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Continued persecution of Baha'is in Iran

Today [14 May 2013] marks the five-year anniversary of the arrest of seven prominent Baha'i leaders in Iran, who are serving prison sentences of 20 years each, the longest term of any current prisoners of conscience in Iran. Freedom House calls for the immediate release of Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm, and an end to the government-sponsored persecution of Baha'is in Iran.

While the judiciary convicted the seven leaders in August 2010 on trumped-up charges—including espionage, 'propaganda against the regime', 'collusion and collaboration for the purpose of endangering national security', and 'spreading corruption on earth'—experts on arbitrary detentions and minority groups, and investigators for human rights and religious freedom at the UN maintain that they are imprisoned solely for their work as members of an ad hoc leadership council for Baha'is in Iran.

The plight of these seven individuals is emblematic of Iran's ongoing and systematic harassment of Baha'is, who are the most persecuted religious group in the Islamic Republic, according to the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, Ahmad Shaheed. More than 115 Baha'is are currently in prison in Iran, and more than 400 are currently in pre-trial detention or awaiting sentencing.

The Baha'i faith was founded in 19th Century Persia and currently constitutes the largest non-Muslim religious minority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The group has been heavily persecuted as 'apostates of Islam' for over 150 years. Baha'is in Iran experienced the most severe persecution between 1978 and 1998, when more than 200 were executed, and the Iranian government has renewed it systematic persecution of Baha'is over the past few years.

What other IFEX members are saying
  • Five years too many

    There are over three hundred thousand Iranian citizens who believe in the Baha’i Faith, according to the statistics of the Baha’i community of Iran. However this significant number of Iranian citizens do not have permit for holding a place of worship, religious gatherings, nor do they have a representative in the Islamic Parliament.

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