Source: Baha'i World News Service
As seven Baha'i leaders in Iran enter their third year of imprisonment, new details about the harsh conditions of their incarceration have emerged, prompting renewed calls for their immediate release.
The prisoners are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm.
"These innocent Baha'is have now been locked up for two full years in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, under conditions which clearly violate international standards," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations. "We call on the Iranian authorities to release them now, and ask the international community to join us in this plea. The dictates of justice demand no less."
The prisoners, former members of an informal group known as the Yaran, or "Friends," used to attend to the spiritual and social needs of the several hundred thousand Baha'is of Iran. They have been held in Evin prison since they were arrested in 2008 – six of them on 14 May and one of them two months earlier.
No court hearing was held until 12 January this year when they appeared in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court. Charges including espionage, propaganda activities and "corruption on earth" were all denied. Further appearances took place on 7 February and 12 April.
"In the three trial sessions that have so far taken place, no evidence has been provided whatsoever of wrongdoing – making it all the more obvious that the prisoners are being held only because of their religious belief," said Ms. Dugal.