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Iran Baha'i Educators Sentences, April 1999
WASHINGTON, April 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Four faculty members of the Baha'i
Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), who have been in detention in Isfahan
since their arrest last fall, have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from
three to ten years.
The Islamic Revolutionary Court in Isfahan cited the
Baha'is' involvement in a program of Baha'i Studies as evidence of crimes
against national security. On March 16, Dr. Sina Hakiman was sentenced to ten
years in prison, Messrs.
Farzad Khajeh Sharifabadi and Habibullah Ferdosian
Najafabadi to seven years, and Mr. Ziaullah Mirzapanah to three years.
They had been arrested in September and October 1998 as part of the Iranian
Government's crackdown on the Baha'i Institute of Higher Education.
Iranian government officials raided more than 530 Baha'i homes, confiscated
computers and classroom equipment, and arrested at least 36 teachers and
administrators of the Institute.
All of them had been released, with the
exception of the four who have now been sentenced. The four Baha'is were
convicted for teaching religious classes to other Bahai'is in another
organization called the Institute for Higher Baha'is Studies.
The court cited
Chapter One, Article 498 of the Islamic Penal Code which provides for prison
terms for anyone organizing an association or group with the aim of disturbing
the internal or external security ofthe country. However, the law makes no
mention of religious instruction within one's own religious community as an
"This is a clear attempt on the part of the authorities to use the penal code
to punish the Baha'is for studying their own religion," said Mrs. Kit Cosby,
director of the U.S. Baha'i Office of External Affairs. "The charge of
disturbing the security of the country is false, and is another attempt by the
Iranian Government to justify its persecution of the Baha'icommunity."
The Iranian Baha'i community had established the Baha'i Institute of Higher
Education in 1987 to provide university-level instruction to Baha'i youth barred
from universities by the Government because of their religious beliefs. In late
1998 the Institute resumed its activities, although its functioning is still
hampered by the loss of equipment, especially computers, which it suffered
during the raids.
Since the Islamic regime took power more than 200 Baha'is have
been executed on account of their religion. With 300,000 adherents, Bahi'is are
Iran's largest religious minority. The Baha'i Faith is not recognized as a
legitimate religion in Iran and Baha'is have no constitutional rights.
Why Islamists Hate the Baha'i Too To quote Amil Imani, "It is imperative for the free people of the world to defend freedom of conscience, including freedom of religion, irrespective of one's own personal belief. It is for this reason that as a person who is not a Baha'i, I find it my solemn duty to speak up on behalf of a peaceful people, severely-persecuted by the savage Islamists." I agree with Amil 100%.
On Islamists: They Hanged Her for Teaching Love On 18th June 1983 ten women, one of whom was only 17 years old, were executed in Iran for teaching Baha'i children more about their Faith. They were among more than 200 individuals who were killed in Iran for being Baha'is.