Sen's daily

June 17, 2017

Murderers of Farhang Amiri released on bail

Filed under: Bahai rights,Vigilantes, mobs, arsonists etc — Sen @ 13:12

Bahai International Community, June 13, 2017.

The two murderers of Mr. Farhang Amiri, a Bahai who was stabbed to death in September 2016 in Iran, have been released on bail after having confessed to killing him because of his faith. Mr. Amiri, 63, was murdered outside his home on 26 September 2016 in the city of Yazd, where his family had long resided. On the evening of the murder, the two men, who had come to his residence the night before under the pretense of wanting to purchase his vehicle, returned to ask for Mr. Amiri. When he came to the door, they violently stabbed him multiple times.

The two murderers, who are brothers, were apprehended by local shopkeepers as they tried to run away and were delivered to the police. During their subsequent interrogations and court hearings, they admitted to having killed Mr. Amiri because he was a Bahai.

They disclosed that they were prompted to carry out this act by their religious beliefs and statements made by clerics that Bahais are against Islam. The father of the two men is reported to have complained about a cleric who is responsible for radicalizing his two sons.

“We wanted to kill a Bahai,” said one of the brothers when asked about the reason behind the murder. “I had heard that Bahais are Muslims who have turned away from Islam, and they are apostates, and that the shedding of their blood is a meritorious deed.”

“Our aim was to kill a Bahai, it did not matter who it was,” stated the other brother during another interrogation. The brothers even stated during interrogations that they would kill someone else upon release.

Despite the admission of murder, the court has now released the two men on bail.

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March 31, 2017

Hate crime targets a Bahai in Oregon, USA.

Portland Tribune, March 29, 2017.

The Sheriff’s Office in Multnomah County, Oregon (USA) is investigating a hate crime reported on Tuesday, March 28, in Troutdale.

Hasel Afshar, 33, who was born in Iran but has lived in America since 2010, returned from a three-day vacation in Canada to find his two-story home on Southeast 26th Court ransacked, the walls coated in racist epithets. The graffiti calls Afshar a “terrorist” and orders the “Muslim” to “get out.” The vandals left a note on Afshar’s coffee table, weighed down with seven .45 caliber bullets arranged in the shape of a cross. ‘”If I see you here next month, I will shoot you and burn your house,'” the note reads, according to Afshar.

Afshar isn’t Muslim. He’s Baha’i. He doesn’t know how long it will take to clean up his home. Walls are covered in red paint, couch cushions deliberately torn and his belongings scattered.

In a week or two, once he finishes cleaning up, Afshar says he will sell his home and leave the United States. He has friends in Australia and Canada who he says never experience discrimination like this.

“I’m not going to be a hero and stay here and fight about it.” Afshar says. “I’m not going to sit here and wait for someone to shoot me.”

This isn’t the immigrant’s first experience with prejudice. In Iran, a Muslim-majority country, Afshar says police entered his family home, stole their books and arbitrarily arrested members of the Baha’i faith community. Later, after his arrival in the United States, Afshar says he was punched in the face while living in California, in what he describes as a racially motivated incident. He goes on to describe conflicts with a former supervisor at the Portland-based company where Afshar works as a machine operator, cutting out mailers and business cards.

More recently, Afshar says he was parking outside a Plaid Pantry when a man in a baseball cap pulled up in a white construction van. Get the (expletive) out of America! We don’t want you here,” the man shouted. That was on Tuesday morning, March 7. Afshar now wonders if the man followed him home.

The attack on his home has been widely reported in the media, and discussed on the social media. The Portland Tribune’s facebook page has received many messages of support for Afshar, and condemnation for the attack. On Thursday, Troutdale Mayor Casey Ryan issued a statement calling the incident “a horrible attack.”

January 9, 2017

Bahai murdered in Semnan, and his body burnt

Bahai News (Persian), January 9, 2017.

Ahmad Fana’ian ( احمد فناییان), an elderly Bahai farmer living in Semnan Province, was murdered on the night of January 7, and his body was burnt to such an extent that DNA tests were required to identify the victim. It is not clear whether there was a religious motive for the murder.

A Muslim friend who was in the are noticed that Mr. Fana’ian’s sheep were wandering, and that his car stood with the door open, and the key in the ignition, and found no trace of him. He called Mr. Fana’ian’s brother, who tried to contact him several times and then came with his son to the farm, where they found his burned body. Four farm workers (Afghan shepherds) are also missing, but there is no apparent motive for the murder. [The ‘Campaign‘ site suggests that the shepherds are suspects: it seems more likely to me that the murderers told the Afghani workers to make themselves scarce, before the murder. Robbery could hardly be a motive, since the murder took place not in the family home (in the city) but in a shelter on the grazing lands where there would be nothing much worth stealing, and because the sheep and car were not stolen. ~ Sen]

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October 4, 2016

Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh vandalized again

Bahai News (Persian), October 3, 2016.

On September 30, the Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh (Urmia) was again vandalized. On July 25, 2015, a large number of 20-year-old trees in this cemetery were cut down using a chainsaw. On the most recent occasion gravestones were damaged and an attempt was made to burn the remaining trees. When the Bahais complained to the police and court, they were told there was nothing to be done, since the Bahais did not know who had vandalized the cemetery. The destruction of the graves of religious minorities, especially those of Bahais and Jews, has occured throughout Iran since Qajar times. On July 17, 2016, law enforcement agents in Kurdistan province demolished a Bahai cemetery there, uprooted over three hundred 20-year-old trees, and confiscated personal property from the mortuary. Some cities, notably Tabriz, refuse to allow the burial of Bahais. In Sanandaz, three successive Bahai cemeteries have been destroyed by government agents. 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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January 25, 2016

Bahai shop windows broken in Aq Qala city

Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, January 21, 2016.

In the early hours of January 21, unknown people broke the show windows of a Bahai-run shop selling wedding dress accessories in the town of Aq Qala, about 15 kilometers from Gorgan, in Golestan province. The shop has previously been closed by the local authorities several times because its owner, Neda `Abdeyan (ندا عبدیان) is a Bahai. Because Bahais are considered “unclean” they are bared from working in a variable list of economic sectors. Mrs `Abdeyan previously ran the same shop as a beauty salon, and when the local authorities decided that a Bahai could not work in that sector, she changed her line of business and re-opened the shop.

On May 19, 2015, Saham News published a copy of the previously secret list of sectors from which Bahais are banned (by that time the list was already five years old, and incomplete). It says that Bahais may not work in cultural, educational or financial institutions, and are not to be allowed to work in the sectors of periodicals, jewelry, watchmaking, print-making, tourist agencies, car rentals, publishing and bookshops, photography, film-making, internet gaming, computers, or internet cafes. They may not own printing works or hotels and other accommodation for travellers, or teach tailoring skills. The order refers to the widespread Iranian belief that Bahais are unclean, and requires the police bureaus to block them from restaurants, cafeterias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways (Iranian-style), cafes, butchers shops, supermarkets, the production and sale of ice-cream, fruit juice, soft drinks, pastry and sweets, and coffee.

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December 9, 2015

Arrests follow motorcycle attacks in Rangpur, Bangladesh

Daily Sun (Bangladesh), December 9, 2015.

As previously reported, on the morning of November 8, three assailants on a motorcycle attacked a Bahai man, Ruhul Amin, who was shot twice, in the leg and shoulder, but survived the attack. Mr. Amin works as Personal Assistant to the Director of Rangpur Medical College Hospital, as well as being active at the Rangpur Bahai Centre. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for this attack, and the murders of a 64-year-old Italian physician, Piero Parolari, who is assistant pastor of the Dinajpur parish of the Roman Catholic church, Rahamat Ali, an attendant at a Sufi shrine who was bludgeoned t death, Cesare Tavella, an Italian aid worker working for a Christian organisation based in the Netherlands, and Kunio Hoshi, a Japanese agricultural worker, on October 3.

Police in Bangladesh have now announced several arrests and a confession of involvement from the local leader of the Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a violent Salafist group native to Bangladesh that seeks to establish an Islamic state there. The JMB leader, Masud Rana, gave his confessional statement before a court in Rangpur on Monday, admitting that he and two accomplices had shot Kunio Hoshi. According to Humayun Kabir, the Deputy Inspector General of Police for the area, Rana was arrested on Thursday, December 3. Rana was also involved in the killing at a shrine in Kaunia on November 10 and the shooting of a Bahai community leader in Rangpur city on November 8, the police official said. “Police also seized huge home-made explosives and sharp weapons from a pond near his house,” he added.

Other sources report two further arrests, of JMB leader Morshed Ali, 36, and his nephew Shahidul Islam, 35, in connection with the shrine killing. Curiously, this report does not mention the shrine killing or Rana, yet some reports indicate that Rana was first arrested in connection with the shrine killing, and only later connected to the murder of Kunio Hoshi. Until a public trial is held, the possibility of mistake and misinformation in the media reports should be borne in mind. One report even names Humayun Kabir Hira — the police spokesman — as one of those arrested.

Update, December 16, The Daily Star.

The police have so far arrested 18 suspected JMB members in different districts of the division in connection with the attacks, said DIG Humayun Kabir. Of them, five were held in Rangpur, seven in Dinajpur and three each in Gaibandha and Lalmonirhat. During raids to arrest them the police also seized firearms and ammunition including an AK-22 rifle, three foreign pistols, 47 rounds of bullet, three motorcycles, laptops, a significant amount of explosives and jihadi books.

The Rangpur police range chief claims apart from the killing of Japanese national Hoshi Kunio and shooting of Italian doctor and pastor Piero Arolari, the outfit was involved in the killing of Rahmat Ali, a caretaker of a shrine in Kaunia, on November 11 and shooting of Ruhul Amin, a Bahai community leader and employee of Rangpur Medical College Hospital, on November 8.

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November 1, 2015

Bahai cemetery damaged in India (updated)

Indian Express, November 1, 2015.

A ‘First Information Report’ (a complaint to the police) was registered at Sanganer Sadar police station in the Northern Indian city of Jaipur on Friday, following an attack on the local Bahai cemetery by a mob of about 40-50 persons, allegedly led by a sarpanch (village head).

The FIR says the mob beat up the security guard and damaged the guard room and portions of a partly-built prayer house at about 11.30 am on Friday.

Shocked Bahai community leaders have termed it the first such incident in India against their community. On Saturday, Bahai community members, who number just about 1,000 in Jaipur, came together and issued a joint statement, seeking prompt action. One, Niyaz Alam, said, “During elections to appoint village heads (sarpanch) about a year-and-a-half ago, a contestant promised that he will take possession of our ground and will set up a playground or a school instead, and he was subsequently elected. But we didn’t pay any attention as it is in our religion to be apolitical.”

In 2002, the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) allotted the community a ground at Ram Ki Nangal village of Jaipur to perform the the last rites of their dead and “for 12-13 years, we had no trouble and even organise classes for children and conducted prayers.”

Update November 2: A report from The Wire shows that the watchman has not been seriously harmed, as members of the mob have since gone to his house to threaten him with retaliation if he identifies them to the police. The report states that Baha’i representatives have pointed out that during the sarpanch election campaign, Nathu Jangid, (the current village head) was heard promising the villagers that he would get the burial ground demolished. On certain occasions he called the community ‘Muslim’ while on others ‘Christian’. “Since Baha’is, as a rule, don’t participate in party politics, we ignored the campaign”, the Baha’i statement said.

“After the elections, the sarpanch’s men, from time to time, started threatening and intimidating the chowkidar. One day, the sarpanch, accompanied by some Jaipur Development Authority officials, demanded that we produce the allotment letter for the land. This was shown to them. Despite this, he organised a series of village meetings for getting the burial place removed. But when the watchman was threatened and told to leave the place or face dire consequences, some Bahais met Jangid to appeal for peace. He assured them that the chowkidar would no longer be harassed and that he would resort to legal remedy, to which we agreed,” the statement said.

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August 23, 2015

Trees cut down in the Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh

HRANA, August 24, 2015.

A number of 20-year old trees in the Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh (Urmia) have been cut down with a chainsaw. The destruction apparently happened on July 25, 2015. This is the first time that this cemetery has been targetted by the vandals, although trees have been cut down in the Bahai cemeteries of Marvdasht, Sansgar and Isfahan. In Isfahan, some 2500 trees were cut down October 2008, and in Marvdasht, 1200 were cut down in April, 2011.

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August 12, 2015

Two Bahais in Sanandaj targets of vandalism and official pressure

MAF News, August 4, 2015.

Azharkhosh Mansuri (آذرخش منصوری) and Majis Abdu’l-Motallabi (مجید عبدالمطلبی), two Bahais from Sanandaj, were detained at a prayer meeting in a private house on April 1, 2014, and and interrogated for an hour. They are now being pressured by the Ministry of Intelligence to sign undertakings that they will not practice or preach the Bahai Faith. The head of the Sanandaj branch of the Ministry of Intelligence has told them that if they cooperate by identifying other Bahais, they will be allowed to live normally. In the last few days, their houses have been sprayed with anti-Bahai slogans. The slogan in the picture reads “Death to Bahai heretics; Death to America and England.”

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July 26, 2015

Fresh graffiti in Tehran [and again, August 8]

Bahai News (Persian), July 26, 2015.

On the night of July 25-26, a Bahai home in the Shahrak-e Gharb district in North-west Tehran was defaced with the usual unimaginative slogan: “Death to Baha’i.” The house on Sazman Barnameh Avenue, in a modern and prosperous neighbourhood near Eram Park, has been occupied by the Aqdasi (اقدسی) family for many years. This is the first time that they have faced such threats there, although graffiti, threatening letters, the vandalism of cars and arson attacks are common enough for the Bahais across Iran.

August 8:
The ‘Fariba Kamalabadi‘ facebook page has a photo of a new slogan spray-painted at the entrance to the same house. This time it reads, “Bahais get out.”

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February 21, 2015

Bandar Abbas Bahai assaulted, threatened with death

Iran Press Watch, February 21, 2015.

On Saturday 14 February, Kalim Jahandari, a Bahai from Bandar Abbas, was attacked and threatened in the city by unknown armed assailants.

According to reports received by Saham News, his attackers blind-folded him and took him to a deserted area of town, where they subjected him to harassment and persecution, denigrated his family — who are not Bahai — and threatened him with severe repercussions should he decide to promulgate his Faith.

The fact that these unidentified attackers have access to detailed information about the personal lives of Bahais in Bandar Abbas heightens the fear of a connection with the security authorities.

The assailants also declared that they were responsible for “sending to Hell” Ataollah Rezvani, a former member of the administrative body of the Baha’i community of Bandar Abbas, and threatened to kill two other former members, Mehran Afshar and Behzad Rasti, at the appropriate time.

These threats come in the aftermath of the assassination of the 52-year-old Ataollah Rezvani, who was shot to death last August by unknown agents who have yet to be identified or prosecuted by the security forces or the judiciary. The status of the case remains unclear.

The Bahais of Bandar Abbas have lodged complaints with the Security Council and the Department of Justice of Bandar Abbas, and have demanded protection against self-appointed groups.

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January 5, 2015

Bahai suffers lethal poisoning in Shiraz

HRANA, January 5, 2015.

Leila Kargar (لیلا کارگر), a 42-year-old Bahai woman living in Shiraz, has been poisoned and killed by an unknown person, using Aluminium Phosphide, a powder that is used to kill insects and rodents. It reacts with acid in the digestive system to produce the toxic phosphine gas. Mrs. Kargar was in the habit of saying prayers while walking in a park near to the spot where the House of Bab once stood, before its destruction by the Islamic regime in 1979. On December 29 she was late in returning home, and after her return her condition became very serious, with severe vomiting. She was taken to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with Amuninium Phosphide poisoning, for which there is no cure. She died shortly afterwards. She told her family that she had been discussing religious matters with a well-spoken lady, who had given her a drink of fruit juice. Her body is still being held by authorities in Shiraz.

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December 6, 2014

Detention and questioning of a Bahai girl in Tabriz

Filed under: Bahai rights,Vigilantes, mobs, arsonists etc — Sen @ 09:38

HRANA, December 6, 2014.

On December 4, unidentified individuals claiming to represent the “Basij” voluntary militia forced a 19-year-old Bahai girl, Ilka Mithaqi (الکا میثاقی) to get into a car, on a street in Tabriz, and took her for a ride around the streets lasting several hours, during which time they questioned her. She was then released, in another part of the city. Ms. Mithaqi has previously been harassed by agents from other government agencies. An informed source said that this is the first time that a Bahai in Tabriz has been abducted and interrogated in this irregular fashion.

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November 16, 2014

Arson destroys Bahai-owned houses in rural Hamadan

HRANA, November 16, 2014.

On November 3, which coincided with the day of Ashura on Muharram 10, a mob gathered at a cottage belonging to the Hemmati (همتی) family in the mountain village of Auj Tappeh (اوج تپه), which lies to the south of Qazvin. The cottage is used only seasonally, in relation to agricultural activities. The mob broke the windows, and spread oil on a balcony and in the yard, and set fire to the house, destroying it. When the fire had died down, they wrote anti-Bahai slogans on the walls [which were presumably of stone ~Sen], and departed.

On November 7, in the small town of Amzajerd (امزاجرد), which lies about 20km north of the city of Hamadan, and well south of Auj Tappeh, a house and agricultural buildings belonging to the Aqdasi (اقدسی) family were destroyed by arson. Many possessions, furnishing, and documents were destroyed, along with agricultural materials and some cash. A report by the fire and security services has found that the fire was caused by arson. The family were in Hamadan city at the time of the fire.

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October 17, 2014

Judiciary moves to close the file on the killing of Ataollah Rezvani

HRANA, October 17, 2014.

Thirteen months after the execution-style killing of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), a well-known member of the Bahai community in Bandar Abbas (on August 24, 2013), the judicial authorities are pressing the Rezvani family to accept the ending of the investigation. On October 14, the Rezvani family and the lawyer handling this case were summoned to a Revolutionary Court in Bandar Abbas where Judge Emani, the investigating magistrate, told them that thus far no clues had been found regarding the circumstances of Mr. Rezvani’s murder, so the investigation could go no further. He recommended that the Rezvani family should accept compensation from public funds so that the case could be closed. Under Iranian law, if a body is found in a street or public place and the killer or killers cannot be found, the family are entitled to compensation from a public fund. The Rezvani family did not accept this proposal, and insisted that the murder should be investigated. The investigating magistrate responded that, if they had evidence that Mr. Rezvani was killed by one or more persons, they should make a complaint. Otherwise, he would not be able to pursue the matter. He also referred to one ‘Karim,’ the last person known to have seen Mr. Rezvani alive. Karim was an Afghan labourer who worked at the home of a Bahai family who were out of the country, and Mr. Rezvani used to check on their house in Bandar Abbas occasionally. On the night of the murder, he had gone there and had given a ride to Karim in his car. “Karim” had not been heard of for the past eleven months, but Judge Emani said that he had been intercepted by Iranian border guards while trying to get to Syria [Iran and Syria do not have a border ~ Sen] and had been sent to Afghanistan. This contradicts a recent statement made by Mr. Reza’i, the officer in charge of the file, who told the Rezvani family that Karim had been seen in Shiraz and would be arrested once a warrant had been issued. Judge Emani asked the Rezvani family to sign a statement that they had no complaint against Karim: the family refused.

The following day, October 15, the family received a letter from the Court asking that Koroush Rezvani, the son of the murdered man who is registered as the “complainant” in this case, should provide any evidence regarding the murder of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani to the court, within one week.

Postscript, October 19: A reader has pointed out that the file of an unsolved murder is not ‘closed’ when the investigation is ended. There is nobody assigned to further investigations, but should new evidence emerge even years later, a new attempt may be made to identify the murderers.

The initial report of the killing of Mr. Rezvani is on this blog here.

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May 4, 2014

Shiraz cemetery destroyed despite restraining order

HRANA, May 3, 2014

The destruction of the Bahai cemetery in Shiraz has proceeded despite an administrative order to stop work issued by the local body department responsible for town planning and public spaces. It would appear the order was issued at the request of representatives of the Bahai community before excavations had begun, but the “Imam group” who planned the destruction of the cemetery did not halt work. A member of the armed forces was with them on the site, and paid no attention to the order from the local government department.

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May 3, 2014

Bahai cemetery in Ahvaz sealed off

HRANA, May 29, 2014

For the past two months, the Bahai cemetery in Ahvaz has been closed and the small road leading to it has been blocked by a barricade of pre-cast concrete panels. Thus far no official has been found who will admit responsibility. A month ago, the Bahais sought to bury a member of their community in the cemetery and were unable to do so. A community member told HRANA that they are pursuing the matter but have not been able to obtain any response.

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May 1, 2014

Destruction of Shiraz cemetery has begun

BWNS, May 1, 2014

Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, has announced that reports indicate that the excavation at the the Bahai cemetery in Shiraz, known as the Golestan Javid, has begun and that graves are being destroyed. Some 40 to 50 trucks are lined up to remove the earth and accelerate the work. “We are urgently calling on the international community to raise its voice in protest at this disturbing act. We also appeal directly to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to halt this act of desecration.” Some 950 Baha’is are buried in the cemetery, including the “ten Baha’i women of Shiraz,” who were hanged on 18 June 1983 at the height of the government’s campaign of execution against Baha’is.

Reports received so far indicate that workers for the Revolutionary Guards had completed an excavation some 1.5 meters deep and 200 square meters in area. The hole is near a number of very old gravesites in the western part of the cemetery but is not yet deep enough to have disturbed the remains, it is believed.

Ms. Dugal said the local Baha’is have made appeals directly to the Revolutionary Guards asking that it construct the proposed building on the areas of the site where there are no graves – and turn the areas with the graves into a green space, leaving the dead undisturbed.

“Appeals were made to various city and provincial authorities, including the commander in chief of Revolutionary Guard, the municipality of Shiraz, the Friday prayer Imam, the governor of the city, Iran’s prosecutor general and the head of the judiciary, with no results,” said Ms. Dugal.

Owned and used by the Baha’is of Shiraz since the early 1920s, the site was confiscated by the government in 1983, at which time its grave markers were leveled and its main buildings destroyed. Its ownership has since changed. Three years ago, the provincial office of the Revolutionary Guards announced it had taken over the site, and a sign was posted indicating that it planned to build a “cultural and sports building” there.

Between 2005 and 2012, at least 42 Baha’i-owned cemeteries in Iran were attacked in some manner. These attacks, often carried out with implicit if not direct government support, have involved the firebombing of mortuary buildings, the toppling of gravestones, the uprooting of landscape shrubbery, the spray-painting of anti-Baha’i graffiti on cemetery walls, and the exhumation of bodies. Similar symbolic violence through the destruction of Bahai and Jewish graves has been documented in the Qajar era.

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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

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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December 16, 2013

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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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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October 30, 2013

Family of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani threatened

Sepidam blog, October 27

The family of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), a well-known member of the Baha’i community in Bandar Abbas, who was martyred two months ago, have been threatened with consequences under “the honour system.” It would appear that they are being blamed for the harm which the murder of Mr Rezvani has done to the international image of Iran and its government. Sixty six days after the murder, police investigations appear to have stalled. No clues regarding the murderers have been found. The investigating judge is holding to the supposition that Mr Rezvani must have shot himself in the back of the head and disposed of the weapon and bullet casing before dying. He has been vigorously interviewing the family and friends to gather evidence to support his suicide theory. Mr. Rezvani was murdered in his car. The windows were closed and the air conditioning was running. Police have not found a “bullet” [sic ~ presumably, they have not found the shell of the bullet] which would give a clue as to the murder weapon. It would appear that the murder was carried out by professionals.

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October 4, 2013

Investigating judge suggests Ataollah Rezvani’s death was suicide

Filed under: Bahai rights,Vigilantes, mobs, arsonists etc — Sen @ 20:08

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, October 4

A well-known member of the Iranian Baha’i community, Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), was killed in a religiously-motivated attack in Bandar Abbas, in Southern Iran on August 24. He was shot in the back of the head. Now the victim’s cousin, Navid Aghdasi, has reported that the judge assigned to the case has suggested suicide as a cause of death. Navid Aghdasi also said that the last person who saw Ataollah Rezvani alive has been missing for several days. “An Afghan labourer by the name of Karim was the last person who saw Mr. Rezvani alive. Karim worked at the home of a Bandar Abbas Bahai family who were out of the country, and Mr. Rezvani used to check on the house occasionally. That night he had gone there and had given a ride to Karim in his car. Unfortunately, for the past 12 days no one has heard about this labourer.”

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August 30, 2013

Bahai martyred in Bandar Abbas

BWNS and the Universal House of Justice, and private Persian sources, August 27, 2013 [Updated August 31]

A well-known member of the Iranian Baha’i community, Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), was killed in a religiously-motivated attack in Bandar Abbas, in Southern Iran on August 24. His body was found in his car near the railway station on the outskirts of the city: he had been shot in the back of the head. It appears that his assailants may have forced him to drive to the place he was shot. They did not steal his wallet, car, or anything of value aside from his cellphone. An acquaintance who was the last person to see him said he had been talking on his phone for half an hour.

Mr. Rezvani was well-known as a Baha’i. For three years he was one of the three Bahais who served as local facilitators (Khademin) for the Bahais in the area, which would have involved interactions with local authorities on behalf of the Bahais. His life had previously been threatened by fanatical elements within the city administration, by the office of the Imam Jam`eh and by the Ministry of Intelligence. He was loved and respected by the people of Bandar Abbas for his honesty and helpfulness. As a young man, he was expelled from his engineering studies at university because he was a Baha’i. He nonetheless came to be regarded as an expert in water purification, and his work took him to other cities. Recently, owing to pressure and threats from agents of the Ministry of Intelligence, he was dismissed from his work and had to resort to selling water purification equipment. These agents had also been bringing pressure to bear on him to leave the city. More recently, he had begun receiving menacing telephone calls from unknown persons. On several occasions in the past few years senior local clerics have attempted to incite the population through incendiary sermons against the Bahais of the city. Some years ago, two Bahai men, Mi`ad Afshar and Dr. Meydani ( میعاد افشار و دکتر میدانی ) were stabbed by ‘enforcers’ retained by the Imam Jam`eh, and on an earlier incident, Mr. Iraj Mahdinezhad (ایرج مهدی نژاد) was stabbed by what is described in my sources as “a Muslim mob” [with apologies to true Muslims who will rightly consider this a misuse of the term Muslim ~ Sen.]

In a message dated August 27, the Universal House of Justice, the international head of the Bahai community, writes, “he gave up his life and quaffed the cup of martyrdom.”

Mr. Rezvani’s sister, Sahba Rezvani ( صهبا رضوانی ), has served three and a half years in prison in Semnan and Tehran.
Iran Press Watch has an interview with a son and cousin of Mr. Rezvani, which contains further details (Sept. 8).

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July 17, 2013

Destruction of the House of Baha’u’llah: update

Messages from the Bahai World Centre, July 17, 2013

In a message addressed to the Bahais of the world, the Universal House of Justice has stated:

“… it was with utter shock and desolating grief that the Baha’is in Baghdad discovered on 26 June that the “most holy habitation” of Baha’u’llah had been razed almost to the ground to make way for the construction of a mosque. It has now been confirmed that the work was undertaken without a legal permit. The destruction of the property, it emerges, had been planned for some time, but the largest part of the operation was carried out over just three days and nights, from 24 to 26 June, using heavy machinery. We understand that the Department of Antiquities, which had previously been preparing to renovate the property, is already taking steps to establish precisely what led to the demolition, to attempt to halt any construction on the same spot, and to bring to account those responsible. …Baha’u’llah foresaw that the Most Great House would be subjected to terrible indignities, but He also stated that, no matter what adversities might arise, the Cause was divinely protected. Let every believer take heart. In a moving apostrophe addressed to that House, the Ancient Beauty asserted: “God hath, in the world of creation, adorned thee with the jewel of His remembrance. Such an ornament no man can, at any time, profane.” He gave a promise, too, that, notwithstanding all that would befall the Blessed House, the future glory of that sanctified place was assured: “In the fullness of time, the Lord shall, by the power of truth, exalt it in the eyes of all men. He shall cause it to become the Standard of His Kingdom, the Shrine round which will circle the concourse of the faithful.”

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The full text of the message from the Universal House of Justice is in the documents archive section of my Bahai Studies blog.

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

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