Sen's daily

October 22, 2014

Farhad Eqbali transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison


HRANA, October 21, 2014.

Farhad Eqbali ( فرهاد اقبالی ), a Bahai prisoner of conscience from Gorgan, has been transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison near Tehran, where he is currently in the quarantine unit. Mr. Eqbali was one of about twenty Bahais, and some Muslims accused of associating with Bahais, who were arrested in Gorgan in November, 2012. His 5-year sentence was confirmed by the court of review on August 27, and he began his sentence in Gorgan on the same day. At some stage he was transferred to Evin prison, in Tehran, and now to Raja’i Shahr prison.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

Jamaleddin Khanjani and Ali Salanpour transferred for medical treatment

HRANA, October 21, 2014.

As previously reported, on September 27, 2014, Jamaleddin Khanjani (جمالدین خانجانی), an 81-year old Bahai prisoner of conscience aged 81, and Ali Salanpour (علی سلان‌پور), another prisoner of conscience, were transferred to a medical centre outside Raj’i Shahr prison but returned to prison without treatment, apparently because officials demanded money from them. It is now reported that on October 20 they were both transferred to medical centres outside the prison. Mr. Khanjani, one of seven Bahai ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran), suffers from diverse ailments connected to his age. Mr. Salanpour has problems with his neck, back and testicles due to severe torture in prison.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

Four Bahais free on bail in Shiraz

Fariba Kamalabadi (public figure facebook page), October 21, 2014.

Mr. Farhad Sarafraz (فرهاد سرافراز), Mr. Sa`id `Ebadi (سعید عابدی), Mr. Shahram Mansour ( شهرام منصور) and Mr. Adib Haqqpazhouh (ادیب حق پژوه) were freed on bail on October 21. They are the last of the recent detainees to be released. Adib Haqqpazhouh and Sa`id `Ebadi were among those arrested on August 5. Shahram Mansour and Farhad Sarafraz were detained in Shiraz on September 1.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

October 17, 2014

Judiciary moves to close the file on the killing of Ataollah Rezvani


HRANA, October 17, 2014.

Thirteen months after the execution-style killing of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), a well-known member of the Bahai community in Bandar Abbas (on August 24, 2013), the judicial authorities are pressing the Rezvani family to accept the ending of the investigation. On October 14, the Rezvani family and the lawyer handling this case were summoned to a Revolutionary Court in Bandar Abbas where Judge Emani, the investigating magistrate, told them that thus far no clues had been found regarding the circumstances of Mr. Rezvani’s murder, so the investigation could go no further. He recommended that the Rezvani family should accept compensation from public funds so that the case could be closed. Under Iranian law, if a body is found in a street or public place and the killer or killers cannot be found, the family are entitled to compensation from a public fund. The Rezvani family did not accept this proposal, and insisted that the murder should be investigated. The investigating magistrate responded that, if they had evidence that Mr. Rezvani was killed by one or more persons, they should make a complaint. Otherwise, he would not be able to pursue the matter. He also referred to one ‘Karim,’ the last person known to have seen Mr. Rezvani alive. Karim was an Afghan labourer who worked at the home of a Bahai family who were out of the country, and Mr. Rezvani used to check on their house in Bandar Abbas occasionally. On the night of the murder, he had gone there and had given a ride to Karim in his car. “Karim” had not been heard of for the past eleven months, but Judge Emani said that he had been intercepted by Iranian border guards while trying to get to Syria [Iran and Syria do not have a border ~ Sen] and had been sent to Afghanistan. This contradicts a recent statement made by Mr. Reza’i, the officer in charge of the file, who told the Rezvani family that Karim had been seen in Shiraz and would be arrested once a warrant had been issued. Judge Emani asked the Rezvani family to sign a statement that they had no complaint against Karim: the family refused.

The following day, October 15, the family received a letter from the Court asking that Koroush Rezvani, the son of the murdered man who is registered as the “complainant” in this case, should provide any evidence regarding the murder of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani to the court, within one week.

Postscript, October 19: A reader has pointed out that the file of an unsolved murder is not ‘closed’ when the investigation is ended. There is nobody assigned to further investigations, but should new evidence emerge even years later, a new attempt may be made to identify the murderers.

The initial report of the killing of Mr. Rezvani is on this blog here.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

October 12, 2014

Bahai youth sentenced in Shiraz


HRANA, October 10, 2014.

Farhud Yazdani (فرهود یزدانی), an 18-year-old Bahai living in Shiraz, has been sentenced to one year in prison, for participating in social networks used to plan a mass water-fight in Be`sat Park in Shiraz. His arrest had not previously been reported on Sen’s Daily. The background to this is the use of social networks, last July, to organise water fights in Be`sat Park and Aram Park in Shiraz, and in other cities in Iran. The photograph below is from an event in Tehran. The water fight in Aram Park was cancelled when the security forces threatened to disrupt it, but the event in Be`sat Park led to clashes with security forces.

Farhud Yazdani, according to a relative, was not an organizer of these events, but was one of those invited to join in. His home was searched and he was arrested on July 15. He was taken to the Ministry of Intelligence’s Facility 100 in Shiraz, where he was held until August 9, when he was transferred to Adel Abad prison. In the meantime his family had been seeking his release, and he was eventually released on bail, 10 days before his ‘trial.’ Judge Sadati (ساداتی ), who sits in Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz and is head of the Revolutionary Courts in Shiraz, issued a verbal finding condemning Mr. Yazdani to one year in prison. According to a relative, the Judge told Mr. Yazdani that, if the did not protest his treatment, he would be freed on bail after four months in prison. The relative felt that Mr. Yazdani was treated in this way only because he was a Bahai. [The report implies that other participants were not sentenced ~Sen]

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

October 8, 2014

Passing of Dr. Kamran Ekbal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sen @ 10:01

Editorial, November 8, 2014.

I am very sorry to have to pass on this message from the family of Dr. Kamran Ekbal.

My dear husband and our beloved father, Dr. Kamran Ekbal, passed yesterday, 6.10.2014, after a prolonged struggle of more than eight years against his deadly disease to the Abha Kingdom and the realms high above. The disease devoured his body but his brains remained untouched and active almost till the last moment, allowing him to continue his scholarly works without interruption.

He will live everlasting in our thoughts and memories.

Huda Baghdadi-Ekbal and his three sons Basil Omid, Ramez Adib and Cyrus Navid

Dr. Kamran Ekbal was Director of the Section for Middle Eastern Studies at the Department of History, Ruhr University of Bochum (Germany), from 1979 till his retirement in April 2011. Born in Beirut 1946, he studied at the universities of Hamburg, Cambridge and Kiel, where he received his PhD. in Islamic and Iranian Studies in 1976 with a dissertation on the Russian-Persian War of 1826-1828. He taught Arabic at the University of Hamburg as well as Arabic and Persian at the University of Kiel and was visiting professor for extra-European history at the University of Essen. He has many publications on Iranian and Middle Eastern topics, as well as on Bahai themes and at the time of his death was editing the Tablets of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha to Muhammad Mustafa Baghdadi as well as Dr. Zia Baghdad’s memoirs of his travels.

Dr. Ekbal has made a considerable contribution to Bahai studies in several languages, notably by his willingness to look squarely at difficulties in the received understandings of historical and doctrinal questions, and by bringing an Arab and Arabic perspective to a field in which Persian perspectives have been more common. He was of course fluent in both languages, and made scholarly contributions to fields such as Qajar social and political history, and Arabic studies. He often co-authored or contributed to the work of other scholars, in the fields of Bahai history and the translation of Bahai texts. I can confirm his family’s words about his activity during his final illness, as he helped me in the last few months in confirming an error that had crept into the Persian text of A Traveller’s Narrative. He was capable, daring, accessible and helpful, and a precise and punctilious scholar.

I am sorry to say that I had no thought that his death might be imminent, and have not prepared a fitting obituary or survey of his published works. If the friends will contribute what they can through the comments section below, I will edit the information into a preliminary obituary.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

October 7, 2014

Detention orders of three Bahais in Mashhad extended


HRANA, October 6, 2014.

The temporary detention of three Bahais from Mashhad who have been held without trial since June 1 has been extended for another month. Mey Khalusi (می خلوصی), Dari Amri (دری امری) and Shayan Tafazoli (شایان تفضلی) were arrested in the home of May Khalusi, and were at first held in Ministry of Intelligence interrogation facilities in Mashhad. They were transferred to Vakilabad prison on August 2. Thus far the authorities have not given any specific reason for extending their detention. It would appear that Dari Amri and Shayan Tafazoli were initially arrested by accident, as there was no warrant for them, but after their arrest they were accused of “propaganda against the regime.”

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

September 28, 2014

Jamaleddin Khanjani sent to hospital, returned without treatment

Filed under: Bahai rights,prisoners — Sen @ 16:26


HRANA, September 28, 2014.

Jamaleddin Khanjani (جمالدین خانجانی), aged 81, is one of seven Bahai ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran) who were sentenced to 20 years in prison after their May 2008 arrest. He is imprisoned in block 12, the wing of Raja’i Shahr prison that holds prisoners of conscience, and suffers from diverse ailments connected to his age. On September 27, in accordance with the instructions of the prison doctor, he was sent to a medical centre outside the prison, but unidentified officials opposed his treatment and he was returned to the prison. Another prisoner of conscience from the same section of Raja’i Shahr prison, Ali Salanpour (علی سلان‌پور), was taken to hospital and returned in the same way, also on September 27. He is suffering intense pain because of a problem with a vertebra in his neck. In his case he was asked, while he was being moved to the hospital, for money “to cover the treatment.” However all prisoners in Iran are covered by medical insurance, so that they are treated without charge in government facilities. Moreover, prisoners are not allowed either credit cards or cash. [The ruse is likely to be a way of getting money from a prisoner's relatives. I note that Ali Salanpour's name is missing from the hyperactivist database of prisoners of conscience: any further information would be welcome, as this database is a very important tool for tracking human rights abuses in Iran ~Sen]

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

Wahid Dana free on bail in Shiraz: four still detained

wahid-dana
PCED (facebook), September 28, 2014.

Mr. Wahid Dana ( وحید دانا), a Bahai from Shiraz, has been released on bail. Bail was set at 500 million rials (15,000 euros, 19,000 US dollars). Mr. Dana was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on August 5, along with Mr. Adib Haqqpazhouh, Mr. Sa`id `Ebadi, and Mrs. Bahiyyeh Ma`navipour (ادیب حق پژوه، سعید عابدی، و یهیه معنویپور). Mrs. Ma`navipour was released on bail on September 18.

On September 9, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence broke into the home of Mrs. Wahideh Dana (وحیده دانا) [perhaps a daughter of Mr. Wahid Dana? ~Sen], also in Shiraz, and searched it. On September 1, Mr. Shahram Mansour ( شهرام منصور) and Mr. Farhad Sarafraz (فرهاد سرافراز) were detained in Shiraz and taken to Detention Facility 100 in the city. They are still detained, as are Adib Haqqpazhouh, Mr. Sa`id `Ebadi.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


September 25, 2014

Iranian MP abuses a group of Bahai students


Taghato, September 24, 2014.

Ali Reza Mahjoub (علی‌رضا محجوب)[*], an Iranian Member of Parliament who has been reelected several terms for the ‘reformist’ faction, insulted a number of the Bahai students who have been excluded from tertiary education, who were visiting him in his office. He called them terrorists and gunmen and expelled them from his office. One of the students, the 18-year-old Ruhiyyeh Sefajuh (روحیه صفاجو), described the meeting on her facebook page on September 23. She writes that as the meeting began, one of the eight Bahai students greeted Mr. Mahjoub, saying “Salam.” He did not respond with Salam [as both social norms and religious teachings require], but rather asked “Has Bahaism become a religion?” [In this context, 'Bahaism' is not intentionally insulting ~Sen]
Mrs. Sefajuh responded on behalf of the eight students, “We are not talking about religion, we have come to say that we are Iranians and we have a right to education. I was expelled, and now my daughter is not even accepted at university.”
Mr. Mahjoub, who had closed his eyes, answered, “Don’t change the subject. Give me an answer. Is Bahaism a religion?”
Mrs. Sefajuh replied, “Yes, Bahaism is a religion.”
Mr. Mahjoub raised his voice and began insulting the things Bahais hold dear, and would not allow any of those present to speak. However Ruhiyyeh Sefajuh asked quietly if she could speak for a few moments, which only elicited a louder and even more angry reaction. Mr. Mahjoub said “All you try to achieve is terrorism [the word is also used in Iran for assassins], you’re all getting your pistols.” To Miss Sefajuh he shouted, “Get out, get out!”
Ruhiyyeh Sefajuh replied, “I won’t go. My own father has not shouted at me, these eighteen years. What right do you have to shout at me?”
Mrs. Sefajuh continued her account of the meeting, writing that ‘Mr. Mahjoub began shouting again, saying “What business do you have with me? What is it you want ?” I said very quickly, “This does have to do with you. You expelled my father, my mother was not even allowed to sit [the University Entrance exam], so here I am.” Mr. Mahjoub shouted, “Is that my fault? Get out!”
Ruhiyyeh Sefajuh began to cry, and they left Mr. Mahjoub’s office.

About two weeks ago, 360 Bahais who were excluded from tertiary education in previous years wrote an open letter to President Rouhani, reminding him of his campaign promises regarding civil rights, and said that the way examination results had been withheld from a large number of Bahai university candidates was a sign of his reluctance to admit Bahai students to universities.

[* Mr. Mahjoub was the only reformist MP to be relected in the Tehran district in the 2012 elections, when there was a strong swing to conservative candidates. He is active in labour market affairs and heads the "Worker's House." He has opposed subsidy reforms.]

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


September 23, 2014

Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab beaten in prison, again

HRANA, September 24, 2104

On September 20, Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab (میاندوآب شهرام چینیان ), a Bahai shopkeeper from Tehran who is serving an 8-year sentence, was beaten as he was being taken to a judge because he refuses to wear the standard prison uniform. Prisoners of conscience in Iran generally do not wear the prison uniform. Mr. Chiniyan is held in block 1 of Rajai Shahr prison, which is reserved for dangerous prisoners. One of the other prisoners told HRANA that he was summoned to a judge outside the prison, in relation to one of the cases against him that has not been concluded. At the prison gates, the prison guards demanded that he put on prison uniform, which he refused. The guards beat him and stripped him. He was bruised in many places, and was later treated at the prison clinic because of the severity of his injuries. He was also beaten on August 19, by Mr. Amirian, one of the Deputy Directors at the prison, and a number of prison guards, and his clothes were torn.

Mr. Chiniyan was first arrested in March 2009 and released on March 3, 2010, after using his business license as bail. He was sentenced to 70 lashes and 8 years in prison on a charge of insulting Islam, and began serving his sentence, first in Evin prison in Tehran and then in Raja’i Shahr prison, early in March, 2012. On May 28, 2014, he was transferred to section 1 of Raja’i Shahr, where dangerous criminals are kept. He was punished with one week in solitary from June 25 to July 1, and four days in solitary on August 20, following his first beating by prison guards.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


September 20, 2014

First approval given for a youth training building at the Lotus Temple

Press Trust of India, September 19, 2014.

The Delhi Development Authority has given initial approval for the construction of a separate building for youth training on the grounds of the ‘Lotus Temple‘ in Delhi. These activities are at present conducted within the House of Worship itself. The application had previously been dealt with in the DDA’s technical committees. The Indian Government uses the Lotus Temple as a symbol of communal harmony. In April, 2014, it placed the Lotus Temple on the “tentative list” for UNESCO recognition as a world heritage site.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


September 19, 2014

Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister clarifies his stance on ‘recognizing’ the Bahai Faith

Viva News, September 19 2014.

Indonesia’s religious affairs Minister, Lukman Saifuddin, has said that the Indonesian government would not add the Bahai Faith to the list of recognized religions, as media have reported. There are still six recognized religious identities in Indonesia, he said. They are Islam, Catholicism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Neither Taoism nor the Bahai Faith would be added. The Minister’s previous instruction to the Home Affairs Ministry, that the Bahai Faith is a religion protected by articles 28E and 29 in the Constitution, was an administrative measure with regard to identity cards and other necessary documentation.

Indonesia’s Constitution does not recognise or establish any religion. However the Prevention of Desecration Act identifies six religions as those historically embraced by the people of Indonesia. Departments of the Ministry of Religious Affairs deal with the state’s relations with these six communities, and they may obtain funding (although the situation in relation to the Confucian community is somewhat more complicated). However the Act goes on to say that other religions, such as Judaism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism and Taoism, have full protection under Article 29. The Minister’s statement about the Bahai Faith was not announcing an intention to add it to the six specifically identified religions. Rather it meant that the Bahai Faith should not be treated as a sect of another religion, and is entitled to the same protection as the religions mentioned in Article 29.

This report includes input from Satu Harapan in the blog Religious Studies in Indonesia.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


Bahiyyeh Ma`navipour free on bail

Bahiyyeh-Ma`navipour
‘Fariba Kamalabadi’ (public figure facebook page), September 18, 2014.

Bahiyyeh Ma`navipour (بهیه معنوی پور), one of three Bahais arrested in Shiraz on August 5, has been freed on bail.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


September 18, 2014

‘Unfulfilled Promises’ notes dramatic increase in anti-bahaism in Iranian media

Editorial, September 18, 2014.

In a report entitled Unfulfilled Promises, released on September 15, the Baha’i International Community in addresses 34 pledges made by Iran in February 2010 that relate to the human rights of Iran’s Bahai community. The report is summarised in a BWNS news item and can be read or downloaded in pdf format here.

graph-B-arrested
One of several points the report makes is that hateful anti-Bahai propaganda continues to be disseminated in Iran’s official media, and those responsible continue to go unprosecuted. A section beginning on page 17, entitled ‘Incitement to hatred,’ outlines the Iranian government’s extensive and well-documented hate campaign against Iranian Bahais, conducted through government-controlled media. Bahais have been portrayed as foreign agents and have faced continuous but utterly unfounded allegations of immorality. They have been branded as social pariahs to be shunned.

graph-B-prisoners
In 2011, the Bahai International Community documented the dissemination of more than 400 items of anti-Bahai propaganda in government-controlled or pro-government media over 16 months from late 2009 to early 2011. That report is available here. During the 16-month period from late 2009 to May 2011, the charge that Bahais are Zionists or agents of Israel appeared in more than 75 articles or broadcasts. In January 2011, the official Sima Television News Network broadcast three episodes in its long-running series The Secrets of Armageddon, which presented various conspiracy theories about Israel, focusing on the Bahai Faith. These episodes suggested that the “misguided Bahaist sect” acted as an arm of international Zionism in the Pahlavi period (prior to 1979) to systematically influence the political, military, and cultural branches of the Shah’s regime, seeking to turn Iran into a second Israel. This inflammatory propaganda has not abated. In 2013, for example, the media continued to disseminate anti-Bahai statements, some of them made at the highest levels of government.

graph-antibahaismAn article published on 29 July 2013 by a government-aligned news agency, Tasnim, cited a large selection of fatwas issued by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i. Among the new fatwas was an older one that quoted Ayatollah Khamene’i as saying that Iranians are to avoid association with Bahais because they are najis (unclean). This fatwa was republished one day before the inauguration of Iran’s new president, Mr Hassan Rouhani. Soon after, in November 2013, a series of disturbing posts intended to instill fear of Bahais in the Iranian population was posted on Facebook. The posts included headings such as “Be aware, Bahai killers are in your city and at the school of your children, until they are completely eliminated, you are in danger.” There were also blatant lies with gruesome photos of the murder of a couple with the caption “Bahais committed violent murders for disruption caused in their informational gathering.” The posts were later removed by facebook.

In December 2013, government agencies intensified their campaign against the Bahais. A new six-part documentary. Meet the Darkness, was broadcast on channel 6. The channel’s website says, “Meet the Darkness explores the relationship between the misguided sect of Baha’ism and Israel, and the influence of the Bahais on the sinister Pahlavi family.” The first part was aired in the second week of December after the 8 p.m. news. The teaser begins with a cleric stating: “The supporters of the Shah were all Bahais.” This was followed by ominous music as photos of the Faith’s Prophet Founder and early Bahais were shown.

During the first part of 2014, the quantity of anti-Bahai propaganda rose dramatically. The Bahai International Community catalogued at least 55 anti-Bahai articles on Iranian websites in January, 72 in February, 93 in March, 285 in April, 366 in May, and 565 in June.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-272
For related articles, see the category “anti-bahai polemics.” Scroll past the first item, which will of course be this editorial.

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


September 16, 2014

Help! Bahais are taking over the gardens!

Filed under: Anti-Bahai polemics — Sen @ 19:06

Editorial, September 16, 2014.

The latest story in Iran’s government-approved media is that Bahais are up to no good in an extensive park on the Western outskirts of Tehran, on the road to Kharaj, known as the Vardavard gardens. A google search at 17.30 GMT today found 408 media sites expressing their concern at Bahai activities in the area, in identical words. The stories have two different titles: “The Vardavard gardens are a safe place for immoral Bahai activities” [example] and “A place for having sex with girls, on condition of becoming a Bahai.” [example]. With respect to the latter: if Iranian society is full of young men and women who want to have sex with strangers, wouldn’t they simply find one other without needing to become Bahais? And find a nice mullah who will make sex with strangers all right and proper, by giving them a sigheh marriage for an hour or two?

According to the story, the Bahais attract converts through allowing immoral acts with Bahai women and girls, and therefore they are always on the lookout for safe places. In fact they are even attracting homosexuals! They have a big property in the area of the park, with lots of rooms and a pool and sound-proofing, where they have cocktail parties for boys and girls together. One of the sites even has a photograph: cocktails The camera doesn’t lie. Not only are there Bahais drinking beer and cocktails, there are women without hejab, the doors to the street are wide open, and there are no crowds of basij and hezbollah on motorcycles. Tehran is not what it used to be.

The parties are promoted in social media, and people pay 250,000 tumans each (75 euros, 100 US dollars) for a place for some nice debauchery. After they’ve debauched a few times, little by little, they are attracted to learn about the Bahai teachings. The stories end with a call for the authorities to crack down harder on the Bahais. I would have thought that it would be sufficient to close the supposed mansion of depravity, and let the kids go to university. It keeps them off the streets.

What’s going on? My guess is, a developer with good connections wants to build on the park. He really should have researched the Bahai view on chastity and drinking alcohol before launching this story. And next time, choose a park that has at least some shrubbery.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


September 14, 2014

Bahai home raided in Shiraz


HRANA, September 14, 2014.

On September 9, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence broke into the home of Wahideh Dana (وحیده دانا) in Shiraz, searched it for about an hour, and confiscated religious books, images and CDs. Ms. Dana refused to open the door, but after the agents had forced their way in, they showed a search warrant.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


Saqi Feda’i rearrested in Mashhad


HRANA, September 14, 2014.

Saqi Feda’i (ساقی فدایی), a Bahai from Mashhad, has been summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence and arrested. She was first arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on July 8 this year, following a raid on a Bahai religious meeting in her home on June 1. She was released on bail about one month later (her release has not previously been reported on Sen’s Daily, and the date and amount of bail are not stated in the HRANA report). Her mother, Mey Khalusi (می خلوصی), was arrested during the raid on June 1, as were two other Bahais from Mashhad, Dari Amri (دری امری) and Shayan Tafazoli (شایان تفضلی). These three were transferred from the Ministry of Intelligence facilities in Mashhad to Vakilabad prison on August 2. They have now been held for three months without trial or charge.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


September 13, 2014

Alain Locke, short, gay, black and brilliant philosopher, finally gets a fitting burial

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 15:48
Tags: , ,


Washington Post, September 12, 2014

This weekend, 60 years after his death, the ashes of the black Bahai philosopher Alaine Locke are finally being given a permanent resting place in Washington, in Capitol Hill’s Congressional Cemetery. The commemorative ceremony and interment were planned and funded largely by African American Rhodes scholars who followed Locke’s pioneering path across the Atlantic to Oxford. Locke was the first American black to be selected for the Rhodes scholarship, in 1907. He went on to be an important figure in the pragmatic school of philosophy and in the Harlem Renaissance, and an early spokesman for cultural pluralism, but was born at least a generation too early to be fully recognized in his lifetime. In a 1949 note, Locke refers to the irony of being born in America with his three minority statuses:

“Had I been born in ancient Greece I would have escaped the first [homophobia]; in Europe I would have been spared the second [U.S. racial segregation policies]; in Japan I would have been above rather than below average [height].”

His gravestone reads “Alain Leroy Locke, 1885-1954, Herald of the Harlem Renaissance, Exponent of Cultural Pluralism.” On the reverse side are four symbols: a nine-pointed Bahai star representing the religion that emphasizes the spiritual unity of humankind; a Zimbabwe bird, the emblem of the African country formerly called Rhodesia, which the American Rhodes community adopted; a lambda, symbolizing gay and lesbian rights; and Phi Beta Sigma, the fraternity Locke joined at Howard University. In the center is a dramatic art deco depiction of an African woman’s face set against a sunburst.

“Teneo te, Africa” it reads in Latin. “I hold you, Africa.”

Read the full story in The Washington Post.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


Numerous excluded students give the lie to Larijani

MJLarijani
Editorial, September 13, 2014.

This year, as in previous years, Bahai high school graduates who have achieved the necessary passes in Iran’s nationwide university entrance examinations are being refused entry to universities across the country because of their religious beliefs. However this year they are being excluded without documentation: their educational records have the message “write to PO Box so-and-so” or “refer to PO Box so-and-so” in place of examination grades. This phrase, inserted in their educational records, amounts to a coded message for educational institution, which will be understood as saying, “this is a Bahai, do not admit him or her.” An example of this was given on this blog on August 4. A similar procedure has been followed where a student who is already enrolled becomes a Bahai or is discovered to be a Bahai: they are told to make enquiries at an office, where they are informed verbally that they have been expelled because they are Bahais. The example of Yalda Na’imeyan ( یلدا نعیمیان) was reported on this blog on September 7

Another innovation this year is that Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Human Rights Council of the Judiciary, has publicly stated that “The authorities have never discriminated against the followers of the Baha’i faith merely based on being Bahais, as they believe that based on the Iranian Constitution every individual has the same rights and cannot be deprived of constitutional rights.” “Those who claim to have been deprived of studying at university due to being a Bahai” should “send your documentation for follow-up.” (Translated by Iran Press Watch) Any Bahai who did have such documentation, from previous years when expulsions were sometimes announced in writing, would be very foolish to send it to the “Human Rights Council.” That would be inviting a prison term. Resilient as always, the Bahai students and human rights organisations have been documenting and publishing the stories of individual Bahai students, providing irrefutable evidence for those able to access human rights web sites that Mr. Larijani is lying. They may not say “lying” in as many words (Bahais generally are polite to a fault), but that’s what it amounts to. There are too many stories for me to translate them all, but I am collecting the names and photographs below: click on the photograph for the source in Persian.

Anahita Etahadi
(آناهیتا اتحادی)

Noura Sabet
(نورا ثابت)

Tara Houshmand
(تارا هوشمند)

Shadi Shirazi
(شادان شیرازی)

Ruhiyyeh Sefajuh (روحیه صفاجو)

Ruhiyyeh Sefajuh
(روحیه صفاجو)


Dorsa Dehqani (درسا دهقانی)

Dorsa Dehqani
(درسا دهقانی)

Nilofar Mazidi( نیلوفر مزیدی)

Nilofar Mazidi
( نیلوفر مزیدی)

Sarmad Shadabi
(سرمد شادابی)

 

Dr. Mohammad Maleki (محمد ملکی), former president of the University of Tehran, and Muhammad Nourizad (seated) meet some of the excluded students (photo Radio Yek Jahan)

Dr. Mohammad Maleki (محمد ملکی), former President of the University of Tehran, and Muhammad Nourizad (محمد نوری‌زاد, seated 3rd from right) meet some of the excluded students (photo Radio Yek Jahan)

 

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September 11, 2014

Susan Tabyaniyan sentenced: 1 year in prison


PCED (facebook), September 11, 2014.

Susan Tabyaniyan (سوسن تبیانیان), a Bahai from Semnan who was arrested on May 31, 2014, has been sentenced to one year in prison. Her trial took place on August 7. After her arrest she was held for 45 days before being released on bail.

Mrs. Tabyaniyan, who has two small children, had a shop in Semnan until her arrest in April, 2009. In May 2010 she was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime and membership of a Bahai organisation. After serving almost 14 months in Evin prison, she was one of the prisoners granted clemency to mark Eid al-Fitr, on August 27 2011.

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Kamran and Kayvan Rahimian and Faran Hessami refused prison furlough unless they recant

ICHRI, September 10, 2014

The brothers Kamran and Kayvan Rahimiyan ( رحیمیان ) and Kamran’s wife Faran Hessami ( فاران حسامی ), all imprisoned for teaching in the Bahai Open University (BIHE) have been refused prison furlough unless they recant their Bahai beliefs and promise not to teach students at the Open University.

Mrs. Afagh Khosravi-Zand, Mother of Kamran and Kayvan and mother-in-law to Faran, said, “I have written to authorities many times but I have received no reply. Kamran and Faran have a five-year-old son and Kayvan has a 14-year-old daughter and, unfortunately, he also lost his wife to cancer before he was arrested. These kids are living with me now. But I cannot do enough for a girl who’s going through puberty and a small child.”

Under Iranian law, if a prisoner has served a third of his sentence and maintained good behavior, he can be conditionally released, Khosravi-Zand noted. “But it has been ten months since Kamran and Faran submitted their request for a conditional release and every time we followed up they said it is being reviewed. I guess these reviews go on until their term ends. But the officials have said they would be released as soon as they repent and promise not to teach. And [my sons and daughter-in-law] have replied that as long as you don’t allow Baha’is to study in national universities, we have no choice but to educate them ourselves. We don’t want them to be illiterate.”

Baha’is are one of the most persecuted religious minorities in Iran and are routinely denied admission to higher education in the country.

Khosravi-Zand said the three have not been given furlough since their imprisonment and none of the officials had given a reason why. Faran Hessami, Kamran Rahimian and Kayvan Rahimian were professors at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education, an online university, when they were arrested on September 13, 2012. Judge Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court found them guilty of “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security” for teaching at the Baha’i university and sentenced Kamaran and Faran to four years and Kayvan to five years in prison.

“Every Tuesday I take the five-year-old boy to see his father in Rajaee Shahr Prison and his mother in Evin Prison on Wednesdays. Also Kayvan’s 14-year-old daughter, Gina, goes to see her father in Rajaee Shahr every week,” she said.

Khosravi-Zand added that the three were not being represented by a lawyer of their choice, because upon hearing the name of the lawyer they had hired, the Judge threatened a stiffer sentence if they were represented by him.

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September 10, 2014

Shadi Shirazi, with top university entry grades, denied admission


Alliance for Rights of All Minorities-ARAM, September 10, 2014.

Shadi Shirazi (شادان شیرازی), a math student with top tier ranks in her entrance exams was denied admission to university because of her religious beliefs in Baha’i faith, according Taghato News. A decision of Iran’s Supreme Council of Culture and Revolution effectively calls for the exclusion of members of Baha’i faith from employment and opportunities for higher education. The third section of this provision calls for an immediate removal of the student at any point upon the revelation of their religious identity, including post registration or during the academic year.

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Another student expelled from University in Shiraz


PCED (facebook), September 10, 2014.

On August 19, Farnaz Rouhani ( فرناز روحانی), who has completed four semesters of study in English translation at the Azad (“free”) University in Shiraz, was expelled because of her Bahai beliefs. She began her studies in October 2012. Her efforts to pursue the matter have been fruitless. No evidence or reason for the decision has been given in writing. She was told to direct her enquiries to Tehran, but again received no answers, except that the decision was taken by the University’s central security office in Tehran.

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Concerns for the health of Sa`id `Ebadi, detained in Shiraz

Hawkesbury Gazette, September 10, 2014.

A cousin living in Australia has expressed concerns for the health of Sa`id Ebadi ( سعید عابدی), one of four Bahais arrested in Shiraz on August 5. Mr. Ebadi’s cousin, Houshidar Etehad said that with no information available as to his whereabouts and status, the incident had caused his whole family major distress. Mr. Ebadi has a wife and child in Shiraz.

“The government soldiers ran in, destroyed the house and arrested him because they found out he was part of the Bahá’í association in Iran,” Mr Etehad said. “I worry a lot about his health because he is going blind in both eyes. He needs proper treatment or else he will never be able to see again. To make things even worse, his wife is dying from cancer and I’m a million miles away while the family that I love is falling apart.”

“My family took him in when we were children because both his parents had died. We were raised together and he is the closest person to me other than my immediate family. I feel like a part of me is missing now, and there’s not a minute that goes by where I don’t think about what he is going through at the moment.”

On September 1, Mr. Shahram Mansour ( شهرام منصور) and Mr. Farhad Sarafraz (فرهاد سرافراز) were detained in Shiraz, so at least six newly arrested Bahais are being held at present. On July 22 it was reported that fifteen Bahais in Shiraz had recently been sentenced to terms of up to three and a half years. The lawyer representing them, Guity Pourfazel, stated that she has decided to challenge these sentences in a court of appeals.

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September 7, 2014

High bail set for three Bahais in Tehran; four remain in prison (correction)


PCED, September 4; HRANA, September 6.

(Corrected: three of the four detainees for whom bail was set have not been released as the bail is excessive)

On September 3, Branch 4 of the court at Evin Prison set bail for three Bahais arrested in Tehran: Babak Mobasher ( بابک مبشر ), Nasr `Arshi Moqaddam (ناصر عرشى مقدم), and `Ata’ollah Ashrafi (عطاء الله اشرفى). The family of the three detainees were informed by telephone from Evin prison that bail for Babak Mobasher and Naser Arshi Moqaddam was set at 25 billion Rials (700,000 euros or 938,000 US dollars), while 20 billion Rials (560,000 euros or 750,000 US dollars) was demanded for `Ata’ollah Ashrafi’s temporary release.

These three have been charged with “subverting the economy of Iran,” and “membership in the Baha’i community of Iran.” Their family cannot afford to pay the bail, which amounts to 2.6 million dollars, or almost 2 million euros. They are being held in block 209 of Evin prison, which is controlled by the Ministry of Intelligence. Alaeddin Khanjani (علا‌ءالدین خانجانی), known as ‘Niki,’ is also held in block 209: there is no word about his condition.

On August 11, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided the home and optician’s shop of the Khanjani family in Tehran, and arrested Babak Mobasher, his father-in-law Alaeddin Khanjani, and four employees: Naser `Arshi Moqaddam, `Ata’ollah Ashrafi, Ruhollah Monzavi (روح الله منزوى), and Javad Salehi (جواد صالحى). Javad Salehi was reported to have been released when it was discovered that he was a Muslim. Ruhollah Monzavi was released on bail of 1 billion rials (37,000 US dollars or 28,000 euros.) Iranian media reported this as the smashing of a big spectacle-smuggling network, and said there were eight arrests, without giving names.

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September 6, 2014

Bahai student expelled from university in Miandoab


PCED (facebook page), September 7, 2014.

Yalda Na’imeyan ( یلدا نعیمیان), a student at the Payam-e Nur University in Miandoab, has been expelled from the university after five semesters of study because of her Bahai beliefs. Her expulsion took place on May 17, 2014, but has only just been reported. Her efforts to obtain a written statement of the reasons for her expulsion have been fruitless. The University branch in Miandoab referred her to the head office in Tehran. She could not obtain a written statement there either. However a worker at the head office in Tehran told her that the head of the Payame-e Nur University of Azarbayjan province expelled her because of her Bahai beliefs.

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September 2, 2014

Two arrests in Shiraz


HRANA, September 1, 2014.

On the morning of September 1, security forces arrested Mr. Shahram Mansour ( شهرام منصور) at his home, and transferred him to the Ministry of Intelligence’s Facility 100 in Shiraz. They also searched his home and seized some personal items. They arrested Mr. Farhad Sarafraz (فرهاد سرافراز) in similar circumstances and took him to the same detention facility. The reasons for the arrests are not known.

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August 30, 2014

Farhad Eqbali begins 5-year sentence in Gorgan


HRANA, August 30, 2014.

Farhad Eqbali ( فرهاد اقبالی ), a Bahai resident of Gorgan, reported to prison on August 27 to begin serving his 5-year sentence. Mr. Eqbali was one of about twenty Bahais, and some Muslims accused of associating with Bahais, who were arrested in Goran in November, 2012. His sentence was confirmed by the court of review on August 27, and he began his sentence on the same day, although the enforcement unit [of the Ministry of Justice] had asked for his punishment to be postponed because Mr. Eqbali has heart problems requiring advanced medical treatment.

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Special conditions for allowing Bahai burials in Semnan

HRANA, AUGUST 29, 2014.

The recent burial of a Bahai in Semnan, in the section of the cemetery reserved for Bahais, has revealed that new rules have been drawn up. The family of the deceased was required to sign a commitment to follow six rules. These stipulate that the Bahai gravestones may only show a name and the dates of birth and death, that the Bahais may not beautify the area around the graves with plants or build a wall around the Bahai cemetery, or erect new buildings around the facility where bodies are washed, that they may not have any words or images on the graves or in the cemetery, and that the Bahai gravestones must be level with the ground, without any raised portions.

[Although the discriminatory conditions are regrettable, they do allow burials in accordance with Bahai rites. The situation in Tabriz is much worse. The bodies of Bahais have buried by the authorities, without being washed and without coffins, in the town of Miandoab, about 160 km south of Tabriz. ~Sen]

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Ruhiyyeh Qavami-nik free on bail


HRANA, August 30, 2014.

Ruhiyyeh Qavami-nik (روحیه قوامی نیک), a Bahai from Karaj, was freed on bail on August 29. She was arrested on August 17, following a telephone summons to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence. When she complied, she was arrested, and transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran. She has a four-year-old daughter. The charges against her are not known.

[August 30, possibly related: a news site based in Karaj reports that an unconventional fashion show was held at a clothing outlet in Karaj, which was shut down (citing 'inappropriate dress' and 'undermining Islamic teachings') when a team of inspectors found the organiser was a Bahai.]

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August 27, 2014

One arrest in Semnan


HRANA, August 26, 2014. (updated)

Noushadhar Khanjani ( نوش‌آذر خانجانی), a Bahai from Semnan who was visiting family in Semnan, was arrested by security forces this morning. He has been interviewed by the Ministry of Intelligence several times in the past months, on various pretexts, and is presently free on bail and having provided a surety. His father, Afrasiab Khanjani (افراسیاب خانجانی ) has been subject to pressure from the security forces for some time, and has had much of his property confiscated, including a factory for making spectacles. The family have been told that Noushadhar will be transferred to Tehran tomorrow.

On August 13, Babak Mobasher ( بابک مبشر ) and Alaeddin Khanjani (علا‌ءالدین خانجانی), known as Niki, two more members of the Khanjani family, and some of their Bahai employees, were arrested in Tehran and have been accused of smuggling spectacles [!]. They are being held in Evin prison. Noushadhar Khanjani’s grandfather Jamalludin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی) is one of the seven ‘Yaran’ (Bahai national facilitators) who are now in the seventh year of 20-year sentences, and his cousin Navid Khanjani (نوید خانجانی) is serving a 12-year sentence for promoting equal access to education. Both are in in Raja’i Shahr prison. Fo’ad Khanjani (فواد خانجانی) and Behfar Khanjani (بهفر خانجانی) are serving 4-year sentences in Raja’i Shahr and Semnan prisons respectively. Leva Khanjani and Omid Firuzeyan, two more grandchildren of Jamalludin Khanjani, have recently been released from prison. [And all this effort by the judiciary, intelligence services and prison authorities serves absolutely no purpose: they are Bahais when they go into prison and they are still Bahais when they come out. Hats off to a most illustrious family! ~sen]

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August 24, 2014

Bahai athlete excluded from participation or recognition


Tahlili Ruz(a Kurdish-Iranian news aggregator), August 21, 2014.

Hamza Razyani (حمزه رازیانی), a successful Kurdish athlete, has been stripped of his medals and positions after converting from Islam to the Bahai Faith, and has been forced by pressure from Iran’s security forces to leave Iran. Prior to becoming a Bahai he was a member of Iran’s national Jujitsu team and had won more than 70 medals in Judo and Jujitsu. In 2013 he won six gold medals in three martial arts disciplines and was named as the best exponent of the techniques in the West of Iran. He was also Chairman of the Jujitsu Association in Kermanshah. When he became a Bahai he was dropped from the team and stripped of all rights in this field. On July 13 this year security forces raided his office and he was detained for some time. On August 12 he was threatened and summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence in Kermanshah, and decided to leave Iran. After he had left, his family was put under pressure and his mother suffered a mild heart attack requiring hospitalisation.

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Riaz Sobhani free on furlough


HRANA, August 23, 2014.

Riaz Sobhani ( ریاض سبحانی ), who was arrested in June 2011 and is imprisoned for assisting the work of the Bahai Open University (BIHE), has been released on leave from prison in the past few hours. He is 67 years old and suffers from heart disease, a lung disease and stomach bleeding. He is serving a four-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, in Karaj, near Tehran. On May 13, 2012 he was hospitalized because his heart condition had become acute. Two weeks later he was sent back to Raja’i Shahr after heart surgery. At that time a medical furlough was denied. Two other prisoners of conscience were granted medical furlough from Raja’i Shahr today. They are Majid Tavakoli (مجید توکلی), a student whose case history reads like an overview of all that is wrong with Iran’s laws, judiciary and prison system, and Mehdi Motamedi-Mehr ( مهدی معتمدی مهر), a political activist with a particular interest in free and fair elections.

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August 23, 2014

Bahais in India seek recognition as a minority (corrected)


Press Trust of India, August 22, 2014. Corrected in the light of a report on India Tomorrow, August 23.

On August 22, delegations representing the Bahais and Kashmiri Pandits met the Minority Affairs Minister of India, Mrs. Najma Heptullah, in New Delhi to ask that they be accorded minority status, which has been so far given to Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Jains. The Bahai delegation, from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais in India, comprised Nelakshi Rajkhowa and Farida Wahidi; the Pandits were represented by a delegation of the Jammu and Kashmir Vichar Manch organisation. Pandits are Brahman Hindus who are socially disadvantaged in Kashmir, most of the community having fled from religious and nationalist terrorism.

In January this year, Jains became the sixth religious minority to be given national recognition in India. This allows them to benefit from central funds earmarked for welfare programmes and scholarships for minorities and for their educational institutions to be classified as minority educational institutions.

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August 21, 2014

Five Bahais arrested, questioned and released in Isfahan Province


PCED (facebook page), August 21, 2014.

On the morning of August 20, police searched a home shared by Bahais in the city of Shahin Shahr, in the province of Isfahan. They searched the house for several hours, seizing computers, religious books and personal effects, and then arrested five Bahais who were present. Their names are Sa`id Qa’emi, Parviz Gaudarzeyan, Azita Homayuni, Noushin Salkyan and Rashin Shahnazi (سعید قائمی ، پرویز گودرزیان، آزیتا همایونی ، نوشین سالکیان و راشین شهنازی ). They were released on the same evening, following several hours of interrogation, and told that “the courts have been notified, you will have to attend.”

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Shayan Tafazoli marooned in prison quarantine


HRANA, August 12, 2014.

It is reported that Shayan Tafazoli (شایان تفضلی), who was arrested in Mashhad on June 1, 2014, when agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided a Bahai religious meeting, and who was transferred from the Ministry of Intelligence facilities to Vakilabad prison on August 2, is still being held in the prison’s quarantine unit. However Mey Khalusi (می خلوصی) and Dari Amri (دری امری), two Bahai women who were transferred from the Intelligence Office to Vakilabad Prison on the same day, were moved to the section for female prisoners of conscience on the following day. The quarantine section is a short-term holding place for new prisoners, and lacks food and medical facilities. Prisoners usually remain there only one or two days. It is notable that Mr. Tafazoli has not been tried, and the two-month detention order obtained by the Ministry of Intelligence has now expired. An informed Bahai source told HRANA that it is likely that the Ministry of Intelligence is planning to seek a new detention order for him.

Mr. Tafazoli was one of the Bahai youth arrested in February 2012, when police shut down a handicraft exhibition in Mashhad. He was held in Vailabad prison at that time. In July 2012 he was again arrested, and freed some 6 weeks later on bail. On November 27 he was sentenced to 6 months in prison for his handicrafts activities, which the review court reduced to a fine.

Iran Press Watch has a complete translation of the HRANA report.

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August 20, 2014

Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab beaten and placed in solitary

HRANA, August 20, 2014

Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab (میاندوآب شهرام چینیان ), a Bahai shopkeeper from Tehran who is serving an 8-year sentence, and who is held in block 1 of Rajai Shahr prison, which is reserved for dangerous prisoners, was placed in solitary confinement on August 19. He was moved to the block for dangerous prisoners late in May, 2014: before that he was held with the prisoners of conscience in block 12. A fellow-prisoner has reported that Mr. Chiniyan was beaten by Mr. Amirian [one of the Deputy Directors at the prison ~ Sen] and a number of prison guards, and his clothes were torn. The prison Director. Mr. Mardani, decided unilaterally to move him to solitary confinement. Mr. Chiniyan was first arrested in March 2009 and released on March 3, 2010, after using his business license as bail. He was sentenced to 70 lashes and 8 years in prison on a charge of insulting Islam, and began serving his sentence, first in Evin prison in Tehran and then in Raja’i Shahr prison, early in March, 2012. It appears that the accusation of insulting Islam was raised by his neighbour, following a legal dispute regarding the use of a right of way.

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August 18, 2014

Bahai war veteran unable to enrol children at school in Shiraz

Martyr-Khonsari-Shiraz
HRANA, August 18, 2014.

The administration at the government-run Martyr Khonsari secondary school in Shiraz has refused to enrol the children of Behrouz Farzandi Ardekani (بهروز فرزندی اردکانی) because the family are Bahais. Mr. Ardekani is a war veteran who has been classified as having more than 25% disability. Their actions are in contravention of explicit legislation regarding civil rights, the right to education and the ban on investigating people’s religious beliefs.

Moreover, Mr. Ardekani provided a copy of an official letter stating that Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa stating the Bahai ex-POWs and disabled veterans are entitled to the rights of other veterans and ex-POWs. Nevertheless, the school administration and the Department of Education have continued to refuse to enrol the children of this Bahai family. Numerous Bahai youth have also been denied entry to tertiary education in Iran, or have been expelled when their religious beliefs were discovered.

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One arrest in Karaj


HRANA, August 18, 2014.

On August 17, Ruhiyyeh Qavami-nik (روحیه قوامی نیک), a Bahai from Karaj, was summoned by telephone to report to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence. When she complied, she was arrested, and transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran. She has a four-year-old daughter. Thus far she has not had any contact with her family, and the charges against her are not known.

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August 11, 2014

Six arrests in Tehran: one released


“No” to the harassment and imprisonment of Bahais (facebook group), August 11, 2014. Update, August 13.

Babak Mobasher ( بابک مبشر ) and his father-in-law Alaeddin Khanjani (علا‌ءالدین خانجانی) were arrested around 6 a.m. today when agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided their home [which is apparently located in Tehran ~Sen]. Alaeddin Khanjani is the son of Jalaluldin Khanjani, one of the imprisoned “Yaran” (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran, while Babak Mobasher is the husband of Leva Khanjani ( لواء خانجانی ), a Bahai excluded from tertiary education, who was freed from Evin prison after serving most of a two-year sentence on June 24, 2014.

The Alliance for the Rights of All Minorities in Iran adds that not only the home of Mr. Khanjani but also his office and warehouse was raided, and that four employees were arrested, one whom was later released because he was a Muslim. All the cash, gold personal jewellery, and other items in storage belonging to the business were confiscated. The group responsible for this action is said to be affiliated with those responsible for the arrest of the Yaran seven years ago.

HRANA gives the names of the four employees as Nasr `Arushi Moqaddam, `Ata’llah Ashrafi, Ruhollah Manzui and Javad Salehi ( ناصر عرشى مقدم، عطاء الله اشرفى، روح الله منزوى و جواد صالحى).

[Update, August 13. Iranian internet media are reporting the arrests as the smashing of a big spectacle-smuggling network. Eight arrests are reported, without giving any names. Given that a Muslim employee was released, it appears likely that the security force's action relates to the common belief in Iran that Bahais are "unclean." Because of this belief, they are barred from engaging in certain economic activity, such as in the food sector, where their 'uncleanness' might be passed on to Muslims. In the past two years, a number of optician's shops operated by Bahais have been closed down, especially in the more backward areas of Iran where superstitions have a stronger hold. ~ Sen]

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August 10, 2014

Afif Na`imi and Emanullah Mostaqim sent from hospital to Raja’i Shahr prison


“No” to the harassment and imprisonment of Bahais (facebook group), August 10, 2014. (Updated)

Afif Na`imi ( عفیف نعیمی ), one of the seven Bahai ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators) who are now in the seventh year of 20-year sentences for their Baha’i beliefs, was transferred from hospital to Raja’i Shahr prison yesterday. He is 52 years old, and was being treated in Tehran’s Coronary Hospital. Security officials had said last week that he must be returned to the prison on Saturday, August 9, although the forensic doctor had certified that he was unable to bear imprisonment. Emanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ), one of the staff of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran who is serving a 5-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, was sent from hospital to the prison on the same day, although he too has been certified as unfit for prison.

Update August 11: HRANA reports that the decision that these prisoners should be sent back to prison without completing their treatment in hospital was taken by judicial authorities. Afif Na’imi has been in hospital for the past nine months. He suffers from blood clots which require carefully controlled doses of Warfarin.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


August 9, 2014

Interview with an Egyptian Bahai harrassed and insulted by police

Tahrir Institute (TIMEP), August 8, 2014.

Bahaa Ibrahim, also known as Biko, is 26 years old and was born and raised in Egypt. Recently he was detained at a security checkpoint and harassed because he is a Bahai. He described his recent experience to TIMEP, as well as his perception of his protections as a religious minority. The full interview in English can be accessed at the link above. Some extracts …

… they stopped us at El Tor checkpoint. Because I was sitting at the very front of the bus, the guy saw my tattoos. (I have four tattoos.) He saw one of them, he got on the bus, and he asked for my ID first. I gave him my ID. He took a look normally at the front side of the ID, and then he looked at the back of the ID. On the back of my ID, I have a dash for religion because I am Baha’i … he asked me to get off the bus … Inside, there were three army officers; three police wearing the white uniform of the police; and three wearing civilian clothes—from the secret police. … Then, they asked me, “What is your religion?”
I said, “I am a Baha’i.” All of a sudden, they started, two of them talking at the same time: “This is wrong!” They started attacking me directly. “There is nothing called Baha’i. This is not a faith! This is just a shitty religion! The only religions are Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. These are the only options for you.” … Whenever I tried to speak, they would just attack me, calling me an infidel, insisting I should be a Muslim. At one point, one of the officers said that I would need to convert to Islam. He said what I was doing, I would go to hell, and he kept pushing that I should be Muslim…. The scene lasted about fifteen minutes. In the end, they said: “Get this crap out of here.

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August 7, 2014

Indonesia’s Baha’i Community Grateful for Long-Awaited State Recognition

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 22:00
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Jakarta Globe, August 7, 2014.

The Indonesian Baha’i Community thanked the government on Thursday for officially recognizing the monotheistic faith as a religion, after Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin’s recent statement that worshipers will be protected by the Constitution.

“We are gratefully and happily welcome [the minister’s] statement… that Baha’is, as Indonesian citizens, are recognized by the law,” the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is in Indonesia said in a statement. “We express our deepest gratitude to the government, members of the press and the Indonesian public for their attention interest in our society.”

Through his Twitter account, Lukman tweeted last month that “Baha’i is a religion, not a sect,” in response to a letter sent by the Home Affairs Ministry requesting clarification about the 200-year-old faith. The Ministry is currently reviewing the suggestion of officially allowing the religious option of Baha’i on Indonesian KTP, or identity card. Citizens are required to state their religion on their KTP card, which they acquire at the age of 17. At present, only six government recognized religions can legally appear on an ID card, namely Islam, Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu and Confucianist.

“I told [the Ministry] that Baha’i is a religion protected by articles 28E and 29 in the Constitution,” Lukman tweeted on July 24. Not long after, however, the Indonesian media began accusing the minister of promoting a new religion. “That’s a distortion [of my previous statements],” he said in response, adding that he was not authorized to make any such endorsements. “A number of online media sites have made misleading comments regarding my tweets, saying that I’ve inaugurated a new religion,” Lukman said.

Lukman further emphasized that Baha’is — whether or not they can put their religious identity on their ID cards — deserve equal public services from the government, including those concerning population and legal issues. Nevertheless, the Baha’i Assembly in its Thursday’s press statement, said it wanted the people of Indonesia to learn about the religion from a credible source.

“Baha’i is an independent religion, neither a traditional belief nor a sect deviating from another faith,” the statement says. “The core of Baha’i teachings is the oneness of God; the oneness of mankind and the spiritual basis of every religion,” the Assembly explained.

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Bodies removed from Bahai cemetery in Shiraz

Bahai World News Service (English), August 6, 2014.

Reports from Iran indicate that the Revolutionary Guard has removed human remains from some 30 to 50 of the 950 graves of Baha’is in the cemetery, placing them in an open canal to make way for the construction of a new cultural and sports complex.

In June, the Guards held a public celebration of their progress in clearing the site. In advance of that celebration, to which the media was invited, they used a heavy roller to compact the ground. A carpet was then laid over a number of graves and the commander of the Guards gave a speech attacking Baha’is.

“The manner in which the Revolutionary Guards have gone about destroying these sacred grounds and, now, celebrating its demolition goes beyond the pale in terms of humane behavior,” said Diane Ala’i, the representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.

Full report here

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August 6, 2014

Four Bahais arrested in Shiraz


HRANA, August 5, 2014.

This morning (August 5), agents from the Shiraz city police arrested three Bahai men and one woman: Adib Haqqpazhouh, Sa`id `Ebadi, Wahid Dana and Mrs. Bahiyyeh Ma`navipour (ادیب حق پژوه، سعید عابدی، وحید دانا و یهیه معنویپور). The reasons for their arrest, and their place of detention, are unknown. Mr. Adib Haqqpazhouh was arrested previously, on December 30, 2010, and was later released on bail.

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August 5, 2014

Bahai university candidates again denied results

HRANA, August 4, 2014.

As in previous years, numerous Bahais who sat Iran’s university entrance examinations this year have been denied their examination results, and are therefore excluded from tertiary education. In previous years, Bahai school-leavers have found the cryptic “application incomplete” on their university entrance results. This year, the Bahai students have received the message “write to PO Box so-and-so” or “refer to PO Box so-and-so” in place of examination grades. This phrase, inserted in their educational records, amounts to a coded message for educational institution, which will be understood as saying, “this is a Bahai, do not admit him or her.”

click the pen

See also:
A note from the heart … translation by Iran Press Watch


Although President Rouhani of Iran promised, before his election, to address the exclusion of some citizens from tertiary education, there are no signs of any progress. It should be borne in mind that many of the senior staff at the Ministry of Science and the Organisation for Educational Assessment were appointed under President Ahmadinejad.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


August 4, 2014

Three arrestees in Mashhad transferred to Vakil Abad prison


HRANA, August 3, 2014.

Authorities have moved Mey Khalusi (می خلوصی), Dari Amri (دری امری) and Shayan Tafazoli (شایان تفضلی) from the Ministry of Intelligence facilities in Mashhad to the quarantine at Vakil Abad prison in the same city. In the next few days, they are likely to be transferred from quarantine to the sections for male and female prisoners of conscience. These three Bahais were arrested n June 2, when agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided a Bahai religious meeting in Mashhad. Their families still have no news about the reason for their detention. Six Bahai women are presently held in one room of Vakil Abad prison, separate from the other prisoners, while two men are in the general detention section for men.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


August 3, 2014

Iqan Shahidi granted a 6-day furlough


HRANA, July 29, 2014.

Iqan Shahidi ( ایقان شهیدی ), a Bahai active in the struggle for equal educational opportunities who is serving a 5-year sentence as a prisoner of conscience in Raja’i Shahr prison, near Tehran, has been granted six days of leave from prison, beginning on July 28.

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Five Bahais released on bail in Tabriz

HRANA, July 28, 2014.

Four members of the Bahadari (بهادری ) family, and Shabnam Issakhani (شبنم عیسی خانی), have been released on bail. They are among Six Bahais arrested in Tabriz on July 12, and have been detained by the Ministry of Intelligence. Shabnam Issakhani was released after posting bail of 50 million tumans (14,000 euros; 19.000 US dollars). The same amount was required from Farzad Bahadari (فرزاد بهادری), while his wife Samin Rasouli (سیمین رسولی) and their children, Sahar ( سحر بهادری ) and Nassim Bahadari (نسیم بهادری ) had to provide 20 million tumans each. A source told HRANA that the raid on the Bahadari house was conducted “commando style” by a unity known as the Ashura Intelligence Arm. Rashin Saberi (راشین صابری), who was also arrested and interrogated on July 12, was released following her interrogation.

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