Baha’i Citizens Soroush Abadi and Kiana Shoaei Sentenced to Imprisonment

Baha’i citizens Soroush Abadi and Kiana Shoaei, both residents of Shiraz, were sentenced to imprisonment and banned from leaving the country.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, presided by Judges Mahmoud Sadati sentenced Mr. Abadi, and Ms. Shoaei each one to 31 months and 16 days in prison and a 2-year ban from leaving the country on the charge of membership in anti-regime groups with the intention of disrupting country’s security, and to Seven months and 16 days in prison on the charge of propaganda activities against the regime in cyberspace.

If the sentences are upheld by the appeal court, after the application of Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, the most severe punishment of 31 months and 16 days of imprisonment will apply to Mr. Abadi and Ms. Shoaei.

Ms. Shoaei’s 5 years imprisonment sentence will be reduced to 30 months, but she will have to check in and report her presence to the Shiraz Intelligence Office every month. Kiana Shoaei and Soroush Abadi, along with Farzan Masoumi, were arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents in October 2019.

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.

This deprivation of the freedom to practice their 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.

The Continued Detention of Baha’i Citizens Vahid Dana and Saeed Abedi in Shiraz 

After three weeks, Bahai citizens Saeed Abedi and Vahid Dana are still detained in Shiraz in the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center known as No. 100. Following mass arrests and home searches of Bahai citizens in Shiraz, Abedi and Dana were arrested by intelligence agents on April 28th.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Vahid Dana has an acute type of chronic hypertension, and was under supervision of a specialist doctor prior to the arrest due to symptoms of angina pectoris. According to a source close to his family, Dana’s heart problems started in 2014, during a previous detention. The continued detention of the two citizens during the COVID-19 outbreak, coupled with the failure of officials to provide any update on their condition, has raised concern among their families.

Abedi and Dana were arrested in their homes by intelligence agents and then transferred to the detention center. Officers searched their homes and confiscated some of their personal belongings, including cell phones, personal computers, books, and images related to the Baha’i faith.

With the beginning of the wave of pressure on Baha’i citizens, 7 additional Baha’i citizens from Shiraz, (Saeed Ittihad, Qasem Masoumi, Siamak Honarvar, Soroush Abadi, Sedigheh Aghdasi, Alieh Foroutan, and Behrooz Farzandi Ardakani) were also arrested by agents in March. Their houses were searched, and some personal belongings seized by security forces. They were gradually released on bail after about a month.

Vahid Dana and Saeed Abedi had been previously arrested and charged in August of 2018. Each were sentenced to one year in prison and one year in exile, in absentia and without their or their lawyers’ information, by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz. These sentences were then reduced to 6 months imprisonment each by Branch 17 of the FarsProvince Court of Appeals. Later that year, they were both pardoned on the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

According to unofficial sources, 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 during recent  years. This 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.

It is unclear when Dana and Abedi will be released.

 

Three Baha’is Were Arrested in Shiraz

On October 21, 2019, three Baha’i citizens were arrested in Shiraz while their houses and several other Baha’i houses were searched and their personal belongings such as laptops, cell phones, and computers were confiscated. Farzan Masoumi, Kiana Shoaei, and Soroush Abadi were arrested by the Intelligence Department officers and were transferred to an undisclosed location. The identities of the other Baha’i citizens whose houses were searched are still unknown.

Baha’i citizens of Iran 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, all people are entitled to freedom of religion, belief, and changes thereof, as well as the right to express and practice those beliefs as individuals or collectives, in public or in private. Though unofficial sources estimate the Baha’i population of Iran at more than 300,000, Iran’s Constitution officially recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. As a result, the rights of Baha’is in Iran are systematically violated.