Name: Farhad Fahandezh
Country/Area of Origin: Iran
Background: Farhad is a Baha’i practitioner and member of a Baha’i administrative group called “Yaran-e-Iran”
Reason for Arrest:
On October 17, 2012, Farhad Fahandezh was arrested at his home in Gorgan, Iran for his involvement in the Baha’i faith and administrative organizations. He was held without an official sentence for approximately 7 months before being officially charged for “propagation of Baha’i faith” and “administrating a Baha’i organization.” He was sentenced to 10 years and he currently serves time at the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran. Fahandezh is in poor medical condition.
Fahandezh had previously been detained in 1983 for his involvement with the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is and was incarcerated for 6 years, during which he fell extremely ill with food poisoning and suffered permanent digestive problems.
Fahandezh has two children, one 28-year-old daughter and one 19-year-old son, and for a period of time, Fahandezh’s wife was also imprisoned for her faith. She is now free, however, and visits her husband weekly.
In Iran, the Baha’i are the largest non-Muslim minority religious group According to USCIRF’s 2019 Annual Report, “Iran’s government considers the Baha’i faith a heretical ‘deviant sect’ whose members are de facto apostates.” In Iran, apostasy, or changing one’s religious, is severely punished. Iranian Baha’i and Christians often find themselves arbitrarily arrested for their faith and serving lengthy prison sentences.
- On 17 March 2020, Fahandezh was temporarily released, “sent home on leave”, from prison amidst growing concerns of a potential COVID-19 outbreak in Iranian prisons.