Dialogue of the day - ''Navid Khanjani'', a Baha'i citizen

”۱۲ years behind bars”

24 Sep 2011

24th September 2011

Ardavan Roozbeh / radio Koocheh

Translated by Avideh Motmaen-Far

” Navid Khanjani”, a Baha’i faith follower, is a civil activist. He is also member of the ”Committee of Human Rights Reporters” in Iran and founder of ”Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination’’.

On Tuesday, February first, 2011, by a decree issued by Judge Pirabassi, at the Islamic Revolution Court Branch 26, Navid Khanjani, has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and fines.

The human rights activist, Navid Khanjani’s conviction, was even confirmed by Branch 54 of Tehran  appeal court.

The sentence was delivered on August 10 to his lawyer, Shima Qousheh.

Navid Khanjani was arrested on March 2 last year in Isfahan and after 65 days temporary imprisonment in section 2-A of Evin prison, on May 3, was released on a 1000 million Rial bail. This human rights activist spent the first 25 days of his arrest in solitary confinement.

Before this, on December 20, he has been put on trial, charged with propagating rumours and propaganda against the regime by publishing the news and reports and interviews with foreign televisions and radios, membership in the ”Committee of human rights reporters” and also founding of ”Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination”.

Now, according to the last sentence for Mr. Khanjani, he must spend twelve years of his life behind bars. A sentence which is said that even in the criminal cases is considered to be one of the highest punishments.

In this case I had a chat with “Anjela Nowbahar” the spokesman of the ”Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination”:

Apparently, in the course of Mr Khanjani’s case, he has been notified of 12 years imprisonment for him to be enforced. What is the reason behind this sentence?

Navid Khanjani, as a human rights activist and Baha’i student deprived of education was charged with publishing lies, propaganda against the regime, having done interviews with the foreign radios and televisions, membership in the ”Committee of human rights reporters”, founding the ”Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination”. He was arrested and got 12 years punishment jail and 40 million Rials fines.

He protested this verdict which was revised on August 10, and on September 2, they confirmed the sentence which remained unchanged, to his lawyer. The sentence should be enforced but is suspended for the moment and nothing has been written yet. I think a few weeks ago, he had a warning phone call from news headquarters of the ministry of Information in Isfahan because of participating in environmental activities. As this warning phone call is illegal, so he has not been to the ministry of Information.

Why Mr. Khanjani has been deprived of attending the University?

Because he is a Bahá’i faith follower, he has been deprived of going to the university and human rights activities these days in Iran are considered to be serious offences.

Except Mr. Khanjani, any other member of the ”Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination” has been summoned?

Yes, Mr. “Sama Nourani” who is also expelled from Sahand University in Tabriz where he was studying medical engineering. When he asked for the reasons he was expelled from the university, he was arrested in 2009, spent 56 days in solitary confinement, and then sentenced to a year prison which he is serving in section 350 of Evin prison. And his brother, Mr. ” Alborz Nourani” who was a student at Sharif University where he was studying Computer Science, was expelled about three weeks ago (early September) because of his Baha’i beliefs and he was told that the order of expulsion came from high ranked people because he is a Baha’i.

Does the ”Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination” campaign against educational discrimination only for Baha’i student who have been expelled or include anyone who have been deprived of education?

No, the ”population” is in connection with all those who have been deprived of education, students expelled for whatever reason, for human rights or political activities, for any religion belief, or simply thinking different. People’s beliefs are not important. It is important that we fight for them, whatever the reason. We should not remain silent. They should have the right to participate in the universities and enjoy their basic rights.

The first time that Mr. Khanjani was sentenced, I remember that there were protests in different places but now that he is in a more dangerous situation because of the implementation of his sentence, it seems that many of the activists are not sensitive to this anymore!

This is exactly what I keep asking myself. The first time when the sentence was announced, everyone was so sensitive that most of the news agencies even refused to publish the news and said that a twelve year sentence is a rumour and most of the reformist media news did not publish it. They only accepted to publish once it was really made clear that it was true.

Any ways, as a human rights activist, I hope that there is no special reason for this silence. The large volume of news sometimes makes important news remain unheard. I think all human rights activists work for human rights and there is no reason that they say nothing about this one. Between human rights activists, everybody is considered to be ”one of us”.

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