Trial for seven Baha'i leaders reportedly delayed

July 13, 2009
The group of seven Baha'is whose trial had reportedly been scheduled for 11 July 2009 and now apparently has been postponed are, top from left, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, and Mahvash Sabet; bottom from left, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Saeid Rezaie, and Afif Naeimi.

GENEVA, Switzerland — Iranian officials have reportedly told families of the seven Baha'i leaders currently held in Evin prison in Tehran that their trial has been delayed. No new trial date was given.

Held for more than a year, the seven were reportedly to have been tried on Saturday, although this information, too, was based on oral reports from officials, and such reports have often been unreliable in the past.

The seven were arrested in the spring of 2008 and have been held more than a year without formal charges or access to their attorneys. Official Iranian news reports have said the Baha'is will be accused of "espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic."

The seven are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm. All but one of the group were arrested on 14 May 2008 at their homes in Tehran. Mrs. Sabet was arrested on 5 March 2008 while in Mashhad.

The Baha'i International Community has repeatedly said that the seven are being held solely because of their religious beliefs, calling for their immediate release.

Such appeals for the release of the seven have been echoed by governments and human rights groups around the world. On Friday, Amnesty International issued a press release calling on Iranian authorities to release the seven. On Thursday, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, responding to a letter from Roxana Saberi, the Iranian-American journalist who spent almost four months in an Iranian cell, likewise urged the release of the seven. Also on Thursday, European Parliament member Angelika Beer, speaking on behalf of the Parliament's delegation for Iran, called for the release of the seven, or, at the least, urged that any trial be free, fair and open.