Eight Year Prison Sentence Upheld for Baha’i Citizen and Women’s Motocross Champion Shahrzad Nazifi

After approving an appeal hearing, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran upheld an eight year prison sentence for Baha’i citizen and women’s motocross champion Shahrzad Nazifi.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Nazifi was previously sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison, 4 hours of community service a day for 3 months, and a 2-year ban on leaving the country.

Nazifi was arrested on charges of “managing illegal groups and factions with the aim of disrupting the security of the country” and “bad motives and internal desire to destroy the religious system”.

Unofficial sources estimate 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 violation 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.