A Comprehensive Report on the Situation of 9 Imprisoned Bahais in Iran
HRANA News Agency – Fariba Kamal Abadi, Jamal-Aldin Khanjani, Mahvash Sabet, Afif Naimi, Saeed Rezai, Behrouz Tavakoli and Vahid Tizfah, are the seven administrative members of the Baha’i Community known as “Yaran-e Iran”, who along with Adel Naimi and Farhad Fahandezh have each been sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. This 9 Baha’i citizens are currently serving their long sentences at Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj and Evin Prison.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), “Yaran-e Iran” is the name of the group that were directing the administrative activities of the Baha’i Community in Iran. This group was the replacement for the “National Spiritual Assembly of Iran” which was the administrative system and organizational structure of the Baha’is. This assembly was shut down by the Iranian Regime. Fariba Kamal Abadi, Jamal-Aldin Khanjani, Mahvash Sabet, Afif Naimi, Saeed Rezai, Behrouz Tavakoli and Vahid Tizfah, the seven directors of the Baha’i community, along with Adel Naimi and Farhad Fahandezh are 9 Baha’I Citizens who are currently serving their long 10 years imprisonment sentences at Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj and Evin Prison.
The following Report is the introduction and a concise description of the story of these prisoners of conscious, which has been prepared for the purpose of enlightening the public opinion and attracting the attention of the human right advocates.
On 5th March 2008, Mahvash Shahriary Sabet was arrested by the security forces in the City of Mashhad. After her arrest she was transferred to the solitary confinements of Ward 209 of the Evin Prison. On May 2008, 6 other members of the “Yaran-e Iran” were arrested under similar charges. During the first 20 months of her arrest Ms. Sabet was not allowed to contact a lawyer and was not formally informed of her charges. On 11th February 2009, the prosecutor office of Tehran announced that there is an order of conviction for Mahvash Sabet and 6 other directors of the Baha’i community under charges of “Espionage for Israel”, “Insulting Religious Sanctities” and “Propaganda against the Islamic Republic Regime”. Later on the 12th June 2010, Mahvash Sabet, Fariba Kamal Abadi, Jamal-aldin Khanjani, Afif Naimi, Saeed Rezaee, Behrouz Tavakoli and Vahid Tizfahm received 20 years of imprisonment for charges of “Espionage”, “Insulting Religious Sanctities”, “Propaganda against the Regime” and “Spreading Corruption on Earth”, that is while they refused to attend their final Trial in a protest for the court process being closed and unlawful.
On September 15 2010, the Appeals court reduced their 20 years sentence to 10 years of imprisonment by removing charges such as “Espionage and Collaboration with Israel”. This was verbally released to Ms. Sabet’s Lawyer. However ultimately the appeals court sentence was recognized as in contrast with the Law, and was again increased back to 20 years of imprisonment.
On December 2015, with implementation of article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code this sentence was reduced to 10 years of imprisonment.
On august 2010, Mahvash Sabet and the other six members of the Baha’i community were transferred to Rajai Shahr Prison after receiving the judgment of the Lower Court. Following this transfer to Rajai Shahr Prison, Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamal Abadi were sent to the women’s ward of Gohardasht Prison of Karaj (Ward 200). On the 3rd May 2011, following the dissolution of the Women’s Ward of Gohardasht Prison, the two prisoners were transferred to Gharchak Prison of Karaj, however they were transferred back to Evin Prison after 2 weeks.
Fariba Kamal Abadi a member of “Yaran-e Iran” (directors of Baha’i Community) was arrested twice in 2005 and she was arrested for the third time in 2008 and was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment by the branch 28 of the revolutionary court under charges of “Espionage for Israel”, “Insulting Religious Sanctities” and “Propaganda against the Islamic Republic’s Regime”. This baha’is sentences was reduced to 10 years and is currently serving her 9th year in the women’s ward of Evin Prison.
Fariba Kamal Abadi was born in Tehran on 13th September 1962 and is imprisoned for her religious believes. Her father was a Baha’i doctor who had been arrested and tortured during the 80s. Fariba married “Rouh-Allah Tayefi Nasr Abadi” and from this marriage she has three children named Vargha, Alhan and Taraneh. After the Revolution MS. Kamal Abadi, like other Baha’is, had been unable to attend officially recognized universities of the country, and has completed her studies in Unofficial and distance Baha’is University where she received Bachelor and Master Degree in Baha’I studies.
Jamal-Aldin Khanjani was born in Sangsar in 1933 and resides in Tehran. He was arrested on May 2008, and was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment by the branch 28 of the revolutionary court of Tehran under charges of “Espionage for Israel”, “Insulting Religious Sanctities” and “Propaganda against the Islamic Republic’s Regime”. This elderly Baha’I Citizen suffers from many illnesses due to his age and is being kept in Rajai Shahr Prison Serving his reduced 10 years imprisonment.
Mr. Khanjani was a successful Manufacturer who lost his business after the Islamic revolution of 1978, for being Baha’i. Hundreds of people were working in his brick Factory (the first automated factory of this kind in Iran) before it was forced to shut down.
Mr. Khanjani is a former member of the “National Spiritual Assembly of Iran” in 1984, four of nine members of this assembly have been executed by the Iranian Regime.
Later on Mr. Khanjani was able to build an automated farm in one of the lots belonging to his family, yet the government officials created several limitations that made managing the farm difficult. Such limitations have been extended to Mr. Khanjani’s relatives and children as well, limitation and difficulties such as, prevention from receiving loans, closing down their businesses, limitation on their commercial trading and they have been prevented from traveling outside Iran.
Mr. Khanjani has been arrested and detained at least three times prior to his recent arrest in 2008.
Saeed Rezaee was born in 1957 in Abadan. He entered Shiraz University in 1976 and majored in Agricultural Machinery and graduated in 1980.
In 2005, Mr. Rezaee was arrested by the security forces in city of Shiraz then he was transferred to ward 209 of Evin Prison. After a while he was released on bail. In 2006, number of young people were arrested due to their humanitarian activities, meaning providing educational assistance to children in poverty living in impoverished parts of Shiraz City, these activities were being carried out with a permit from the city council. In the very first day, the non-Baha’is were released but the Baha’is, who were more than 54 people, were kept in custody. Among those arrested were the two daughters of Mr. Rezaee, Martha and Ma’man.
Mr. Rezaee had joined the board of directors of National Iranian Baha’í community known as “Yaran-e Iran” in the same year. In May 2008, once again him and rest of the members of the board were arrested and transferred to Evin Prison. He spent nearly 4 months in solitary confinement at Ward 209 of Evin Prison where he was deprived of visits by his family and lawyer. He has been struggling with severe pain in his gallbladder, then and even for years after. After spending two years and a few months in that Prison, during a strange and unfair trial he receives even stranger and more unfair sentence. Branch 28 of Revolutionary court headed by judge Moghise, sentenced each one of the “Yaran-e Iran” members including Seed Rezaee to 20 years of imprisonment, total of 140 years of imprisonment for membership and serving a religious and ideological community. After receiving this sentence he was transferred to Rajai Shahr Prison and spent 6 months in a public ward, ward 6. Later he was transferred to ward 4 hall 12 of this prison, where the rest of political prisoners including civil right activists, journalists, organizational and partisan activists were being held. His sentence was reduced to 10 years as well.
Behrouz Tavakoli was born In Mashhad in 1951 and had lived in Tehran. Mr. Tavakoli a former board member of the National Iranian Baha’í community was arrested in May 2008, and has been sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment by the branch 28 of the Revolutionary court of Tehran, on charges of “Espionage for Israel”, “Insulting Religious Sanctities” and “Propaganda against the Islamic Republic’s Regime”. He is currently detained at Rajai Shahr Prison with reduced sentence of 10 years of imprisonment.
Behrouz Tavakoli worked as a social worker until the early 1980s, however then due to his belief in Baha’I Faith, he was expelled from his government job. Previous to Mr. Tavakoli’s recent detention, he had frequently been persecuted and arrested. 3 years prior to his arrest, Behrouz Tavakoli was detained in solitary confinement for 4 months without any charges and as a result suffers from serious kidney and joint problems.
Mr. Tavakoli is a graduate of Psychology, and after completing his two-year military service (as the lieutenant), and taking on training and specializing in caring for physically and mentally disabled people was working holding a government job, until he was expel because of his belief in Baha’i.
Mr. Tavakoli, was elected in Mashhad as the local Baha’i governing council (local Spiritual Assembly) when he was still a university student, and later he served at a different local council in Sari. These advisory councils were shut down by the government in the early 1980s. He was a member in a few youth committees as well, and in early 1980s joined the deputy board. After being expelled from his government job, he opened a small carpenter shop in the city of Gonbad to be able to make a living; he also launched classes in Baha’I studies for the youth and adults in the same city.
Vahid Tizfahm was born in 1973 at Urumieh and lived in Tehran, and was a former board member of the National Iranian Baha’í community. After being arrested in May 2008, he was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment by the branch 28 of the Revolutionary court of Tehran, on charges of “Espionage for Israel”, “Insulting Religious Sanctities” and “Propaganda against the Islamic Republic’s Regime”. He is currently detained at Rajai Shahr Prison with reduced sentence of 10 years of imprisonment.
Vahid Tizfahm was an optician and owned an optical shop in Tabriz, where he lived till early 2008 before he moved to Tehran.
He was born in Urumieh and spent his childhood and teenage days in that city. After earning his high school diploma he moved to Tabriz to continue his education in optometry. He later studied sociology in Baha’I studies higher institution, under Baha’is higher educational institute.
Afif Naimi a former board member of the National Iranian Baha’I community was arrested in May 2008 and was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment by the branch 28 of the Revolutionary court of Tehran, on charges of “Espionage for Israel”, “Insulting Religious Sanctities” and “Propaganda against the Islamic Republic’s Regime”.
Afif Naimi suffers from many health issues in the Prison such as blood clotting, periodic anesthesia, acute irritation and swelling of the lymph nodes in the throat and is currently detained at the Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj.
Farhad Fahandezh, born in 1959 in Torbat-e Heidarieh and lived in Gorgan, was arrested at his home on the October 17 of 2012, and after 7 months of uncertainty was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment by the branch 28 of the Tehran’s Revolutionary Court headed by the judge Moghise for charges of “Propagation of Baha’I Faith” and “administrating a Baha’I Organization”.
It worth mentioning, previously in the 1983 at the age of 24, Mr. Fahandezh had been arrested and sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment. Due to his former detention conditions he is suffering from digestive diseases.
Adel Naimi born in 1952 in Tehran and his Wife Elham Farahani (naimi) are two of the arrestees of the 21st July 2012. Their home was inspected for hours and many of their personal belongings, books, pictures and CDs related to Baha’I Faith were sized. 23rd July of the same year, their son, Shamim Naimi was summoned to the Shahid Moghadas Court in the Evin Prison, where he was arrested at his attendance. After nearly a month Elham and shamim were released on bail, but the Adel, the Father of the family, was still detained at the solitary confinement. Nearly 3 months later he was transferred to the public ward and then transferred to Rajai Shahr Prison.
Even though there was no connection between Adel Naimi’s case and Baha’I prisoners of Gorgan’s case, yet branch 28 of the Tehran’s Revolutionary Court headed by Judge Moghiseh attended to both cases in on trial.
These eight baha’i citizens were charged with: “spreading Propaganda Agains the Regime”, “establishing and administrating illegal Baha’I organizations” and “membership in illegal Baha’I organizations”.
According to the verdict Adel Naimi was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment and the other 5 defendants were each sentenced to 5 to 10 years of imprisonment, all of which are currently detained at the Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj.