On Saturday, August 5, 2023, nine Baha’i individuals were incarcerated in Kachooie Prison and the Central Prison of Karaj to commence their prison terms.
According to a reliable source who spoke to HRANA, Mahsa Tirgar Bahnemiri, Rameleh Tirgarnejad, Elham Shareghi Arani, Nakisa Sadeghi, Sadaf Sheikhzadeh, Shahrzad Mastouri, and Negin Rezaie were transferred to Kachooie prison, while Kamyar Habibi and Saman Ostovar were imprisoned in the Central Prison of Karaj.
In mid-June, the Appellate Court of Alborz province upheld a combined 40-year, seven-month sentence against these Baha’is along with four others. They have also received additional punishments as part of their conviction.
These individuals were found guilty of various charges, including “Insulting and propaganda against Sharia through engaging in educational activities” and “running groups to act against national security.”
The Iranian regime perceives the peaceful activities of Baha’is in providing humanitarian aid and education as a challenge to its own ideology.
The deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a blatant 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.
The Court of Appeals in Karaj has issued a combined sentence of 40 years and seven months, along with additional punishments, for 13 Baha’i citizens.
The verdicts state that Afif Na’imi (Naeimi) will serve seven years, while Saman Ostovar and Kamyar Habibi will each serve five years. Rameleh Tirgarnejad, Elham Shareghi Arani, and Sabin Yazdani have been sentenced to three years. Mahsa Tirgar, Shahrzad Mastouri, Sadaf Sheikhzadeh, Negin Rezaie, Nakisa Rezaie, Sahba Adyani, and Bita Momtazi will serve two years and one month. Additionally, all individuals have been fined, prohibited from leaving the country, and restricted from residing in Alborz Province, along with other social deprivations.
They have been convicted of multiple charges such as “insulting and propaganda against Islamic Sharia, forming and running groups to act against national security through preaching Baha’i faith to children in Kindergartens, promoting against Islamic Sharia through holding coaching courses.”
The court session took place on June 15, 2023, without notifying their lawyers. The initial sentences have now been upheld and will be enforced within ten days, as confirmed by a reliable source who spoke to HRANA.
These citizens were detained during the summer of the previous year. While the specific grounds for the charges remain undisclosed, they appear to be related to their educational activities for children in Alborz Province, particularly preschool children. The Iranian regime perceives the peaceful activities of Baha’is in providing humanitarian aid and education as a threat to its own ideology.
According to HRANA annual report, from the total human rights reports regarding the violation of religious minorities’ rights, 64.63% belonged to the violation of the rights of Baha’is.
The Karaj Revolutionary Court sentenced eleven Baha’i citizens, out of 13 defendants of one legal case, to over 36 years and additional punishments.
According to these verdicts, Afif Na’imi, Saman Ostovar, Kamyar Habibi, Rameleh Tirgarnejad, Mahsa Tirgar, Shahrzad Mastouri, Sadaf Sheikhzadeh, Negin Rezaie, Nakisa Sadeghi, Elham Shareghi Arani and Sabin Yazdani, to 36 years for “insulting and propaganda against Islamic Sharia, forming and participating in groups to act against national security through teaching and preaching the Baha’i faith to children in Kindergartens, promoting against Islamic Sharia through holding coaching courses” They have also been fined and banned from residing in Alborz province, leaving the country and other social deprivations.
The jail sentences against these individuals go as follows:
- Afif Na’imi-seven years
- Saman Ostovar-five years
- Kamyar Habibi- five years
- Rameleh Tirgarnejad (Habibi’s wife)- three years
- Mahsa Tirgar-25 months
- Shahrzad Mastouri-25 months
- Sadaf Sheikhzadeh-25 months
- Negin Rezaie-25 months
- Nakisa Sadeghi-25 months
- Elham Shareghi Arani-three years
- Sabin Yazdani-three years
The details of the verdicts against two other defendants in this case, including Sahba Adiani are still unknown.
These individuals were arrested during the summer of last year and their houses were searched.
Although it is unknown which acts have been invoked as examples of the charges mentioned above, they seem to have been convicted of educational activities for children, especially preschool children.