The trial of seven imprisoned Baha'i leaders began today in Iran. Initial reports indicate that the trial is being held and is marked by numerous violations of legal due process, Baha'i International Community reported.
"No observers were allowed in the court," Baha'i International Community's representative to the United Nations in Geneva Diane Ala'i said. "We find this completely outrageous, given that these seven have been held purely because of their religious beliefs, in total contradiction to any human rights standards."
All but one of the group were arrested May 14,2008 at their homes in Tehran. Mrs. Sabet was arrested on 5 March 2008 while in Mashhad. They have been held in Tehran's Evin prison ever since, spending their first year there without formal charges or any access to lawyers.
The arrested are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm.
"Even the lawyers had to argue their way inside the court - lawyers who in any case had virtually no access to the accused for nearly two years," she said. "At the same time, the prisoners' interrogators from the Intelligence Ministry and a film crew were seen going in, raising questions about the nature of the trial."
She also noted that an Iranian Web site linked to state-run television posted a story Monday evening announcing that the trial had already begun and listing the same baseless accusations made in the past against the seven.
"All of these accounts point to a trial that is highly irregular, very similar to the show trials that have been held in Iran in recent months," she said.
"Whatever happens, it is clear that the trial of these seven innocent people represents the trial of an entire religious community, and is an attempt to further intimidate and ostracize all Iranian Baha'is simply because they hold a different religious viewpoint from those in power," she added.