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Nephew of New Zealand Baha'i 'unjustly imprisoned in Iran'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The fear of speaking publicly against the Iranian regime, even in a country like New Zealand, is very real to members of the Baha’i Faith who have come here from Iran. They would like to express their alarm at having a family member jailed following a campaign by Iranian authorities to uproot the Baha’i community in Shiraz, but they are wary of reprisals, says Paddy Payne, spokesperson for the NZ Baha’i community. "They don’t want to make the situation worse for their families still in Iran."

In June, Branch 1 of the Iranian Revolutionary Court sentenced 26 Baha’is to a combined total of 85 years in prison. Accused of causing intellectual and ideological insecurity in Muslim society, each was sentenced to prison terms ranging from 2 to 5 years. The nephew of a South Island couple received a two-year sentence followed by a two-year banishment in a remote part of the country.

"The recent prison sentences, exiles and travel bans are the latest in more than 40 years of systematic persecution of Iranian Baha’is," said Mr Payne. "It is very alarming to see the authorities criminalising their citizens for the mere fact of being a member of a religious minority."

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