HRWF (20.12.2016) – Eight years ago, seven innocent men and women were rounded up and thrown into Iran’s infamous Evin prison. After more than a year of illegal detention, they were put on trial, accused of espionage, “propaganda against the regime” and other alleged crimes that, in fact, related solely to their religious belief and practice.
The seven Baha’is – whose names are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm – were sadly convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
In November, that term of imprisonment was reduced to 10 years, due to the very delayed application of a new national penal code adopted in 2013, which essentially states that sentences should be served concurrently instead of consecutively.
Under the terms of the new penal code, the seven are also now eligible for conditional release. Indeed, as with their reduction in sentence, this should have happened promptly after passage of the new code. The seven must therefore, as a matter of justice and consistency with Iran’s own national laws, be released immediately.
Profiles of the seven imprisoned Iranian Baha’i leaders
The seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders have long served both Iranian society and the Baha’i community. They are law-abiding citizens who have used the principles of their religion to contribute to the betterment of their country. However, instead of allowing them more opportunities for such service, the Iranian authorities have put them behind bars, depriving them of their most basic rights. The story of their persecution is the story of the entire Baha’i community in Iran.
On 14 May 2008, after a coordinated raid on their homes, six of these individuals were arrested in Tehran. The seventh, Mahvash Sabet, had been arrested on 5 March 2008 while on a trip to Mashhad. The seven were subsequently held incommunicado for weeks, placed in solitary confinement for months, and spent a year behind bars without access to legal counsel.
The seven formed the entire membership of the now-disbanded group known as the “Friends” (Yaran in Persian) that with the full knowledge and permission of the government tended to the spiritual and social needs of the Iran Baha’i community.
They are listed here after in alphabetical order:
Fariba Kamalabadi (52 years);
Jamaloddin Khanjani (82 years);
Afif Naeimi (53 years);
Saeid Rezaie (56 years);
Mahvash Sabet (62 years);
Behrouz Tavakkoli (63 years);
Vahid Tizfahm (42 years).
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