Sen's daily

2010-08-09

Zhinous Sobhani sentenced

HRANA, 29 September

On 29 September, Zhinous Sobhani ( ژینوس سبحانی ), secretary of the Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights, was sentenced to two year’s imprisonment. She was arrested on 3 January, following the suppression of demonstrations during the Ashura period. According to the Organisation to Combat Discrimination in Education, she had been free on bail from Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj. She and her husband, Artayan Ghodnafri ( آرتین غضنفری ), were among 10 Bahais arrested following supposed Bahai involvement in the Ashura protests.

Source
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Conditions tightened for four women prisoners in Mashhad

RAHANA, 29 September

Conditions are reported to have been tightened for four Bahai women prisoners held in Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad: Nahid Qadiri, Rozita Vasseqi, Nasrin Qadiri and Sima Rajabiyan ( ناهید قدیری، رزیتا واثقی، نسرین قدیری و سیما رجبیان ). The four women were among nine Bahais originally arrested in August 2005, and sentenced in October 2009. Now it is reported that family visits, telephone calls and even the time they are allowed in the open exercise yard have been restricted more tightly than in the past.

Source
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Leva Khanjani sentenced

HRANA, 28 September

Leva Khanjani ( لوا خانجانی ), a Bahai student expelled from her study, has been sentenced to two year’s imprisonment. She was arrested on 3 January 2010, and held in Raja`i Shahr prison in Karaj until she was released on bail on 1 March. She is the grandaughter of Jamal al-Din Khanjani, one of the seven Yaran (Bahai assistants, serving the Bahai community in Iran) who are presently serving 10-year sentences. Her husband, Babak Muhashir, who was arrested with her, is at present free on bail.

Source
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Bahai shop in Karaj torched

HRANA, 27 September

On the night of Thursday, 23 September, unknown persons used the cover of darkness and bad weather to break the windows of a furniture store belonging to a Bahai, Tala`at Ahrari ( طلعت احراري ), and set a fire using a flammable liquid in the showroom, before the neighbours awoke and the culprits fled. The shop has been gutted.

Source (in Persian)
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Rozita Vaseghi transferred

RAHANA, 26 September

Rozita Vaseghi ( رزیتا واثقی ), a Bahai prisoner of Mashhad who has been in solitary confinement in the Ministry of Intelligence facility in the city for nearly 6 months, was transferred today to Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad. Her family paid a bail of 50 million tuman (50,000 US dollars; 36,000 euros) for her release, but have heard no more about this. She was sentenced to 5 year’s imprisonment, but has appealed this sentence and would normally be freed on bail pending that appeal. A report in April indicated she was under intense pressure to renounce Bahai activities as a condition of release or clemency. Vakil Abad is a ‘normal’ prison, where a number of other Bahais are serving their sentences.

Source (in Persian)
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Ali Ahsani begins sentence

HRANA, 25 September

Ali Ahsani ( علی احسانی ), a Bahai of Semnan, has been detained in Semnan, Iran, to begin serving a two-year imprisonment to be followed by two years’ internal exile away from Semnan. He was sentenced on charges of propaganda against the regime and activities threatening security, through participation in Bahai activities.

Source (in Persian)
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Raha Sabet in solitary

Madya Iran blog, 18 September

Raha Sabet, a Bahai serving a four-year term in Shiraz for social development activities, is reported to be in solitary confinement in Block 100 of Shiraz prison.

Raha Sabet was one of 54 Bahais and 10 Muslims engaged in a social project in Shiraz, initially tutoring school children in Katsbas, a poverty-stricken suburb of Shiraz, for their end-of-term school examinations, later extending this to the suburb of Sahlabad and other projects. In November 2007, Ms. Rouhi, Ms. Sabet, and Mr. Taqva were imprisoned, and later tried. The official charges were “organizing illegal groups” for which they were sentenced to 3 years prison, and “propaganda against the regime” for which they received a one year prison term. The sentences are consecutive.

Source (in Persian)
Background
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Yaran’s sentences halved on appeal

RAHANA, 15 September

The prison sentences of the seven ‘Yaran’ (helpers) have been reduced from 20 years to 10 years by the Appeals Court in Tehran. They were charged with charged with “espionage on behalf of Israel”, “insulting the sacredness of Islam”, “propaganda against the regime,” and later “aiding, teaching and propagating the Baha‘i religion in Iran.”

Source (in Persian)
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Sahba Rezvani incommunicado

Unity4Iran, 11 September

As reported previously, Sahba Rezvani and Munireh Manzuyan ( صهبا رضوانی و منیژه منزویان ) are two Bahais of Semnan, imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran. Sahba Rezvani was sentenced to three years and one month imprisonment. For the past several months, she has been denied any visitors, for no apparent reason. She has served half of her sentence, at which point prisoners are normally freed. It is not uncommon for prisoners of conscience in Iran to be held incommunicado during “investigations” (while they are being pressured to confess to something), but in this case the investigations and trial ended long ago.

Source (in Persian)
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Bahai home raided in Sari

RAHANA, 11 Sept

On 7 September, seven plain-clothed agents from the Ministry of Intelligence entered the home of Noghme Hafezi ( نغمه حافظی ) in Sari, where his seven-year-old son was also present, and searched it. They had no court order or other permission. The raid was violent and uncouth. The agents confiscated religious materials and a laptop, and told the victim to present himself to the Ministry next day. He has written a letter of complaint to the Public Prosecutor in Sari.

Source (in Persian)
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New attacks on the Bahais of Semnan

HRANA, 7 September

Following inflammatory sermons at some of the mosques of Semnan, it appears a new wave of attacks and pressure on the Bahais of Semnan is under way. In the early morning of Friday 3 September a number of thugs entered the home of Yahya Hedayati ( يحيي هدايتي ), a released prisoner of conscience whose home has been the target of arson and vandalism several times in the past. After breaking the windows they ran away.

In the same night, another group broke the glass displays of a shop belonging to Akbar Pourhuseini ( اكبر پورحسيني ), and damaged and broke the windows of a car belonging to Peyman Shaman ( پيمان شادمان ). Police officers attended, but appear to be taking no action.

Another RAHANA report says that on Sunday, a store belonging to a Bahai in Tenakabon, on the coast of the Caspian Sea, was sprayed with slogans such as “Death to the Bahai Israeli spy.” Tenakabon lies some 300 kilometers from Semnan.

Source (in Persian)
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Sorur Soruriyan moved to Nahavand Prison

RAHANA, 1 September

Sahba Khademi and Sorur Soruriyan ( صهبا خادمی و سرور سرورِِیان ), who are 24 and 25 years old respectively, were arrested in March 2009 and spent some time time in prison in Hamadan. On 30 December 2009 they were sentenced to one year in prison for teaching the Bahai Faith. Sorour Sorouriyan began serving her sentence in Hamadan on May 23rd. She was transferred to the Nahavand Prison on August 31st. The conditions there are said to be worse.

Source (and earlier reports on this blog)
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Another arrest in Isfahan province

Committee of Human Rights Reporters, 28 August

Mazgan `Ebadi ( مژگان عبادی ), a Bahai of the Isfahan region, was arrested at his home today. His computer and mobile phone were confiscated. Four Bahais arrested in the region recently for participating in literacy work with women and children in a village near Isfahan are still being held. They have been allowed a 15 minute visit from their families but have not been enabled to continue their studies in prison.

An earlier report on “Bahais arrested in Isfahan province for literacy work” (August 9) is in the news archive

Source (in Persian)
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One Bahai among the dead at Spain’s Afghan base

Gente en Toledo, 28 August

An Iranian-Spanish Bahai interpreter and two Spanish officers from the Civil Guard were killed on Wednesday 25 August in an attack by an Afghan driver working for the Spanish forces in Afghanistan. The driver opened fire during a training exercise at the Spanish base in Badghis province. He was shot dead by other Spanish officers.

Following the shooting hundreds gathered outside the Spanish base, chanting religious slogans and hurling stones. The protesters tore down fences around the base and started fires. Provincial health director Abdul Aziz Tariq said 25 people were wounded in the protest, with two in a critical condition.

The remains of the dead have been returned to Spain, where they were met at Torrejon Air Base by President Zapatero. There was a religious ceremony for the next of kin, led by two priests and a Bahai representative. The interpreter, Ataollah Taefy, was later buried in a Bahai ceremony. He was 54 years old, and had lived in Spain for more than 20 years. He leaves a Spanish wife and two children aged 21 and 16, all members of the Baha’i community of Zaragoza.

Source and earlier reports on the same site (in Spanish)
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Home searches in Sari

HRANA, 25 August

On 23 August, officials from the Intelligence Ministry in Sari searched the home of Sahrab Zahedi ( سهراب زاهدي ) and confiscated some personal effects. A few days earlier officials of the same Ministry entered the home of Fayzullah Rushan ( فيض الله روشن ), searched it and confiscated personal belongings.

Source (in Persian)
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Bahai and his lawyer detained

RAHANA, 24 August

Husayn Shayegan ( حسین شایگان ), a Bahai shopkeeper well known in Shahin Vila in Tehran, was asked to present himself at court with documents relating to his business. When he appeared, he and his lawyer were arrested and taken to Gohardasht prison in Karaj (outskirts of Tehran).

Source (in Persian)
25 August: English report from RAHANA
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Sama Nourani summoned

HRANA, 23 August

Sama Nourani ( سما نورانی ), a Bahai excluded from university education and a human rights activist, who has been free on bail, was summoned to the Prosecutor’s office at Evin Prison in Tehran on Monday 23 August.

Source (in Persian)
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Hedayatullah Reza’i free on bail

HRANA, 21 August

Hedayatullah Reza’i ( هدایت الله رضایی ), a Bahai of Abadan who was arrested on 17 July, was released on August 17, for a bail of almost 2000 euros.

Source (in Persian)
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Qavam-adin Thabetan freed

Committee of Human Rights Reporters, 18 August

Qavam-adin Thabetan ( قوام‌الدین ثابتیان ), a Bahai of Sari, has been released after almost one month in detention.

Source (in Persian)
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Egypt’s Minister of Religious Endowments indicates no prospect of change

Asharq Al-Awsat (English), 16 August

(Extract from a longer interview):
[Asharq Al-Awsat] From time to time the issue of adding the Baha’i religion to identity cards is raised. Do you believe that by keeping this issue unresolved, there is a pretext for external intervention in our internal affairs?

[Zaqzuq] I am amazed at our brothers in the US Congress who raise this issue from time to time whereas we in Egypt do not pay much attention to it. The identity card is requested only in limited circumstances and religion is not mentioned from near or far. So why do they raise it? I do not understand?

Complete interview
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Moshtagh Samandari sentenced: 3 years

Iran Press Watch, 15 August

Moshtagh Samandari ( مشتاق سمندری ), a Bahai of Babol, has been sentenced to three year’s imprisonment for insulting Islam by teaching the Bahai Faith.

Source (omits “by teaching the Bahai Faith” which is stated in the Persian version)

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Concerns for Rozita Vaseghi

Iran Press News, 12 August

Officials who are hindering the release of Rozita Vasseghi ( رزيتا واثقي ), a Bahai imprisoned in Mashhad’s Vakil Abad prison, have forbidden contact with her. Her last contact was a month ago. In the five months she has been in prison she has received only 3 short family visits. In the past few days the Prosecutor of Mashhad has told her mother that, at the request of the Ministry of Intelligence, her daughter will not be released for another two months, although on 27 June the family paid a bond of about 4000 euro’s for her release.

Source (in Persian)
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Bahai home raided in Sari

RAHANA, 12 August

On the morning of 10 August, security officers raided the home of Faizullah Roushan ( فیض‌الله روشن ) in Sari. They searched the house and confiscated three sacks of books, CDs and pictures relating to the Bahai Faith. He was told to present himself at the office of the Ministry of Intelligence in Sari on 11 August, but this was later changed, by telephone, to “another time.” Faizullah Roushan has already served 18 months in prison on charges of believing in the Bahai Faith, propaganda against the system, and in favour of groups hostile to the regime.

Source (in Persian)
14 August: English report
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One of the Sari Bahais freed

CHRR, 11 August

Qayyamaldin Thabetan ( قوام الدین ثابتیان ), who was arrested on 19 July in Sari, is reported to have been released today.

Source (in Persian
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Mishtaq Samandari sentenced: 3 years

HRANA, 9 August

Mishtaq Samandari ( مشتاق سمندری ) of Babol, whose arrest and release on bail were reported below, has been sentenced to three years in prison, on charges of insulting Islam by teaching the Bahai Faith

Source (in Persian)
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Bahais arrested in Isfahan province for literacy work

RAHANA, August 9

Faraz Rouhi, Zhinous Jushanyan and Nasim Rouhi ( فراز روحی، ژینوس جوشنیان و نسیم روحی ) are reported to have been arrested today by security agents following an early morning raid on their house in the village of Quleh-ye Musa Khan ( قلعه موسی‌خان ). The village is 50 kilometres from Isfahan. The three had been active in the field of literacy and are said to have been teaching literacy and computer skills to the women and children ( ! ) of the village for the past 16 months, using books approved by the Ministry of Culture. They had also brought more than 200 factual and scientific books for children and youth to the village. There is no doctor or health care in the village, and the three are also implicated in transporting villagers to the city for treatment. It is said that the villagers had no idea that the three were Bahais. They have been detained in Isfahan prison.

Source (in Persian)
Update, 11 August: RAHANA reports that a fourth Bahai engaged in literacy work in the same village has been arrested. Her name is given as Afruz Rouhi ( افروز روحی ), sister of Faraz Rouhi who is mentioned above.
18 August: their detention has been extended for 10 days.
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Yaran sentenced to 20 years imprisonment

RAHANA, 8 August

Each of the seven Yaran has been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. The Yaran had for some years taken care of relations with Iranian government institutions on matters such as burial permissions for the Bahai community, following the dissolution of all the normal Bahai administrative institutions in Iran.

Source (in Persian)

Update, 9 August: The Yaran are said to have been transferred to Reja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj (60 kilometers from Tehran. The prison is infamous in human rights circles for its insanitary conditions, absence of medical facilities, high density of prisoner population, and severe restrictions and conduct of the guards.
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Two more arrests for the murder of John Veira

France Guyana actualitee, 7 August
Star News, 3 August

A man has been arrested in French Guyana in relation to the murder of John Veira, a Bahai who was the well-respected Director of Civil Aviation in Suriname. (See the earlier report here). He is one of two men who had an encounter with the customs officers there on April 26. The other man involved is said to have left soon after for the Netherlands.

It seems probable that this second man is the suspect who was arrested earlier this week in the Netherlands. The Attorney General of Suriname has said that the person does not have Dutch nationality and is expected to be extradited to Suriname quickly. Four people are already under arrest in Suriname.

The report in French names the two men : it is notable that neither name is that of the Surinamese helicopter pilot who has been the subject of some nasty rumours in the press and streets of Suriname.

Source (in French)
Source (in Dutch)

Update: 26 October. An investigatory committee is hearing several people in French Guyana, and research is continuing in Suriname. A witness is said to have stated that the two persons arrested in the Netherlands and French Guyana were present when the murder of John Veira was planned.
Source (in Dutch)

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