of Appeal of Mazandaran Province upheld the initial verdict of one year in prison against Baha’i citizen Shiva Khalili. Moreover, in this verdict, her cell phone, which they ruled has been used as a “crime tool”, will be confiscated.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, November 16, 2021, she was arrested after being summoned and appearing at Branch 1 of the Public and Revolutionary Court of Babol. The day after, she was released on bail.

The Revolutionary Court of Babol City sentenced her to one year imprisonment and confiscation of her cell phone on the charge of “propaganda against the regime.”

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’i live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

This deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of 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.

Request for a Retrial of Two Christian Converts Rejected By the Supreme Court

Branch 9 of the Supreme Court rejected a request by two Christian converts, Hadi Rahimi and Sekineh Behjati, for a retrial. Rahimi has been recently jailed to serve his four years sentence and Behjati has been summoned to endure her two years imprisonment.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, according to their lawyer, “their request for a retrial is justified on the Article 474 of the Criminal Procedure Code and based on the verdict issued by Branch 28 of the Supreme Court whereby running a home church is not considered as an act against the national security. Moreover, whereas the prosecution has been quashed by the Dezful Courthouse, there are similarities between the verdict against my clients and the above-mentioned verdict, Christian faith is not a crime and is supported by the freedom of expression, the inquisition is prohibited, and finally, every punishment should be predicted in law, the arguments lean towards defendant’s favor rather than the verdict. Nonetheless, regardless of these arguments, the request for a retrial was dismissed.”

In February of 2020, security forces raided their house, confiscated some of their personal belongings and interrogated them about the charges of “propaganda against the regime and assembly and collusion against national security.”

In August of 2020, Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Rahimi and Behjati to four and two years imprisonment respectively on the charges of “membership in political groups to disturb national security”. In October of that year, their verdict was upheld on appeal.

On January 9, Rahimi was jailed in Evin Prison to endure his sentence.

 

Baha’i Citizen Saba Sefidi Still in Detention After More Than a Month

After 33 days, Baha’i citizen Saba Sefidi, a resident of Tehran, is still in detention pending legal process. On January 11, she was arrested after an appearance at Branch 2 of Evin Courthouse.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, despite family frequent inquiry, judicial officials at Evin Courthouse have not yet provided any clear information about the reason for the arrest or her whereabouts, which is raising concern about her condition.

Since her arrest, she has been only allowed to make a few short calls to her family.

Regarding the prosecution and harassment of Baha’i people by Iran’s regime, HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator Skylar Thompson stated that HRA strongly condemned these discriminatory acts against religious minorities in Iran. She asked that the regime take action to ensure Iranian people, and particularly Baha’i citizens, are entitled to the freedom of religion and can perform religious acts freely.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

The deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of 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.