They that are just and fair-minded in their judgement occupy a sublime station and hold an exalted rank. The light of piety and uprightness shineth resplendent from these souls. We earnestly hope that the peoples and countries of the world may not be deprived of the splendours of these two luminaries. Baha’u’llah, Bahai writings

The seven Baha’is who have been in Evin prison in Tehran since spring 2008 today appeared in court for a second time. At the first hearing, in January, they were formally charged with espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, the establishment of an illegal administration, cooperation with Israel, sending secret documents outside the country, acting against the security of the country and corruption on earth. Both hearings were held in camera, so we do not have many details. It appears that the proceedings today were procedural. The Baha’is –Mrs Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr Afif Naeimi, Mr Saeid Rezaie, Mrs Mahvash Sabet, Mr Behrouz Tavakkoli and Mr Vahid Tizfahm – have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

In light of the long persecution of the Baha’is in Iran, pre-dating the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 by more than a hundred years, the worldwide Baha’i community is convinced that the Baha’is have been charged solely because of their religious beliefs.

We who are judges and magistrates hold justice as the highest of standard of civilization. The principles of the independence of the judiciary, the primacy of the rule of law — which was formulated in Islamic jurisprudence before the twelfth century — fairness, equality, due process, impartiality, trustworthiness, openness and consistency are at the heart of every judicial system worthy of the name. We align ourselves to these principles — without them our own integrity is compromised.

Those of you who are hearing the case of the Baha’is in Iran have a unique opportunity to demonstrate that you too align yourself with these principles. As all trustworthy judges do, you will want to listen to both sides. You will not be persuaded by rhetoric — you will want to ascertain the facts. You will need more than allegations — you will need robust evidence. You will be suspicious of concocted `evidence’. You will consult not only your books but your conscience. You will not allow yourself to be manipulated by vested interests. You will look beyond the prejudices that drive lesser men and hear with your own ears and see with your own eyes. You will recognize that these Baha’is have served the people of Iran, your citizens, and have always had their best interests, and yours, at heart.

We, your judicial colleagues, are willing you to treat your judicial position with respect and to discharge your responsibilities with honour. Your personal integrity and reputation, and the integrity of your judicial system and its reputation, are at stake. No doubt, when you apply the principles we all hold so dear, you will find the Baha’is before you innocent.

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