IRAN: Special monthly – News about Baha’is and Chistians in Iran in March (01 April 2022)

Iranian Baha’is sentenced to 170 years in prison in 1400
Iran Press Watch (31.03.22) – The Iranian calendar year 1400, which ended on March 20, appears to have been one of the hardest in recent years for the country’s dwindling Baha’i population. IranWire’s surveys indicate at least 36 members of the Baha’i community were sentenced to jail terms of one to 12 years, totalling 170 years and three months, purely for practising their faith.
A thousand Baha’is await jail summons in Iran
Iran Press Watch (25.03.22) – More than 1,000 Baha’is in Iran are in a “limbo” between their initial arrests, their legal hearings and their final summons to prison, according to a new statement by the Baha’i International Community (BIC), a situation that is “causing devastation to innocent people’s lives”.
The statement was delivered by the BIC’s representative, Simin Fahandej, by video to the 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Shahnaaz Saabet resumes prison sentence in Shiraz
Hrana / Sens Daily (16.03.2022) – – Shahnaaz Saabet resumed her two-year prison sentence in Shiraz on March 12. She was arrested and informed that the High Court hearing she had requested had confirmed her sentence. She was not present or represented at the “hearing.” She began her sentence on October 6, 2020. In May 2021 she was released pending the rehearing, so she has already served seven months. She suffers from a number of illnesses, including back pain and kidney stones.
Mrs. Saabet was arrested in her home in Shiraz on September 1, 2019. She was initially sentenced to six years in prison, by Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati, on charges of “propaganda against the regime and membership in anti-regime group.” This was reduced to two years by the Review Court.
Baha’i citizen Shahram Najaf-Tomaraei jailed in Evin prison
Iran Press Watch (15.03.22) – Last Sunday, March 13, 2022, Baha’i citizen Shahram Najaf-Tomaraei was sent to Evin Prison to serve his two-year sentence. Earlier, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced him to two years imprisonment.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Baha’i citizen Shahram Najaf-Tomaraei was jailed in Evin prison for sentencing.
Hrana / Sens Daily (14.03.2022) – – Shahram Najaf-Tumara’i, a Baha’i who previously served as one of the Khadamin (area facilitators) for the Baha’is in District 7 in Tehran, began serving a 2-year sentence on March 13. He was arrested on November 27, 2015 and released on bail on December 29. At the time, web sites linked to the regime accused him of espionage. The actual pretext for his sentence is not reported.
UN report decries “criminalisation” and persecution of Baha’is across MENA region
Iran Press Watch (11.03.2022) – A new report and its annex, “Rights of persons belonging to religious or belief minorities in situations of conflict or insecurity”, by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, has highlighted the “increasing insecurity that Baha’i communities experience” in a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. The annex is the first time such a document has given exclusive focus to the situation of the Baha’is in several countries.
Article18 calls for renewal of special rapporteur’s mandate
Article 18 (25.03.2022) – Nine Christian converts who spent a combined nearly 20 years in prison for “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionist Christianity” have been acquitted by a Tehran appeal court.
The ruling by Branch 34 of the Tehran Court of Appeal, issued and communicated to the nine Christians today, comes after a Supreme Court judge ordered a review of their convictions in November.
Article18 joins call for withdrawal of draconian Internet bill
Article 18 (17.03.2022) – Article18 has today joined with over 50 other human rights groups in signing a joint statement calling on the Iranian parliament to immediately withdraw a draconian Internet bill that would violate a plethora of human rights including freedom of expression.
In the statement, a full copy of which is included below, the 55 signatories call on Iran to immediately withdraw the “Regulatory System for Cyberspace Services Bill” in its entirety, and on the international community “to ensure promotion and protection of human rights in Iran is prioritised” in all diplomatic relations with Tehran.
As the world celebrates Nazanin’s release, let’s not forget those still in prison
Article 18 (16.03.2022) – After nearly six years’ unjust detention, it finally seems as though this is the end of the ordeal for British-Iranian political prisoner Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family.
But while the world rightly celebrates Nazanin’s hard-won freedom, let us not forget those who still remain in detention as a result of equally absurd convictions.
‘‘They tortured me with their threats’
Article 18 (04.03.2022) – Ehsan Khoshgoo was a university student when he was arrested at a Tehran house-church gathering in November 2015.
When he was released on bail six weeks later, he was told he could no longer study at the university and that if he went back there, he would be arrested and sent back to prison.
By the start of the next academic year, Ehsan had fled the country.
A year later, he was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison.
Supreme Court summarily dismisses Christian convert’s long-awaited retrial bid
Only one day after nine Christian converts were acquitted of “acting against national security” by worshipping in house-churches, another Christian convert serving a 10-year sentence on very similar grounds has been denied his own retrial.
Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh, who is 60 years old, has served over four years of his 10-year prison sentence for “acting against national security with the intention to overthrow the regime”, due to alleged links to churches and Christian organisations abroad.