Sen's daily

News to July 23


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Six Bahais arrested in Tabriz

Iran Press Watch, July 19, 2014

Six Bahais are reported to have been arrested in Tabriz on July 12. Their names are given as Farzad Bahadari (فرزاد بهادری), Samin Rasouli (سیمین رسولی) and their children, Sahar ( سحر بهادری ) and Nassim Bahadari (نسیم بهادری ), who are members of one family, Shabnam Issakhani (شبنم عیسی خانی), a mother of two, and Rashin Saberi, who is reported to be 8 months pregnant. The Bahadari family was arrested in their home and face charges of teaching music in their homes and being Bahais. The family’s books, musical instruments and other possessions have been confiscated. The most recent report indicates that Mr. Farzad Bahadari, who is 60 years old, and Mrs. Simin Rasouli, aged 54, are still in prison, while their children have been released on bail. Separately, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence searched Mrs. Issa Khani’s home in Tabriz, confiscated various personal items including books and electronics and took her away for interrogation. According to reports, as of Tuesday, July 15th she was still in solitary confinement and deprived of visitation rights. No further information is available on Rashin Saberi, except that she was interrograted despite being eight months pregnant, when by law she should have been exempt from interrogation under duress.
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Report from the Bahai wing of Vakilabad Women’s Prison, Mashhad

Iran Press Watch, July 17

The fifth ward of the women’s prison of the central prison of Mashhad, in Vakilabad, consists of one room which is approximately 30 square meters, including medical services and a bathroom. At present six Bahai women prisoners are held there, all charged with acting against national security and spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic under Articles 499 and 500 of the Iranian Constitution by promoting the Bahai Faith and participating in its activities. The names of the Baha’i prisoners in this ward are:

1) Rozita Vasseghi (2), sentenced to 5 years.
2) Sima Eshraghi (3), sentenced to 5 years.
3) Noura Nabilzadeh (4), sentenced to 5 years.
4) Sonia Ahmadi (5), sentenced to 5 years
5) Nika Kholousi, sentenced to 6 years
6) Nava Kholousi (6), sentenced to 4.5 years

The prison officials treat inmates in this ward with prejudice. The prisoners are given one hour in the morning for exercise in the gym and one and a half hour in the afternoon to go outside for fresh air, and are locked in their cell for the remainder of the day. They are denied the rights of other prisoners such as attending cultural classes, language learning, seminars, computer use, and other rights. They aren’t allowed access to the prison library, to meet or to communicate with other women prisoners, and during the day, when they are to use the gymnasium or spend time outdoors, the rest of the female prisoners have to be dismissed from these places first. They are kept in complete isolation so that they cannot interact or communicate with other prisoners, and their condition in the prison is kept unknown to the other prison inmates.

These prisoners are also not permitted to have leave from prison, which the other prisoners are granted. They are labeled security-risk prisoners, and are only allowed leave if the prosecutor lets them, and the prosecutor is the eyes and mouth of the Mashhad Intelligence Ministry. More than four years has passed since Rozita Vasseghi’s conviction, but she has not had a single day of prison leave because the Mashhad Intelligence Ministry is opposed to giving her leave!

At present, these six individuals are awaiting the transfer of two other Baha’i prisoners named May Kholousi and Dori Amri, who have been kept in temporary solitary confinement by order of the Mashhad Intelligence Ministry for approximately one month.
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Manuchher Khalasi’s trial adjourned in Mashhad

HRANA, July 11, 2014.

Manuchher Kholousi ( منوچهر خلوصی), a Bahai from Mashhad, was tried on July 8. He was charged with “acting against national security by giving interviews with foreign media.” However no interviews with Mr. Kholousi are known, in either Iranian or foreign media. The court therefore adjourned the sitting for lack of evidence. A judge was appointed to gather evidence for or against the charges from various sources. Mr. Kholousi was arrested at his home in Mashhad on November 29, 2013, and was at first accused of propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith, and membership in Bahai organisations. His daughters, Nika and Nava Kholousi (نیکا و نوا خلوصی ), have been sentenced to six years and 4 and a half years in prison, respectively, on charges of membership of the Bahai organisation, participation in illegal Bahai activities, and propaganda in favour of the Bahais and against the regime of the Islamic Republic. In 1999, Mr. Kholousi was sentenced to death for being a Bahai. This sentence was later reduced to one year in prison, by which time he had already served 19 months in prison.
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Decisions affecting the implementation of the Badi` calendar as of Ridvan 2015

Editorial, July 10

The Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Bahai community, has released a letter detailing three decisions that will allow for the uniform implementation of the Bahai calendar (known as the badi` calendar) in countries that have solar and lunar calendars, with effect from March 21, 2015.

The first decision is that Tehran “will be the spot on the earth that will serve as the standard for determining, … the moment of the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere and thereby the day of Naw-Ruz for the Baha’i world.” The equinox occurs when the planet, in its orbit around the sun, reaches the point at which its poles incline neither towards nor away from the sun, with the result that the northern and southern hemispheres are equally illuminated. At that precise moment, the time of day or night differs around the globe (as at any astronomical moment). It may be noon in one country, and past nightfall in another country. In the Kitab-e Aqdas, Baha’u’llah states that “The Festival of Naw-Ruz falleth on the day that the sun entereth the sign of Aries [that is, at the moment of the equinox], even should this occur no more than one minute before sunset.” The ruling of the House of Justice means that if the astronomical moment of equinox occurs before sunset in Tehran, on March 20, Bahais around the world will celebrate Naw Ruz on March 20. If the equinox occurs when the sun has already set in Tehran, they will celebrate Naw Ruz on March 21, and so on.

The second decision is that the birthdays of the Bab and Baha’u’llah will be celebrated on the “first and the second day following the occurrence of the eighth new moon after Naw-Ruz.” The Bab was born on 1 Muharram in 1819, and Baha’u’llah on 2 Muharram 1817, with the result that in countries that use the Islamic lunar calendar, the two Bahai holidays followed one another. In the past, Bahais in other countries have celebrated these holy days on October 20 and November 12. Henceforth, the “twin holy days” will be celebrated on two successive days, as a ‘movable feast,’ falling anywhere from mid-October to mid-November according to the Gregorian calendar. Next year, the two Holy Days will fall on November 13 and 14 (10 Qudrat and 11 Qudrat).

The third decision is to fix the dates for all remaining holy days in accordance with the Badi` calendar, rather than the Gregorian calendar. This follows from the first decision described above, but it also means that various historical questions, such as whether the Bab was in fact executed on July 8 or July 9, have been set aside. Whatever the findings of historians on such points may be, they will not affect the day on which the holy day is celebrated.

The full text of the letter from the Universal House of Justice is available in the documents archive of my Bahai Studies blog. Editorial, July 10

The Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Bahai community, has released a letter detailing three decisions that will allow for the uniform implementation of the Bahai calendar (known as the badi` calendar) in countries that have solar and lunar calendars, with effect from March 21, 2015.

The first decision is that Tehran “will be the spot on the earth that will serve as the standard for determining, … the moment of the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere and thereby the day of Naw-Ruz for the Baha’i world.” The equinox occurs when the planet, in its orbit around the sun, reaches the point at which its poles incline neither towards nor away from the sun, with the result that the northern and southern hemispheres are equally illuminated. At that precise moment, the time of day or night differs around the globe (as at any astronomical moment). It may be noon in one country, and past nightfall in another country. In the Kitab-e Aqdas, Baha’u’llah states that “The Festival of Naw-Ruz falleth on the day that the sun entereth the sign of Aries [that is, at the moment of the equinox], even should this occur no more than one minute before sunset.” The ruling of the House of Justice means that if the astronomical moment of equinox occurs before sunset in Tehran, on March 20, Bahais around the world will celebrate Naw Ruz on March 20. If the equinox occurs when the sun has already set in Tehran, they will celebrate Naw Ruz on March 21, and so on.

The second decision is that the birthdays of the Bab and Baha’u’llah will be celebrated on the “first and the second day following the occurrence of the eighth new moon after Naw-Ruz.” The Bab was born on 1 Muharram in 1819, and Baha’u’llah on 2 Muharram 1817, with the result that in countries that use the Islamic lunar calendar, the two Bahai holidays followed one another. In the past, Bahais in other countries have celebrated these holy days on October 20 and November 12. Henceforth, the “twin holy days” will be celebrated on two successive days, as a ‘movable feast,’ falling anywhere from mid-October to mid-November according to the Gregorian calendar. Next year, the two Holy Days will fall on November 13 and 14 (10 Qudrat and 11 Qudrat).

The third decision is to fix the dates for all remaining holy days in accordance with the Badi` calendar, rather than the Gregorian calendar. This follows from the first decision described above, but it also means that various historical questions, such as whether the Bab was in fact executed on July 8 or July 9, have been set aside. Whatever the findings of historians on such points may be, they will not affect the day on which the holy day is celebrated.

The full text of the letter from the Universal House of Justice is available in the documents archive of my Bahai Studies blog.
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Farhad Sadeqi gets medical leave, returns to prison

HRANA, July 10, 2014

Farhad Sadeqi ( فرهاد صدقی ), one of the imprisoned teachers from the Bahai Open University (BIHE), has returned to prison after five days of prison leave. He is serving a 4-year sentence in Rajai Shahr prison, in Karaj (near Tehran). The Bahai Open University was founded to provide education for students excluded from tertiary education because of their religious beliefs. Mr. Sadeqi was arrested on May 22, 2011, during a raid on the institute and held with other prisoners of conscience, first in Evin prison and then in Raja’i Shahr prison near Tehran. He had one previous medical furlough, for three days in July 2012.
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One new arrest in Mashhad (total now four)

HRANA, July 9, 2014

Saqi Feda’i (ساقی فدایی), a Bahai from Mashhad, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on July 8. The agents arrived at her home with a warrant for her arrest. On June 2, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided a Bahai religious meeting in her home, stopped the meeting, and searched the house. They seized some religious books and arrested her mother, Mey Khalusi (می خلوصی) and also Dari Amri (دری امری) and Shayan Tafazoli (شایان تفضلی). The three are still in custody and under interrogation. There is word yet as to where Saqi Feda’i is being held.
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Seven Bahais sentenced in Urumiyyeh

Radio Zamaneh, July 4, 2014

The revolutionary court in Urumiyyeh (Urmia), in Iran’s Azerbaijan province, has handed down sentences ranging from six months to six years for seven Bahais. Mr. Fardin A`za’i (Aghsani) and Mrs. Farahnaz Moqadam and Ms. Gisou Sheikh-Hasan-Abadi (فردین اعضایی (اغصانی)، فرحناز مقدم و گیسو شیخ‌حسن‌آبادی) were sentenced to six years in prison. They were sentenced to one year for teaching the Bahai Faith and propaganda against the Islamic Republic through hosting regular teaching classes in their homes, teaching minors and attracting Muslims. They were also charged with assembly and collusion in the form of membership of a Bahai Assembly, and having links to the Universal House of Justice (the elected body that heads the international Bahai community), which is based in occupied Palestine. They were sentenced to five years in prison on this second charge. Another four Bahais were sentenced to six months in prison, on charges of propaganda in support of the Bahai Faith. They are Ms. Neda Farsatipour (ندا فرصتی‌پور), Mr Amir Maboudi (امیر معبودی), Ms. Noushin Mithaqi (نوشین میثاقی) and Ms. Soheila Aqdasi (سهیلا اقدسی).

Those sentenced have less than two weeks to prepare an appeal. Only Mr. A`za’i (Aghsani) and his wife Farahnaz Moqadam have thus far had access to a lawyer. The other defendants were given one notification [of their coming trial and a chance to meet a lawyer], but the notification did not reach them, so on the day of their trial they were summoned to the court by telephone, without an opportunity for professional legal assistance.
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Shamim Ruhani sentenced : 1 year and exile

HRANA, July 3, 2014

Shamim Ruhani ( شمیم روحانی ), a Bahai from Ahvaz (a city in the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates), has been sentenced to one year in prison followed by banishment from the province of Khuzestan. He was charged with propaganda against the regime and membership in Bahai organisations. The sentence does not specify for how long he is banished from his home province. He was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on November 5, 2013, along with a number of Bahais who were present in his home. All the detainees except for Mr. Ruhani were released three days later. Mr. Ruhani was held for several months before being released on bail.
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Two Bahais arrested in Yazd

HRANA, June 30, 2014

Two Bahais were arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in their homes in Yazd this morning. Their names are Ms. Tannaz Mohammedi and Mr. Iraj Lohrasb (طناز محمدی و ایرج لهراسب). Thus far, it is not know where they are being held, or what the charges may be; they have not had any contact with their families.
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Shomais Mohajer begins her sentence

HRANA, June 28, 2014

Shomais Mohajer (شمیس مهاجر), a Bahai from Tehran, has reported to Evin Prison in Tehran to begin serving her one-year sentence. She was one of almost 20 Bahais who were arrested in early July, 2012, in a wave of arrests in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz. She was charged with
propaganda against the regime and forming an illegal group, and has been free on bail. Her husband, Shahab Dehqani (شهاب دهقانی), began serving a four-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison on May 26, 2014.
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Shahram Chiniyan in solitary cell

HRANA, June 26

Shahram Chiniyan Miandavab (میاندوآب شهرام چینیان ), a Tehran Bahai serving an 8-year sentence, has been moved to solitary confinement in Raja’i Shahr prison. On May 28 HRANA reported that he had been transferred from block 12 at Raja’i Shahr prison, which holds male prisoners of conscience including many Bahais, to block 1 of the prison, which is reserved for those convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape and armed robbery. When he objected to the insulting behaviour of the prison guards in dealing with these ordinary prisoners, he was moved to solitary confinement.

Mr. Chiniyan was first arrested in March 2009 and released on bail on March 3, 2010. 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, although the review court had not at that time confirmed his sentence. 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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Leva Khanjani free

HRANA, June 24, 2014

Leva Khanjani ( لواء خانجانی ), a Bahai excluded from tertiary education, has been freed from Evin prison after serving most of a two-year sentence. She was arrested on January 3, 2010, along with her husband Babak Mobasher, on the pretext that they had participated in street protests following the 2009 elections. She began serving her sentence in Evin Prison, in Tehran, on August 25, 2012. Leva Khanjani is granddaughter of Jamaleddin Khanjani (جمالدین خانجانی), one of seven Bahai facilitators (Yaran) who were sentenced to 20 years in prison after their May 2008 arrest. Her brother Fu’ad Khanjani (فواد خانجانی) was sentenced to four years in prison by Tehran Revolutionary Court on January 17, 2012. Both Jamaleddin and Fu’ad Khanjani are now serving their sentences inside Raja’i Shahr Prison.
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`Adel Fana’ayan freed unexpectedly

HRANA, June 19, 2014

`Adel Fana’ayan (عادل فنائیان), a Bahai from Semnan, has been freed on parole. He was serving a six-year sentence in Semnan’s central prison, which he began on June 11, 2012, meaning that he served just one third of his sentence. He was charged with propaganda against the regime and undermining state security. This was his sixth period of imprisonment. The license of his business in Semnan has also been revoked.
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“Baha’i” in the news in Egypt

New Today, undated [June 18, 2014]

An Egyptian news website, New Today, has published a video of a television interview Dr. Mohamed El-Saghir (الدكتور محمد الصغير), a former advisor to the Minister of Awqaf, in which he claims that the television presenter Wael Ibrashi (وائل الإبراشي) is one of the most prominent Baha’is in the Arabic world. According to the learned doctor, one of his unnamed friends went to an unnamed country, visited a supposed Bahai temple, and found in it a list of the most important Bahais in the Arabic world. The name of Wael Ibrashi appeared on the list. Dr. El-Saghir emphasized that he personally stood behind this information.
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Susan Tebyaniyan’s irregular detention continues

HRANA, June 17, 2014

Susan Tebyaniyan (سوسن تبیانیان), a Bahai from Semnan, was arrested 17 days ago in her home, and has been held since then, without clarification of her status, in Semnan’s central prison. She is being kept separate from the other female prisoners. An informed source told HRANA that there is a policy of keeping Bahai women separate from other prisoners, and Susan Tebyaniyan is the only Bahai woman held in that prison, she is being kept in isolation. She was detained on a warrant allowing 7 days detention, but after 17 days she has neither been freed nor taken to court.

Mrs. Tebyaniyan, 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 prison, she was one of the prisoners granted clemency to mark Eid al-Fitr, on August 27 2011.
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Anti-Bahai pamphlets distributed in Yazd

Alliance for Rights of All Minorities-ARAM, June 13, 2014

Washington D.C — The Alliance for Rights of All Minorities (ARAM) has been informed of the dissemination of an incendiary flyer in the city Yazd which states: “Since the Baha’i people are considered as expelled criminals by Islam, any privilege of life or property on their blood is wasted.” The flyer that was posted on targeted sections of the city, including the doors of some Baha’i residences calls for “all Moslems to oppose this group and to fight them with all their life.”

The dissemination of this flyer on the eve of Mid- Shaban, or Shabe-barat, or the “night of deliverance” which honors the birth Imam Mahdi, by design or coincidence presents a heightened threat, particularly as the world’s attention is focused on World Cup fervor and turmoil in Iraq. ARAM calls on Iran’s government officials to preserve the safety and security of its citizens by condemning the flyer and its message.
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Firearms incident at the Bahai Institute in Guyana resolved peacefully

South Strand News, June 10, 2014

On June 8, about 5 p.m., Sheriff’s Deputies in Georgetown, South Carolina, responded to gunshots at the Bahai Institute. Two male victims claimed that a young man had become verbally abusive during a basketball game and was trying to start a fight. He left the scene and returned with a handgun and fired several shots, into the air and at the tires on the complainants’ vehicle before attempting to run over one complainant on the basketball court. He left, but returned later, but fled in a vehicle when he observed sheriff’s deputies there. A pursuit ensued, during which he drove into a ditch and fled on foot. He gave himself up the following day. The Louis G. Gregory Institute in Hemingway, South Carolina, was the first full-time Bahai institute established in the US, in 1972. It also hosts Radio Bahai (WLGI) and serves as a venue for community and Bahai events.
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Three new arrests in Mashhad

HRANA, June 3, 2014

On June 2, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided a Bahai religious meeting in Mashhad, stopped the meeting, and searched the house where it was being held. They seized some religious books and arrested Dari Amri (دری امری), Mey Khalusi (می خلوصی) and Shayan Tafazoli (شایان تفضلی). It is not known where they are being held. Dari Amri was first arrest in a raid on her home on June 18, 2011, and sentenced to one year in prison, which was reduced by the court of review to 6 months in prison. She entered prison on October 29, 2012, and was presumably freed early in 2013. Shayan Tafazoli was one of the Bahai youth arrested in the handicrafts exhibition case in February, 2012. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison, but the court of review reduced this to a fine. No details are on file regarding Mey Khalusi, but Nika and Nava Khalusi, sisters who are serving sentences of 6 and 4 1/2 years respectively, and Manuchihr Khalusi, serving a one-year sentence, also come from Mashhad.
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Susan Tebyaniyan arrested in Semnan

HRANA, June 1, 2014

Susan Tebyaniyan (سوسن تبیانیان), a Bahai from Semnan, was arrested in her home on the evening of May 31st. Agents from the Ministry of Intelligence searched her home, seized a computer and religious books and images, and arrested her. Mrs. Tehyaniyan, 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. She began her sentence in Evin prison on July 1st, 2010. After serving almost 14 months in prison, she was one of the prisoners granted clemency to mark Eid al-Fitr, on August 27 2011.
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Shahram Chiniyan transferred to high security block at Raja’i Shahr prison

HRANA, May 28

Shahram Chiniyan Miandavab (میاندوآب شهرام چینیان ), a Tehran Bahai serving an 8-year sentence, has been transferred from block 12 Raja’i Shahr prison, which holds male prisoners of conscience including many Bahais, to block 1 of the prison, which is reserved for serious crimes such as murder, rape and armed robbery. 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, although the review court had not at that time confirmed his sentence. 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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Shahab Dehqani reports to Evin prison

HRANA, May 26

On May 24, Shahab Dehqani (شهاب دهقانی), a Bahai from Tehran, reported to Evin prison to begin serving his four-year sentence. He was first arrested on July 11, 2012, in raids that netted nearly 20 Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz. He was freed on bail in August, 2012.

Update May 27: HRANA reports that he was moved to Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj (about 50 km from Tehran) on May 25th. After a night in the quarantine wing, he was installed in Block 12, where the prisoners of conscience are detained. There are now 33 Bahai men detained for religious reasons in Block 12.
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`Adnan Rahmat-Penah sentenced: one year

HRANA, May 22, 2014

`Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمت‌پناه ) has been sentenced to one year in prison, and the sentence has been confirmed by the review court. In early June it was reported that he had been held in limbo in `Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz, as successive courts and judges passed his file, and responsibility for his trial, back and forth, and prison officials on one occasion refused to release him from prison to stand trial.
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Sa’id Reza’i denied medical treatment

HRANA, May 22, 2014.

On May 19, Sa’id Reza’i (سعید رضایی), one of the seven Yaran (national facilitators) who are now entering their seventh year in prison, was to be transferred from Raja’i Shahr prison to hospital. He is 57 years old and suffers from a heart ailment, and recently had heart surgery. He was shackled and dressed in prison uniform, but prison officials prevented his transfer. Five prisoners of conscience at Raja’i Shahr are known to have died due to similar problems in obtaining medical care.
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Golrokh and Shidrokh Firuzeyan free

Yaran-Iran (facebook), May 19, 2014

Golrokh and Shidrokh Firuzeyan (شیدرخ و گلرخ فیروزیان), who began serving 6-month sentences in Semnan’s central prison on January 8, 2014, have been released. They send greetings to their families and to the long-suffering Bahais of Iran, and hope for the freedom of all those who are imprisoned for no crime. Ardeshir Fena’eyan (اردشیر فناییان), who was arrested and tried with them, was sentenced to 8 months in prison. They were charged with various offenses, but eventually sentenced for “propaganda against the regime.”
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Fu’ad Khanjani and Kamran Rahimiyan barred from meeting imprisoned relatives

HRANA, May 18, 2014

Prison officials have prevented Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان ) and Fu’ad Khanjani (فواد خانجانی), two Bahai prisoners in Raja’i Shahr prison, from meeting members of their families who are imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Yesterday (May 17) it was announced that the two prisoners would be taken to Evin prison, but the visit was later denied on the basis that they refused to wear the standard prison uniform. Kamran Rahimiyan and his wife Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی ) are both serving 4-year prison sentences for their work as teachers at the Bahai Open University (BIHE). She is held in Evin prison. The couple have a son, Artin (آرتین). Fu’ad Khanjani, who was a student of industrial management in Isfahan until his expulsion, is also serving a 4-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, while his sister Leava Khanjani ( لواء خانجانی ) is serving a 2-year sentence in Evin prison.
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Amanullah Mostaqim transferred to hospital

HRANA, May 15

Amanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ) one of the imprisoned staff members of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, has been transferred to a hospital outside Raja’i Shahr prison. Another prisoner of conscience from the same prison, the 85-year-old Hasan Tafah (حسن طفاح) was also transferred to hospital. Mr. Mostaqim suffers from serious heart problems and has had coronary surgery. In recent months he has been moved back and forth between prison, hospital, and medical furlough. He began serving a five-year sentence for educating excluded groups on 20 May, 2013, in Evin prison, but was soon transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison.
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Mother and son arrested in Tehran to serve prison terms

HRANA, May 13, 2014

Elham Faramani ( الهام فراهانی ) and her son Shamim Na’imi ( شمیم نعیمی) were arrested in Tehran on May 11 and taken to Evin prison. They face sentences of four and three years respectively. Security agents went to Shamim’s home on May 10, but did not find him there. Next day, as Shamim was getting read to present himself at the prison, agents arrived and arrested him. An hour later, several members of his family went to the gate of Evin prison to say goodbye to Shamim. An officer came and asked for Shimim’s mother,
Elham Faramani, saying that Shamim wanted to say goodbye to his mother, and she should come inside. When she did, she was arrested to begin serving her own prison sentence. Her husband `Adel Na`imi ( عادل نعیمی ), Shamim’s father, is serving a ten year term, and his younger brother `Afif ( عفیف نعیمی), is also a prisoner of conscience. He is one of the ‘Yaran’ (Bahai national facilitators) who are serving 20-year sentences.
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Nasim Ashrafi arrested to begin her sentence

HRANA, May 6, 2014

Nasim Ashrafi ( نسیم اشرفی ), a Bahai from Tehran who was arrested in a wave of detentions of Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz in early July, 2012, was arrested on May 6, to begin serving her one-year sentence. She was originally sentenced to 3 years in prison, in June 2013, but this was reduced by the review court. She was charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of Bahai organisations. She has been free on bail (set at one million tumans (300 euros, $US400)) since the end of July, 2012. She was arrested on the street yesterday morning, while on the way to a laboratory that performs medical tests.
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Emanullah Mostaqim returns to prison

HRANA, May 4

Emanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ) one of the imprisoned staff members of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, returned to prison on May 2, although he has a certificate from the Medical Examiner to say that he is unfit for prison. He was summoned by security officials and taken to prison when he responded. In recent weeks he has been receiving radiation therapy, and he suffers from a heart ailment. Doctors have told him he should live the rest of his life in a quiet environment without stress. He began serving a five-year sentence for educating excluded groups on 20 May, 2013, in Evin prison, but was soon transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison.
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15 Bahais tried in Shiraz

Iran Green Voice, May 4, 2014

On April 28, a court in Shiraz dealt with the files of 15 Bahais from Shiraz. The charges against them have been variously reported as “acting against security” and “propaganda against the regime.” All fifteen have been free on bail. The lawyer acting for them, Giti Pourfazel (گیتی پورفاضل), said that he had submitted a defence by post. [The names of the 15 are not included in this report, but I assume they include Mezhdeh Falah, Eyman Rahmat-Penah, Mazhgan `Amadi, Farshid Yazdani, Sam Jaberi, Yekta Fahandezh, Sina Sarikhani, Kambiz Habibi and Kavus Samimi ( مژده فلاح، ایمان رحمت پناه، مژگان عمادی، فرشید یزدانی، سام جابری، یکتا فهندژ، کامبیز حبیبی، کاووس صمیمی، سینا ساریخانی ). Sentences in Iran are usually announced two to four weeks after the trial, and do not come into effect until the review court has approved them ~ Sen]
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Shiraz cemetery destroyed despite restraining order

HRANA, May 3, 2014

The destruction of the Bahai cemetery in Shiraz has proceeded despite an administrative order to stop work issued by the local body department responsible for town planning and public spaces. It would appear the order was issued at the request of representatives of the Bahai community before excavations had begun, but the “Imam group” who planned the destruction of the cemetery did not halt work. A member of the armed forces was with them on the site, and paid no attention to the order from the local government department.
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Bahai cemetery in Ahvaz sealed off

HRANA, May 29, 2014

For the past two months, the Bahai cemetery in Ahvaz has been closed and the small road leading to it has been blocked by a barricade of pre-cast concrete panels. Thus far no official has been found who will admit responsibility. A month ago, the Bahais sought to bury a member of their community in the cemetery and were unable to do so. A community member told HRANA that they are pursuing the matter but have not been able to obtain any response.
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Destruction of Shiraz cemetery has begun

BWNS, May 1, 2014

Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, has announced that reports indicate that the excavation at the the Bahai cemetery in Shiraz, known as the Golestan Javid, has begun and that graves are being destroyed. Some 40 to 50 trucks are lined up to remove the earth and accelerate the work. “We are urgently calling on the international community to raise its voice in protest at this disturbing act. We also appeal directly to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to halt this act of desecration.” Some 950 Baha’is are buried in the cemetery, including the “ten Baha’i women of Shiraz,” who were hanged on 18 June 1983 at the height of the government’s campaign of execution against Baha’is.

Reports received so far indicate that workers for the Revolutionary Guards had completed an excavation some 1.5 meters deep and 200 square meters in area. The hole is near a number of very old gravesites in the western part of the cemetery but is not yet deep enough to have disturbed the remains, it is believed.

Ms. Dugal said the local Baha’is have made appeals directly to the Revolutionary Guards asking that it construct the proposed building on the areas of the site where there are no graves – and turn the areas with the graves into a green space, leaving the dead undisturbed.

“Appeals were made to various city and provincial authorities, including the commander in chief of Revolutionary Guard, the municipality of Shiraz, the Friday prayer Imam, the governor of the city, Iran’s prosecutor general and the head of the judiciary, with no results,” said Ms. Dugal.

Owned and used by the Baha’is of Shiraz since the early 1920s, the site was confiscated by the government in 1983, at which time its grave markers were leveled and its main buildings destroyed. Its ownership has since changed. Three years ago, the provincial office of the Revolutionary Guards announced it had taken over the site, and a sign was posted indicating that it planned to build a “cultural and sports building” there.

Between 2005 and 2012, at least 42 Baha’i-owned cemeteries in Iran were attacked in some manner. These attacks, often carried out with implicit if not direct government support, have involved the firebombing of mortuary buildings, the toppling of gravestones, the uprooting of landscape shrubbery, the spray-painting of anti-Baha’i graffiti on cemetery walls, and the exhumation of bodies. Similar symbolic violence through the destruction of Bahai and Jewish graves has been documented in the Qajar era.
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Preparations for the destruction of Bahai cemetery in Shiraz

HRANA, April 30, 2014

On April 28, a mechanical digger and front-end loader were moved onto the Bahai cemetery in Shiraz, known as the Golestan Javid, in apparent preparation for levelling the cemetery to build a cultural centre. The cemetery contains the graves of Bahais who were executed in the 1980s. Latest reports are that the machinery is still in place, but no further steps have been taken.
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New film documents Bahai community life in Iran

Iran Wire, April 26, 2014

The documentary “Light a Candle” (شمعی روشن کن) by Maziar Bahari ( مازیار بهاری) is the first to tell the history of Bahai community life in Iran. It tells of the Babis and Bahais who were tortured in the Qajar era, of the slanders and insinuations they suffered from ordinary people who, in the Pahlavi era, were led by the Shiah divines, and of the period after the 1979 revolution. After the revolution, and even today, Iranian Bahais are considered second-class citizens in Iran, and are deprived of the right to employment and university education. The film is to be released on the first of May, in Persian. The Iran Wire site has a trailer, which plays first with Persian subtitles, then with English subtitles.
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Wilmette residents say traffic problem at Bahai [temple] worsening. Good faith solution sought

Wilmette residents say traffic problem at Bahai [temple] worsening. Good faith solution sought

Chicago Tribune, April 28, 2014

Wilmette residents living near the Bahai House of Worship gathered at Village Hall recently, voicing concerns that a proposal to reconfigure the iconic venue’s parking lot could ramp up traffic on what they say is an already-congested local street. The parking lot is on public land, leased by the Bahais. Changes are required to accommodate bus parking and to make room for parking for the disabled and an access ramp. Wilmette resident Martin Dawson said parking-related headaches on Linden have been a problem for years, and predate the recent construction of a Baha’i Welcome Center, which is slated to open in the fall.

“Hopefully, the Bahai will negotiate something in good faith, because the parking situation on Linden has just gotten worse over the years,” Dawson said. “When you live near the temple, you start to think of it as an attractive nuisance.”

Linden Avenue residents said tour buses carrying visitors often park on their narrow, residential street, making it impossible to pull in and out of their driveways and swallowing up the available street parking for their own guests. “On the weekends, we get not only the tourist buses, but we get limousines bringing wedding parties out to take pictures in the Bahai garden,” Dawson said. “Between them and the people coming to see the temple, it creates an awful lot of traffic.”

Scott Conrad, project manager for the Bahai House of Worship, said that 95 percent of the visitors to the landmark on the northwest corner of Sheridan Road and Linden are not members of the Bahai community, which he said recently reduced its staff by 35 positions and who were relocated off-site to ensure the Wilmette property is used primarily for education and worship.
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Nasim Baqeri taken to prison

Radio Yekjahan, April 27, 2014

Nasim Baqeri (نسیم باقری) has been arrested by security forces who came to her home in Tehran. She was taken to prison [presumably, Evin Prison ~sen] to begin serving a four-year sentence for “acting against national security through membership of the Baha’i Institute BIHE.” She was one of 10 Bahais associated with the Bahai Open University (BIHE) who were tried in Tehran on March 12, 2013.
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Afshin Heiratiyan joins hunger strike

HRANA (English), April 26, 2014

Afshin Heiratiyan (افشین حیرتیان), a Bahai serving a 4-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison near Tehran, has joined a protest by 19 prisoners of conscience in the prison, who have been on hunger strike since the morning of April 23rd in solidarity with the political prisoners of ward 350 of Evin prison, in Tehran. Mr. Heiratiyan was one of six Bahai prisoners held in section 350 of Tehran’s Evin prison who, on August 5, 2012, were transferred without warning to Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj, just west of Tehran, where most of the Yaran, and a number of BIHE teachers are also being held.

The group of prisoners at Raja’i Shahr have joined many others in protesting the brutality of a raid on cell block 350 at Evin prison, which houses prisoners of conscience. Those injured in the raid included at least one Christian prisoner, but apparently no Bahai prisoners. It is reported that Gholam Hossein Esmaili, the head of the Iran Prisons Organization, was promoted to a new position shortly after he had appeared on state television denying that anything out of the ordinary had happened in Evin Prison. He was reassigned on the instructions of Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, who himself won notoriety recently when he denied that Iran executes juveniles or persecutes Bahais.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-1s1
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20 Bahais receive heavy sentences in Yazd

HRANA, April 23, 2014

A court in Yazd has sentenced 20 Bahais to a total of 78 years in prison. On August 1, 2011, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided many Bahai homes in the cities of Yazd , Isfahan, Kerman and Arak, and arrested 17 Bahais. Two weeks later, three more Bahais were arrested in Yazd. After one month in detention, they were all released on bail. About a year later they were tried, and given sentences totaling 78 years. These sentences have only now been confirmed by the court of review. They are as follows:

Saba Golshan ( صبا گلشن ): five years in prison and one year’s probation.
Shahram Eshraqi, Shahram Falah, Navid Haqiqi, Eyman Rashidi and Khosrow Dehqani (شهرام اشراقی، شهرام فلاح، نوید حقیقی، ایمان رشیدی و خسرو دهقانی): four years in prison and one year’s probation.
Faribourz Baghi, Nateq Na’imi, Fariba Ashtari, Shabnam Motahed, Vida Haqiqi [aka Vida Parvini? ~Sen] (
فریبرز باقی، ناطق نعیمی، فریبا اشتری، شبنم متحد، ویدا حقیقی): three years in prison and one year’s probation.
Farahnaz Misaqian, Fara Baqi, `Azam Motahari, Mehran Eslami, Sohrab Naqipour, Adhar Pourkhoursand, Naghmeh Farabi, Taher Rouhani and Sasan Haqiri (فرهناز میثاقیان، فرح باقی، اعظم مطهری، مهران اسلامی، سهراب نقی‌پور، آذر پورخرسند، نغمه فارابی، طاهر روحانی، ساسان حقیری): two years in prison and one year’s probation.
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Ridvan message released

Editorial, April 21, 2014

The 2014 Ridvan message from the Universal House of Justice is available in English at the official website. High points of the 3-page message include a report on the way the planned construction of a local Mashriqu’l-Adhkar (House of Worship) on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu has energised the Bahais and engaged the wider community. It is reported that a third of the island’s 30,000 inhabitants have participated in conversations about the significance of the House of Worship. “The friends are actively exploring, with the rest of the island’s inhabitants, what it means for a Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, a “collective centre for men’s souls”, to be raised up in their midst. With the active support of traditional leaders, Tanna islanders have offered no less than a hundred design ideas for the Temple…

For more information on the role of devotional meetings and the local House of Worship in Bahai communites, see the compilation “Exploring the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar” at the Bahai Library Online.
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Sonya Ahmadi returns to prison in Mashhad

HRANA, April 17, 2014

Sonya Ahmadi ( سونیا احمدی ), returned to Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on April 17, after three months’ furlough. She began serving her 5-year sentence, on charges of teaching the Bahai Faith and membership of the Bahai community, on September 2, 2012, but she was released early on January 10, 2014, with the promise that her complete freedom would follow. However on April 10, 2014, she was telephoned to say she would have to continue serving her prison sentence. No exact reason has been given, but her family was told that the three months she had been free were permitted by the Ministry of Intelligence, but now she must complete her sentence.
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Another Bahai business closed in Semnan

HRANA, April 13, 2014

An optician’s shop owned by Afrasayab Sobhani (افراسیاب سبحانی) was closed by the authorities in Semnan on April 8. No reason was given. Mr. Sobhani is serving a one-year prison term, and one of the other Bahais of Semnan has been running the business so that his family has the means of livelihood. Because of restrictions on Bahai employment and the economic sectors in which they may have businesses, a number of Bahais in Iran have opened to optician’s shops, but in recent years several of these have been closed. On November 29, 2012, another optician’s shop run by Mr. Akbar Por-hoseini ( اکبرپورحسینی ), a Bahai in Semnan, was raided. In that case, authorities not only confiscated his entire stock, valued at 2 billion rials (125,000 euros, 162,000 US dollars), he was fined 3.6 billion rials (225,000 euro, 293,000 US dollars) after a secret trial.
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Bishop of Coventry welcomes Ayatollah Tehrani’s symbolic gesture

Church of England news site, April 9, 2014

The Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, has described as a ‘courageous step’, the decision by a prominent Muslim cleric in Iran to gift to the Bahai community an important religious art work, as a sign of support. Bishop Cocksworth, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop in the Lords on foreign policy, said:
“I’m heartened to learn of the recent decision by Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani to gift to the Bahais an illuminated calligraphic work from the Writings of Baha’u’llah…. Given the systemic and long standing suffering experienced by the Baha’i community in Iran, this is an imaginatively courageous step by a senior Iranian Islamic scholar.”

Bishop Christopher, who is also a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human rights and International Religious Freedom, added:
“Ayatollah Tehrani’s action reminds us all that despite the dehumanising nature of many of today’s conflicts, religious leaders have a shared responsibility to encourage freedom of religion and belief and to foster a deeper respect for human dignity. I very much hope and pray that this generous gift will assist in the flourishing of a culture of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence in Iran.”

Text in Persian (Mohabat News)
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Another Bahai student expelled from Birjand University

HRANA, April 10, 2014

Mazyar Malaki (مازیار ملاکی), a student studying machine manufacturing at Birjand University, has been expelled because of his Bahai beliefs. He was summoned by the University’s security office and asked to sign a statement that he would not participate in Bahai activities or follow the directions of the Universal House of Justice. When he refused to sign this, he was told that he was barred from the university until further notice, and that the final decision would be communicated to him.
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15 Bahais face trial in Shiraz

ILNA, April 7, 2014

Giti Pourfazel (گیتی پورفاضل), the lawyer for 15 Baha’is arrested in Shiraz in 2010, has reported that their trial is scheduled for April 28th. They have been charged with propaganda against the regime, and are presently free on bail. [The names of the 15 are not included in this report, but I assume they include Mezhdeh Falah, Eyman Rahmat-Penah, Mazhgan `Amadi, Farshid Yazdani, Sam Jaberi, Yekta Fahandezh, Sina Sarikhani, Kambiz Habibi and Kavus Samimi ( مژده فلاح، ایمان رحمت پناه، مژگان عمادی، فرشید یزدانی، سام جابری، یکتا فهندژ، کامبیز حبیبی، کاووس صمیمی، سینا ساریخانی ) ~ Sen]
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Senior Iranian cleric gifts illuminated text by Baha’u’llah to the Bahai community


Bahai World News Service, April 7, 2014 (abbreviated)

In a symbolic and unprecedented move, Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani, a prominent Muslim cleric in Iran, announced today that he has gifted to the Baha’is of the world an illuminated work of calligraphy of a paragraph from Baha’u’llah’s Kitab-e Aqdas. Ayatollah Tehrani states on his website (in Persian, and translated here) that he prepared the calligraphy of the verse as a “symbolic action to serve as a reminder of the importance of valuing human beings, of peaceful coexistence, of cooperation and mutual support, and avoidance of hatred, enmity and blind religious prejudice.” Ayatollah Tehrani presents this exquisite gift to the Baha’is of the world, particularly to the Baha’is of Iran, who he says “have suffered in manifold ways as a result of blind religious prejudice.” He further states that this act is “an expression of sympathy and care from me and on behalf of all my open-minded fellow citizens.”

The excerpt that Ayatollah Tehrani chose to cite in the gift is taken from Baha’u’llah’s Kitab-i-Aqdas – “Most Holy Book”. It reads “Consort with all religions with amity and concord, that they may inhale from you the sweet fragrance of God. Beware lest amidst men the flame of foolish ignorance overpower you. All things proceed from God and unto Him they return. He is the source of all things and in Him all things are ended.”

Ms. Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community at the United Nations, called the gift “a most welcome and hopeful development with possible implications for the coexistence of the peoples of the world.” … “The Baha’i International Community is deeply touched by this act of high-mindedness and the sentiments of religious tolerance and respect for human dignity that prompted it.”

On previous occasions, Ayatollah Tehrani has with great courage publicly voiced concern about the ongoing and severe persecution of religious minorities, including the Baha’is in Iran.

Full BWNS story
Persian report (PCED)
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“No excuse is possible”

Editorial, April 6

Two recent news reports, in the Columbian Missourian and the Columbia Tribune have drawn attention to Tyree Byndom’s unusual way of ‘campaigning’ for a seat on the Columbia City Council. Because he is a Bahai, he is not campaigning, although his name is on the ballot. His voice has even dropped from the airwaves: he has taken a break from his day job as a talk show host.

I would certainly not suggest that he should be elected just because he is a Bahai, or that Bahai voters in Columbia should give him any greater credibility because of his faith. So why mention him on a blog dedicated to world Bahai news? He is not the first Bahai to run for public office, even in the US, but his faith and the reasons why he has refrained from self-praise or any critique of other candidates have been more widely publicised than any previous case I know of, and this is helping to correct a misconception about Bahais’ participation in politics. The Columbia Tribune article states, “the Baha’i faith encourages its members to be politically active and vote in elections if they are allowed to do so by secret ballot.” It does not give a source, but seems to be reflecting these words of Abdu’l-Baha:

Thou hast asked regarding the political affairs. In the United States it is necessary that the citizens shall take part in elections. This is a necessary matter and no excuse from it is possible. My object in telling the believers that they should not interfere in the affairs of government is this: That they should not make any trouble and that they should not move against the opinion of the government, but obedience to the laws and the administration of the commonwealth is necessary. Now, as the government of America is a republican form of government, it is necessary that all the citizens shall take part in the elections of officers and take part in the affairs of the republic.
(Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v2, p. 342)

The same article quotes Glen Fullmer, a spokesman for the Baha’is of the United States, as saying “that the faith takes part in political advocacy work, championing environmental stewardship and the advancement of women’s rights, among other causes. What the Baha’is want to avoid, he said, is divisiveness that tends to arise from election campaigns. … It’s not like there’s a complete aloofness of the political process,” Fullmer said of the faith. “It’s more of wanting to avoid this disunity we see in the world.”

Yet many Bahais, in the past and perhaps today, have taken a stance of complete aloofness from the political process. In 1993 a former member of the Universal House of Justice, David Hofman, spoke at the Maxwell International School on the subject of “Theocracy: Divine provisions for governance in the World Order of Baha’u’llah.” In audio tapes of these talks he called democracy “baloney” and boasted that he had never voted in a non-Bahai election (tape 11, side 2, Q&A). The Bahai community has come a long way in 20 years, from David Hofman to Tyree Byndom and those like him. And that’s the news I would like to draw attention to.
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Khalusi sisters begin long prison terms

HRANA, March 30, 2014

Early on March 30, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Nava and Nika Khalusi ( نیکا خلوصی نوا و ). Nava Khalusi was arrested at her home in Mashhad. Nika Khalusi, and her parents, had gone on a Naw Ruz outing to Babolsar and Nika was arrested there. Nika Khalusi has been sentenced to 6 years in prison, and Nava to four and a half years, on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “participation in Bahai activities.” Their arrests apparently signal the beginning of their prison sentences.
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Document of manumission of Isfandiyar by Baha’u’llah published

BahaiTeachings.org, March 2014

BahaiTeachings has announced the discovery and translation of a document that has both historical and scriptural importance for Bahais: the prayer in which Baha’u’llah frees (manumits) a slave, presumed to be Isfandiyar, and explains why slavery is inherently wrong.

Mirza Buzurg, Baha’u’llah’s father owned a number of slaves. Baha’u’llah apparently inherited his father’s slaves when Mirza Buzurg died in 1839, and set them free. Dr. Nader Saiedi has discovered Baha’u’llah’s written, autobiographical account, in Arabic and provided a provisional translation into English. This remarkable Tablet is cast in the form of a prayer:

Sanctified art Thou, O my God! At this moment, one slave (mamlūk) is standing before another slave and seeks, from him, his freedom.

Yet his owner, himself, is naught but a slave of Thee, a servant in Thy Threshold, and absolute nothingness before the manifestations of Thy Lordship.

Standing before Thee, I bear witness, at this very moment, to that which Thou hast testified by Thyself for Thyself, that verily Thou art God and there is none other God but Thee …

All mighty kings are mere slaves before the gate of Thy grace, and all the wealthy are the essence of poverty in the shore of Thy holy dominion, and all the exalted are abject lowliness within the glorified court of Thy bounty.

Notwithstanding this, how then can this slave claim for himself ownership of any other human being? Nay, his existence is a mere crime, graver than any sin in Thy kingdom …

And now, O my God, since that servant hath asked from this servant his freedom, therefore, I call Thee to witness, at this moment, that I am setting him free in Thy path, liberating him in Thy name, and emancipating his neck from the chain of servitude, so that he may serve Thee in the daytime and in the night season, longing that my neck would never be relieved from the cord of Thy servitude.

This verily is my most cherished desire and my supreme end. – Baha’u’llah, unpublished Tablet (A08212). Provisional translation by Nader Saiedi.

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Leva Khanjani given prison furlough

Iran Green Voice, March 25, 2014

Leva Khanjani ( لواء خانجانی ), a Bahai serving a two-year sentence in Evin prison, has been granted furlough for Naw Ruz. Leva Khanjani is a student excluded from education because of her Bahai beliefs. She was arrested on January 3, 2010, along with her husband Babak Mobasher, on the pretext that they had participated in street protests following the 2009 elections.
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136 Bahais in prison in Iran: signs of progress in civil society

ICHRI, March 24, 2014

Geneva
Dian Alaei, Baha’i community representative, reacted to the March 17 statements made by Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Council, in which he claimed that no Baha’is were imprisoned simply because of their faith.

“There are currently 136 Baha’is in the Islamic Republic’s prisons who were arrested only because they were Baha’is. They have committed no other crime,” Dian Alaei told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. She added that some imprisoned Baha’is had been charged with membership in “illegal organizations” or “spying for foreign countries,” but no evidence had been offered to prove such accusations.

“Mr. Larijani must be uninformed about the present situation facing the Baha’i community in Iran,” Alaei said, “or else he would know that Baha’i youths cannot attend university, Baha’i cemeteries are demolished with bulldozers, and Baha’i shops are locked up when their owners close during official Baha’i holidays.” Alaei added that representatives of dozens of countries had met with UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed to express their concerns about human rights abuses against Baha’is in Iran.

The Baha’i community representative, who presented a report to the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this month, said the Iranian government is not prepared to take responsibility for human rights issues and is thus unable to cooperate to solve them.

Alaie praised a group of civil activists in Iran who recently wrote an open letter to President Rouhani calling for Baha’i rights to be respected. “This was a very positive and important step,” Alaei said. “Every day we see more ordinary Iranians defending Baha’is.”
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Anti-Bahai demonstration planned for Tehran

Iran Press News, March 16

Iran Press News, a usually reliable, source, reports that an anti-Bahai demonstration was planned in Tehran. It was to take place in front of the United Nations offices in Tehran, on March 16. It is not clear whether the demonstration did take place there, or whether the authorities intervened. The belief that the United Nations, the BBC, human rights organisations and lawyers, the British government and other foreign organs are controlled by Bahais is a common feature of anti-Bahaism in Iran, but it seems unlikely that the authorities would welcome a public display of anti-Bahaism where it could be witnessed from the UN offices.

A statement released by the demonstration’s organisers states that the “deviant sect of Bahais” is a terrorist organisation with its headquarters in the territories occupied by Zionism [Israel], and supported by the Zionist regime. It is linked to this illegal murderous regime which has shed the blood of thousands of innocent people. The actions of this deviant sect are not limited to physical acts of terrorism, they interfere systematically in the lives of the devotees, who are subjected to control from childhood, depriving them of freedom of conscience and the chance to investigate. Moreover, the sect subjects those who leave the sect and seek guidance [become Muslims] to the most inhumane possible treatment, ranging from character assassination to shunning.

The Bahai Faith is a religion founded in Iran in the 19th century, which functions democratically without any priesthood. The Ottoman authorities exiled its founder, Baha’u’llah, to Akka, where he died in 1892, approximately 50 years before Israel came into existence. In the early 20th century there was an appreciable Bahai community in various parts of what is now Israel, but as the future character of the state of Israel became evident, they were all asked to leave. Today there are no Bahais with a permanent residence in Israel, although there are a few hundred staff with temporary appointments working at the Bahai shrines there. The organisers’ “guilt by association” argument is not only logically invalid, it is factually wrong. One of the most important Bahai teachings is the independent investigation of truth: children of Bahais are not automatically enrolled as Bahais, but may chose to enroll from the age of 15, if they wish. There is undoubtedly some separation, in Iran, between Bahais and those who have left the Bahai community to become Muslims. A long-standing fatwa, recently re-iterated by Ayatollah Khamene’i, states that good Muslims should avoid any contact with Bahais.
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One arrest in Shiraz

Radio Sahrvand (web site), March 17, 2014

Yekta Fahandezh (یکتا فهندژ), a Bahai from Shiraz, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on March 16. The agents searched her home and seized books, a laptop and personal effects. She was transferred to Detention Facility 100 in Shiraz, and was allowed to meet her husband on March 17. In February 2012, Yekta was arrested and spent 83 days in Detention Facility 100. She was released on bail and later charged with propaganda against the regime.
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Second Bahai student expelled from Mazandaran University

PCED, March 13, 2014

It was previously reported that Setayash Asadi (ستایش اسدی), a Bahai studying Tourism Management at the Babolsar campus of the University of Mazandaran, has been expelled because of her religious beliefs. The PCED reports that Sama Hashemi (سما هاشمی), a student of management at the same campus, was also expelled, for the same reason: “religious minorities are not entitled to tertiary education.”
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Student expelled from Mazandaran University for being a Bahai

HRANA, March 12, 2014

Setayash Asadi (ستایش اسدی), a Bahai studying Tourism Management at the Babolsar campus of the University of Mazandaran, has been expelled because of her religious beliefs. She was admitted in the current academic year, and expelled in the middle of the second semester, after gaining 19 university credits. A HRANA reporter was told that, after her student web page was closed, she was referred to the Office of Education and told that “religious minorities are not entitled to tertiary education.”
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Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi: “Equal Rights for the Bahais and the Jews are Against Islam”

Iran Wire, March 3

In a speech to seminary students and teachers, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, an influential hardliner in the Iranian regime, stated “Some have come forward with a plan for citizenship rights and want to give equal rights to the Bahais and the Jews and the Muslims and…We can never accept this.” There was no doubt that he was referring to the Draft Citizenship Rights Charter presented by Rouhani’s administration last November.

Yazdi’s ire was directed at the principle that all citizens are equal under the law. “All Iranian citizens, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, wealth, social class, race, etc, enjoy citizenship rights and the foreseen guarantees in rules and regulations,” declares the draft charter’s first article. The sentence does not include the term “religion,” probably intentionally, but the “etc.” leaves a lot of room for speculation. Hardliners have been quick to speculate, especially when it comes to the Bahai community, which has been harassed relentlessly since the Islamic Revolution.

“The standard is always Islam,” Yazdi told the theological school students. “Western human rights and citizenship rights, meaning equality between Muslims and Bahais, has no relation to Islam. These rights, as described by the West, utterly go against Islam, the constitution and the way of Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini]. The people of this country, who have suffered hardships and have given so many martyrs, would not accept anything that goes against Islam. Of course, even those who are not Muslims must be respected. They have rights, which Islam recognizes.”

Second-Class Citizenship

Ayatollah Yazdi says that religious inequality is acceptable. “Islam never considers a Jew and a Muslim as equals,” he said. “Even though Islam has conferred certain rights to Jews, this does not mean that they are equals in every right. Sometimes this is called ‘second-class citizenship’. They can call it whatever they want, but it does not change the reality.”

Here, Bahais are conspicuous by their absence. Whereas in pronouncements condemning “equality,” Bahais were included [if only to be excluded ~Sen], when it came to “rights” they were not mentioned – not as second-class citizens, not even as third-class citizens. Not at all.

Human rights activists and liberal commentators have been critical of the rights charter for a number of reasons, labeling it “elegant but useless” and a “hodgepodge of things,” but Yazdi sees the charter as anti-Islamic both in word and in spirit.

The spirit, of course, comes from the people who wrote the draft under orders from Rouhani. Addressing the students, Yazdi asserted that those who promote citizenship rights are wrong about Islam and wrong about the history of the Islamic Republic. When citizenship rights supporters cite Ayatollah Khomeini’s respect for democratic practices such as the right to vote, they are misconstruing his words. They believe Khomeini “was a political figure and a national hero who opposed the previous regime because it was harmful for the country and wanted to establish a system which would be more beneficial to people.” But, according to Yazdi, this is simply untrue. “People who think like this are secular and, in their view, good and evil consist of material things,” he said, adding that, for these people, “evil is material backwardness and the absence of well-being, while good is using technology and providing a good life for everybody. They believe religion is something marginal, a fantasy.”

Islam was absolutely central to Khomeini’s thinking, Yazdi said. “When he said that society was facing a great danger, he meant a great danger for Islam. This was something that was not important to many politicians.”

Are the people who want equal rights for all citizens enemies of Islam? asked one student. “They are not really enemies of Islam,” he answered, “but this is how they see the world, especially if the person is educated in England or some other place like that, because in those places they talk of human rights, citizenship rights and other rights with such reverence that gradually the student comes to consider them as the most important issue.” He added that, although he was 80 years old, it would still be possible for him to fall under the influence of Western rhetoric if he travelled to one of these countries. So it was logical to assume a “young person who has no deep understanding of Islamic principles” to be particularly vulnerable to influence.

Full report
Persian report

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sentences confirmed for four Bahais in Mashhad

HRANA, February 24, 2014

The Court of Review for the Province of Khorasan has confirmed the sentences of four Bahais from Mashhad who have been sentenced to prison because of their religious beliefs. Nika and Nava Khalusi (نیکا و نوا خلوصی ) have had their sentences of six years and 4 and a half years in prison, respectively, confirmed. The sentence of Adib Sho`a`i (ادیب شعاعی) was reduced from 18 months to six months, and the sentence of Mahsa Mahdavi was reduced from eight months to three months and one day. All four were charged with membership of the Bahai organisation, participation in illegal Bahai activities, and propaganda in favour of the Bahais and against the regime of the Islamic Republic.
~~~~~~~

Bahai homes raided in Yazd

PCED, February 21

On February 19, police carrying search warrants raided the homes of Rostam Behifarr, Ramin Hosuri, Majid Qane`, Mehran Basiri and Mehran Bandi (رستم بهی فر، رامین حصوری، مجید قانع، مهران بصیری و مهران بندی). They seized some personal effects, books and computers, but did not arrest anyone.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Five Bahai youth in Semnan sent to military service

HRANA, February 19, 2014

In the past two months, five young Bahais in Semnan have been arrested and sent to military service, on the orders of a judge (or in a previous report, an assistant prosecutor) known as Mr. Zaman. HRANA states that the military call-up law had been disused for some years, and that its application to the Bahais has been initiated by the Ministry of Intelligence. The names of the young Bahai men sent on military service in this way are given as follows:

Erfan Ehsani (عرفان احسانی): at the time of his arrest, he was made to promise that he would serve in the military after completing his time in prison. he was sentenced to one year in prison, which he began serving on October 30, 2012. After his release on parole, he was drafted into the army although his wife and their baby were in prison.

Soroush Firuzayan (سروش فیروزیان): after his home was raided, he was arrested and sent on military service.

Ardeshir Fana’ayan (اردشیر فناییان) was serving a 9-month sentence in Semnan prison. On completing his sentence, he was sent to do military service.

Omid Pirasteh (امید پیراسته): presently doing his military service.

Na’im Hedayati (نعیم هدایتی): presently doing his military service.

Another Bahai youth, Avarakhsh Hedayati (اورخش هدایتی), was reported among the Bahai youths who were arrested in November, 2013, but has been exempted from military service.
~~~~~~~~~~

Iranian MP claims Bahai community spy for Israel and US

Jerusalem Post, February 19, 2014

Ahmad Salek, chairman of Iran’s parliamentary cultural commission, on Tuesday accused his country’s Baha’i community of spying for Israel and the United States. “I declare very explicitly that Baha’ism is an espionage organization which gathers intelligence for the CIA and Mossad, and there are abundant documents to prove this,” the Fars news agency quoted Salek saying.

Fars, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard, reported in the same article comments that Iran’s then-prosecutor-general Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi made in 2009: “We [as the state] offer a variety of services to the Baha’i sect in Iran and respect them as human beings, but not as insiders, spies, or a political grouplet supported by Britain and Israel to cause disturbance in Iran.”

Neither gentleman explained why the US / British / Israeli secret services would recruit Bahais as spies in Iran, where Bahais are banned from government employment, permanent service in the armed forces, and work in sensitive industries, and their homes are continually monitored and frequently raided. Nor was there any explanation of why, despite this close monitoring, no evidence of the supposed spying has emerged.

Last October, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, issued a report that included a section on the persecution of the Bahais.

He wrote, ”The special rapporteur continues to observe what appears to be an escalating pattern of systematic human rights violations targeting members of the Baha’i community, who face arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, national security charges for active involvement in religious affairs, restrictions on religious practice, denial of higher education, obstacles to state employment and abuses within schools.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Emanullah Mostaqim on medical leave again

PCED, February 19

Emanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ) was granted medical leave from Raja’i Shahr prison on February 16. He has returned to the prison on February 10, after his previous medical leave was not extended. He has been under treatment for a heart ailment, and was transferred to hospital one month ago, only to be returned to prison. Mr. Mostaqim was one of the staff of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, which provides tertiary training to students who have been expelled or barred from Iranian universities because of their religious beliefs. He has been sentenced to five years for his educational activities, but doctors say his health is not adequate to withstand prison conditions.
~~~~~~~~~~~

Two Bahai businesses closed in Karaj

HRANA, February 17

On the morning of February 16, a business owned by two Bahais, Saman and Badi`i Ashkar (سامان بدیعی و اشکان بدیعی ), was closed by the local authorities of Karaj, and their business licence was revoked. The action was taken because of their religious beliefs, and flimsy pretexts.
~~~~~~~~`

Bahai candidate for Columbia City Council breaks new ground

Colombia Faith and Values (researched blog), January 28, 2014

Tyree Byndom, a young black Bahai and talk show host in Columbia, Missouri, USA, has put his name forward for election to the City Council, with the approval of the Bahai administration in the United States. “My running for political office is teaching members of my faith about what it means to be Bahai,” Byndom says. “I had to show leaders there is nothing that restricts me from running.” If elected, Byndom would be Columbia’s third African American to serve on the City Council. He was mentored by Almeta Crayton, a three-term Columbia City Councilwoman, who represented the First Ward. Her death on October 21, 2013, has stirred Byndom’s memories of conversations with Crayton. “I remember one weekend, when we were done doing our radio show on KOPN 89.5 FM, called Straight Talk, Almeta and Wynna Faye (Albert) were joking with me and they said ‘Well, Tyree, I guess we have to pass the baton to you, because ain’t nobody else around,’” Byndom says. “My response to them was ‘I don’t want it!’”

“The truth is that I didn’t feel worthy. When we lost Almeta Crayton this past year, it did something to me,” Byndom says. “Her words, the things she fought for, the people that she cared about, her lamentation at the challenges facing her son, this community that she loved, all echoed in my thoughts and the phrase ‘Be worthy’, was the reply.”

Straight Talk, Byndom’s weekly radio show on KOPN, offers Columbia’s black community a place to voice opinions. Listeners talk about increasing gun violence, substance abuse, unemployment for youth and minorities, underemployment for professionals with skills, high cost of living, fast cash stores, growing poverty and a loss of middle class jobs.

Full story
~~~~~~~

Ma’udi family recuperating well

Radio Yekjahan (facebook report), February 12

The condition of ‘Azam Ma’udi (اعظم مودی) is reported to have improved, and she is expected to be discharged from hospital tomorrow. She was stabbed, along with her parents, in an attack on her parents’ home in Birjand on February 3. Her parents were discharged from hospital today, and are in good health.
~~~~~~~~~~

Emanullah Mostaqim returns to prison

HRANA, February 11, 2014

Emanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ), one of the staff of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran who is serving a 5-year prison sentence for his educational activities, returned to Raja’i Shahr prison on February 10. He had been held for one month in a therapeutic centre, followed by a one-week medical furlough, which was not extended although his condition had not improved. He suffers from a heart disorder which doctors have said is getting worse, to the extent that prison conditions are a danger to him. The Bahai Open University provides tertiary training to students who have been expelled or barred from Iranian universities because of their religious beliefs.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prayers requested for `Azam Ma’udi

Radio Yakjahan (facebook report), February 11, 2014

‘Azam Ma’udi (اعظم مودی), who was stabbed in the chest during an apparently religiously-motivated attack on her parents’ home in Birjand on February 3, is reported to be in a serious condition. Prayers are requested.
~~~~~~~

Murder with impunity in Miandoab

HRANA, February 5, 2014

10 months after the murder of Sa’idullah Aqdasi (سعیداله اقدسی) in Miandoab, the security forces have still not taken any steps to apprehend the murderers. Mr. Aqdasi, an 83-year-old Bahai was found dead in his home on April 23, 2013. It appeared that his hands and feet had been bound with rope, and he had been killed by seven blows from a sharp object. The coroner determined that he had been killed three days earlier, that is, on April 21st, an important Bahai festival, that the door had been forcibly entered, and that nothing was stolen. A relative said that the house was full of blood, indicating that Mr. Aqdasi was alive when the seven blows were struck. His body was sent to the Coroner in Urumiyyeh, who stated that the Coroner’s office could not obtain a lawyer [a detective to deal with the case], since the officer responsible for Bahai cases was not present. Ten months have now passed, but no steps have been taken to investigate the murder.
~~~~~~~

Home invasion: 3 stabbed in Birjand

HRANA, February 5, 2014

In Birjand, a provincial capital close to Iran’s border with Afghanistan, a masked individual has entered the home of a Bahai family and brutally stabbed three of them. The attack occurred on February 3. Mr. Qodratullah Mu’adda (قدرت الله مودی) was stabbed in the abdomen and side, Mrs. Tibi Mu’adda (طوبی مودی) in the neck, close to the jugular vein, and ‘Azam Mu’adda (اعظم مودی) was stabbed in the chest. The assailant left the house without making any attempt to steal anything. Mr. and Mrs. Mu’adda are a middle-aged couple, living alone. Their daughter, who lives in Tehran, had arrived that morning on a visit.
~~~~~~~~~

Another student expelled for Bahai beliefs

HRANA, February 3, 2014

Farshad Farzan (فرشاد فرزان), a student at the Shahid Bahonar school of engineering and technology in Shiraz, has been expelled because of his Bahai beliefs. He began a course in business accounting at the university in October 2011 and earned a preparatory qualification. He was then admitted to the Bachelor’s degree course, but was expelled on January 21, 2014, after completing one semester of study, because of his Bahai beliefs. He was not only denied further study, the university credits he had earned in his first semester were denied to him.
~~~~~~~~

Universal House of Justice writes to Bahai youth in Iran

Editorial, January 30, 2014

A year after a chain of Bahai youth conferences were held around the world — in which the Bahai youth in Iran could not participate — the Universal House of Justice has released a message to Bahai youth living in Iran. I have placed the Persian text in the documents archive of my Bahai studies blog, in PDF format. It may not display correctly in Firefox, but works in Explorer. The URL is :

http://senmcglinn.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/u-2014-1-29-youth-in-iran-fa.pdf.

~~~~~~~

Sarang Ettehadi sentenced without trial: 5 years

Khodnevis, January 29, 2014

Sarang Ettehadi, a Bahai from Tehran, has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “membership in Bahai institutions.” An unusual aspect of the sentence is that Mr. Ettehadi had already been pardoned, and that the sentence was issued three days before the trial — which functioned only to inform the accused of his sentence.

Mr. Ettehadi was arrested was arrested in Tehran on June 27, 2012, in a wave of arrests in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz that netted almost 20 Bahais. He was among those pardoned for the Eid al-Fitr on August 15, 2012. Mr Ettehadi has written his own account of his conviction and sentencing, which has been translated by Dr. Nizam Missaghi:

On January 15, 2014, I appeared in the Revolutionary Court to meet the judge as ordered. However, upon my arrival, the Judge’s assistant, Mojtaba, told me that there would be no hearing for me on that day and that my sentence had already been issued in absentia three days prior to the scheduled court date. I reviewed the court document in disbelief and learned that I had been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “membership in Bahá’í institutions.”

My sentence was issued in absentia on January 12, 2014. However, my court date had initially been communicated as January 8 and had been postponed by the court to January 15, the date when I appeared in court. My attorney objected to the sentencing prior to the court date in absentia and insisted that we meet with the judge. After the urging of my counsel, we briefly met with the judge, who, without any hesitation or reasoning, re-read the same sentence to us and confirmed it had been issued.

It is noteworthy that my initial charge had been “propaganda against the regime,” which carries a maximum one-year prison sentence. However, the judge had illegally annexed another charge to my file prior to issuing the five-year sentence as follows: “membership in an illegal organization in order to disturb national security.” The judge addressed me directly and said, “you participated in prayer gatherings and religious rituals with other Bahá’ís, which constitutes an organized and illegal activity.” However, I responded, the Iranian Constitution clearly protects the rights of religious minorities to assembly and worship. When I asked the judge to explain how saying prayers with friends would constitute “propaganda against the regime” or could “disturb national security,” he responded matter-of-factly, “the assembly of even two or three people is an organized activity and is against the law!”

Unfortunately, legal due process in Iran is lamentably defective. Minorities, ethnic or religious, and dissidents are typically at the mercy of a judge who can add to their charges as he wishes, choose to not communicate a change in the defendant’s court date, and sentence the defendant in absentia without proper time allotted for the defense to respond or even know of the charges. The sentencing and the outcome, by and large, are forgone conclusions, and the hearing, if it actually takes place, is nothing but a formality reminiscent of a show trial. The longer such defective judicial system is in place, the more lives will be ruined, youth will be lost, trust will be replaced with despair, and the future of our glorious Iran will be overshadowed with injustice.

~~~~~~~~~

Punished for complaining: Hadjbar Firuzeyan begins his sentence

HRANA, January 26, 2014

On January 25, Hadjbar Firuzeyan (هژبر فیروزیان) reported to Semnan prison to begin serving a 40-day sentence. He is the father of Golrokh and Shidrokh Firuzeyan (شیدرخ و گلرخ فیروزیان), who began serving 6-month sentences in Semnan prison on January 8, 2014. His name has also been reported as Hadjir Firuzeyan (هژیر فیروزیان). He complained of the physical abuse of Golrokh by a Ministry of Intelligence interrogator. During one of her interrogations, the interrogators were harsh. One interrogator stood behind her and pulled here again the back of the chair, leaving her with severe back pains and a bleeding nose. Mr. Firuzeyan informed the officer handling the case, the Prosecutor and the Chief Justice. When there was no response from them, he wrote to the President of Iran, detailing the treatment of his daughter, and also tried to present this letter to the President when he was visiting Semnan. [From the dates, it would appear this refers to President Rouhani, who promised that human rights would be respected in Iran but has not been able to improve the situation at all.] Mr. Firuzeyan was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence and held in solitary confinement for some time. He was later fined 12 million rials (350 euros, $US 480), which was confirmed on appeal, for defaming the head of the Semnan office of the Ministry of Intelligence, Mohammad Reza Hashemian (محمد رضا هاشمیان). He has chosen to serve 40 days in prison rather than pay the fine.
~~~~~~~~~~

Burial of Bahais in Tabriz hindered by officials

HRANA, January 23, 2014

Since July, 2011, officials have been preventing the Bahais of Tabriz from washing the bodies of their loved ones, and from using coffins in their burial. Following the death of Fatemeh Zara’i (فاطمه سلطان زارعی), officials at the Wadi Rahmat cemetery in Tabriz announced that it was not permissible to wash the body, or to use a coffin for her burial — both of which are part of Bahai burial practices — and that they would not allow her to be buried. This is despite the fact that the Bahais shared in the cost of construction and maintenance of the cemetery, and had previously been buried there alongside others, without any problems. The Bahais of Tabriz have sought redress with officials at all levels, including the Municipality, the Friday Prayer leader, the cemetery’s administrators, the committee for sects and religions, the Mayor, the office of the Supreme Leader, the President of the IRI and members of parliament, but all have refused to consider the matter.

Following the death of one young Bahai, Sabet Muhammadi (ثابت محمدی), his family was told they should hand over his body, and that a burial place would be found by noon, [thus denying the family an opportunity to wash and prepare the body according to Bahai law.] In 11 previous cases, bodies were buried without being washed, and without coffins, in the town of Miandoab, about 160 km south of Tabriz. Bahai teachings do not allow either moving a body long distances for burial (more than one hour’s travel), or burying the body of a Bahai in ways contrary to the Bahai burial rites.
~~~~~~

Talu` Golkar sentenced : 5 years for educational activities

HRANA, January 22, 2014

Talu` Golkar, a Bahai from Tehran, has been sentenced to five years in prison, on charges of having links to the Bahai Open University (BIHE). The sentence was communicated to her lawyer on January 14. Talu ` Golkar was one of then Bahais associated with the Bahai Open University who appeared at the Public Prosecutor’s office in Tehran on March 12, 2013. After presenting their defence, they were released on bail. At present more than 10 Bahais associated with the university are serving prison terms for their educational activities, in Raja’i Shahr prison and in the women’s wing of Evin prison.
~~~~~~~

Shamim Ettahadi’s sentence changed by review court

HRANA, January 21, 2014

The review court has adjusted the sentence of Shamim Ettahadi (شمیم اتحادی), a Bahai from Yazd who was arrested during a raid on his home on March 14, 2013. He was charged with propaganda against the regime, membership of Bahai organisations, insulting officials, spreading lies and having satellite receiving equipment. The charges relate to his supposed responsibility for a 4-minute video documenting the destruction of the Bahai cemetery in Yazd, which was shown on the Persian-language television network Manoto. The sentence of the lower court has been variously reported at 5 or 7 and half years in prison. The review court has changed this to 3 years in prison, 74 lashes, a two-year ban on leaving Iran, and a fine of 40 million rials (1200 euros; $US 1600). He was previously arrested in August 2011, along with three other Bahai youths who had gone walking in a mountainous area. On that occasion, he was sentenced to 91 days in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime, which the review court changed to 3 years probation.
~~~~~~~

Manuchher Khalasi barred from meeting his daughters

HRANA, January 18, 2014.

Manuchher Khalasi ( منوچهر خلوصی) was arrested at his home in Mashhad on November 29, 2013, and has now been held for more than seven weeks. He has been accused of propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith, and membership in Bahai organisations. On January 16 he was finally allowed to meet his wife, mother and father for some 30 minutes. However for reasons that are not clear, his two daughters were not allowed to meet their father. His daughters, Nika and Nava Khalusi (نیکا و نوا خلوصی ), have been sentenced to six years and 4 and a half years in prison, respectively, on charges of membership of the Bahai organisation, participation in illegal Bahai activities, and propaganda in favour of the Bahais and against the regime of the Islamic Republic. They are at present free on bail, pending the announcement of the review court’s findings on these sentences.

In 1999, Mr. Khalasi was sentenced to death for being a Bahai. This sentence was later reduced to one year in prison, by which time he had already served 19 months in prison.
~~~~~~~~~

PM of Western Samoa acknowledges Bahai contribution to the nation

Samoa Observer, January 15, 2014

A celebration of the Bahai Faith’s 60th anniversary in Western Samoa, held yesterday, was attended by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and Cabinet Ministers. The Prime Minister said, “I take this opportunity to express the appreciation of the government for the important contribution that you make to the spiritual life of our country.” He added that the work of the Baha’i Faith and all churches in Samoa is paramount in bringing out the best from Samoan people. He said there are many members of the faith in different parts of Samoa’s society and he thanked them for their contribution to Samoa. The Prime Minister gave an assurance that the Government would continue to strive to protect the freedom of everyone – including the right to worship.
“As part of Samoa’s engagement internationally through its membership with the UN, Samoa endeavours to support efforts to protect the rights of people in various countries including Iran where the Baha’i faith struggle through persecution.” He assured members of the Faith that the Government would contribute to support work done through the UN to bring an end to abuses and violations of human rights.

Report continues
~~~~~~~

Malaysian Baha’is affected by ban on ‘Allah’

The Sun Daily, January 14, 2014

The Executive Councillor for Islamic affairs for Selangor state in Malaysia, Sallehin Mukhyi, stated on January 13 that “The Selangor Non-Islamic Religions Enactment 1988 (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) prohibits all non-Muslims from using ‘Allah’ and 34 other Arabic words….Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah’s decree last December specifically states that the word ‘Allah’ is exclusive to the Muslims.” The Malaysian Bahais are among the groups affected by the ban on the use of the word “Allah.” Bahais use the words “Allah-u-Abbha”, which means “God the most glorious” as a greeting. A spokesman for the Baha’i community of Malaysia said the ban would be deliberated upon by members before they make any statements.

Full report
~~~~~~~

Three Bahais begin their sentences in Semnan

HRANA, January 10, 2014

Ardeshir Fena’eyan (اردشیر فناییان) Golrokh Firuzeyan ( گلرخ فیروزیان ) and Shidrokh Firuzeyan ( شیدرخ فیروزیان ) were arrested on January 8, without prior warning, to begin serving their sentences in Semnan prison. The Firuzeyan sisters face 6 month sentences, and were arrested in their home, while Mr. Fenayan faces an eight-month sentence. He was arrested in the street. All three were tried on August 21, 2013. They were charged with various offenses, but eventually sentenced for “propaganda against the regime.”
~~~~~~~~

Three Bahai women free on parole

RAHANA, January 11, 2014

Elham Ruzbehi (الهام روزبهی) and her baby have been released from Isfahan prison on January 8, while Negar Mulkzadeh and Behnaz Hodadzadeh (نگار ملک‌زاده و بهناز حدادزاده) have been freed from Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad. Elham Ruzbehi, a Bahai from Isfahan who began serving her 2 year sentence with her baby on April 27, 2013, in Semnan prison, and was later transferred to Isfahan prison, has been released on parole. Negar Mulkzadeh and Behnaz Hodadzadeh were among 10 Baha’i arrested in connection with a handicraft exhibition in Mashhad. They were sentenced to 6 months in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime, and entered Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on November 17, 2013. They too have been freed on parole.
~~~~~~

Emanullah Mostaqim hospitalized

PCED, January 10, 2014

On January 8, Emanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ), one of the staff of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran who was serving a 5-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, suffered a sudden heart complaint and was taken to Imam Khomeini hospital in Tehran.
Mr. Mostaqim also suffers from diabetes, and doctors have said that he should be under treatment in a hospital specialising in heart disease. He had an open-heart operation not long before his arrest in May 2011, and has been hospitalised several times since he was imprisoned. The forensic doctor has stated that his physical condition is such that he should not be in prison. On September 4, 2013, he was granted leave from prison on medical grounds. It is not clear from this report whether he had since returned to prison, or was still on leave when his condition required him to be hospitalised on January 8.
~~~~~~~

Hassan Badhrafkan free on bail

HRANA, January 14, 2014

Hassan Badhrafkan ( حسن بذرافکن ), a Bahai from Marvdasht county (in Fars Province), is reported to have been freed on bail from Adel Abad prison in Shiraz on December 21. Bail was set at 200 million tumans (59,000 euros, $US 80,000). Mr. Badhrafkan was arrested in the street on September 11, 2013, and transferred immediately to the Ministry of Intelligence’s detention facility 100, in Shiraz, where he was held for 48 days before being transferred to Adel Abad prison.
~~~~~~

For older news, see the “old news” archive

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