WASHINGTON – A group of Iranian Baha’is summoned to start prison terms for practicing their faith were denied an attract delay their imprisonment at a jail where they would risk coronavirus exposure, according to an educated source. An Iran-based source acquainted with the scenario of the 8 Baha’is told VOA Persian that the group got letters on September 28 summoning them to report to the jail in the eastern city of Birjand by October 10. The source said an appellate court in South Khorasan province, of which Birjand is the capital, sentenced the six females and 2 males to jail terms of 15 months to 2 years on September 8. The source called the eight Baha’is as Farzaneh Dimi, Nasrin Ghadiri, Ataollah Malaki, Ataollah’s child Roya Malaki, Saeed Malaki, Arezoo Mohammadi, Banafsheh Mokhtari and Atieh Salehi. The lower court sentence of a ninth Baha’i prosecuted with the group, Rahmatollah Dimi, was abandoned by the appellate court due to old age and Dimi was acquitted, the source stated. Earlier, the group was convicted of disrupting national security and spreading anti-government propaganda in relation to the practice of their faith, the source included. Iran’s judgment Shiite clerics consider the nation’s estimated 300,000 Baha’is to be heretics without any faith and routinely detain them for practicing their faith, charging them with national security offenses without disclosing evidence. A lot of are charged with “propagation” of the Baha’i faith, which Iranian authorities think about to be a kind of anti-government propaganda.
VOA’s source stated numerous of the Baha’is who got the prison summons and 2 attorneys representing the group had actually attracted Iranian authorities to either postpone the summons or to allow those who had been summoned to serve their sentences at home with electronic tracking of their movements. The appeals were made to spare the eight Baha’is the risk of contracting the coronavirus at the Birjand prison. Since Tuesday, the source stated the appeals were rejected, implying the 8 Baha’is should voluntarily report to prison by October 10 or face arrest unless authorities relent. There was no reference of the Baha’i cases in Iranian state media.
Conditions exacerbated by COVID-19
Iran has suffered the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East. In a statement released Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Being Rights Michelle Bachelet said the Iranian prison system’s persistent overcrowding and poor hygienic conditions have actually intensified during the pandemic.
Scarcities of water, health items and disinfectant, insufficient protective devices and testing packages as well as a lack of isolation areas and inadequate medical care have actually caused the spread of the infection among detainees, reportedly leading to a variety of deaths, Bachelet composed.”I call for (Iran’s) unconditional release of human rights protectors, lawyers, political detainees, tranquil protesters and all other individuals denied of their liberty for revealing their views or otherwise exercising their rights,” Bachelet stated. “It is particularly important to correct such injustices at a time when COVID-19 is rushing through Iran’s prisons.”
In a Monday tweet, the Baha’i International Community’s Geneva-based representative to the U.N., Diane Alai, stated the 8 Baha’is should not be put behind bars.”First of all, due to the fact that they are innocent and second of all because of the terrible COVID-19 circumstance in Iran,” she wrote. Raids on Baha’i holiday
The 9 defendants belonged to a wider group of 18 Baha’is whose homes in Birjand were robbed and whose belongings were seized by Iranian security representatives in October 2017. The raids accompanied a religious vacation observed by Baha’is worldwide. VOA’s source stated the other nine Baha’is whose houses were robbed were apprehended for a month, released on bail, and later sentenced to prison terms of a number of years. The five males and four women, Sheida Abedi, Bijan Ahmadi, Firouz Ahmadi, Khalil Malaki, Sohrab Malaki, Saghar Mohammadi, Simin Mohammadi, Maryam Mokhtari and Bahman Salehi, are serving their sentences at Birjand jail, the source included. In a May instructionwith reporters, U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Liberty Sam Brownback stated he was “particularly” concerned by Iran’s treatment of its Baha’i prisoners. This post came from VOA’s Persian Service. Click herefor the original Persian variation of the story.