Four Baha’i Citizens Still in Detention and Awaiting Legal Process

Four Baha’i citizens, Natoli Derakhshan, Saba Sefidi, Pari Kargarian Marvasti and Daniel Bani-Nejad, are still in detention and awaiting further legal proceedings. On January 11, Derakhshan and Sefidi were arrested in Sari and Tehran cities, respectively. Marvasti and Bani-Nejad were also arrested last week in Marlik District, located in Tehran Province.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Sefidi, a resident of Tehran, was arrested after an appearance at Branch 2 of Evin Courthouse. Yesterday, she was allowed to make a phone call to her family. Despite her family’s inquiry, the reason for her arrest and the charges against her are still unknown.

On the same day, Derkhshan, a poet and Baha’i citizen, was arrested by intelligence agents at his home in Sari City.

Last week, security forces arrested Marvasti and Bani-Nejad along with another non-Baha’i citizen at Marvasti’s house. They searched her house and confiscated some of her belonging,  including electronic devices, books and other writings related to the Baha’i faith.

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.