Baha’i Leaders in Evin Prison Sentenced to 20 Years

The seven Bahai leaders in Iran

The seven Baha’i leaders who have been in Evin Prison for more than two years were sentenced this weekend to 20 years in jail for a series of false charges based on their religious affiliation.

The two women and five men have been in Evin prison since 2008 with sparse court appearances and continued and rejections to see their attorneys.

“If this news proves to be accurate, it represents a deeply shocking outcome to the case of these innocent and harmless people,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“We understand that they have been informed of this sentence and that their lawyers are in the process of launching an appeal,” said Ms. Dugal.

There are over 300,000 practicing Baha’is living in Iran, who have faced jail time, the desecration of cemeteries and the destruction of entire villages in recent years.

The defendants were accused of espionage, spies for Israel, conspiracy against the Islamic Republic of Iran and the establishment of an illegal administration.

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My interview with Baha’i International Lawyer and Author Sovaida Maani Ewing on the Persecution of Baha’is

My story on the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran has made it way to the “Watchdog” page on Radio Free Europe’s Web site. The U.S. Baha’i Web site also picked it up.

I had a great time interviewing Sovaida last week and we spoke for about an hour on human rights issues and the U.S.’s role in advocating those rights. If you are unfamiliar of the religious persecution that’s been going on for decades in the country, this article might open your eyes. Many people think the persecution began this summer or is limited to political dissidents. However, Baha’is are forbidden to be involved in politics and are not affiliated with the “green movement.” Have a look!