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Iran’s Baha’i prisoners

The Telegraph, 8 May 2013

Read below the open letter from UK lawyers, including Cherie Booth QC, regarding the seven former Baha’i leaders in Iran.

Letter originally published on the Telegraph

Continue to the Telegraph letter

SIR - Five years ago this month, seven former leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran were imprisoned for their beliefs. This violated national and international laws as well as shariah norms.

The seven - Mrs Mahvash Sabet, Mr Behrouz Tavakkoli, Mr Vahid Tizfahm, Mrs Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr Afif Naeimi and Mr Saeid Rezaie - were arrested following coordinated raids on their homes in 2008. The fatuous nature of their alleged crimes, which included “spreading corruption on earth” and collaboration with the “tyrannical Quds-occupying regime” (Israel), is self-evident.

The charges against them were first heard in the media rather than in court, nine months after their detention. An arrest warrant was issued 10 months after they were arrested. To this day, they have not been presented with formal charges or a judgment in writing, in clear violation of the Iranian constitution.

The seven Baha’is were purportedly “tried” in 2010 in proceedings that can be barely described as a “trial”, and were each sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Lawyers brave enough to represent Baha’is - including the Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi - have themselves become victims of the Iranian regime and been forced into exile. Others, such as Nasrin Sotoudeh and Abdolfattah Soltani, are now serving prison sentences on similarly spurious allegations.

Iranian authorities often claim to be champions of justice, equality and fairness. It is time for them to honour these principles, release the seven Baha’i leaders and restore the rule of law in Iran.

Sir Desmond de Silva QC
Michael Birnbaum QC
Cherie Booth CBE QC
Kirsty Brimelow QC
Professor John Cooper QC
Edward Fitzgerald QC
Dr Nazila Ghanea
Lord Gifford QC
Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC
Lord Macdonald of River Glaven QC
Michael Mansfield QC
Professor Rachel Murray
Sir Geoffrey Nice QC
Professor Michael O’Flaherty
Professor Javaid Rehman
Geoffrey Robertson QC
Professor Philippe Sands QC
Professor Dan Sarooshi