Sen's daily

May 23, 2018

Bahai in Mashhad said to be linked to Mujahedin

Damavand News, May 22, 2018.

Hasan Heidari (حسن حیدری), Deputy Prosecutor of Khorasan Razavi Province has claimed in an interview with the local website of Mashhad (capital of the Province) that an unnamed Bahai has been arrested in Mashhad by the Ministry of Intelligence, under a special judicial order referring to the “arrest of the leadership of the hypocrite terrorist organisation.” The term is usually Iranian code for the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MKO), which has advocated revolution and violence. Mr. Heidari said that the Bahai had been accused of collaborating with a political organization, and that “this individual had sought to provide broader grounds for activities to undermine security, by promulgating and misusing the demands of the industry guilds that are part of the Iranian system.” In other words, he was a worker’s rights activist. Iran has seen widespread worker protests, strikes and market shut-downs in recent weeks, and the tactic of connecting these to an external terrorist organisation and/or the Bahais may be a device to divert attention from the grievances of workers and small shop-keepers (who close their shops as a form of protest).

Damavand News, which reports this interview, expresses reservations that it has the whole picture, and the story as reported raises a number of questions. In the first place, did the Deputy Prosecutor intend to refer to the Mujahedin or is it hyperbole for the Green Movement? The accusation of “links to a political group” seems unusually mild if the Mujahedin was intended. In the second place, the only Bahai known to have been arrested in Mashhad recently is Kaviz Nuzdehi ( کاویز نوزدهی ), arrested on May 2. Damavand News cites a source saying that, given the timing, the reference can only be to Mr. Nuzdehi. But another possibility is that the Deputy Prosecutor did not have any specific Bahai in mind. Claims that a group of Bahais have been arrested for this an that – without specifics – are sometimes made by officials seeking to assure the public that they are doing their jobs by keeping the Bahais under pressure. Generally speaking, no specifics or trials follow from such claims. Reliable reports of the actual persecution of Bahais in Iran always comes from family members and associates, not from official statements, and contain names, dates and other specifics that can be checked.

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