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Baha’i Psychologist Released after Serving Four-Year Sentence

Faran 2On April 15, 2016, Faran Hesami was released from Evin Prison and reunited with her husband, Kamran Rahimian, and her seven-year-old son, Artin. She served her entire four-year sentence under harsh conditions of confinement.

Ms. Hesami and Mr. Rahimian both received their undergraduate degrees in psychology from the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) and graduate degrees from the University of Ottawa in counseling psychology. After completing their studies in Canada, the couple returned to Iran and opened a private counseling practice. They also worked on a voluntary basis as lecturers in psychology at the BIHE. The BIHE was created in 1987 to provide university-level courses of study to Baha’i youth, who are prohibited from attending universities and government-sponsored institutions of higher learning in Iran because of their religious faith. (BIHE classes are held online and in private homes. Volunteer faculty members help the university maintain high academic standards, and many graduates go on to pursue advanced degrees abroad. The quality of the coursework has been recognized and accepted for credit by more than 50 universities outside of Iran.)

In 2011 Ms. Hesami and Mr. Rahimian were among several dozen Baha’i educators arrested for their involvement with the BIHE. Following unjust proceedings before the Revolutionary Court, both were convicted in early 2012 of “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security” and sentenced to four years in prison. Ms. Hesami was released on bail soon after her arrest and was taken back into custody in July 2012 to serve the remainder of her sentence. (Her husband was released in August 2015 after serving four years in prison.)