On July 6, 2019, the revolutionary Court of Birjand sentenced nine Baha’i residents of this city to 54 years imprisonment, combined. According to this verdict, each of them was sentenced to six-year prison term. Also, the funds raised during a religious ceremony by the Baha’i community for needs of Baha’i residents of Birjand, was confiscated by the court’s order. Their court hearing was on July 3, 2019 without their lawyer, Mazdak Etemadzadeh, because of the article 48 of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran and he is not in the list of government-approved lawyers. These Baha’i citizens were arrested earlier in 2017 and were released on bail after a while.
Sheida Abedi, Firouz Ahmadi, Khalil Maleki, Simin Mohammadi, Bijan Ahmadi, Maryam Mokhtari, Saghar Mohammadi, Sohrab Malaki, and Bahman Salehi were sentenced to six years imprisonment, each for the charges of “membership in illegal and against the national security Baha’i group” and “propaganda against the state by promoting Bahaism”.
Between 9-15 June 2019, the houses of nine Baha’i families were searched by security forces with warrant in Shahin Shahr. Cell phones, laptops, tablets, satellite devices, books, photos, pictorial carpets, identification documents, and working tools were confiscated. These citizens, along three other Baha’i citizens, were summoned by the judicial authorities.
Iranian Baha’i citizens 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, everyone is entitled to freedom of religion and belief, and the right to adopt and manifest the religion of their choice, be it individually, in groups, in public, or in private.
More than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. Iran’s constitution, however, recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Consequently, the rights of Baha’is are systematically violated in Iran.