Iran-HRM – Four Iranian Baha’i women in northeastern Iran were taken to prison to serve their sentences for following the banned faith.
Nika Pakzadan, Sanaz Eshaghi, Nakisa Hajipour and Naghmeh Zabihian along with another Baha’i woman, Farzaneh Daneshgari were summoned on March 27 to serve their prison terms in Mashhad, northeastern Iran. They were told to present themselves within 10 days to serve their sentences.
The five Iranian Baha’i women were each sentenced to one year in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad, In October 2020. The sentence was later upheld by the Court of Appeals of Khorasan Razavi Province.
They were previously arrested on November 15, 2015 in Mashhad as well.
Before this in the winter of 2011, Naghmeh Zabihiyan was detained along with other Bahai citizens, for holding a handiwork gallery in the home of a Bahai citizen. She was sentenced to six months of prison for “spreading propaganda against the state”.
Two other Baha’i women identified as Maral Rasti and Mahnaz Jan Nesar were recently transferred to Bandar Abbas Prison in southern Iran to serve their two-year prison terms.
The Revolutionary Court of Bandar Abbas had previously sentenced the two Baha’i women to 2 years in prison, each, on the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security.”
They had been initially arrested in spring 2017 along with six other Baha’i citizens, but were later released temporarily on bail.
In addition to their prison sentences, they were each banned from membership in political or social groups for two years and participation in Bahai gatherings. They were also sentenced to forced participation in five sessions of “ethnic” classes.
In late February eight other Baha’i citizens were summoned to begin prison terms after being convicted of security crimes for peaceful activities, including alleged communication with Western media and organizing educational programs for Baha’i children. They were identified as Omid Afaghi, Adib Haghpajooh, Mahnaz Jannesar, Arash Rasekhi. Bottom from left: Maral Rasti, Mehrallah Afshar, Nasim Ghanavatian and Farhad Ameri.
The Iranian regime does not recognize the Baha’i community, with more than 300,000 members in the country. Instead, for four decades, the clerical regime has routinely harassed, prosecuted, and imprisoned Baha’is solely for practicing their faith.
In past years, scores of followers have been detained and harassed by Iranian authorities.
The regime severely restricts Baha’is right to education, including prohibiting Baha’i students from registering at universities and expelling them if their identities are discovered.