Sen's daily

January 6, 2018

Imprisoned Bahai teacher told to repent in exchange for furlough

Filed under: Bahai rights,Educational discrimination — Sen @ 10:10


Center for Human Rights in Iran, January 5, 2018.

The authorities At Tehran’s Evin Prison have told imprisoned Bahai educator Azita Rafizadeh (آزیتا رفیع‌زاده), that she will only be considered for furlough if she apologizes for teaching online classes in computer engineering to members of her faith.

“The prison authorities said she must sign a statement to repent for her work and promise that she will not work there again,” a family source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on January 3, 2018. “But Azita said she has done nothing to repent for. She said she is proud of her work and if she went back in time she would do it again.”

Since October 2015, Rafizadeh and her husband Peyman Koushk-Baghi have been behind bars for teaching at the Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), an online learning service that is banned in Iran. Relatives are raising their eight-year-old son.

“For the Iranian New Year [March 21, 2017], Azita was granted furlough for six days but she returned to prison three days later. They told her she had committed a violation and never granted her furlough again,” said the source, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.

“The prison authorities said they had made a mistake granting her furlough the last time,” said the source, adding that they claimed Bahais are not eligible for temporary leave.

Furlough, temporary leave typically granted to prisoners in Iran for a variety of familial, holiday, and medical reasons, is routinely denied to political prisoners as a form of additional punishment.

Iran’s Constitution does not recognize the Bahai faith as an official religion. Although Article 23 states that “no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief,” followers of the faith are denied many basic rights as one of the most severely persecuted religious minorities in the country.

Bahais are also denied access to higher education in Iran, either by being banned from entering university or being expelled without a proper explanation once enrolled.

Rafizadeh, 35, is a former BIHE graduate who returned to Iran after receiving a master’s degree in computer engineering from a university in India. She began teaching the subject at BIHE in 2002.

In 2014, Judge Moghisseh of Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Rafizadeh to four years in prison and her husband to five years in prison on the charge of “membership in the illegal and misguided Bahai group with the aim of acting against national security through illegal activities at the BIHE educational institute.”

The source told CHRI that the imprisoned couple’s son, Bashir Koushk-Baghi, is being raised by another Bahai family. “He knows his parents are in prison for a noble cause,” added the source. “He sees his father and mother as heroes.”

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


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1 Comment »

  1. They are Hero’s, well done to you both, God bless your child with the Most Great Education. Regards Tony

    Comment by Tony Bristow-Stagg — January 6, 2018 @ 12:48 | Reply


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