IRAN – BAHA’I – ARRESTWashington 28 May (IranVNC)—Five more Baha’is in Iran have been arrested and taken to prison less than two weeks after the leaders of the country’s largest non-Muslim religious community were detained in Tehran’s Evin prison.“We have just learned ourselves that the three men in the Esfahan area were arrested and jailed on May 24 in connection with the burial of a Baha'i in the local Baha'i cemetery,” a representative of the Baha’is of the U.S. told IranVNC today. “They were summoned to a local court in Villashahr, handcuffed and then transferred to prison in Esfahan. We have no further information,” she said.
The arrest of the three men, Hooshmand Talebi, Mehran Zini, and Farhad Ferdowsiyan, was first reported yesterday by the Iran-based rights organization Human Rights Activities in Iran. The same organization also reported that three other Baha’is in Iran’s northern Mazandaran Province had been arrested in recent days. Asked about the report, the representative explained: “We have learned that two Baha’is (not three) from Ghaemshahr, Mazandaran province, were taken into custody on May 19, 2008 to commence serving their prison sentences, following the rejection of their appeals last year.”The Iranian government has not made any comments about the new arrests, which come after the detention of six out of the seven leaders of the country’s Baha’i community earlier this month on charges of “acting against the country’s interests.”The international Baha’i community has rejected the charge and has expressed concern over the lack of information available about the individuals. “What is clear is that none of their fundamental rights are being upheld. They have had no access to family members or counsel. We don’t even know if they have been before a judge or whether they have been formally charged,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, according to the Baha’i World News Service.
“All we know is what a government spokesperson said last week, which is that they were arrested for ‘security reasons,’ a charge that is utterly baseless,” she said.But yesterday, in response to a question about the six detained individuals, Judiciary Spokesperson Ali-Reza Jamshidi said they had been charged with participating in “illegal gatherings.”“The six people have been given a two-year suspended prison sentence for the crime of acting against national security by participating in illegal gatherings,” Fars News Agency quoted him as saying in a news conference.
Sources: IranVNC Washington correspondent, Human Rights Activities in Iran, Fars News