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Dervish News Outlet: Iran Gives Long Prison Terms to More Protesters

Gonabadi Dervishes stage a protest in front of a police station in Tehran, Feb. 19, 2018. (Radio Farda)
Gonabadi Dervishes stage a protest in front of a police station in Tehran, Feb. 19, 2018. (Radio Farda)

An exiled Iranian news outlet focusing on Iran's Gonabadi Dervish minority says six community members have received prison terms of five to seven years for joining anti-government protests earlier this year.

In a Thursday post on its Telegram channel, Majzooban Noor said a revolutionary court convicted the six men to a combined 38 years in prison at the Great Tehran Penitentiary. It named the men as Gholam Abbasi, Mohammad Dalwand, Asghar Ebrahimi, Abdollah Esmaeili, Saleh Kamali and Hossein Soleimani, but did not say when they were sentenced.

Majzooban Noor said three of the men, Ebrahimi, Esmaeili and Soleimani, also received two-year bans on social activities — a vague restriction on involvement in unspecified community engagements. Another of the men, Kamali, was given a two-year ban on leaving the country.

The six Dervish men are the latest members of the Iranian Sufi Muslim sect to receive lengthy prison terms for involvement in Tehran protests that escalated into violent confrontations with police in February. Iranian authorities arrested more than 300 people in the February 19-20 clashes, which killed five security personnel.

In a report published Tuesday, state news agency IRNA quoted Tehran’s chief prosecutor, Jafari Dolatabadi, as saying 258 of those arrested, whom he termed “rioters,” have been convicted so far. It said Dolatababi was speaking to judiciary officials the day before.

In an earlier Tuesday report, Majzooban Noor said 10 other Dervishes received a combined 69 years in prison in connection with the February protests. The news outlet also reported this week that several detained Dervishes have refused to appear at the revolutionary court, complaining that the judges keep repeating the same accusations against them in order to shame and humiliate.

Dervishes involved in the February protests had been demanding the release of arrested members of their community and the removal of security checkpoints around the house of their 90-year-old leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh. Members of the community long have complained of harassment by Iran’s Shiite Islamist rulers, who view them as heretics.

The Trump administration has called for an end to what it calls Iran's persecution of the Dervishes.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Persian service.

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