[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]

[Personal information has been redacted.]


[Adapted from website:] Baha’i World News Service

[Date:] 20 Tir 1388 (11 July 2009)


Request for the release of seven Baha’is detained in Iran

International reactions (Source: HRANA)

The United States Commission on [International] Religious Freedom has issued a statement denying the charges and calling for the release of seven Baha’is held in Iranian prisons.

In a statement, the Commission called on the Iranian government to drop the trial of the seven individuals on charges of spying for Israel and religious apostasy, and to prepare for their release.

The statement was in response to a letter written to the Commission by Roxana Saberi, an Iranian American journalist. Ms. Saberi was convicted of espionage in favour of the United States and her sentence was later suspended in an appeals court. She spent nearly four months in prison, during which time she was in the same prison cell with two of the seven Baha’i leaders.

In her letter to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Ms. Saberi reminded it that mediation in the issue of Baha’is in prison would show Iranian officials that “the human rights of the Iranian people are an issue of international concern.”

Roxana Saberi, who was in the same cell with Mrs. Mahvash Sabet and Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi during her detention, continued in her letter that, according to the Baha’i International Community, these two individuals, along with five men, who are [all] leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran, will be tried on Saturday, 20 Tir [11 July], while they do not have access to any of their lawyers, and one of their lawyers, Abdol-Fattah Soltani, has even been arrested in the recent wave of arrests.

In her letter, Ms. Saberi noted that the seven, and at least 20 other Baha’is in Iranian prisons, had been imprisoned solely for their beliefs and peaceful activities, and that the reason for their detention had nothing to do with “Iran’s national security”, as claimed by Iranian officials.

A statement from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom quoted Leonard Leo, chairman of the Commission, as saying, “Iran’s election last month exposed some of the world’s bitter realities, including, among other things, how the Iranian government treats the opposition, or those who [hold], according to them, views that threaten the theocratic regime.”

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is a federal body whose members are [appointed] by the president and party leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives. The main task of this institution is to present cases of violations of religious freedoms at the international level to the president, the State Department and the U.S. Congress.