Sen's daily

News to April 16

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Business sealed in Minushahr, family expelled

Iran Press Watch, April 16, 2018.

On March 20, 2018, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence closed down the sewing machine repair business of Na`im Ha’i (نعیم هائی), a Bahai living in Minushahr. Mr. Ha’i and his family were also told to leave the city as soon as possible.

Full translation at Iran Press Watch

Shahab Dehqani released after four years

Iran Press Watch, March 26, 2018.

Shahab Dehqani ( شهاب دهقانی), a Bahai from Tehran was released from Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, upon the completion his four-year sentence. He was arrested in July 2012 during a massive security operation against Bahais. Nearly 20 Baha’is, in the cities of Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz, were arrested in this operation. Mr. Dehqani was charged with propaganda against the regime and forming illegal assemblies, and sentenced to four years by the notorious abuser of human rights, Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای), who was also responsible for sentencing the seven “Yaran” on trumped-up charges of espionage. He reported to Evin Prison to serve his four-year on May 24, 2014. The next day, he was transferred to Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. He was granted a 3-day prison furlough in June, 2015.

Mr. Dehghani’s wife, Shomais Mohajer (شمیس مهاجر) was arrested at the same time and sentenced to one year in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime and illegal gathering. She was released on May 26, 2015.

Nasim Baqeri released after 4 years

HRANA, March 29, 2018.

Nasim Baqeri (نسیم باقری), one of 10 Bahais associated with the Bahai Open University (BIHE) who were tried in Tehran on March 12, 2013, has been released from Tehran’s Evin Prison at the end of her 4-year sentence. The Judge who sentenced her is the notorious abuser of human rights, Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای), who was also responsible for sentencing the seven “Yaran” on trumped-up charges of espionage.

Social media campaign in Yemen calls for extermination of Bahais

Iran Press Watch, April 1, 2018.

Dangerous Development Signaling a Sectarian Disaster

The Yemeni community has been shocked over the past two days [prior to March 26, when the Arabic report was published] by a fierce media campaign launched by the Ansarullah group (Houthis). The campaign incites hatred and sectarian hostility, opposes freedom of thought, and calls for acts of violence and murder against members of the Bahai Faith, as well as other against peaceful religious minorities.

“This is a devilish religion and we will exterminate every Bahai,” proclaimed Houthi activist Ahmad Ayed Ahmed in a public Tweet. This tweet was widely circulated by supporters of Ansarullah. Similar provocative Tweets by other activists and leaders have also been circulating.

The campaign coincided with the threats made by the leader of Ansaruallah, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, against the Bahais, Ahmadis, Christians and a number of Islamic sects during his Friday speech on the occasion of Rajab Friday. Al-Houthi used an explicit sectarian hostile language against several religions, sects, and ideologies in Yemen and intensively against the Bahais. He appealed to his followers, especially intellectuals, people in media, clergy and activists to launch a cultural, social, and intellectual war against these minorities.

This marks a clear call for a sectarian war against minorities and specifically Bahais, and parallels the already ongoing systematic attack against Bahais including arbitrary arrests, persecution, and torture.

Although the persecution of the Bahais is not new, Houthis had until now exercised a degree of “political dissimulation” to conceal their direct involvement. However, since al-Houthi’s public speech, Houthis are now openly spearheading as well as escalating the systematic persecution of Bahais.

A number of human rights organizations have expressed concern about this situation, it being a clear and disturbing indication of a transition to a more aggressive stage of persecution, targeting pluralism and freedoms, as well as the very foundation of coexistence in Yemen.

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


Two homes searched and one arrest in Shiraz

Iran Press Watch (Persian), March 28, 2018.

On March 28, security forces arrested Mr. Farajollah Bengaleh ( فرج اله بنگاله) in his home in Shiraz. They arrived about 2pm and searched his home thoroughly and seized personal and religious items including books, a laptop and a mobile telephone. He was taken to the Ministry of Intelligence’s Detention Facility 100. They then went to the appartment of Mr. Payam Partovi (پیام پرتوی ), on the second floor of Mr. Bangaleh’s home, and searched it although they had no search warrant. They seized two laptops, some flash drives and religious books and other items.

Vahid Tizfahm released after 10 years in prison

HRANA, March 19, 2018.

Vahid Tizfahm (وحید تیزفهم), one of the imprisoned “Yaran” (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran), has been released from Raja’i Shahr prison, located about an hour west of Tehran. He has served a 10-year sentence for his work in serving the Bahai community in Iran. Six of the seven Yaran have now been released after completing their sentences, while Afif Na`imi (عفیف نعیمی) has been free on medical furlough since late October, 2017.

Bahai cemetery in Kerman closed by authorities

HRANA, March 16, 2018.

The ‘Golestan Javid’ (Bahai cemetery) in Kerman has been closed by the judicial authorities, preventing both visits to the graves and new burials. This goes against a national policy announced in September 2015, that Bahais may only be buried in one designated cemetery in each province. On the morning of March 16, a number of Bahais from Kerman arriving at the cemetery found the gates shut and a large banner from the Municipal authorities spread across the gateway, saying “In accordance with the order of the honorable judiciary, based on Article 688 of the Islamic Penal Code. and due to sanitation issues and problems, and in accordance with Paragraph 6, Article 96 of the city and municipality laws, the burial of of the deceased in this place is prohibited from March 16, 2018.”

The closure, destruction and vandalization of Bahai cemeteries has become common in Iran: many recent examples can be found on this blog by typing “cemetery” in the search box. 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 (2012).

Jamaloddin Khanjani released after 10 years in prison

Morteza Esmailpour (Facebook), March 17, 2018.

Jamaloddin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی), one of the imprisoned “Yaran” (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran), has been released from Raja’i Shahr prison, located about an hour west of Tehran. He is 84 years old, and has served a 10-year sentence for his work in serving the Bahai community in Iran.

Bahai student expelled in Rasht

HRANA, March 15, 2018.

Wasal Heravi (وصال هروی) has been barred from beginning the fourth semester of his studies in psychology at the Sima-ye Danesh University in Rashht because of his Bahai beliefs. The University President told him verbally that the Qualifications Agency has not accepted his qualifications. His enquiries to the Qualifications Agency and other educational authorities were fruitless, except that he was told verbally that his expulsion was ordered by the Ministry of Intelligence. He began his studies in 2016/17, and became aware of his expulsion when the code for a unit he had enrolled in was disabled [on his university web page].

Five detainees bailed in Bushehr

HRANA, March 14, 2018.

Five of the seven Bahais arrested in raids on Bahai homes in Bushehr on February 13 were released on bail on March 13. Bail was set at 250 million tumans (53,000 euros ; $US 66,000). Those released on March 13 are Minou Reyazati (مینو ریاضتی), Asadollah Jaberi (اسدالله جابری) and his wife Ehteram Shakhi(احترام شخی), Leqa Faramarzi (لقا فرامرزی). Emad Jaberi (عماد جابری) and Puneh Nashari (پونه ناشری) were bailed a week earlier.

Bahai couple in Shiraz sentenced to 5 years in prison

Morteza Esmailpour (Facebook), March 9, 2018.

Mrs. Ruhiyyeh Nahriman (روحیه نریمان) and her husband Farzad Delaram (فرزاد دلارام) have been sentenced to five years in prison for their Bahai beliefs. They were arrested by agents from the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard Corps on October 3, 2016, not long after the arrest of 14 other Bahais in Shiraz on September 29. Their home was thoroughly searched. Ten days later, they were released on bail of 200 million tumans (approx. $US 63,600). They were tried in the Revolutionary Court headed by Judge Sadati ( قاضی ساداتی) on February 26, 2017, but have only now been told of their sentences. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of illegal Bahai groups. They have two children, one a child and the other a teenager.

Puneh Nashari and Emad Jaberi bailed in Bushehr

HRANA, March 7, 2018.

Emad Jaberi (عماد جابری) and Puneh Nashari (پونه ناشری), two of the seven Bahais arrested in coordinated raids on Bahai homes in Bushehr on February 13, have been released on bail. Bail was set at 50 million tumans (10,700 euros; $US 13,300). Mrs. Nasheri has two children, aged 2 and 7, who have been affected by the absence of their mother. A source close to the arrestees said that, since their arrest, all seven have moved back and forth between the prison and the interrogation facilities of the Ministry of Intelligence. It appears that the judiciary have no information on the reasons for their detention.

One new arrest in Ahvaz

HRANA, March 5, 2018.

Mitra Barnezhad-Zahdi (میترا بدرنژاد زهدی)was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in her home in the city of Ahvaz on March 3. The agents searched her house thoroughly and seized books and a laptop. The agents said they had an arrest warrant from the Revolutionary Court, and the arrest is presumed to relate to her Bahai beliefs.

Five Bahais sentenced in Mashhad: one year in prison

HRANA, February 28, 2018.

One-year sentences have been announced in four cases dating back to late 2014, involving Bahais in Mashhad. Dari Amri (دری امری), Shayan Tafazoli (شایان تفضلی), Saqi Feda’i (ساقی فدایی) and her mother Mey Khalusi (می خلوصی) were sentenced by Judge Soltani ( قاضی سلطانی). They were charged with propaganda against the regime. A month ago, Fataneh Nabilzadeh (فتانه نبیل‌زاده) was also sentenced to one year in prison in Mashhad: her arrest and sentencing was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily.

The four who are most recently sentenced were arrested on July 8, 2014, following a raid on a Bahai religious meeting in the home of Saqi Feda’i on June 1. They were held by the Ministry of Intelligence until early August, before being taken to prison and eventually released on bail. They were tried on December 17, 2014, but the sentences have only now been announced.

Jamaloddin Khanjani returned to prison

Human Rights in Iran, February 23, 2018.

On February 22, Jamaloddin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی), one of the imprisoned “Yaran” (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran), was returned to Raja’i Shahr prison, located about an hour west of Tehran. He is 84 years old (not 86 as previously reported) and was taken to a hospital cardiac care unit following a recent heart attack in prison. He is reported to have undergone surgery in hospital. Doctors have warned that he should be under constant care and that prison conditions are not suitable for him. However he has not even been granted the normal right to prison furlough during his time in prison. He is nearing the end of a 10-year sentence for his work in serving the Bahai community in Iran. The sentencing judge was the notorious human rights abuser, Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه). Mr. Khanjani had had heart surgery before entering prison, and suffered a previous heart attack in prison, in January 2014, when he was taken to Pars Hospital in Tehran for treatment.

Sa`id Reza’i released after 10 years in prison

Fariba Kamalabadi (Facebook), February 17, 2018.

Sa`id Reza’i (سعید رضایی) one of the imprisoned “Yaran” (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran), has been released from Raja’i Shahr prison at the end of a ten year sentence for his activities in service of the Bahais of Iran.

Mr. Reza’i (link opens in PDF format), now aged 60, is an agricultural engineer who ran a successful farming equipment business in Fars Province. He is also known for his extensive scholarship on Bahai topics, and is the author of several books and has served as an academic adviser to Bahai students. He taught Bahai children’s classes for many years, and served the Baha’i Education and Baha’i Life Institutes. He was also a member of the National Education Institute.

During the early 1980s, when persecution of Bahais was particularly intense and widespread, Mr. Rezaie moved to northern Iran and worked as a farming manager for a time. Later he moved to Kerman and worked as a carpenter and at other odd jobs in part because of the difficulties Bahais faced in finding formal employment or operating businesses. In 1985, he opened an agricultural equipment company with a Baha’i friend in Fars Province. That company prospered and won wide respect among farmers in the region.

He has experienced various forms of persecution for his Baha’i belief, including an arrest and detention in 2006 that led to 40 days in solitary confinement.
His two daughters were among 54 Baha’i youth who were arrested in Shiraz in May 2006 while engaged in a humanitarian project aimed at helping underprivileged young people. They were later released but three of their colleagues were sentenced to four years in prison on false charges and are currently incarcerated in Shiraz.

In August 2013 he was hospitalized due to a gastrointestinal disorder, and was transferred back to Rajai Shahr prison on August 7. During his treatment, tests revealed that he also has a 70% blockage in his coronary artery. He underwent emergency heart surgery. Doctors ordered one month of after care in a quiet and suitable location. Ignoring the doctor’s orders for post-op care, officials returned him to Raja’i Shahr prison.

Jamaloddin Khanjani transferred to hospital; Sa`id Reza’i due for release

Bazdasht, February 16, 2018.

Jamaloddin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی), one of the imprisoned “Yaran” (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran), has been taken from Rajai Shahr prison to a cardiac care unit in hospital. It appears he suffered a heart attack in prison. He is now aged 86. He is nearing the end of a 10-year sentence for his work in serving the Bahai community in Iran. He had had heart surgery before entering prison, and suffered a heart attack in prison, in January 2014, when he was taken to Pars Hospital in Tehran for treatment.

Another of the Yaran, Sa`id Reza’i (سعید رضایی), is expected to be released on February 17.

Seven new arrests in Bushehr

HRANA, February 13, 2018.

At 7.30 in the morning of February 13, security forces staged coordinated raids on the homes of Bahais in the Province of Bushehr and arrested at least seven Bahais. Those arrested are named as Minou Reyazati (مینو ریاضتی), Asadollah Jaberi (اسدالله جابری) and his wife Ehteram Shakhi(احترام شخی), Emad Jaberi (عماد جابری), Leqa Faramarzi (لقا فرامرزی) and Puneh Nashari (پونه ناشری). Their homes were thoroughly searched, and personal effects such as laptops, books, flash drives, external hard drives, and family photograph albums were seized. Mr. Jaberi and his wife were detained at their workplace. No information on the reasons for the raids or where the Bahais are being detained is available thus far.

Elham Faramani released after 4 years in prison

Human Rights in Iran, February 12, 2018.

Mrs. Elham Faramani (الهام فراهانی) was released from Evin prison on February 11, at the end of a four-year sentence. Her son Shamim Na’imi ( شمیم نعیمی) was released in March 2017, at the end of a three-year sentence, while her husband `Adel Na`imi (عادل نعیمی), is still in Raja’i Shahr prison, serving a 10-year sentence for his Bahai beliefs.

Mrs. Farahani was arrested by security agents on July 10, 2012, along with her husband. Their son Shamim was arrested a few days after his parents. After two months of interrogation in solitary confinement in Evin Prison, she was released on bail of 100 million tumans (equivalent then to 66,500 euro; 81,600 US dollars). She was sentenced to four years imprisonment by the Revolutionary Court. She and her son began their sentences on May 11, 2014.

In December, 2015, Mrs. Farahani was allowed a 7 day prison furlough and was able to meet her husband and son in Rajai Shahr Prison. In December 2016, Mrs. Farahani was transferred to hospital and operated upon, after she lost her balance, fell and broke her right elbow. She suffers from severe arthritis in the arms and neck.

Hana Kushkabaghi granted conditional release

HRANA, February 6, 2018.

Hana Kushkabaghi ( هنا کوشکباغی ) from Gonbad-e Kabus, was released from the “integrated prison’ there On February 5, after serving one third of her sentence of one year and nine months. Her release is conditional. She began her sentence on October 11, 2017, but the time she was detained before her trial would also be counted.

She was one of 22 Bahais of Golestan Province who were arrested on October 17, 2012. They were charged with collaborating with hostile governments, effective activities to promote the goals of a sect and of anti-Islamic and anti-Shiah hostile governments, and with making propaganda in favour of the Bahai Faith and against the regime of the Islamic Republic, by participating in the ‘Ruhi program’ (Bahai catechism) in Golestan Province. She was originally sentenced to 9 years, but this was reduced by the Review Court.

Eyman Rashidi released after his three-year imprisonment in Yazd

Human Rights in Iran, February 2, 2018.

Mr. Eyman Rashidi (ایمان رشیدی) was released from prison in Yazd on February 2. He and his wife Shabnam Motahed (شبنم متحد) 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.

Sima Kiani begins her one-year sentence in Shahr-e Rey

Iran Press Watch, February 1, 2018.

On January 27, 2018, Sima Kiani (سیما کیانی), a Bahai resident of Shahr-e Rey, was tried and convicted on the charge of propaganda against the regime, and sentenced to one year in prison by the Shahr-e Rey Revolutionary Court. A source close to Ms. Kiani’s family reported, “At noon yesterday, Sima was sentenced to one year in prison at the Shahr-e Rey revolutionary court. After the end of the session, Sima was arrested and transferred to jail.”

Ms. Kiani was arrested by Security Forces for the first time on March 8, 2017 and had been out on bail of 200 million Tomans (equal to $45,000) since early April 2017. It is said that at the time of her arrest. all of Ms. Kiani’s books, articles, CDs, as well as her personal computer, were confiscated by Security Forces.

Bahai student expelled in Kashan

Human Rights in Iran, undated (circa January 18, 2018).

Neda Eshraqi Borujeni (ندا اشراقی بروجنی), a student of computer science at the University of Kashan, has been expelled because of her Bahai beliefs. On December 18, 2017, she was contacted by the University security office [a branch of the Ministry of Intelligence], and she went to the office on December 23. There, she was asked to write, on a form they provided, that she was a Bahai, and to sign it. Her student card was then confiscated and she was barred from the student dormitory and the University’s web site for students. She was not given a written statement that she had been expelled, but was told that she had been expelled because of her Bahai beliefs and should pursue the matter with the National Organization of Educational Testing.

Arrest in Karaj for an unpaid fine

Iran Press Watch, January 18, 2018.

According to HRANA, on January 15, 2018, Faramarz (Hooshang) Sabet-Rasekhi {فرامرز (هوشنگ) ثابت راسخ}, a Bahai living in Karaj, was arrested and sent to prison by the Law Enforcement Office of the Governmental Sanctions Court of Alborz Province. The arrest occurred when Mr. Sabet-Rasekhi appeared at the court, with his business associates and attorney, to inquire about payment of a 50 million tuman fine ($15,000) which resulted following the unjustified forced closure and sealing of his place of business, in November 2016, by government officials. Upon his appearance, Mr. Sabet-Rasekhi was subjected to mistreatment by employees of the court and arrested.

Mr. Sabet-Rasekhi’s business has remained closed since November 2016; he and his business associates have not had the means to raise the funds to pay the fine.

A source informed of Mr. Sabet-Rasekhi’s situation, told the HRANA the following:

“In November 2016 ‘Negah Glasses’, the place of business of partners Iraj Sabet-Rasekhi (ایرج ثابت راسخی), Houshang Sabet-Rasekhi and Ashkan Yousefi (اشکان یوسفی
بعنوان شریک ), located on the Second Fardis Circle in Karaj, along with more than thirty other businesses belonging to other Bahais, was shut down by various governmental oversight officers with various excuses.”

“The business unit of Mr. Sabetrasekhi, with about 31 years of experience and a stellar reputation and no wrongdoing, was shut down and sealed in November of 2016, by the Office of Governmental Sanctions of Alborz Province. This, while Article 62, Paragraph A, B, and C of the Sanctions Law on smuggling of contraband states that the shutting down of the trade unit is illegal for the first offense and even for the second offense within a period of one year, even if the crime has been proven by the appropriate court, it is still illegal (to shut down the business). Considering that the (above) business unit was not a wholesale store, but was instead a retail business, and all of the goods at the place of business had a distinct price tag, and associated invoice from domestic suppliers, the incident of business closures are indicative of the existence of a setup.”

“Over the past year, invoices, which all were issued by domestic companies, were provided to the court. However, after about a year and a half of forced closure of the business with an inventory of 850 glasses frames, where all accompanying domestic purchasing receipts had already been provided (to the court), and although the owners were not even the importers of the goods, and contrary to Article 62, Paragraph C which states: ‘if the owner of the business unit has committed three violations within a year, only upon committing the third violation and after being proven guilty in the court, the place of business can be shut down for only 6 months’, the court unjustly ordered them to pay a fine of 50 million tumans. This verdict was confirmed in the Appeals Branch of the Sanctions Court of the Province of Alborz.”

Regarding the arrest of Mr. Sabetrasekhi, this source told HRANA, “Over the past year, Mr. Iraj Sabet-Rasekhi and Mr. Ashkan Yousefi, as business partners, have been in difficult economic situation along with their families, due to the closure of their business. The illegal nature of the court proceedings has been brought to the attention of the authorities of the Province and the country, but unfortunately no response has been issued. January 15, 2018, with only five more days until the due date of the imposed fine, Mr. Houshang Sabet-Rasekhi as the business manager, and Mr. Ashkan Yousefi as his business partner, along with their attorney went to the office of Implementation of governmental sanctions to inquire about the method of payments of the fine, where they encountered harsh behavior of the authorities, and Mr. Faramrz Sabet-Rasekhi was detained due to his inability to pay the heavy fine imposed by the court.”

It should be noted that Mr. Sabet-Rasekhi’s brother, uncle and brother-in-law were executed by the Iranian government during the early years of the 1979 revolution, due to their religious beliefs as Bahais. The family was then living in the village of Fereydoun in the vicinity of Isfahan. Because of their Bahai beliefs, all the family’s properties were confiscated by the government and Mr. Sabet-Rasekhi was ultimately forced to leave the area due to the threat to his life.

Bahai student expelled from Razi University of Kermanshah

HRANA, January 11, 2018.

Sadaf Vajdani (صدف وجدانی), a student of architectural engineering, was expelled from Razi University of Kermanshah because of her Bahai beliefs. She was notified of her expulsion just before the beginning of the first term examinations.

Behzad Dhabihi leaves prison in Sari

HRANA, January 12, 2018.

Behzad Dhabihi Mahforujaki (بهزاد ذبیحی ماهفروجکی ), a Bahai from Sari, has been released from prison at the end of his six-month sentence. He was originally sentenced to one year in prison and two years in internal exile, but this sentence was reduced by the Court of Review to six months in prison. It is not clear whether the internal exile was also annulled. He was convicted in the Islamic Court (that is, not in a criminal court) in Sari on a charge of propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith, although at the court sitting the charges were presented as “propaganda against Islam and the Quran.” He begin serving his sentence on September 4, 2017.

Mr. Dhabihi has been arrested four times in the last six years, and shops he ran have been shut down three times in the same period. On February 22, 2016, his shop in Sari was closed by the authorities, and remains closed despite efforts by his family to reopen it.

18 Bahai-run businesses in Tabriz allowed to reopen

HRANA, January 10, 2018.

Eighteen Bahai-run businesses in Tabriz that had been closed down by the authorities were allowed to re-open on January 10, following a court order. It would appear that they are among the Bahai businesses in East Azerbaijan province that were closed by the authorities in late December. Of these, three were allowed to reopen soon after, and the new move appears to mean that all Bahai-run businesses are now operating normally.

Eight Bahai businesses in Chabahar reopen

HRANA, January 7, 2018.

Eight Bahai-run businesses in the southern city of Chabahar were allowed to reopen on January 7, 68 days after they were closed by the authorities there, but Bahai-run businesses elsewhere in the Sistan and Baluchistan Province remain closed. The businesses are named as optician’s shops of Habib Tauhidi (حبیب توحیدی), Ahmad Ali Shaukati (احمد علی شوکتی) and Bahadar Kamju (بهادر کامجو), the glass-cutting workshop of Roushan Barqi (روشن بارقی), a stationary shop run by Adharakhsh Barqi (آذرخش بارقی ), a building supplies shop belonging to Behrouz Gholamreza’i (هروز غلامرضایی) and the electrician’s business of Bijan Gholamreza’i (بیژن غلامرضایی) and a computer supplies shop run by Andalib Taudi`i (عندلیب تودیعی). They were sealed by the authorities on October 31, 2017. At that time, 18 Bahai-run businesses in Zahedan, four in Iranshahr and three in Saravan were also closed.

Bahadar Kamju and Roushan Barqi (along with four others) were recently sentenced to three years in prison for “membership of the deviant sect.”

Wafa Rasti free on bail in Isfahan

HRANA, January 4, 2018.

Wafa Rasti (وفا راستی), a young Bahai living in Isfahan, was released on bail on January 2. He was arrested on December 27, at the same time as his friend Mo`in Namjuyan (معین نامجویان) was released on bail.

Imprisoned Bahai teacher told to repent in exchange for furlough

Center for Human Rights in Iran, January 5, 2018.

The authorities At Tehran’s Evin Prison have told imprisoned Bahai educator Azita Rafizadeh (آزیتا رفیع‌زاده), that she will only be considered for furlough if she apologizes for teaching online classes in computer engineering to members of her faith.

“The prison authorities said she must sign a statement to repent for her work and promise that she will not work there again,” a family source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on January 3, 2018. “But Azita said she has done nothing to repent for. She said she is proud of her work and if she went back in time she would do it again.”

Since October 2015, Rafizadeh and her husband Peyman Koushk-Baghi have been behind bars for teaching at the Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), an online learning service that is banned in Iran. Relatives are raising their eight-year-old son.

“For the Iranian New Year [March 21, 2017], Azita was granted furlough for six days but she returned to prison three days later. They told her she had committed a violation and never granted her furlough again,” said the source, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.

“The prison authorities said they had made a mistake granting her furlough the last time,” said the source, adding that they claimed Bahais are not eligible for temporary leave.

Furlough, temporary leave typically granted to prisoners in Iran for a variety of familial, holiday, and medical reasons, is routinely denied to political prisoners as a form of additional punishment.

Iran’s Constitution does not recognize the Bahai faith as an official religion. Although Article 23 states that “no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief,” followers of the faith are denied many basic rights as one of the most severely persecuted religious minorities in the country.

Bahais are also denied access to higher education in Iran, either by being banned from entering university or being expelled without a proper explanation once enrolled.

Rafizadeh, 35, is a former BIHE graduate who returned to Iran after receiving a master’s degree in computer engineering from a university in India. She began teaching the subject at BIHE in 2002.

In 2014, Judge Moghisseh of Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Rafizadeh to four years in prison and her husband to five years in prison on the charge of “membership in the illegal and misguided Bahai group with the aim of acting against national security through illegal activities at the BIHE educational institute.”

The source told CHRI that the imprisoned couple’s son, Bashir Koushk-Baghi, is being raised by another Bahai family. “He knows his parents are in prison for a noble cause,” added the source. “He sees his father and mother as heroes.”

Hammid bin Haidarah sentenced to death in Yemen

Al-Arabiyya, January 2, 2018.

Houthi militia in Yemen have sentenced Bahai detainee Hammed Kamal Mohammed bin Haidarah (حامد كمال محمد بن حيدرة) to death on charges of disseminating the beliefs of his faith and spying for Israel. The judgment issued by the Houthi-controlled Criminal Court in Sanaa also confiscated his funds and ordered the closure of all Bahai centres in the country. He has been detained since December, 2013.

Amnesty International responded with a statement that, “Hamid Haydara … is a prisoner of conscience who has been tried on account of his conscientiously held beliefs and peaceful activities as a member of the Baha’i community. This sentence is the result of a fundamentally flawed process, including trumped up charges, an unfair trial and credible allegations that Hamid Haydara was tortured and ill-treated in custody. It is also part of a wider crackdown on critics, journalists, human rights defenders and members of the Bahai community that is causing entire families to live in fear for their safety and the safety of their loved ones.”

In late September, the United Nations Human Rights Council, following a unanimous vote, called for the release of all Bahai detainees in Yemen. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion said earlier that the persecution of Bahais in Iran had been reflected in the pattern of persecution that this group is facing in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which is controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia. Militias have abducted dozens of Bahais. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (ONCHR) has estimated that there are about 2000 Bahais in Yemen, in several Yemeni provinces.

Mr. bin Haidarah is also referred to as Hamid Mirza Kamali Sarvestani (حامد ميرزا كمالي سروستاني), indicating that his ancestors came from Sarvestan, in Iran. In an earlier report, the Bahai World News Service stated that Mr. bin Haydara was born on Socotra Island in Yemen. His father, a physician, moved to Yemen from Iran in the 1940s and was granted Yemeni citizenship by the Mahra Sultan of Qishn and Socotra, in recognition of his service to the poor. Yemeni citizenship was passed down to his son. The Sultan gave Mr. bin Haydara’s father his Yemeni name as an honor and in recognition of his respect for his adopted country.

For older news, see the “old news” archive.


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