Imprisoned Baha’is Refused Early Release Unless They Repent
Three imprisoned Baha’is have been refused early release and furlough to visit their small children unless they recant their faith and pledge not to teach at the Baha’i university, a relative told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Afagh Khosravi-Zand, whose two sons and a daughter-in-law have been jailed for teaching at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education, said, “I have written to authorities many times but I have received no reply. Kamran [Rahimian] and Faran [Hessami] have a five-year-old son and Kayvan [Rahimian] has a 14-year-old daughter and, unfortunately, he also lost his wife to cancer before he was arrested. These kids are living with me now. But I cannot do enough for a girl who’s going through puberty and a small child.”
Under Iranian law, if a prisoner has served a third of his sentence and maintained good behavior, he can be conditionally released, Khosravi-Zand noted. “But it has been ten months since Kamran and Faran submitted their request for a conditional release and every time we followed up they said it is being reviewed. I guess these reviews go on until their term ends. But the officials have said they would be released as soon as they repent and promise not to teach. And [my sons and daughter-in-law] have replied that as long as you don’t allow Baha’is to study in national universities, we have no choice but to educate them ourselves. We don’t want them to be illiterate.”
Baha’is are one of the most persecuted religious minorities in Iran and are routinely denied admission to higher education in the country.
Khosravi-Zand said the three have not been given furlough since their imprisonment and none of the officials had given a reason why. Faran Hessami, Kamran Rahimian and Kayvan Rahimian were professors at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education, an online university, when they were arrested on September 13, 2012. Judge Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court found them guilty of “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security” for teaching at the Baha’i university and sentenced Kamaran and Faran to four years and Kayvan to five years in prison.
“Every Tuesday I take the five-year-old boy to see his father in Rajaee Shahr Prison and his mother in Evin Prison on Wednesdays. Also Kayvan’s 14-year-old daughter, Gina, goes to see her father in Rajaee Shahr every week,” she said.
Khosravi-Zand added that the three were not being represented by a lawyer of their choice, because upon hearing the name of the lawyer they had hired, the Judge threatened a stiffer sentence if they were represented by him.