Monday, September 20, 2010

Standards of Justice Demand More Than Just a Reduced Sentence!

According to recent reports, the prison sentence of the seven Iranian Baha'i leaders has been reduced from 20 years to 10 years. Even though this development appears to show an element of good will, the fact of their innocence must never be ignored and nothing short of their immediate and unconditional release would satisfy the accepted standards of justice. Posted below is a reprint of the article published recently in the Baha'i World News Service reporting on this decision--a decision that must not mitigate the need to go beyond the mere reduction of an unjust sentence. The judiciary must fulfill its responsibilities toward the Iranian public and do justice by releasing these innocent seven.

Prison sentences for Iran's Baha'i leaders reportedly reduced to 10 years

16 September 2010

— The 20-year prison sentences received by Iran's seven Baha'i leaders have reportedly been reduced.

The Baha'i International Community has learned that the lawyers representing the seven were informed orally yesterday that the 20-year jail terms have now been changed to 10 years.

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 Iranian government's knowledge, helped see to the minimum spiritual needs of Iran's 300,000-strong Baha'i community.

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. They were allowed barely one hour's access to their legal counsel during that time. The trial ended on 14 June.

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

The seven were moved from Evin Prison after receiving their sentence to Gohardasht prison in Karaj.

Reports of the 20-year sentence provoked a chorus of condemnation from governments around the world - including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S.A. The European Union and the President of the European Parliament also joined the protest, along with numerous human rights organizations, other groups and countless individuals.

Special Report - "The Trial of the Seven Baha'i Leaders"

The Baha'i World News Service has published a Special Report which includes articles and background information about the seven Iranian Baha'i leaders - their lives, their imprisonment, trial and sentencing - and the allegations made against them. It also offers further resources about the persecution of Iran's Baha'i community.

The Special Report can be read here.