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.