Author Topic: Baha'is are incarcerated for 20 years in Iran simply because they are Baha'is  (Read 2711 times)

Offline misfitguy

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I found it difficult to decide where I should post this article.  My first thought was in the Religion forum and then I thought maybe in the World News section.  I finally decided to put it here in the politics section, since this is about the politics of Iran.  For those not aware of the Baha'i's plight in Iran, the government a few years back made it illegal to meet as a Spiritual Assembly.  They had arrested the National Spiritual Assembly, (9 members) for just being a Baha'i and when a new National Spiritual Assembly was formed, they arrested these members as well.  This "Ad-Hoc" committee was formed to continue to administer the Baha'i Faith in Iran. Last year, they too were arrested.  Read the article and it just may make you shudder.

Mick

Baha'i News: Shock at "duplicity" as 20-year sentence for Iran's Baha'i leaders is reinstated
From Baha’i World News Service
Date Wed, 30 Mar 2011 17:54:20 +0200

Baha'i World News Service
http://news.bahai.org
For more information, contact news@bahai.org


Shock at "duplicity" as 20-year sentence for Iran's Baha'i leaders is
reinstated



NEW YORK, 30 March 2011 (BWNS) – Just six months after Iran's appeal court
reduced to 10 years the jail terms handed down to seven Baha'i leaders, the
prisoners have been told that their original 20-year sentences have been
reinstated.

The Baha'i International Community has reacted with shock and dismay at the
news.

"We can confirm that the seven have been told by prison authorities that the
ruling of the appeal court has been rescinded," said Bani Dugal, the principal
representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

"But nothing has been seen in writing by the prisoners or their attorneys, so
we cannot know precisely on what grounds the reduced jail terms have now been
set aside.

"It seems, however, that there was a challenge by the Prosecutor General who
can appeal any court judgement he believes contradicts Shariah law," said Ms.
Dugal.

Only last month, the international community was told that the 10-year prison
terms were confirmed when the Iranian Embassy in Brussels presented a document
to a European Parliament briefing, in which it is clearly stated that the court
initially issued 20 year sentences for "espionage, acting against National
Security and forming an illegal cult".  However, the document then went on to
say that the verdict was later reviewed and "decreased to 10 years'
imprisonment".

Notwithstanding repeated requests, no one has ever received an official copy of
the original verdict or the ruling on appeal, said Ms. Dugal.

"This has all the appearance of a ploy, calculated to enable the authorities to
manipulate the outcome to suit their own ends. Any fair minded observer can see
the duplicity, crass cynicism and vile motives of the Iranian authorities in
their prosecution of this case.

"From the initial, illegal, 30-month detention of the seven – through the gross
irregularities of their trial – to the judiciary's refusal to issue any
official verdict to the defendants or their lawyers, the actions of the
authorities have demonstrated at every turn that the decision to impose harsh
sentences was predetermined," said Ms. Dugal.


"Loyal, law-abiding citizens"

The seven, who were all members of a national-level ad hoc group that attended
to the needs of Iran's Baha'i community, were incarcerated in Gohardasht prison
– about 50 kilometers west of Tehran – in August last year, following a brief
trial after which they were each sentenced to 20 years in jail.

One month later, the appeal court revoked three charges that accused the seven
of engaging in acts of espionage, collaboration with the State of Israel, and
the provision of classified documents to foreign nationals with the intention
of undermining state security.

"At the same time, the judiciary – determined to find the Baha'is guilty of
something – said that their service to the Baha'i community was basically
illegal and fixed their sentences at 10 years," said Ms. Dugal.

The refusal of the authorities to provide prison officials with the necessary
documentation regarding the case has also precluded the prisoners from securing
temporary leave on compassionate grounds or to obtain much needed medical
attention and care, she added.

"The judiciary sanctimoniously claims to be serving the cause of justice while
persistently trampling upon the rights of loyal, law-abiding citizens," she
said.


International condemnation

The imprisonment of the Baha'i leaders has provoked a worldwide chorus of
condemnation from governments – including Australia, Canada, France, Germany,
Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the
United States.

The European Union and the President of the European Parliament have also
joined the protest, along with numerous human rights organizations and other
groups, religious leaders, and countless individuals.

"It seems that the wide-ranging international pressure did impel the Iranian
judiciary to reduce the original prison sentences," said Ms. Dugal. "Now,
however, they must have concluded that they can simply return to the original
plan.

"But voices raised during this last month alone should tell them otherwise,"
she noted.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council voted to appoint a special investigator
to monitor Iran's compliance with international human rights standards.

The resolution followed the release of a report by UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon, expressing concern about reports of the persecution of minorities in
Iran, which specifically highlighted the case of its Baha'i community and the
imprisonment of the seven Baha'i leaders.

In his message of 20 March 2011 for the traditional Persian New Year, U.S.
President Barack Obama highlighted human rights abuses in Iran saying, "The
world has watched these unjust actions with alarm...We have seen...the Bahai
community and Sufi Muslims punished for their faith..."

Members of all political parties in the Netherlands parliament's Standing
Committee on Foreign Affairs addressed a letter on 17 March to the Iranian
Parliament, expressing "deep concern about reports on violations of the right
to freedom of religion or belief" in Iran and calling for the immediate release
of the seven imprisoned Baha'i leaders. Three days earlier, in India, more than
90 prominent citizens renewed their call in an open letter for the release of
the seven.

"The persecution of Baha'is has been particularly pronounced," said an article
in the Wall Street Journal on 15 March, penned by Iranian-American journalist
Roxana Saberi who shared a cell in Evin Prison with the two women Baha'i
leaders. "After Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, many Baha'is were executed and
several disappeared. Some have seen their cemeteries desecrated or had their
homes burned to the ground."

Bani Dugal reiterated the fact that the treatment of the seven is taking place
against a backdrop of state-sanctioned incitement to hatred against Baha'is.

"Arson attacks on their places of business, attempts to force them out of their
homes, along with a litany of other violations of their rights, have become all
too familiar and continue to grow daily. Some 79 Bahais are today in prison in
Iran." 

"The Iranian government must know that its actions towards the Baha'is – and
all others who suffer oppression at its hands – have only served to sully its
reputation further.

"We will not cease in our call to governments, organizations and fair-minded
people everywhere, to take whatever steps they can to register the strongest
possible protest against Iran's actions," said Ms. Dugal.



To read the article online and view photographs, go to:
http://news.bahai.org/story/814
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