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Old 08-08-2010, 12:38 PM   #1
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Reports that Baha'is sentenced for 20 years

Reports say Iran's seven Baha'i leaders "sentenced"


NEW YORK, 8 August (BWNS) - The Baha'i International Community has received reports indicating that seven Iranian Baha'i leaders have each received jail sentences of 20 years.

The two women and five men have been held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison since they were arrested in 2008 - six of them on 14 May and one of them two months earlier.

"If this news proves to be accurate, it represents a deeply shocking outcome to the case of these innocent and harmless people," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

"We understand that they have been informed of this sentence and that their lawyers are in the process of launching an appeal," said Ms. Dugal.

The prisoners - Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm - were all members of a national-level group that helped see to the minimum needs of Iran's 300,000-strong Baha'i community, the country's largest non-Muslim religious minority.

The trial of the seven consisted of six brief court appearances which began on 12 January this year after they had been incarcerated without charge for 20 months, during which time they were allowed barely one hour's access to their legal counsel. The trial ended on 14 June.

The defendants were accused of espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, and the establishment of an illegal administration, among other allegations. All the charges are completely and categorically denied.

To read this article online and view the photograph, go to:
Reports say Iran's Baha'i leaders "sentenced"

For the Baha'i World News Service home page, go to:
Bahá'í World News Service - Bahá'í International Community
 
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:57 AM   #2
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International outcry...

International outcry at prison sentences for Iranian Baha'i leaders


GENEVA, 11 August (BWNS) – Reports that seven Iranian Baha'i leaders have each received prison sentences of 20 years have been met with condemnation from governments and human rights organizations around the world.

Australia, Canada, France, Germany – and the President of the European Parliament – have all expressed strong statements of concern.

They are calling for the prisoners to be released on bail, for an annulment of the judgment, and for Iran to demonstrate that the trial was fair and in accordance with international standards.

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lawrence Cannon, said that his country was "deeply disturbed" by the sentences that were "passed without either written judgments or due process." He urged Iran to grant bail to the prisoners.

Germany described the outcome of the trial as a "massive setback for all those who engage themselves for the promotion of human dignity and human rights in Iran."

Markus Loning, commissioner for human rights and humanitarian aid at Germany's Foreign Office, said Iran must annul the judgment and "provide a fair and transparent court procedure."

"There are major doubts as to the compliance with the basic legal rights during the judicial proceedings," he said.

France expressed its "consternation" at the 20-year jail term.

At a press briefing, Christine Fages, a French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, stated that Iranian authorities should stop persecuting Baha'is and other religious minorities and "respect the freedom of religion and conscience as defined by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran has freely signed up."

Australia has also shared its deep concern at the sentences. "We continue to call on Iran to ensure that all trials are fair and transparent and are conducted in accordance with Iran's international obligations," said a spokesman for the Australian government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In a statement issued today, the President of the European Parliament – Jerzy Buzek – called the sentences "a shocking signal and an immense disappointment for all who have hoped for an improvement of the human rights situation in Iran."

"Iran has committed itself to international standards and I underline that this includes also the respect and protection of religious freedom," he said.

International human rights organizations have additionally joined the chorus of protest against the reported prison sentences.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said the sentencing of the Baha'i leaders was "politically motivated, discriminatory, unjust, and illegal under Iranian and international law."

"They have been sentenced for being Baha'is, nothing else, and their incarceration thus expresses a policy of oppression of the Baha'i Faith and its members," said Aaron Rhodes, spokesperson for the Campaign.

Amnesty International described the Baha'i leaders as "prisoners of conscience jailed solely on account of their beliefs or peaceful activities on behalf of the persecuted Baha'i minority."

"The seven were held for months without charge before being subjected to a parody of a trial. They must be immediately released," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa deputy director.

In a statement, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) asked for the Iranian government to "act in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as international human rights instruments ratified by the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Human Rights Watch demanded the Iranian judiciary to release the seven immediately "given that no evidence appears to have ever been presented against them, and they have not been given a fair and public trial."

"For more than two years now the Iranian authorities have utterly failed to provide the slightest shred of evidence indicating any basis for detaining these seven Baha'i leaders, let alone sentencing them to 20 years in prison," said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East division at Human Rights Watch.

Iran should take concrete steps that show it is committed to protecting the fundamental rights of Baha'is, said Mr. Stork

"The immediate and unconditional release of the seven Baha'i leaders would be a good start," he said.

Diane Ala'i, Baha'i representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said the Baha'i International Community deeply appreciates the committed support offered so far by governments and human rights organizations.

"These statements demonstrate that increasing numbers of people of all races and religions throughout the world want to see justice done in Iran – not just for the Baha'is but all of its citizens who face gross human rights violations," said Ms. Ala'i.

"For how much longer will the Iranian authorities remain oblivious to these upraised voices?" she said.



To read the article online and view pictures, go to:
International outcry at prison sentences for Iranian Baha'i leaders
 
Old 08-15-2010, 04:52 PM   #3
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This is a fairly long post but it has some interesting historical references...


Harsh sentences are a judgment against an entire religious community


NEW YORK, 15 August (BWNS) –

The harsh prison sentences handed down to seven Iranian Baha'i leaders who are absolutely innocent of any wrongdoing is a judgment against an entire religious community, the Baha'i International Community said today.

Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, whose Defenders of Human Rights Center represented the Baha'i defendants, said she was "stunned" by the reported 20-year jail terms.

"I have read their case file page by page and did not find anything proving the accusations, nor did I find any document that could prove the claims of the prosecutor," said Mrs. Ebadi in a television interview, broadcast on 8 August by the Persian-language service of the BBC.

The flagrantly unjust sentence has provoked vehement protest from governments throughout the world – including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S.A. The European Union and the President of the European Parliament have also joined the chorus of condemnation, along with numerous human rights organizations – including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and FIDH – as well as other groups, and countless individuals.

"The trumped-up charges, and the total lack of any credible evidence against these seven prisoners, reflects the false accusations and misinformation that Iran's regime has used to vilify and defame a peaceful, religious community for an entire generation," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

Ms. Dugal noted that the seven have reportedly been transferred to Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, a facility about 20 kilometers west of Tehran. "The reason for the move is not yet known and it is too early to assess the implications for the prisoners," she said. "It does, however, clearly impose an added burden to their families, who now have to travel outside Tehran to visit their loved ones."

The seven - Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm - were all members of a national-level group that, with the government's knowledge, helped see to the minimum spiritual needs of Iran's Baha'i community.

"That these manifestly innocent people should each be jailed for 20 years after a sham trial is utterly reprehensible," said Ms. Dugal. "We ask the Iranian government: Does such a callous disregard for justice contribute to the advancement of Iranian society? Or does it, rather, further diminish your credibility among your own people and among the nations of the world?"

Ms. Dugal said the Baha'i International Community condemns the widespread injustice perpetrated by the Iranian authorities against others throughout Iran, whether religious minorities, journalists, academics, civil society activists, women's rights defenders, or others.


A catalogue of abuses

Even before the sentences were pronounced, the arrest, detention and trial of the seven leaders was a two-year long catalogue of abuses and illegal actions, both under international law and Iranian statutes.

"Iranian law requires that detainees be quickly and formally charged with crimes. The seven Baha'is were held at least nine months before any word of the charges against them were uttered by officials, and even then it was at a press conference, not in a court setting," said Ms. Dugal.

"For a long time, the seven were also denied access to lawyers. When they were allowed contact, it lasted barely an hour before their so-called trial began," she said.

"Detainees who have been charged also have the right to seek bail and to be released pending trial. The seven have continually been denied bail, despite numerous requests."

"These are black and white concerns, not subject to interpretation," she said.


Systematic persecution

Since 1979, Iran's 300,000-strong Baha'i community has endured a government-sponsored, systematic campaign of religious persecution. In its early stages, more than 200 Baha'is were killed and at least 1,000 were imprisoned, solely because of their religious beliefs.

In the early 1990s, the government shifted its focus to social, economic and cultural restrictions aimed at slowly suffocating the community and its development. Measures included depriving Baha'is of their livelihood, destroying their cultural heritage, and barring their young people from higher education.

Since 2005, there has been a resurgence of more extreme forms of persecution, with increasing arrests, harassment, violence, and arson attacks on Baha'i homes and businesses.

This systematic campaign of attacks has included:

- the creation and circulation of lists of Baha'is with instructions that the activities of the members of the community be secretly monitored;
- dawn raids on Baha'i homes and the confiscation of personal property;
- summary arrest and interrogation of Baha'is throughout the nation;
- daily incitement to hatred of the Baha'is in all forms of government-sponsored mass media;
- the holding of anti-Baha'i symposia and seminars organized by clerics followed by
orchestrated attacks on Baha'i homes and properties in the cities and towns where such events are held;
- destruction of Baha'i cemeteries across the country;
- demolition of Baha'i Holy Places and Shrines;
- acts of arson against Baha'i homes and properties;
- denying Baha'is access to higher education;
- vilification of Baha'i children in their classrooms by their teachers;
- the designation of numerous occupations and businesses from which Baha'is are debarred;
- refusal to extend bank loans to Baha'is;
- the sealing of Baha'i shops;
- refusal to issue or renew business licenses to Baha'is;
- harassment of landlords of Baha'i business tenants to force their eviction.

Specific examples of persecution in recent weeks include:

- homes belonging to some 50 Baha'i families in the remote northern village of Ivel being demolished as part of a long-running campaign to expel them from the region;
- the intelligence service that has an office in every university and governmental organization in Iran instructing university officials at Shaheed Beheshti University not to have any business dealings with companies owned by Baha'is;
- two Baha'i-owned optical shops in Tehran receiving warning letters from the Opticians' Trade Union to close down, after similar shops in Khomein and Rafsanjan were forced to close;
- an anti-Baha'i tract, titled Supporters of Satan, being widely distributed in the city of Kerman. The tract purveys misrepresentations of Baha'i history, including falsely asserting that the Baha'i Faith was a creation of the British;
- truckloads of construction refuse and soil being dumped on graves in the Baha'i cemetery of Boroujerd. Buildings in the Baha'i cemetery in Mashhad - including the place where the prayers were recited - were severely damaged by heavy machinery

Currently, including the seven leaders, some 50 Iranian Baha'is are in prison, some of them incarcerated for months at a time in solitary confinement cells, designed only for temporary detention.

"The pattern is clear: the Iranian government is systematically persecuting Baha'is for no reason other than their religious beliefs," said Ms. Dugal.

"The government knows that the Baha'i teachings advocate non-violence and non-involvement in politics. Yet this campaign is rigorously pursued with one aim in sight –
the eradication of the Baha'i community as a viable entity in Iran," she said.

"In this light, the imprisonment of the seven must be seen as an attempt to decapitate a community's leadership, and strike a devastating blow to Iran's largest non-Muslim religious minority."


To read the article online and view photographs, go to:
Harsh sentences are a judgment against an entire religious community

For the Baha'i World News Service home page, go to:
Bahá'í World News Service - Bahá'í International Community

For a special report including articles and background information about the seven Iranian Baha'i leaders, go to:
Trial of Iran?s seven Baha?i leaders - Bahá'í World News Service.
 
Old 09-28-2010, 03:26 AM   #4
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Remover of Difficulties

This is all I can do to help - I say a remover of Difficulties for each one of the seven persons each morning, if enough of us do this then...?

Regards Tony
 
Old 09-28-2010, 04:13 AM   #5
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Every chance I get, I try to say things that will help the Baha'i in Iran, and in other Muslim countries, to have more friends and sympathizers, and fewer enemies. May God bless and help them.
 
Old 10-02-2010, 08:22 PM   #6
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Baha'i aide to Shirin Ebadi sentenced to 2 years in jail

Iran sentences Baha'i aide to Nobel laureate to 2 years in jail
By the CNN Wire staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Jinous Sobhani worked as a secretary to Shirin Ebadi's human rights center
She was arrested with other Baha'is after anti-government protests
Baha'i representatives say the accusations are false
RELATED TOPICS
Iran
Shirin Ebadi
Nobel Peace Prize
Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- A Baha'i assistant of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has been sentenced to two years in prison in Iran, the semi-official Mashregh news website said Saturday.

Jinous Sobhani was arrested in early January with her husband and eight other members of the Baha'i faith after anti-government protests on the Muslim holy day of Ashura.

The Baha'is were blamed for the protests, said Diane Ala'i, representative to the United Nations for the Baha'i International Community.

"They had nothing to do with the demonstrations," Ala'i said. "The accusations are completely false."

They have been jailed in Tehran's Evin prison. Ala'i said Leva Khanjani has also been sentenced to two years behind bars. It was not clear whether the other Baha'is arrested after the Ashura protests have been sentenced.

Sobhani, the former secretary for Ebadi's banned Defenders of Human Rights Center, was also arrested in 2009 and detained for 55 days in jail.

Mashregh news said Ebadi's center was established to defend the Baha'is and accused Ebadi and her colleagues of being on French and German payrolls.

Iranian authorities view followers of the the Baha'i faith, the largest minority religion in Iran, as "heretics" who may face repression on the grounds of apostasy.

Baha'is may not establish places of worship, schools, or any independent religious associations in Iran. In addition, Baha'is are barred from the military and denied government jobs, according to a report by the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Iran, however, denies mistreatment of Baha'is and says followers of the faith are free to live in Iran. But it says activities against the Islamic state are illegal and the government thus views the seven Baha'is as criminals.

Seven national Baha'i leaders are currently serving 10-year sentences.

The two women and five men were arrested in 2008 and accused of espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order and the establishment of an illegal administration, among other allegations, according to the Baha'i International Community.

The group denies all charges and says they were trumped up in an effort to stifle the Baha'i religion. In the absence of official recognition of their faith, the seven national leaders helped meet spiritual needs of Iran's 300,000-strong Baha'i community.

CNN's Moni Basu and Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.








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Iran sentences Baha'i aide to Nobel laureate to 2 years in jail - CNN.com
 
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