Five Bahai women in Mashhad, northeastern Iran, were sentenced to a total of five years of prison by the Revolutionary Court.
On October 19 the 3rd Branch of the Mashhad Revolutionary Court sentenced Nika Pakzadan, Faraneh Daneshgari, Sanaz Eshaghi, Nekisa Hajipour, and Naghmeh Zabihian to one year of prison each for “spreading propaganda against the state by being Bahai”.
According to the Human Rights News Agency, the Bahai women were first detained in Mashhad on November 15, 2015 by security forces. On the same day, 11 other Bahai citizens were detained in Tehran and Isfahan, central Iran.
An informed source said that the case will be sent to a court of appeals.
Naghmeh Zabihiyan was also detained before this in the winter of 2011, along with other Bahai citizens, for holding a Handicraft gallery in the home of a Bahai citizen. She was sentenced to six months of prison for “spreading propaganda against the state”.
Bahai persecution in Iran
Iranian Bahais are deprived of freedom of religion as stated in Article 18 of the Core International Human Rights Treaties.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”
Unofficial sources say that there are more than 300,000 people following the Bahai Faith in Iran. However, the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism and does not recognize Bahaism.
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Iranian Bahais have been systematically persecuted as a matter of government policy. During the first decade of this persecution, more than 200 of Iran’s Bahais were killed or executed. Hundreds more were tortured or imprisoned, and tens of thousands lost jobs, access to education, and other rights – all solely because of their religious belief.
The persecution of Iran’s Bahais is still ongoing with dozens of Bahais languishing in prisons throughout Iran.