Iranian Baha’i Engineer Released after Serving 10-Year Prison Sentence
February 22, 2018
On February 16, Saeid Rezaie—an Iranian agricultural engineer and Baha’i community leader—was released from Raja’i Shahr prison after serving a 10-year sentence in connection with his Baha’i faith.
Mr. Rezaie ran an agricultural company and taught classes at the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), an alternative academic institution created and run by the Baha’i community on a volunteer basis to provide higher education to Baha’i students who are prohibited, because of their religious faith, from attending universities and government-sponsored institutions of higher learning in Iran. He was also one of the seven-member Friends in Iran (Yaran-i-Iran), an ad hoc national coordinating group responsible for the Iranian Baha’i community’s religious and administrative affairs.
In spring 2008 all seven members of the Yaran were arrested. More than two years later, following proceedings that failed to meet international fair trial standards, they were convicted by a Tehran Revolutionary Court of “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,” and sentenced to 20 years in prison. In late November 2015, in accordance with a new stipulation in Iran’s Penal Code, which allows for sentences to be served concurrently, their prison term was reduced from 20 years to 10 years. Throughout his incarceration, Mr. Rezaie was held under harsh conditions of confinement. 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.