Sen's daily

July 22, 2014

Jail Sentences for 15 Baha’is in Shiraz

Iran Press Watch, July 22, 2014.

According to a Persian report carried by ILNA news agency, the Iranian lawyer Guity Pourfazel has informed them of the conviction of her 15 Bahai clients in the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz. Four women were sentenced to one and half years in jail, the sentences being suspended for five years. Four of the remaining eleven accused were sentenced to three and half year in jail term for “continuous activity against national security.” The remaining seven are to serve twenty month terms.

Giti Pourfazel is quoted elsewhere as saying, “Lawyers are not given the evidence and documents in security-related cases, and these documents are not kept inside the case files, either. … There is only one report from the Intelligence Ministry, based upon which the judge makes his decision. I did ask them to show me the evidence on which my clients’ convictions were based, but I was told that ‘the documents are confidential and they cannot be shown to you.’”

Guity Pourfazel stated that she has decided to challenge these sentences in a court of appeals, and that she hopes that the judge handling the case would reconsider the initial rulings.

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Sarang Etehadi begins a one-year sentence

ICHRI, July 18, 2014.

Mr. Sarang Etehadi ( سارنگ اتحادی ) has been summoned to begin serving his one-year prison sentence on charges of “propaganda against the state through participation in Bahai worship and prayer groups.” He told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that he had been instructed via a telephone call from the Evin Prison Courts on July 6, 2014, to appear to begin serving his sentence within a week. His wife, Nasim Ashrafi ( نسیم اشرفی ), began serving her sentence at Evin Prison on May 6, 2014. The couple, both from Tehran, were arrested in a wave of detentions of Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz in early July, 2012.

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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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July 11, 2014

Manuchher Kholousi’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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July 10, 2014

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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July 5, 2014

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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July 3, 2014

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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June 30, 2014

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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June 29, 2014

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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June 27, 2014

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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June 24, 2014

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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June 19, 2014

`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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June 18, 2014

“Baha’i” in the news in Egypt

Filed under: current events and comment — Sen @ 13:07
Tags: , , ,


New Today, undated [June 18, 2014]

An Egyptian news website, New Today, has published a video of a television interview with Dr. Mohamed El-Saghir (الدكتور محمد الصغير) (pictured), 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.

Update:
The same report was posted previously on the Akhbar-Masriyah site, again without a date, and led to a sequence of unenlightening comments beginning on June 9. The first appearance of the video on You Tube, that I have found, was dated June 7.

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June 17, 2014

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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June 13, 2014

Anti-Bahai pamphlets distributed in Yazd (2 updates)


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.

June 14. HRANA adds that anti-Bahai graffiti has also appeared in Yazd, on the walls and gates of Bahai houses. It is unimaginative: all the examples shown say “Death to the Bahais.” One adds “death to America and England.”

Side note: The report of the Bahai World News Service on this incident states, “In January, said Ms. Alai, the Bahai International Community had catalogued at least 55 anti-Bahai articles on Iranian websites. That rose to 72 in February, 93 in March, 285 in April, and 366 in May.”

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June 11, 2014

Firearms incident at the Bahai Institute in S. Carolina resolved peacefully

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 12:29
Tags: ,

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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June 3, 2014

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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June 1, 2014

Susan Tebyaniyan arrested in Semnan

susan-t-2
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. 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. 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. susan-tebyaniyan

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May 29, 2014

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 those convicted of 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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May 26, 2014

Shahab Dehqani reports to Evin prison (updated)


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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May 24, 2014

`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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May 19, 2014

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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May 18, 2014

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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May 16, 2014

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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May 14, 2014

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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May 7, 2014

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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May 5, 2014

Amanullah Mostaqim returns to prison


HRANA, May 4

Amanullah 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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May 4, 2014

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

shiraz-graves
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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May 3, 2014

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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May 1, 2014

Destruction of Shiraz cemetery has begun

shiraz-graves
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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April 30, 2014

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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April 29, 2014

New film documents Bahai community life in Iran

light-acandle
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

Filed under: Bahai community,Humour — Sen @ 09:09
Tags: ,

Archive photo

Archive photo


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.

Full story (considerably longer than my summary ~sen)
Wilmette Life has another angle on almost the same story, including discussion of a new “but parking area” (next to the smokers’ corner?)

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April 28, 2014

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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April 27, 2014

Interview with an expelled Bahai student gives insight into expulsions, the BIHE, and studying abroad

Iran Rights, March 26, 2014

Iran Rights has published a report on two interviews with Parham Aqdassi, which I warmly recommend to readers. Mr. Aqdassi was a nuclear physics student at Hamedan’s Bu Ali Sina University from late September, 2006, when he was one of the first Bahai students to be allowed to enter a university. He was expelled on December 24, 2006, when he refused to renounce his Bahai beliefs. This was in accordance with the Cultural Revolution High Council’s directive of February 25, 1991, Article 3, which states that Bahai students are banned from pursuing higher education. Many students staged a sit-in protest. Mr Aqdassi went on to study and graduate from the BIHE, the Bahai Open University, which provides limited university-level education for students barred from studying at other tertiary institutions. He describes his studies there, the attacks on the BIHE institutions by security forces, and his decision to travel to Texas to take a Master’s course.

The full report in English is online here.

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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.

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April 23, 2014

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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April 21, 2014

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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April 18, 2014

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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April 14, 2014

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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April 11, 2014

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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April 9, 2014

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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April 6, 2014

“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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March 25, 2014

Leva Khanjani given prison furlough

Archive photo


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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March 24, 2014

136 Bahais in prison in Iran: signs of progress in civil society

ICHRI, March 24, 2014

Dian Alaei, a 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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March 18, 2014

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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