Last member of former Iranian Baha’i leadership group ends prison term


December 21, 2018

Contact: James Samimi Farr
Phone: (202) 833-8990, Email: USBahaiMedia@usbnc.org

WASHINGTON — The last imprisoned member of the Yaran, the former ad-hoc Baha’i leadership group in Iran, was released from prison on December 20 after serving a 10-year sentence for practicing his faith.

The Iranian government arrested Afif Naeimi, 56, on May 14, 2008, charging him with espionage, propaganda against Iran, and the establishment of an illegal administration. These claims, along with those made against his colleagues, have been dismissed by media and human rights experts as baseless.

Mr. Naeimi’s imprisonment was marked by serious health problems, exacerbated by his incarceration and the lack of adequate care provided. When hospitalized, authorities deemed that his medical furlough would not count as part of his time served.

“Though we are happy that Mr. Naeimi has been released, we would like to emphasize the importance of not becoming complacent,” said Mr. Anthony Vance, Director of the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs. “Mr. Naeimi should have never been imprisoned to begin with, and, over the ten years of his incarceration, thousands of Baha’is in Iran have continued to suffer.”

The release of Mr. Naeimi follows the passage of two separate resolutions condemning the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the first on December 12, while the United Nations General Assembly passed the second on December 17.

Last month, a statement released by a group of Muslim intellectuals in Iran condemned the ongoing state-sponsored persecution of Baha’is in Iran, calling it “disgusting and disgraceful.”

For more information about religious persecution and the rights of the Baha’is in Iran, please contact the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs at 202-833-8990, or visit publicaffairs.bahai.us.