Sen's daily

January 25, 2021

Mazhdeh Eqteraafi and Houshmand Taalebi bailed at last


HRANA, January 24, 2021. –

Mazhdeh Eqteraafi (مژده اقترافی) and her husband Houshmand Taalebi (هوشمند طالبی), Bahais from Vilashahr, were released from prison in Isfahan on January 24. They have been detained since August 23, 2020. r. After their arrest, officers went to the Bahai couple’s home and searched it, confiscating laptops, cell phones, books, and an acoustic “Dastgah” keyboard. Two cars and a truck belonging to the family were also confiscated. During their interrogation, they were charged with propaganda against the regime and links to foreign governments.

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

January 23, 2021

Sufeya Mobini’s sentence reduced to five years


HRANA, January 21, 2021. –

In an unusual step, a Revolutionary Court in Tehran has reduced the sentence of Sufeya Mobini (سوفیا مبینی), from ten years to five years. This is not a Review, but the correction of an administrative error within the Revolutionary Court system. Her sentence, and Negin Tadrisi’s (نگین تدریسی) five-year sentence in the same case, will still be considered by the Provincial Review Court, which reviews all the findings of the Revolutionary Courts, and often reduces the sentences. The accused are usually free on bail until the Review Court has spoken. The correction in this case was made by Judge Muhammad-Reza Amouzad (قاضی محمدرضا عموزاد). The initial 10-year sentence, handed down by the notorious Judge Moqayeseh ( قاضی محمد مقیسه ), was based on Article 498 of the Islamic Penal Code, which provides for a maximum of ‘only’ five years’ imprisonment for “acting against national security” [i.e., commemorating a birth that took place 200 years ago ! Mrs Mobini and Tadrisi were arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in October 2017, during the bicentenary celebration of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet Founder of the Bahai Faith.].

The precise charges in this case are “acting against national security by administering the Bahai organisation and promoting its teachings.” In his ruling, Judge Moqayeseh had also accused them of paying the tuition for an Afghani student to attend language classes, of giving counselling regarding behavioural, sexual and economic awareness, and of writing in a personal journal that “the people in this region need education.”

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

January 18, 2021

Two more Bahais barred from universities

Mahsa Foruhari

Sima Fattaahi-Mirshekaarlu


HRANA (twice), January 2021. –

In two separate items, HRANA has reported that Mahsa Foruhari (مهسا فروهری), a Bahai student from Karaj, and Sima Fattaahi-Mirshekaarlu (شیما فتاحی میرشکارلو), a Bahai studying in Urmia (Urumiyyeh), have been barred from tertiary education because of their Bahai beliefs. Ms. Foruhari registered for the tenth consecutive year for entrance to tertiary education with exemption from the University Entrance examination. This exemption is available to those with good academic records, and her average was just over 19 [out of 20, presumably]. Nevertheless she was rejected for “incomplete file” – the usual term used when students are excluded because of Bahai beliefs. After the most recent University Entrance examination, HRANA reported 21 other cases of Bahais excluded from university for “incomplete file.”

Ms. Fattaahi, who began a Master’s degree in International Law at Urmia Azad University about two years ago, received a message on the university website on January 17, saying that she was barred from defending her dissertation and continuing postgraduate studies because of her adherence to the Bahai Faith. This message refers to a letter dated December 29, 2099 regarding the the exclusion of Bahai students and the expulsion of Ms. Fattaaahi. The report does not explain who wrote the letter, but the image caption says it is from the “Security Office,” the on-campus branch of the the Ministry of Intelligence. Presumably it was addressed to the University, who had no choice but to obey.
https://iranwire.com/fa/news/kerman/44103

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

January 13, 2021

House raid in Karaj


HRANA, January 12, 2021. –

On January 11, security forces raided the home of Tina `Alevi-`Enayatipour (تینا علوی عنایتی پور), a Bahai from Karaj, and seized her mobile phone, computer and work tools. She sells jewelry.

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

December 31, 2020

One-year sentences confirmed for nine Bahais from Karaj


HRANA, December 31, 2020. –

A review court for Tehran Province, headed by Judge Seyyed-Ahmad Zargar (قاضی سید احمد زرگر) and Counsellor ‘Abbaas-`Ali Houzaan (عباسعلی حوزان), has confirmed the one-year sentences of nine Bahais from Karaj that were announced by a Revolutionary Court in August this year. It was Judge Zargar who, earlier this year, confirmed the outrageous 10-year sentence handed down to the Bahai scholar and translator Faruq Izadinia (فاروق ایزدی نیا ), and the five-year sentence of Samin Maqsudi (ثمین مقصودی).

The Bahais whose one-year sentences were announced today are Mr. Houman Khoushnam (هومن خوشنام), Mrs. Ilham Salmanzadeh (الهام سلمانزاده), Mr. Payaam Sha’baani (پیام شعبانی ), Mr. Keyaanush Salmaanzaadeh (کیانوش سلمانزاده), Mr. Soroush Agaahi (سروش آگاهی), Mr. Parvan Ma`navi (پروان معنوی), Mrs. Jamileh Paakrou-Mohammad-Hosseini (جمیله پاکرو محمدحسینی), Mr. Paymaan Ma’navi (پیمان معنوی) and Mrs. Neda Shabaani-Bik-Aqaa’i (ندا شبانی بیوک آقایی). They were charged with propaganda against the regime through activity and propaganda for the Bahais. They were arrested in September and November, 2018, and are at present free on bail. The trial was held on July 27, and sentences were announced on August 6. The trial judge was Judge Panahi (قاضی پناهی).

At the time of their arrest, agents searched the homes of some of these detainees and seized personal belongings, including books, computers, laptops and mobile phones. The business premises of some of them were also sealed after their arrest.

The case of Maryam Ghaffaarmanesh (مریم غفارمنش) is also pending before the same court. She was one of five Bahais arrested at a meeting for environmental education in Karaj on September 16, 2018.

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

December 26, 2020

Sentences confirmed for five Bahais from Mashhad


HRANA, December 26, 2020. –

The Review Court for Khorasan Province has confirmed the one-year prison terms that Judge Baagh-dehi (قاضی باغ دهی), in the Revolutionary Court in Mashhad, had ordered for Nika Paakzaadaan (نیکا پاکزادان), Faraaneh Daaneshgari (فرانه دانشگری), Saanaaz Eshaaqi (ساناز اسحاقی), Nakisa Hajipour (نکیسا حاجی پور) and Noghmeh Dhabihayan (نغمه ذبیحیان). The Review Court decision was announced on December 17. These five Bahai women were arrested on November 13, 2015, at the same time as agents from the Ministry of Intelligence also arrested 15 other Bahais in Tehran and Isfahan, and Bahai-run businesses were closed down in Mazandaran Province. Nakisa Hajipour was arrested at the Mashhad railway station, and the other four at their homes. The Revolutionary court trial was held on 28 September, 2019.

Noghmeh Dhabihayan-Esami was previously arrested in connection with a handcrafts exhibition in Mashhad. This HRANA report states that she was sentenced to 6 months in prison, but my own records from the time show she was acquitted.
https://iranwire.com/fa/news/kerman/44103

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

December 25, 2020

Bandar Abbas: 8 Bahais sentenced to prison and re-education


HRANA, December 24, 2020.

A Revolutionary Court in Bandar Abbas has sentenced Arash Raasekhi (آرش راسخی), Nasim Qanawaateyaan (نسیم قنواتیان), Maaraal Raasti (مارال راستی), Mahnaaz Jan-Nethaar (مهناز جان نثار), Omid Afaaqi (امید آفاقی) and Ruhollah Afshaar (روح الله افشار) to two years in prison, while Adib Haqq-pazhuh (ادیب حق پژوه) and Farhaad Amri (فرهاد امری) wee sentenced to one year in prison. In addition, all eight were given a two-year ban on membership of social and political parties and groups and attending Bahai meetings, and are required to attend five counselling sessions on “sects” under the supervision of the “Sajjadiyyeh” Institute (named after the fourth Imam, aka Zayn al-Abidin). Failure to attend the counselling will result in a one-third increase in their prison sentence for the first omission, and for repeated absences, to imprisonment or a fine. They were charged with conspiracy to undermine national security.

Mr Haqq-pazhuh was arrested in Shiraz in April, 2017, and transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence detention facilities in Bandar Abbas on April 19. He had previously been arrested, in August 2014, and sentenced to six months in prison for propaganda against the regime and in favour of its enemies, but benefited from an amnesty granted in February 2019. The other seven were arrested in Bandar Abbas on April 18, and held by the Ministry of Intelligence.

The eight detainees were interrogated by the Ministry for about three weeks before being transferred to the central prison for Hormuzgan Province, which is also in Bandar Abbas. From there, they were released on bail, although I have no record of the details. The behaviour of local and provincial officials during the interrogation was described as good, but interrogators who travelled to Bandar Abbas from Tehran behaved badly, insulting the detainees.

For three years, the case file remained with a Mr. Rahimi from the Prosecutor’s Office, who was supposed to investigate. The charge at that point was “propaganda against the regime.” After three years, the arrestees were told that the Ministry of Intelligence had failed to provide any evidence, and had been given one further month to do so, or the case would be closed. Mr. Rahimi was then removed from the case, and a new prosecutor made a more serious charge, of conspiracy, and sent it to the Revolutionary Court without informing the defendants or their lawyer. The trial was held on December 12, and it was only then that the defendants learned what a more serious charge had been laid. Although their lawyer argued that the process was flawed and should be returned to the prosecutor’s office, Judge ‘Ali Balaador (قاضی علی بلادر) proceeded with a verdict. The additional sentence of counselling by the theological institute shows that they were in fact sentenced only for being Bahais, as the first case investigator had said that no evidence had been presented.

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

December 20, 2020

Wahda Silaani begins her sentence in Kerman


Iran Press Watch, December 16, 2020. –

Wahda Silaani (وحدا سیلانی) a Bahai living in Kerman, was arrested on Sunday, December 13, 2020, after being summoned to the Revolutionary Court “for some explanations.” She was transferred to Kerman Prison to serve her sentence. She had previously been sentenced by the Kerman Revolutionary Court to seven months in prison.

Wahda Silaani was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents on December 29, 2019 and transferred to Kerman Prison. During the arrest, officers searched Ms. Silaani’s home and confiscated some of her personal belongings. She was temporarily released on January 15, 2020, on 100 million toman [approx. $23,750] bail. She was later tried by the Kerman Revolutionary Court and sentenced to seven months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime by means of Bahai propaganda.

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

December 3, 2020

Ruhollah Zibaa’i released


HRANA, December 2, 2020. –

Ruhollah Zibaa’i (روح‌الله زیبایی), who began a 4-month sentence in Karaj central prison on December 1, was released on December 2 for health reason. He was accused of propaganda against the regime and in favour of the Bahai Faith. Due to extensive injuries sustained in multiple actions during the Iran-Iraq war (he was wounded three times in Dehlawieh, Susangard, and Ahvaz), he requires constant medical care. The report suggests that he has lodged bail, since it says he can apply to have to returned to him after four months.

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

December 2, 2020

Ruhollah Zibaa’i goes to jail, released


HRANA, December 1, 2020. –

Ruhollah Zibaa’i (روح‌الله زیبایی) was arrested at his home in Baghastan (Karaj) on December 1 and taken to Karaj central prison to begin his 4-month sentence. He was given a one-year sentence by Judge `Assef Al-Husseini (قاضی عاصف الحسینی), on a charge of propaganda against the regime and in favour of the Bahai Faith. This was reduced to four months by the Provincial Court of Review. [The previous report on Sen’s Daily (May 11, 2020) said that the Review Court had confirmed the one-year sentence.] He was arrested in Karaj on August 3, 2019, and released on bail on September 2.

Update, December 3:  Unconfirmed reports say that he was released soon after arriving at the prison, for health reasons. 

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

 

November 26, 2020

23 Bahai homes raided across Iran

HRANA, November 25, 2020. –

On the morning of Sunday, November 22, in simultaneous operations in various cities across Iran, security agents raided at least 23 Bahai homes. Radio Farda cites estimates that 30 to 50 Bahai homes were raided. The security agents seized personal belongings, including laptops, mobile phones, personal computers, cash, bank cards, real estate documents, identification documents, and books relating to the Bahai Faith. The home raids confirmed by HRANA in Tehran targetted Niki Khaanjaani (نیکی خانجانی), Riaz Sobhaani (ریاض سبحانی), `Arshi Moqaddam (عرشی مقدم), Homa Etemaadi (هما اعتمادی), Shahla Hekmat-Sho`aar (شهلا حکمت شعار), Ataa’ullah Ashrafi (عطاءالله اشرفی) and, in the outlying suburb of Baaba Salmaan, the home of Jamshid Shah Mohammadi (جمشید شاه محمدی); in Karaj, near Tehran, it was the homes of `Afif Na’imi (عفیف نعیمی), Shaahrokh Taa’ef (شاهرخ طائف), Sirous Mithaaqi (سیروس میثاقی), Taaher Safaajou (طاهر صفاجو), Anis Safaajou (انیس صفاجو) and Shahraam Safaajou (شهرام صفاجو); in Isfahan, the homes of Khosrou Shafi`zaadeh (خسرو شفیع زاده), Elhaam Amiri (الهام امیری), Ehsaan Makaari (احسان مکاری) and Bahaador Mota’aarafi (بهادر متعارفی); in Kerman, the home of Naaser Nabili (ناصر نبیلی); in Mashhad, the home of Peymaaneh Naamdaar (پیمانه نامدار). The report does not specify the location of the homes of the following Bahais who were targetted in the raid: Daariush Diaani ( داریوش دیانی), Parvin Naamdaar (پروین نامدار), Faribar Behin-aa’in (فریبر بهین آیین) and Naaser Dalili (ناصر دلیلی). The workplace of Anis Safaajou ( انیس صفاجو), in Mehrshahr, a suburb of Karaj, was also raided.

The reports have been collected in an adhoc way, and may be revised. Initially, individual reports were noted by the human rights activist Mehdi Mahmoudian (مهدی محمودیان), who published them on Twitter, leading to more reports being forwarded to him. HRANA, an organisation with the experience and connections to verify the reports, has not completed its work.

The picture of a chaotic room that is used by HRANA in its report is a stock image predating the recent raids.

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

November 19, 2020

Bahai university applicants summoned to sign pledge

Iranwire, November 19, 2020. –

On Wednesday, November 11, a number of Bahais who passed Iran’s national university entrance exams were summoned by telephone to the Karaj branch of ‘Sanjesh,’ the body responsible for organizing and overseeing the annual tests in Iran. Several said that on arrival, they were taken into a private room and their mobile phones were confiscated. They were then questioned about their belief in the Bahai Faith, and made to fill out questionnaires on their family members, personal relations and social media activities.

In the end, candidates were told that they would be allowed to enroll and study at Iranian universities on the condition that they sign a letter of commitment in which they would undertake to obey the laws of the Islamic Republic and refrain from “propagating” the Bahai Faith. They were also asked to agree not to associate with Bahai organizations and to disregard the rulings of the Universal House of Justice, the elected governing body for the global Bahai community.

Not one of the candidates reportedly signed. This means, in effect, that they are barred from entering higher education in Iran.

It comes after a welter of complaints from Bahai students following the 2020 entrance exam in late summer. After the results were announced, Bahai candidates said, they logged in only to see an error message that read “incomplete file.”

[Bahai teachings require obedience to the government and laws of the land in which one lives, there are no Bahai organizations in Iran with which the students could associate, and Bahai students in Iran, at all levels of education, already follow a policy of not propagating their Faith in institutions that make this a requirement. The point of the pledge lies in the fourth point, requiring the students to disregard the edicts of the Universal House of Justice. This refers to claims in the state-sponsored Iranian media that Bahais obey the instructions of the House of Justice rather than those of the government in Iran, and calling the Bahai community “a state within the State.” This is analogous to the claim, in anti-Catholic rhetoric in the United States, that a Roman Catholic President would be bound to obey the Pope. It is ridiculous in both cases: the Pope and the Universal House of Justice make rulings only on religious matters, affecting only their own communities. The Bahai teachings specify that the Bahais “in whatever country they reside, … will, unhesitatingly, subordinate the operation of [Bahai] laws and the application of [Bahai] principles to the requirements and legal enactments of their respective governments. Theirs is not the purpose, … to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country’s constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their administration to supersede the government of their respective countries.” (Source). Far from aiming to be a state within the State, the Bahais are fully committed to the separation of the institutions of religion from politics. The Iranian authorities know this: it is one reason for their persecution of the Bahais. ~ Sen]

November 9, 2020

Security forces confiscate Bahai agricultural land at Roshankuh


Iran Press Watch, November 9, 2020. –

Recently, the Natural Resources Department of Mazandaran Province confiscated land owned by the mostly Bahai residents of Roshankooh village, near the city of Sari, under the pretense of protecting natural resources. These lands, which have been owned by the villagers for nearly a hundred years and have title deeds, have been occupied by a Special Security Forces Unit.

On October 25th of this year, the head of Forestry of the region, the head of the Sari Protection of Natural Resources Unit, and more than 15 members of the Special Security Forces Unit and the police force, demolished the existing fences and erected a new one without prior notice or presenting a court order.

These farmlands, on which villagers lived, have belonged to them for more than a century. Also, the landowners have deeds showing the ownership of the land since the time of the Land Reform Law enacted in 1963. On top of that, there are other ownership documents that have been issued during the time of the Islamic Republic.

Roshankooh village has about 160 families, most of whom are Baha’is. These people have owned and worked on their farmlands around the village for several generations.

Previously, several court sittings were held on this matter on February 7, 10, 12, and 17, 2016, with a complaint from the Department of Natural Resources in Branch 1 of the General Court of Kiya-Sar city.

HRANA writes: “The Bahais of Roshankooh village petitioned that a look at the map and aerial images will show that not only have they not encroached on natural resources, but that tens of thousands of square meters of their farmland has been occupied by the Department of Natural Resources in recent decades. According to this report, based on the Recognition Advertisement No. 8752-31 / 2/54, Roshankooh village is one of the exemptions from being part of the natural resources. However, the Department of Natural Resources avoids providing a map that is appended to that advertisement.”

Bahais in the village of Roshankooh intend to appeal the decision.

=+=
Persian source , reporting by Amir Soltanzadeh (
امیر سلطان‌زاده)

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

November 2, 2020

Bahai students again barred from Iran’s universities

Iran Wire, November 2, 2020. –

On Friday, October 30, Ebrahim Khodaei, head of the Iran’s National Organization of Educational Testing, announced that this year’s results of 2020 had been posted on the organization’s website. Participants, he said, could visit the site, enter their registration number and other personal information, and then view their personal results.

As in previous years, when Bahai students logged on this year, they found that their records were flagged with the words “incomplete dossier”: a catch-all term the testing organization has been using for more than a decade now to stop students known to belong to the Baha’i community from progressing to the next stage in their education.

At the time of writing, IranWire had received the names of 14 Bahai participants who have been locked out of the grading system because of an “incomplete dossier”. They were Parsa Seyed Ahmad, Shahrad Mohammad-Zadeh (who ranked 653rd in the nationwide entrance exams), Kimia Manouchehri, Setareh Izadi, Kian Laghaee, Aria Sheikh Zavareh, Marjan Abbas-Pouli, Faran Ghodratyan, Vahid Sadeghi, Mobina Hooshmandi, Arshia Eshraghi, Shamim Idelkhani (who ranked 686th), Aryan Dehghani (2000th) and Sayena Shafizadeh. The “Iran” news site reports 17 Bahai students have been excluded, without naming them.

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

October 24, 2020

Five Bahais of Mashhad given one-year sentences


HRANA, October 22, 2020. –

A Revolutionary Court in Mashhad has sentenced five Bahai women to one year in prison. They are Nika Paakzaadaan (نیکا پاکزادان), Faraaneh Daaneshgari (فرانه دانشگری), Saanaaz Eshaaqi (ساناز اسحاقی), Nakisa Hajipour (نکیسا حاجی پور) and Noghmeh Dhabihayan (نغمه ذبیحیان). They were arrested on November 13, 2015, at the same time as agents from the Ministry of Intelligence also arrested 15 other Bahais in Tehran and Isfahan, and Bahai-run businesses were closed down in Mazandaran Province. Nakisa Hajipour was arrested at the Mashhad railway station, and the other four at their homes. They were charged with propaganda against the regime through teaching the Bahai Faith. The trial was held on 28 September, 2019, but the sentences have only now been announced.

Noghmeh Dhabihayan-Esami was previously arrested in connection with a handcrafts exhibition in Mashhad. This HRANA report states that she was sentenced to 6 months in prison, but my own records from the time show she was acquitted.

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

October 20, 2020

Farhaad Fahandezh recovers, released from solitary


HRANA, October 13, 2020. –

Farhaad Fahandezh (فرهاد فهندژ), a 61-year old Bahai serving a 10-year sentence in Rajai Shahr prison, was returned to the ‘general’ or ‘common’ section of the prison on October 13. He had previously tested positive for the Covid-19 virus and was moved to a solitary confinement cell in the high-security block, where he remained for 13 days. Rajai Shahr prison holds many prisoners of conscience. A recent report said that 119 of them had the Corona virus.

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

October 15, 2020

Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani granted early release


HRANA, October 14, 2020. –

Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani (مهرداد موسوی خولنجانی), a Bahai from Shahin Shahr, was granted early release from Dastgerd Prison, near Isfahan, as of October 12. In September he was granted a one-month furlough, beginning on September 9. He reported back on October 10. Two days later, he was released with an apology and told there had been a mistake in handling his file. On July 9 this year, he begin a six-month sentence on what are apparently ideological charges : “propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith.” His case has been an extraordinary tale of confusion as competing security forces, Ministeries and courts have alternately imprisoned and released him, and charged him alternately with ideological and criminal charges. Although on this occasion he has served just over two months of a 6-month sentence, he has not recovered the belongings that were seized from him, despite one court ordering that they should be returned, and it appears that his business is still sealed by other authorities.

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

Three Bahai homes searched in Yazd


HRANA, October 2020. –

On October 6, security forces in Yazd raided the homes of Kataayun Shahryaari (کتایون شهریاری), Peymaan Ruhi ( پیمان روحی), and Eymaan Rashidi (ایمان رشیدی) and his wife Shabnam Mottahed (شبنم متحد). In one case, they broke the lock to enter and refused to show a warrant. They also searched the home of a neighbour of one of these Bahais, and seized the CCTV camera of another neighbour, without a warrant. After searching the three homes, they seized mobile telephones, laptops, personal computers, bank cards, and photographs and books related to the Bahai Faith, and departed. The children of these families need the electronic devices for their school studies during the pandemic period.

Mr. Eyman Rashidi and his wife have served prison terms for their Bahai beliefs in the past. They were among a large number of Bahais who were arrested on July 31, 2012, as part of a wave of arrests in Isfahan, Shahin Shahr (a city in Isfahan province), Vila Shahr (on the outskirts of Najafabad, also in Isfahan province) and in Yazd. They were released on bail on August 27 that year and tried in Yazd on August 24, 2013. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and acting against national security
through the establishment and membership of the secret organization (the Bahai community). Mr. Rashidi was sentenced to three years in prison and a one year suspended sentence, while his wife received a sentence of two years and one year suspended. These sentences were confirmed in late April, 2014. Both entered prison on March 18, 2015. Mrs. Motahed completed her sentence on January 24, 2017, and Mr. Rashidi was released on February 2, 2018.

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

Arzu Mohammadi and Banafsheh Mokhtaari begin their sentences


HRANA, October 13, 2020. –

On October 12, Arzu Mohammadi (آرزو محمدی) and Banafsheh Mokhtaari (بنفشه مختاری) reported to Birjand prison to begin serving their sentences. Both were sentenced to two years in prison by a revolutionary court. This was reduced to 18 and 15 months, respectively, by the Review Court for Khorasan Province, headed by Judge Ibrahim Ramezani ( قاضی ابراهیم رمضانی), with Counsellor Hamid Arabzaadeh (مستشاری حمید عرب زاده). See the previous report here.

October 9, 2020

Farid Ziragi-Moqadam summoned to begin sentence


HRANA, October 8, 2020. –

Farid Ziragi-Moqadam (زیرگی مقدم), a Bahai from Birjand, has been summoned to begin serving his 5-year prison sentence. He must report within ten days. The Provincial Review Court confirmed his sentence on September 20.

Update: He began his sentence on October 19.

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

October 3, 2020

Farhaad Fahandezh tests positive, moved to isolation cell

HRANA, October 1, 2020. – 

Farhaad Fahandezh (فرهاد فهندژ), a 61-year old Bahai serving a 10-year sentence in Rajai Shahr prison, has been moved to a solitary confinement cell in the high-security block after testing positive for the Covid-19 virus. He is now in the eighth year of his sentence.  He suffers from a gastro-intestinal disorder and heart disease. Mr. Fahandezh was born in Torbat-e Heydarieh, and was arrested in his home Gorgan on October 17, 2012.  He was held incommunicado for seven months, before being tried in the Revolutionary Court of Tehran by the notorious judge Moqayeseh ( قاضی محمد مقیسه ), also responsible for the sentencing of the seven ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran).  He was charged with teaching the Bahai Faith and administering the Bahai organisation. This is the second time he has been imprisoned for his religious beliefs. In 1983, when he was 24 years old, he was sentenced to six years in prison. The conditions he endured during this sentence left him with a gastro-intestinal disorder. 

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

September 30, 2020

Eight Bahais begin prison sentences in Birjand


HRANA, September 28, 2020. –

Eight Bahais from Birjand have been given ten days to report to prison to begin serving their sentences. They are Atieh Saalehi (عطیه صالحی), Nasrin Qadiri (نسرین قدیری), Banafsheh Mokhtaari (بنفشه مختاری), Farzaaneh Dimi (فرزانه دیمی), Arzu Mohammadi (آرزو محمدی), `Ataa’ollah Maaleki (عطاالله ملاکی), Sa’id Maaleki (سعید ملاکی) and Ru’ya Maaleki (رویا ملاکی).

On September 7, 2020, the Review Court for Khorasan Province, headed by Judge Ibrahim Ramezani ( قاضی ابراهیم رمضانی), with Counsellor Hamid Arabzaadeh (مستشاری حمید عرب زاده), sentenced Mrs. Nasrin Qadiri, Farzaaneh Dimi and Banafsheh Mokhtaari to 15 months in prison for “membership in the illegal and subversive organization of the deviant Bahai sect.” Mrs. Arzu Mohammadi, Ru`ya Maaleki and Atieh Saalehi, and Mr. Ataa’ollah Maaleki and Sa’id Maaleki were given 18-month sentences on the same charge. The same court acquitted Rahmat’ollah Dimi (رحمت الله دیمی) of this charge. The Review Court also handed down one-year concurrent sentences for “propaganda in favor of the Baha’i organization, that being a group and organization opposed to the holy order of the Islamic Republic.”

He Who is the Spirit (Jesus) — may peace be upon Him — was asked: “O Spirit of God! Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?” And He made reply: “Yea, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” He forbade it not.
~ Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, tr. Shoghi Effendi.

There is in fact no Bahai organisation in Iran, as it was disbanded after the 1979 Revolution, but the Islamic Republic is a theocratic state, while the Bahai teachings endorse the principle of “render unto Caesar.” Nevertheless, the Bahais in Iran do not engage in political or subversive activities against the theocratic order, because in their understanding, “render unto Caesar” makes obedience to government a religious duty.

These nine Bahais are among those whose homes were raided in October 2017 in connection with the birth of Baha’u’llah 200 years previously. From the large number of homes in Birjand that were raided at that time, it appears that the Bahais had not gathered to celebrate the day, but were remembering the occasion separately in their homes. They were summoned for interrogation twice in 2019-2020 (سال ۹۸), and tried on April 20 this year.

Mrs. Nasrin Qadiri is not formally a resident of Birjand. She is 60 years old and lives in Mashhad. However from 2014 to early 2018 she often stayed in Birjand to care for her father, who was ill. When the Bahai homes in Birjand were searched in October 2017, she was in Mashhad, but the security agents seized some of her belongings when they searched her father’s house. She was previously imprisoned in 1983 and 2010. In the latter case, she was sentenced to two years in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime, endangering national security, membership and activity in the Bahai Faith, advocating contact with foreigners after traveling outside the country, participating in illegal organisations, and producing and distributing Bahai CDs and books.

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

September 25, 2020

Judge Mahmud Saadaati of Shiraz sanctioned for human rights abuses

Al-Arabiyya, September24, 2020. –

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that the United States has imposed sanctions on Judge Seyyed Mahmoud Sadati, Judge Mohammad Soltani, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, and on Adel Abad, Orumiyeh, and Vakilabad Prisons.

The notorious human rights abuser Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (سید محمود ساداتی), who heads a bench of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, has specialized in sentencing Bahais to prison and internal exile for their Bahai beliefs, usually under the guise of “propaganda against the regime,” “membership of an illegal organisation,” “collusion” or “undermining state security.” The evidence in every case is the possession of Bahai religious materials such as books, images, and computer files. Sittings under Judge Saadaati are often closed. In September 2018 he sentenced five Bahais to prison in closed court, without informing the defendants or their lawyers of the trial.

A sampling of this Judge’s persecution of the Bahai community in Shiraz over recent years can be found with a search of Sen’s Daily.

Judge Soltaani ( قاضی سلطانی) heads a Revolutionary Court in Mashhad. The only recent case I have recorded is the sentencing of five Bahais. However Soltaani is a common name, and Iran has many judges who abuse human rights. Watch this space as more details of the sanctions are announced.

The Revolutionary Courts in Iran are responsible for charges such as blasphemy, espionage, terrorism and seeking to overthrow the government. The trials are not public, there is no jury, and a single judge decides the case. Sentences are however reviewed by the Provincial Review Court.

September 22, 2020

Kimia Mostafavi and Kiaana Rezvaani released


HRANA, September 20, 2020. –

Kimia Mostafavi ( کیمیا مصطفوی) and Kiaana Rezvaani ( کیانا رضوانی), Bahais from Kerman, were released from prison in the past week. In September 2019, the Revolutionary Court in Kerman sentenced them to five years in jail for membership in the Bahai organisation, with a one year concurrent sentence for “propaganda against the regime and in favour of opposition groups.” The Review Court reduced this to six months supervised probation with electronic monitoring, on a charge of “propaganda against the regime.” They served just over two months of this electronic supervision.

They were arrested in Kerman on January 19, 2019, and released on bail five days later. Kiaana Rezvaani is a student excluded from tertiary education because of her religious beliefs.

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

September 21, 2020

Farid Moqadam-Ziragi’s 5-year sentence confirmed


HRANA, September 20, 2020. –

The review court for South Khorosan Province has confirmed the 5-year sentence of Farid Ziragi-Moqadam (زیرگی مقدم), a Bahai from Birjand. The presiding judge was Ibrahim Ramezaani (قاضی ابراهیم رمضانی), with Counsellor Hamid `Arab-zadeh (مستشاری حمید عرب زاده ). A Revolutionary Court had already sentenced him to five years in prison on a charge of “membership of the illegal Bahai organisation”, with a one-year concurrent sentence for “propaganda against the regime of the Islamic Republic.” The review court acquitted him of the latter charge. The Court of Review based its sentence on his acting as moderator in a Telegram channel.

However a criminal court in Birjand has also sentenced him to one year in prison for “insulting the sanctities of Islam,” apparently for internet postings included Bahai interpretations of the Quran, the coming of the Mahdi, the “seal of the prophets” and other theological points. The review court has not yet spoken on that sentence.

Mr. Moqadam-Ziragi, whose name was initially reported as Farid Moqadam-Ziraki (فرید مقدم زیرکی), was arrested on August 3 by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, who searched his home and seized his personal effects. At the time of his arrest, the accusation was “aggravating the economic sanctions against Iran” and “undermining national security.” These accusations were widely reported in the state-sponsored media. He was interrogated by the Ministry of Intelligence for 26 days before being transferred to Birjand’s Prison. The Ministry evidently failed to find evidence to support the economic and security charges. On September 7 he was released after posting bail of 150 million tumans (32,000 euros ; $US 35,000).

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

September 13, 2020

Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani granted prison furlough


HRANA, September 11, 2020. –

Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani (مهرداد موسوی خولنجانی), a Bahai from Shahin Shahr, has been granted a furlough from Dastgerd Prison, near Isfahan. He began a six-month prison term on July 9, 2020. He was charged with “propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith.” He was initially told that he would have to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, but when he objected he was released without the tracing device. If the supervising judge approves, he will not have to return to prison; otherwise he will have to return “next month” (about September 22). However it appears that another case on the same charges is also being prepared against him, by a different arm of the security apparatus.

September 4, 2020

Mitra Bandi-Amirabaadi and Heyva Yazdaan-Mahdiabaadi bailed in Yazd


HRANA, September 1, 2020. –

Mitra Bandi-Amirabaadi-Baaghi (میترا بندی امیرآبادی) and Heyva Yazdaan-Mahdiabaadi-Bahifar (هیوا یزدان مهدی آبادی) were released on bail on September 1 after three months of detention. They were arrested on May 30, and detained by the Ministry of Intelligence in Yazd. Their release on bail was delayed by opposition from the investigating judge.

In late November, 2017, Heyva Yazdan-Mahdiabadi was arrested for teaching music to children. She was at first held incommunicado by the Ministry of Intelligence, and then transferred to the central prison in Yazd. She was released on bail on December 25, 2017. The report says that both were previously given suspended sentences, which have expired, but does not indicate when this occurred.

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

August 26, 2020

Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan returns to prison, three days after his wedding

The wedding appears to have been conducted in the prison carpark


Iran Wire, August 26, 2020. –

Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan (اردشیر فناییان), a 32-year-old Bahai from Semnan who is serving a six year sentence for his beliefs, was granted a short prison furlough recently. During the furlough, he married Golrokh Firuzeyan (گلرخ فیروزیان), also from Semnan, who has also served two prison terms for her beliefs. He requested an extension to his furlough, but this was denied by the Ministry of ‘Intelligence.’

Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan was born in Semnan Prison. His parents were both imprisoned in 1983, for adhering to the Bahai Faith, and Ardeshir was born in the prison in 1988. He was arrested early in 2013 and sentenced to 8 months in prison. Golrokh Firuzeyan was among the young Bahais arrested and sentenced at that time, and was sentenced to 6 months in prison. They were charged with various offenses, but eventually sentenced for “propaganda against the regime.” Both began their sentences on January 10, 2014. When Ardeshir had completed his sentence, he was sent to do military service. Golrokh’s sisters, Yalda Firouzeyaan (یلدا فیروزیان) and Shidrokh Firuzeyan (شیدرخ) have also served six-month prison sentences. Yalda currently faces another sentence, of two years and six months. Their father, Hadjbar Firuzeyaan (هژبر فیروزیان), served a 40-day sentence in 2014, charged with libel against an agent of the Ministry of Intelligence. He had complained to the judicial authorities that one of his daughters was beaten in prison. When they took no action, he wrote to the President of the Islamic Republic, describing the beating. He was charged with libel and fined, but refused to pay the fine and was sent to prison instead.

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

August 25, 2020

Two arrests in Vilashahr, Isfahan Province


HRANA, August 24, 2020. –

On August 23, Mazhdeh Eqteraafi (مژده اقترافی) and her husband Houshmand Taalebi (هوشمند طالبی) were summoned and arrested in Vilashahr. After their arrest, officers went to the Bahai couple’s home and searched it, confiscating laptops, cell phones, books, and an acoustic “Dastgah” keyboard. Two cars and a truck belonging to the family have been confiscated.

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

August 20, 2020

Liza Tebyanian arrested again in Karaj


Iran Press Watch, August 17, 2020. –

HRANA reports that Liza Tebyanian, a Bahai living in Karaj, was arrested by security forces on the evening of Saturday, August 16, and taken to an unknown location. The grounds for her arrest and the charges against her remain unknown.

She was previously detained on March 16, 2017, and was released on bail from Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj on April 26. In August 2017, she was sentenced to 7 months in prison by Branch 4 of the Karaj Revolutionary Court on charges of “propaganda activities against the regime.”

Branch 12 of the Alborz Court of Appeals acquitted Ms. Tebyanian of the charges against her, arguing that teaching the Bahai faith was not propaganda against the regime.

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