[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]

 

[Adapted from website:] Radio Zamaneh

[Date:] 5 Mordad 1394 [27 July 2015]

 

34 Months of Prison Without a Day of Leave For Farhad Fahandej, The Prisoner of Conscience

[By:] Kian Sabeti

Dozens of anonymous prisoners of conscience are being held in various cities in Iran, but only a few of them are mentioned by international human rights organizations or the media. This report introduces an anonymous ideological prisoner named Farhad Fahandej.

For more than 30 months, every Tuesday night, six Baha’i families have traveled to Tehran by bus and private car to visit their spouse, father, son, or brother on the following day, Wednesday, and would return to their cities after meeting their detained [relatives] at Rajaei-Shahr Prison. Farhad Fahandej, Siamak Sadri, Payam Markazi, Foad Fahandej, Kamal Kashani and Farahmand Sanaie are the six Baha’is from Gorgan that have been banished to Rajaei-Shahr Prison in Karaj to serve their sentences*.

On 4 Ordibehesht 1392 [24 April 2013], these six Baha’i citizens, along with two other Baha’i citizens from Tehran and Gonbad-e Kavus, stood trial in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, presided over by Judge Moghiseh, on various charges such as “propaganda against the regime”, “forming and managing unlawful Baha’i administration”, and “membership in the unlawful Baha’i administration”. They were sentenced to 10 years and five years in prison under taz’ir law[1], which was upheld by the Court of Appeals.

However, Farhad Fahandej has been serving 34 months of his 10-year sentence in Rajaei-Shahr Prison without the right to leave, away from his family and the city of residence. He was also imprisoned in Golestan Province for five years in the 1360s, [1980s] when a large number of Iranian Baha’is were arrested and executed.

Farhad Fahandej, 56 years old, is small, with thin features. His four-member-family includes his wife, a 23-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son, who are residents of Gorgan and travel every Wednesday to Karaj, to visit their prisoner.

To find out more about this prisoner of conscience, we talked to one of his relatives.

This informed person, in response to a question from Radio Zamaneh about how Farhad Fahandej was arrested, said, “On 26 Mehr 1391 [17 October 2012], during an extensive and simultaneous operation, 17 Baha’is, of whom Farhad was one, and several Muslim citizens were arrested by agents of the Intelligence Office of Golestan Province. His first charge was teaching the Baha’i Faith, but later on, they added the charge of managing the Baha’i administration.

After a while, all the detainees were released except Farhad, Kamal Kashani and Farahmand Sanaie, who are still kept in detention. About a month later, these three, along with four other arrested Baha’is, were transferred from Gorgan and Gonbad-e Kavus to Ward 209 of the Evin Prison in Tehran.”

This person continued his/her conversation about Farhad Fahandej, saying, “Farhad was a student of computer engineering, who was expelled from the university after the Cultural Revolution. He continued his education at the online Baha’i university in Iran, and graduated in the field of psychology and educational sciences.”

Fahandej has been engaged in watchmaking: “Although he made a living by making watches, many Baha’is and Muslims in Gorgan knew of Farhad’s scientific expertise and turned to him for educational advice. He advised everyone for free, without talking about the Baha’i Faith or religious teachings. These counseling sessions were an excuse to arrest Farhad on 26 Mehr [October 17] on charges of propagating the Baha’i Faith, but later, as this charge was not proven, he was accused of managing the Baha’i administration in Gorgan, while the Baha’i institutions had been shut down several years earlier and [the Baha’i Faith] had no administration.”

Farhad Fahandej was transferred from Gorgan Prison to Ward 209 of Evin Prison after 35 days in temporary detention, where he had spent 20 days of it in solitary confinement and under continuous interrogation. After his arrest, he found out that another arrest warrant had been issued for him in connection with the case of Adel Naimi, a Baha’i prisoner in Tehran. He was subjected to the most severe interrogations in Ward 209 for 15 days, until he was transferred to Ward 350 of Evin Prison and after a few days he was transferred to Rajaei-Shahr Prison.

In Ordibehesht 1392 [April 2013], the trial of Farhad Fahandej, Adel Naimi, Payam Markazi, Farahmand Sanaie, Siamak Sadri, Kamal Kashani, Kourosh Ziari, Farhad Eghbali and Foad Fahandej was held in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, presided over by Judge Moghiseh. According to this informed person, the judge did not consider the defendants’ sentence worthy of a reduction and issued the highest sentence for them: “According to the court ruling, Farhad Fahandej and Adel Naimi were each sentenced to 10 years in prison under taz’ir law on charges of managing and forming the Baha’i administration, and the other defendants were sentenced to five years in prison under taz’ir law on charges of membership in a Baha’i administration.”

The person close to Fahandej’s family talked about Farhad Fahandej’s physical and mental condition: “Farhad’s spirit is very high and he is resigned to the Will of God. He adapts to the harsh prison conditions and spends most of his time studying. Perhaps his only concern, like his other comrades, is the family’s weekly night trips from Gorgan to Karaj.”

On the other hand, Farhad Fahandej’s wife, Mojdeh Zohouri, was tried in Gorgan in Esfand [February/March] of last year [2013] on charges of propaganda against the regime, and is awaiting her sentence. Farhad’s brother is also his fellow prisoner, with a five-year sentence.

According to this person close to Fahandej’s family, these cases could also be among Farhad’s other concern, “although he is a calm and reserved person and does not express his own concerns.”

* Farhad Eghbali is another Baha’i prisoner from Gorgan in Rajaei-Shahr Prison who has been sentenced to five years in prison. His sentence began in Shahivar [August/September] of last year [2012]. [See list at end]

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[1] [Ta‘zir (discretionary punishment):  Punishment with maximum and minimum limits determined by law and judge, respectively.]