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An Australian relative of one of seven Baha'i leaders in Iran now entering their fourth year of imprisonment is calling for their immediate and unconditional release. Ahead of a special public service on Sunday 15 May at the Sydney Baha'i Temple, Sydney film-maker Mehrzad Mumtahan said the Iranian government had failed to produce a single piece of evidence to supports its accusations against the seven.

Mr Mumtahan, whose uncle Saeid Rezaie is one of the seven leaders, said prison conditions for the leaders have recently become much harsher. "My uncle and his colleagues require urgent medical care and even surgery due to the harsh conditions in which they have been kept for the last three years," said Mr Mumtahan, who personally experienced persecution in Iran when his home was attacked and looted by an anti-Baha'i mob when he was 10 years old.

"I ask my fellow Australians and the Government not to allow this injustice to continue and to demand that Iranian authorities immediately and unconditionally release the seven." Mr Mumtahan and relatives of other leaders will speak about their loved ones in the visitors' information centre after the 11 am service at the Baha'i House of Worship at 173 Mona Vale Road, Ingleside, on Sunday 15 May.

Spokesperson for the Australian Baha'i Community Dr Natalie Mobini invited the public to attend. "We hope people will be able to join us in prayer to remember all the victims of human rights abuses in Iran," Dr Mobini said. "We also invite people of all faiths to remember these individuals in their own services of worship this weekend," she said. Dr Mobini said six of the seven leaders had been rounded up in dawn raids in May 2008, with the seventh arrested two months earlier.

"After two years incarceration these patently innocent people faced a sham trial and then received a 20 year jail term which was later reduced to ten years on appeal but subsequently reinstated. "The Baha'i community categorically rejects such false accusations by the authorities as espionage and propaganda against the Islamic Republic, charges for which no evidence has been produced."

Dr Mobini said Australian Baha'is were grateful to the Australian Government, the Federal Parliament, State Parliaments and individual MPs for calling for the immediate release of the Baha'is at various times during the past three years.
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Posted by Ron Price, George Town, Tasmania
 
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