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Iranian Baha’i Psychologist Fariba Kamalabadi Released after Lengthy Prison Term

November 8, 2017

Fariba KamalabadiOn October 31, 2017, Iranian Baha’i psychologist and community leader Fariba Kamalabadi was released from prison after serving 9½ years of her 10-year prison sentence.  She was one of the members of the Friends in Iran (Yaran-i-Iran), an ad hoc national group of seven who coordinated the Baha’i Iranian community’s religious and administrative affairs.  (Mahvash Sabet, a psychologist and the only other female member of the group, was released in mid-September.) 

The seven Baha’i leaders were arrested in 2008, held in solitary confinement for several months, and eventually faced trial on charges of alleged “espionage for Israel” (apparently because the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i faith, is located in what is now Israel), “insulting religious sanctities,” and “propaganda against the system.”  Following proceedings that failed to meet international fair trial standards—including the lack of any credible evidence to support the charges—they were sentenced in August 2010 to 20 years in prison.  (In late 2015, in accordance with a new stipulation in Iran’s Penal Code, which allows for sentences to be served concurrently, their sentences were reduced to 10 years.)  The Baha’is, Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority, have long been subjected to severe government persecution.  Their religion is not recognized, and they are deprived of many internationally recognized human rights.