Sen's daily

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

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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March 17, 2014

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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March 15, 2014

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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March 3, 2014

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

Contrasting views of Ayatollah Masumi Tehrani

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February 21, 2014

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.

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February 20, 2014

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.

click the pen


Al Monitor: Attack on Baha’i family in Iran raises questions of immunity
Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/iran-bahai-attacks-accountability-police-discrimination

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.

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February 19, 2014

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.

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February 17, 2014

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.

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February 13, 2014

Bahai candidate for Columbia City Council breaks new ground

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 09:08
Tags: , , , , ,


Colombia Faith and Values (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!’”

O thou servant of 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 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

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February 12, 2014

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.

Update, February 18:

In a facebook posting,Azam Ma’udi expresses her thanks for the support and prayers of the friends. By all appearances, they are now in good health.

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February 11, 2014

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.

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Prayers requested for `Azam Mavadi


Radio Yakjahan (facebook report), February 11, 2014

‘Azam Mavadi (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.

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February 6, 2014

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.

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February 5, 2014

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. Tubi 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.

Update, February 7: The Bahai World News Service states that the family name is pronounced Mavadi rather than Mu’adda (the two words are spelt in the same in Persian), and that all three are in intensive care in hospital. Mr. Mavadi is a leading figure in the Bahai community in Birjand, and the BWNS concludes that this was religiously-inspired hate crime. ““The sad fact is that there have been more than 50 physical assaults on Iranian Baha’is since 2005 – and none of the attackers has been prosecuted or otherwise brought to justice. And at least nine Baha’is have been murdered under suspicious circumstances in the same period, and the murderers have likewise enjoyed impunity.”

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February 3, 2014

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.

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January 30, 2014

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 (English text here).

I have also placed the Persian text in the documents archive of my Bahai studies blog, as text and in PDF format. The PDF may not display correctly in Firefox, but works in Explorer.

[پیام بیت العدل اعظم الهی خطاب به جوانان بهائی ایران]

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

January 29, 2014

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.

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

January 28, 2014

Punished for complaining: Hadjabr Firuzeyan begins his sentence


HRANA, January 26, 2014

On January 25, Hadjabr 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) and on this blog as Hadjbar Firuzeyan. 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 her against 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.

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

January 23, 2014

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.

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

January 21, 2014

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 (click to view). 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.

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

January 20, 2014

Manuchher Khalasi barred from meeting his daughters

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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.

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

January 16, 2014

PM of Western Samoa acknowledges Bahai contribution to the nation

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 10:23
Tags: ,


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

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

January 15, 2014

Malaysian Baha’is affected by ban on ‘Allah’

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 09:55
Tags: , ,

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

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

January 12, 2014

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.”

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

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.

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

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.

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

January 4, 2014

Hassan Badhrafkan free on bail

HRANA, January 3, 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.

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

January 1, 2014

One release, three sentences reduced in Semnan

HRANA, December 28, 2013

Mr. Akbarpour Hosseini ( اکبرپور حسینی ), who has completed half of his 18-month sentence in Semnan prison, has been released. He was arrested on May 14, 2012, and was initially sentenced to 28 months, reduced to 18 months by the review court. He was summoned
to serve his sentence in Semnan prison on February 17, 2013. He was charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of the Bahai community. His optician’s shop was raided by security forces on November 29, 2012. The 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.

The review court in Semnan has reduced the 12-month sentence of Ardeshir Fena’eyan (اردشیر فناییان) to 8 months. Golrokh Firuzeyan ( گلرخ فیروزیان ) and Shidrokh Firuzeyan ( شیدرخ فیروزیان ) who has been sentenced to 9 months in prison have had their sentences reduced to six months. All three were tried on August 21, 2013. They were charged with various offenses, but eventually sentenced for “propaganda against the regime.”

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

No news of Manuchher Khalasi, arrested in Mashhad


HRANA, December 30, 2013

Manuchher Khalasi ( منوچهر خلوصی) was arrested at his home in Mashhad on November 29, 2013. Since then he has been held by the Ministry of Intelligence, and his family have had no news of him. A court official has said that he is accused of “propaganda against the regime” but the officer in charge of the case has not provided his family with any clear statement of the charges. There has also been no response to a request that he should be bailed pending his trial. A judge has extended his temporary detention to two months.

In 1999, Mr. Khalasi was sentenced to death for being a Bahai. This exceptionally heavy sentence was later overturned, and he was sentenced to one year in prison, by which time he had already served 19 months in prison. Two girls from the same family, 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.

Bahai student expelled from Semnan University

PCED, December 29, 2013

Two years ago, Nilisa Yahyahvi ( نیلیسا یحیوی ), a graduate in Persian language and culture, was barred from university studies with the excuse “file incomplete” — a euphemism used to disguise religious discrimination in Iran’s education system. In this academic year she again applied, and was admitted to a Master’s course at Semnan University. She attended classes until one week before her expulsion, when university officials asked for her BA diploma and a few day later, contacted her by telephone to ask some questions about her religious beliefs. She was then told that she was barred from further study at the University.

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

Iran’s Minister of Intelligence to present plan for dealing with Bahais

FARS news agency, December 21, 2013

A spokesman for the “Article 90″ committee in Iran’s parliamentary system has stated that the Minister of Intelligence will present a report to the committee on ways of dealing with “deviant sects” — a term usually referring to Bahais and sometimes to Sunni Muslims. The Minister will discuss ongoing correspondence between the Minister and the committee, and UN resolutions relating to human rights in Iran.

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

December 16, 2013

Three Bahai women and two babies freed from Semnan prison


HRANA, December 11, 2013

Zohreh Nik-A’in ( زهره نیک آئین ) who has been in prison in Semnan along with her baby, was released on parole on December 4. A week later, Anisa Fana’ayan ( انیسا فناییان ) and Taraneh Torabi ( ترانه ترابی ), also imprisoned in Semnan (the latter accompanied by her baby), were released on parole. Zohreh Nik-A’in was sentenced to 23 months in prison by the revolutionary court of Semnan on June 22, 2012. She began her sentence on September 24, 2012. Anisa Fana’ayan was originally sentenced to 4 years and 4 months, reduced to 22 months on October 14, 2012. She began her sentence on January 12, 2013. Taraneh Torabi was arrested on February 20, 2011, and sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison on charges of “setting up and running an illegal group” on February 23, 2012. This was reduced to 20 months on July 1, 2012. She began her sentence, accompanied by Barman Ehsani ( بارمان احسانی ), aged six months, on September 24, 2012. On December 26, Barman was taken to hospital suffering from a severe lung infection. Late in 2012, the women’s block at Semnan prison was reported to contain 70 prisoners and a number of babies, crowded into 50 square meters, which did not allow enough beds for all prisoners.

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

Bahai cemetery destroyed in Sanandaj

HRANA, December 14, 2013

After a court upheld the confiscation of land belonging to the Bahais in Sanandaj which was used as a cemetery, the site was levelled by bulldozers on December 12. The land was given to the Bahais by the city administration in 1993. This was the third Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj to be destroyed since 1987. The Supreme Court had recently sent the case of this land to another branch of the Court of Appeals, which confirmed the previous verdict. A number of agents from the Ministry of Intelligence and police officers were present for the demolition.

For a discussion of the long history of symbolic violence directed at graves and bodies of Bahais and other in Iran, see Mehrdad Amanat, Set in Stone: Homeless Corpses and Desecrated Graves in Modern Iran.

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

December 8, 2013

Three Bahais sentenced in Yazd

HRANA, December 8, 2013

Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), Shabnam Mottahed (شبنم متحد) and Iman Rashidi (ایمان رشیدی), who were tried in Yazd on August 24, 2013, have been informed of their sentences. Fariba Ashtari and Shabnam Mottahed received 3-year sentences and Iman Rashidi was sentenced to 4 years in prison. These sentences are subject to review. All three were arrested on July 31, 2012, as part of a wave of arrests of Bahais in Isfahan, Shahin Shahr (a city in Isfahan province), Vila Shahr (on the outskirts of Najafabad, also in Isfahan province) and in Yazd.

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

December 1, 2013

Bahai businesses in Gorgan targetted by false flag flyposters

HRANA, December 1, 2013

In the city of Gorgan (the former Asterabad, in the North East of Iran), unidentified persons have been putting up posters on the homes and business premises of Bahais. The posters contain citations from the Bahai teachings, and typically Bahai pictures, so as to give the impression that the Bahais have put them up advertise their faith. On the morning of November 28, just as one of the Bahai shopkeepers arrived at his shop and found one of these posters on his window, officers from the local government body that supervises public places and businesses also arrived. They closed his business down for propagating the Bahai Faith. It was not re-opened until November 30.

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

Leva Khanjani returns to Evin Prison


HRANA, November 30, 2013

Leva Khanjani ( لواء خانجانی ), who has been on furlough from Evin Prison since July 10, 2013 (her release escaped the attention of Sen’s Daily), has returned to prison to resume serving her two-year sentence. 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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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

Another Bahai home raided in Mashhad

HRANA, November 30, 2013

On November 29, the day on which Manuchher Khalasi ( منوچهر خلوصی) was arrested in Mashhad, security forces went to the home of Fares Daneshgeri ( فارس دانشگری ) in Mashhad with arrest warrants for Mr. Daneshgeri, who was not at home, and for his father, who was present. The agents left, without arresting Mr. Daneshgeri’s father, who was told that he would be arrested “another time.”

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

November 30, 2013

One arrest in Mashhad


Azadi Qalam blog, November 29, 2013

On the morning of Friday, November 29, five plainclothes officers from the Ministry of Intelligence arrived at to the home of Manuchher Khalasi ( منوچهر خلوصی), which also serves as his workplace and as the home of his father and stepmother. They searched the premises thoroughly, abd seized computers, laptops and religious books and prayer books belonging to the whole family. The agents did not have a search warrant, but did have an arrest warrant for Mr. Khalasi, which did not indicate the reason for his arrest, although this is required by law. His family were not told why he was being arrested. In 1999, Mr. Khalasi was sentenced to death for being a Bahai. This exceptionally heavy sentence was later overturned, and he was sentenced to one year in prison, by which time he had already served 19 months in prison.

Two girls from the same family, 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 free on bail pending a review of their sentences by the review court.

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

November 28, 2013

After 3 weeks’ detention, still no contact with Shamim Ruhani


صد نامه تا آزادی (blog), November 28, 2013

On November 5 agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Ahvaz searched the home of Shamim Ruhani ( شمیم روحانی ) and seized religious books, personal documents, a mobile telephone and a computer. They took Mr. Ruhani and a number of Bahais who were present in his home away. All the detainees except for Mr. Ruhani were released on November 8. More than three weeks have passed, but it is still not known where Mr. Ruhani is being held, or why he was arrested. Despite the efforts of his wife Mina Ruhani-Karimi (مینا روحانی – کریمی) to find out how he is, there has been no news, no telephone contact and no meeting with his family. At one time she was told he would be released on bail, but when she returned she was told the judge had denied bail.

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

BIHE class raided in Karaj

Iran Press News, November 28, 2013

According to reliable sources in Iran, one of the classes of the Bahai Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) in Karaj (west of Tehran) was stormed by security agents on November 27. Students in the class were required to fill out forms giving their personal data, the names of family members and relatives, and the identity of the BIHE instructors and faculty members. The agents made students sign a promise not to participate in any activities relating to the BIHE. The students’ cell phones were also confiscated.

On the same day, the Office of the President published a Bill on Citizen’s Rights. After more than 100 days of Rouhani’s presidency, Bahais are facing more pressure than before.

Persian text

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

November 27, 2013

Bahai student expelled in Shiraz


PCED, November 27, 2013

Azita Momtaz ( آزیتا ممتاز ) a student of Industrial Management at Zand University in Shiraz has been expelled for her Bahai beliefs, after gaining 92 study credits. The university authorities stated that her expulsion had been ordered by the Ministry of Intelligence and “the powers that be.” She has also been denied all forms of certification for the results of her three years of study, and for her preparatory studies. Following the election of President Rouhani, the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology announced that students who have been expelled from the country’s universities in recent years could be reinstated, none of the Bahai students who have been expelled, or barred from beginning with the excuse that their files were incomplete, have had their rights reinstated.

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

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