Seven Iranian Bahai women ordered to serve prison terms for following their banned faith

Seven Bahai women in northeastern Iran were ordered to serve their prison terms for following the banned Baha’i faith.  Five of the  women who had been arrested in the northeastern Iranian city of Mash’had, on November 15, 2015, were summoned by the Islamic Revolutionary Court to present themselves, within 10 days to serve out their prison terms. According to the Human Rights News Agency, the five women were identified as Nika Pakzadan, Faraneh Daneshgari, Sanaz Esshaghi, Nekisa Hajipour, and Naghmeh Zabihiyan.

In October 2020, branch three of the Mashhad Revolutionary Court sentenced the five women to one year in prison; the sentences were appealed, however the appeals court upheld the verdicts, accusing the women of “spreading propaganda against the state by being Bahai”.

Previously, in the winter of 2011, Naghmeh Zabihiyan was detained along with other Bahai citizens, for organizing a crafts gallery in the home of a Bahai citizen. She was sentenced to six months in prison for “spreading propaganda against the state”.

The other two Bahai women identified as Maral Rasti and Mahnaz Jaan-Nessar, were both transferred to Bandar Abbas Prison in southern Iran, in order to serve their two-year prison terms. They were sentenced to a total of 14 years in prison. In addition to their prison sentences, they were each issued a two-year ban from joining any political or social groups and participation in Bahai gatherings. As a part of the sentence, they will be forced to participate in five “ethnicity orientation” classes.