The following news release has been posted about the Baha'i leaders in Iran. These women and men have been unjustly held in the notorious Evin prison for over a year - on charges that are entirely based on their religious beliefs. As an Iranian human rights activist and researcher, I stand in complete opposition to the actions of the government of Iran. I know members of the Baha'i community personally, and have witnessed their deep love and affinity with Iran, even among Baha’is who are themselves non-Iranian. Thus making such charges of espionage all the more outrageous and false.

The brutality and violence the Iranian government is demonstrating to members of their own population, whether prisoners of conscience, or those on the streets of Tehran, must absolutely stop.

The world is watching, as are the people of Iran, and the time is upon us when such injustice will not be tolerated. I stand in solidarity with Baha'i leaders in Iran, and all the members of this community, as well as all ethnic and religious minorities in Iran.

The story reads:

Reports of a trial date for Baha'i leaders falsely accused of espionage
24 June 2009

According to information conveyed by the authorities in Evin prison to the family members of the seven Baha'is who have been imprisoned in Tehran, Iran, for over a year, their trial date has been set for 11 July 2009. This information has been provided to the family members only orally and, as information conveyed by officials concerning the judicial process has often proved unreliable, it is possible that the Iranian authorities may find some reason to change the trial date.

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 trial is apparently scheduled to be held at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court. This is where American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi was recently convicted of espionage and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. She was eventually released, but only after an international outcry at the clear politicization of the case and manifestly unjust legal procedures.

"These seven individuals are facing completely false charges," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations. "They - along with the some 30 other Baha'is currently in prison in Iran - are innocent of any wrongdoing and are being held solely because of their religious beliefs."

I wish nothing but the best for the people of this noble land. A country that saw the birth of the Baha’i Faith, and a nation with a bright and glorious future.

By: Donna Hakimian

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