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Lawyers and activists call on judiciary to overturn ‘illegal’ adoption ruling against converts

Lawyers and activists call on judiciary to overturn ‘illegal’ adoption ruling against converts

One hundred and twenty lawyers and activists have written an open letter to the head of the judiciary in Iran, asking him to overturn a court’s decision to remove a two-year-old girl from her adoptive parents because they are Christian converts.

Sam Khosravi and his wife Maryam Falahi’s appeal against the ruling, issued in July, was rejected last month, despite the judge in his initial ruling acknowledging that their daughter, Lydia, felt an “intense emotional attachment” to them. The judge also said there was “zero chance” another adoptive family would be found for Lydia, given her chronic health problems.

Now, in a letter published by Iran-based Borna and Ensaf news agencies, the signatories have called on the head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, to annul the verdict, which they say goes against both national and international law.

As a signatory to the international Convention on the Rights of the Child, they say Iran is duty bound first of all to consider the child’s wellbeing, and that Iran’s own constitution makes no reference to a person’s religion when denoting who is eligible to adopt a child.

“The constitution, mother of all laws, in its 19th article explicitly speaks of the equality of all Iranian citizens and nationals, regardless of their race, language, religion, etc., such that belonging to a particular religion can never be a source of superiority or discrimination,” they write.

“In particular, regarding the care and protection of abused or unaccompanied children, the constitution pays attention only to human and moral aspects, meaning that any Iranian citizen, regardless of his or her religion, can apply for custody of a child.” 

“Nowhere in these laws or regulations is there any mention of the religion of the applicant, but, rather, in the first place, being an Iranian citizen and of good moral character is the criterion for eligibility,” they add.

They note that Sam and Maryam are “well respected” and “honourable” citizens, who have been found to be of good moral character in their city and also by the state welfare organisation that initially granted them custody of Lydia.

In later seeking to remove Lydia from their care, the state welfare organisation acted “illegally”, the signatories write, failing also to take into account Lydia’s serious heart condition and the “love and affection between the child and her parents”.

“The duty of the judiciary is to support and realise the individual rights of Iranian citizens and to establish judicial justice,” the signatories conclude, calling on Mr Raisi to “issue an appropriate order to stop the execution of this sentence, and to make a proper ruling to annul any such future sentences, which are against the law and Sharia”.

In so doing, they say Mr Raisi will “show the importance of judicial justice in Iran and the realisation of individual rights and the protection of children in society by the judiciary”.

You can read the full text of the letter and list of signatories below:


Mr Raisi,

Honourable Chairman of the Judiciary,

Greetings and prayers,

Respectfully, citing the third, 19th, 34th, 37th, 38th, 154th, and 156th articles of the constitution.

The constitution, mother of all laws, in its 19th article explicitly speaks of the equality of all Iranian citizens and nationals, regardless of their race, language, religion, etc., such that belonging to a particular religion can never be a source of superiority or discrimination.

In particular, regarding the care and protection of abused or unaccompanied children, the constitution pays attention only to human and moral aspects, meaning that any Iranian citizen, regardless of his or her religion, can apply for custody of a child from the state welfare organisation.

At the same time, the law for the protection of abused and orphaned children exists to support children who either no longer have parents, or whose parents do not have the competence or ability to care for and raise their children.

The legislature has set out in this law, and subsequent laws, and explicitly stated that Iranian nationals who are eligible, in terms of having the financial means and moral rectitude, can apply to the state welfare organisation for guardianship of a child.

Nowhere in these laws or regulations is there any mention of the religion of the applicant, but, rather, in the first place, being an Iranian citizen of good moral character is the criterion for eligibility.

It should also be noted that, according to the 12th and 13th articles of the constitution, those who belong to Iran’s recognised religions [including Christians], as authorised in the constitution, will have no restrictions in this field to prevent them from applying for guardianship of a child – those such as Sam Khosravi and Maryam Falahi, who are honourable Christian citizens of the country.

Not only are this couple well respected in [their city of] Bushehr, but they have also, with great moral care, dignity, and humanity, requested custody of a child from the welfare organisation, to which this institution also agreed through its legal procedures. And during the subsequent two years, their adopted child has become their shining light. 

But, unfortunately, the welfare organisation later filed an illegal request to the court to revoke the couple’s custody of the child.

The court for family affairs and later the court for appeals, without considering the rules of jurisprudence, as well as religious and human commonalities, or the health of this child – including a medical certificate outlining her severe heart disease – and regardless of the love and affection created between the child and her parents, has ordered the cancellation of their custody.

This ruling has also been issued without considering the need to serve the best interests of the child and his or her health, as obligated by article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, [to which Iran is a signatory] and the rules and principles of law, as well as failing to comply with jurisprudential religious verdicts and principles of child rights.

Therefore, considering that the duty of the judiciary is to support and realise the individual rights of Iranian citizens and to establish judicial justice, we ask His Excellency, as the head of this branch, in line with the principles mentioned in the constitution, jurisprudential rules, and the religious verdicts of some senior clerics, to issue an appropriate order to stop the execution of this sentence, and to make a proper ruling to annul any such future sentences, which are against the law and Sharia.

Of course, His Excellency’s worthy order will show the importance of judicial justice in Iran and the realisation of individual rights and the protection of children in society by the judiciary.

Bahareh Rahnama – Actress
Saba Alaleh – Child rights activist
Hossein Ahmadiniaz – Lawyer, Netherlands
Bahar Saharaian – Lawyer, Iran
Majid Nikouei – Lawyer, Tehran
Ghazaleh Delfan – Civil rights activist
Roghayeh Bakhtiari – Lawyer, Bushehr
Asma Rostamipour – Lawyer, Bushehr
Esmat Shahpar – Lawyer, Bushehr
Yekta Zarei – Lawyer, Bushehr
Batoul Kadari – Lawyer, Bushehr
Ayla Alaleh – Civil rights activist
Iman Nasrollahi – Civil rights activist
Lida Talebi – Civil rights activist
Pantea Alaleh – Civil rights activist
Hamed Ghaznavizadeh – Civil rights activist
Saber Solati – Civil rights activist
Reza Rasouli – Civil rights activist
Afsaneh Alaleh – Civil rights activist
Mahnaz Sababeh – Civil rights activist
Omran Farokh Moradi – Lawyer, Sanandaj
Mina Amini – Civil rights activist
Arezoo Abolfazli – Civil rights activist
Sadegh Alaleh – Civil rights activist
Ghazal Bohrani – Civil rights activist
Navideh Asghari – Civil rights activist
Mansour Moazami – Civil rights activist
Elham Zeraat Pisheh – Lawyer, Shiraz
Azar Sepahyani – Human rights activist
Ayda Raisi – Child rights activist
Nahid Moradi – Civil rights activist
Goli Ejaghloo – Child rights activist
Masoud Ahmadian – Lawyer, Tehran
Zinat Izadi – Lawyer, Fars Province
Azam Tajdini – Lawyer, Bushehr
Babak Zarei – Lawyer, Fars Province
Somayeh Asadi – Lawyer, Bushehr
Saeed Torabi – Lawyer
Nazanin Salari – Lawyer, Shiraz
Alireza Zare – Lawyer
Somayeh Eskandari – Lawyer, Arsenjan
Mehdi Yazdani – Lawyer
Fatemeh Yazdani – Lawyer
Fatemeh Nariman – Lawyer, Ahvaz
Ghazal Paymard – Lawyer, Shiraz
Adel Zarei – Lawyer, Shiraz 
Amin Farzan – Lawyer, Rey
Mahnaz Sasanpour – Lawyer, Shiraz
Ghodsieh Ghodsbin – Lawyer, Fars Province
Mahboobeh Foroogh – Lawyer, Shiraz
Abdolvahed Najafi – Lawyer, Fars Province
Majid Nazerzadeh – Lawyer, Bushehr
Ehsan Hosseini – Lawyer, Nourabad
Sorour Rezaei – Lawyer
Yaser Izadpanah – Lawyer, Shiraz
Yashar Kazemi – Lawyer, Tehran
Solamaz Nouri – Lawyer, Shiraz
Mohammad Hadi Jafarpoor – Lawyer, Shiraz
Fatemeh Eskandari – Lawyer, Bandar Abbas
Mahdokht Damghanpoor – Lawyer
Leili Hosseini Shakib – Lawyer
Farhid Ahmadi – Lawyer, Shiraz
Siavash Hadaegh – Lawyer, Shiraz
Behnaz Adiban – Lawyer, Shiraz
Leila Shafaie – Lawyer, Tehran
Farshid Rofoogaran – Lawyer, Tehran
Behzad Hakimizadeh – Lawyer, Saqqez
Siamak Naser – Lawyer, Sanandaj
Amin Moradi – Lawyer, Shiraz
Parisa Dehghani – Lawyer, Fars Province
Raheleh Khosravi – Lawyer, Fars Province
Soudabeh Farahi – Lawyer, Shiraz
Farshid Yadollahi – Lawyer
Marjan Eslami – Lawyer, Tehran
Masoud Feridoonnejad – Lawyer, Shiraz
Mahboobeh Nasiri – Lawyer
Leila Bahrami – Civil rights activist
Leila Heidari – Lawyer, Tehran
Maryam Shirzadian – Lawyer
Haleh Shakeri – Lawyer
Mostafa Khosravi Nejad – Lawyer, Damghan
Heidar Rezaei – Lawyer
Peyman Firouzi – Lawyer
Behzad Avar – Lawyer, Sanandaj
Ghahreman Karimi – Lawyer, Kermanshah
Hossein Komeili Esfahani – Lawyer
Asa Ebrahimi – Lawyer, Shiraz
Mojtaba Raisi – Lawyer
Mina Dashtbali – Social worker
Behnaz Mehrjerdi – Lawyer, Tehran
Aliasghar Ghaferi – Lawyer
Mostafa Hassani – Lawyer
Vahid Salemi – Lawyer
Kourosh Tahery Dadar – Lawyer, Shiraz
Amir Razmjooie – Lawyer
Maryam Farahi – Lawyer, Shiraz
Ali Dehghanian – Lawyer, Shiraz
Gholamreza Mahmoudi – Lawyer, Fars Province
Roohangiz Salari – Civil rights activist
Samaneh Hosseini – Lawyer, Shiraz
Estareh Ansari – Lawyer
Yasaman Taghipoor – Lawyer
Babak Zare Lavasani – Lawyer, Tehran
Fatemeh Rezaei – Lawyer, Aradan
Fatemeh Mirzaei – Lawyer
Mandana Ahmadpoor – Lawyer, Shiraz
Hossein Kavian – Lawyer
Maliheh Jabari – Lawyer, Shiraz
Andisheh Jafari – Psychologist and child rights activist
Mohsen Alamdari – Lawyer, Shiraz
Aliasghar Ghafari – Lawyer, Shiraz
Saeedeh Hosseinzadeh – Lawyer, Bandar Abbas
Firouz Rasti – Civil rights activist
Ali Chahi – Lawyer
Hamid Estakhr – Lawyer, Varamin
Fatemeh Alaei – Lawyer
Afshin Parsaei – Lawyer
Maryam Farahi – Lawyer
Saeedeh Hosseinzadeh – Lawyer
Haleh Mousavian, Tehran – Lawyer