Mahvash Sabet transferred from Evin Prison to hospital
Bahai News (facebook page), August 2, 2015.
Mahvash Shahreyari-Sabet (مهوش ثابت-شهریاری ), one of the “Yaran” (National facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran) who are serving twenty year prison sentences, has been transferred to hospital. Mrs. Sadiqeh Moradi (صدیقه مرادی) was taken to hospital at the same time: she was arrested on May 1, 2011, and is serving a 10-year sentence for making war on God and having links to the opposition. Both women were taken to the intensive care unit at the Shohada-e Tajrish hospital in Tehran for MRI scans. Mrs. Sabet was handcuffed for the move, and since the handcuffs stayed on for more than six hours, she suffered pain in her hands.
Mrs. Sabet was arrested on March 5, 2008, in Mashhad, where she had gone to make arrangements for the burial of a Bahai. She was held in solitary confinement for 175 days. Concerns for her health in prison were expressed as early as 2010, and on September 26, 2012, she suffered a hip fracture due to osteoporosis but was denied surgery. Before her arrest, she served for 15 years as Director of the Bahai Institute for Higher Education, which provides alternative higher education for Bahai youth who are excluded from all other forms of higher education in Iran.
Family of Shahriar Cyrus denied prison visiting rights
HRANA, August 1, 2015.
Despite the orders of the Prosecutor, authorities at Evin prison, in Tehran, have refused to allow Shahriar Cyrus (شهریار سیروس), a Bahai painter and a respected art critic, to receive family visits. Mr. Cyrus was arrested on June 30th. On July 23, his wife Afsaneh Eqani (افسانه ایقانی) and their 7-year-old son went to block 209 at Evin prison, where prisoners of conscience are held. They had a visiting permit from the Tehran prosecutor’s office. However the interrogator for bench 3 of Evin court, a Mr. Hosseini (حسینی) refused to allow a visit. Mr. Cyrus has now been held in solitary confinement for a month, yet his family have not been told why he was arrested.
Further details on the expulsion of Samim Dukuhaki from university in Iran
Farzan Faramarzi blog, July 29, 2015.
We previously carried a brief report on the expulsion of Samim Dukuhaki (صمیم دوکوهکی), a Bahai student of music at the Beyda campus of the Azad University (‘Free University’ in Fars province), because of his religious beliefs. Following the nation-wide university entrance examination, he was denied entry to universities because of his Bahai beliefs, using the pretext of “incomplete files.” However in October 2014 he received an automated SMS message, saying that he had been enrolled to study music at the Azad University. At the end of his first term, just before the examinations, he found his account at the university was blocked. He followed this up immediately, but found that the university authorities did not know of any reason. Since the examinations were imminent, they gave him written permission to sit the exams. However when he came to select his courses for the second term [early March, 2015], he again found that his account was blocked. He to the university went with his father to enquire about this. The Security Office at the university told them, “surely you know you are not allowed to study at a university?”
Mr. Dukuhaki (senior) said “I know that in Iran, nobody is barred from work or tertiary education because of their religious beliefs.”
The Head of security replied “Who told you that!”
“It was Mr. Larijani.” (a reference to ‘lying larry‘, the head of Iran’s Human Rights Council).
University staff, and then the Head of Security, confirmed that Samim Dukuhaki had been expelled from University. In response to protestations, and a request from Samim Dukuhaki for a written explanation of his expulsion, they were told that he could not study at a university because he is a Bahai, and they could provide nothing in writing to confirm that he had ever been registered.
Samim Dukuhaki, who in the estimation of his teachers had made good progress during his first term, said goodbye to his teachers and classmates, and left the University of Freedom.
“Paint the change” campaign supports equality in education in Iran
Editorial, July 29, 2015.
In its ‘feast letter‘ addressed to the Bahais who will gather at centres across the US on July 31 (the Feast of Kamal), the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the United States calls on the Bahais to participate in a world-wide street art campaign in support of all those excluded from higher education in Iran, especially the Bahai students.
Efforts will draw on the power of public art to give a city’s common spaces a unique character and to help raise awareness of local, national, and international issues and concerns.
“Paint the Change” will commission murals in cities around the world―two of them being New York and Los Angeles. The murals will serve as sites for events and as inspiration for photos and videos …. Beyond the official murals, “Paint the Change” will stimulate individuals and groups to create their own art.
Street art can take many forms, and we hope that you will … find creative ways to express your support of “Paint the Change.” An online handbook will provide useful materials and sample artwork to aid you, and the “Paint the Change” website will enable you to explore ways that you and your community can join this new phase of Education Is Not a Crime. Use of the social media will be integral to the success of “Paint the Change” and it is already active on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. To join the conversation, please follow and “like” the “Paint the Change” pages and use the official hashtags, #EducationIsNotACrime and #PaintTheChange.
The campaign will also be engaging a professional filmmaker to produce video vignettes focusing on activities connected with “Paint the Change” in various locales across the world. These videos will appear throughout the campaign’s duration, concluding in the spring of 2016. Individuals and communities are encouraged to keep the campaign apprised of local activities (you may send images and footage to email@example.com).
Participants are also reminded to respect local laws and the rights of property owners.
Official pressure to boycott Bahai-run businesses in Zahedan
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, July 28, 2015.
The Oweis website, whose page header indicates that it speaks for Ayatollah Khamenei’i (whom it promotes to ‘Grand Ayatollah’ ! ), has published a photograph of a Baha’i-run optometry shop in Zahedan, along with an article which says that all the Shiah and Sunni religious authorities have stated that all sorts of transactions and dealings with the Bahais are haram (religiously forbidden), the Atiyeh Sazan Hafez health insurance company has contracts for services with a number of Bahai-run opticians to provide services. It includes some Bahai-run businesses in its list of approved providers, and the pictured optometrist, which is not included in the list, is also said to have a contract with the insurer. [Implying that the company does business with the Bahais without publicizing the fact ~sen]. The report claims that the Bahais attract customers by providing services not covered by the insurance company, and invoicing them incorrectly. The deviant Bahai sect serves the purposes of the satanic Zionist regime and attacks the sacred Republic of Iran, by seeking to dominate the Iranian economy, but they will be thwarted by the diligence of authorities in enforcing the laws [that discriminate against Bahais] and by the citizens’ “imitating” (following) the supreme source of emulation (Khamane’i). The article concludes with various fatwas against having business or social contact with Bahai. [The Bahais of course will have no opportunity to answer these various slanders in the same media ! ] About 70% of the population of Zahedan are Sunni Muslims, who pay no heed to the fatwas of Khamene’i. As the “Campaign” report indicates, the population show a large measure of support for the oppressed Bahai minority.
At the time of writing, the Oweis website is unavailable, but the report can be confirmed by using Google Translate’s cache for the page http://oweis.ir/?p=7986.
Trial scheduled for 10 Bahais in Hamadan
Bahai News (Persian), July 27, 2015.
Ten Bahais from Hamadan who have been free on bail have been informed that they face trial on July 29. They are to be charged with propaganda against the regime. The names of eight of the Bahais are given as Hamid Adharnoush [/ Azarnoush] (حمید آذرنوش), Mas`oud Adharnoush (مسعود آذرنوش), Shahin Rashedi (شاهین راشدى), `Atefeh Zahedi (عاطفه زاهدى), Roumina Tabibi (رومینا طبیبى), Mina Hemmati (مینا همتى), Mehran Khandel (مهران خاندل) and Parvaneh Ayoubi (پروانه ایوبى). It is likely that the two missing names are those of two Bahai women, Farida Ayoubi and Fataneh Mushtaq (فریده ایوبى و فتانه مشتاق), who were arrested in late March along with the others and bailed a few days later.
Fresh graffiti in Tehran
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.
Qom Seminary launches online training in anti-Bahaism
Iran Press Watch, July 24, 2015.
In an advertisement on its site, Tasnim news agency has announced that the Qom Seminary, the most influential seminary in Iran, intends to hold online introductory courses on the Baha’i Faith and the Ahl-e Haqq for seminary students across the country. These courses will be offered through the “All sects and religions organization,” and the Offices of Propaganda and Practical Training at the Qom Seminary. The Qom Seminary has started extensive propaganda on these subjects in most government centers and government sponsored news websites. The Qom seminary is not the only organisation teaching the principles of anti-Bahaism in Iran. The Habilian Association uses its website and mobile displays to spread anti-Bahaism and partisan political messages throughout Iran.
Shahrukh Ta’if released after four years in prison
Bahai News (Persian), July 24, 2015.
Shahrukh Ta’if (شاهرخ طائف) was released from Raja’i Shahr prison this morning, at the end of a 4-year sentence. Mr. Ta’if was arrested at his home in Tehran on January 14, 2009 and held for over two months in solitary confinement. He was released on bail on March 18, 2009. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison for “membership of the Bahai community” and began his sentence in Evin prison on January 17, 2012. In August that year he was transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison, where many male prisoners of conscience are detained, and remained there until his release today.
17-year-old girl expelled from school for her Bahai beliefs
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, July 22, 2015.
Kamand Agahi (کمند آگاهی), a 17-year-old school student in Isfahan, was expelled from Safura High School because of her Bahai beliefs on July 1 this year. The school principal, Mr. Qari (قاری) refused to confirm her school registration, and treated her and her family disrespectfully. After the family complained to the district schools authority, he declared she had been expelled because she was teaching the Bahai Faith in the school.
Design for local Mashriqu’l-Adhkar in Cambodia unveiled
Bahai World News Service (in English), July 18, 2015.
Dawn prayers were held on the building site to begin the unveiling of the design of the first local Bahai House of Worship for the people of the Battambang region of Cambodia, where the Bahais have developed a vibrant community life centering on the worship of God and service to humanity. The events involved dignitaries and inhabitants of the surrounding communities, numbering over 300 people. Sochet Vitou Tang, the architect of the project, was deeply moved by the occasion as he addressed the audience. Mr. Tang said the project would create a place of tranquility where the mind and soul could find rest and solace, a place where the spiritual and material dimensions of life would be harmonized. He further explained that the House of Worship would become a center where people of all persuasions could “come to learn about life, about the environment, and the world beyond; a place where we come to build a unified world.” Then the model for the temple was unveiled by the architect and local village chiefs.
In the evening, a reception was held for local and regional authorities, including the governor of the Battambang region, Mr Chan Sophal, and the Chairman of the Battambang Provincial Council. Governor Sophal commented that “the Baha’i community has been greatly contributing to the spiritual and material development of the country.” What he found particularly striking, he said, is “that the Baha’i House of Worship to be built is not only for the Baha’is but for all of humanity.” He was attracted by “the concept that the Baha’i House of Worship is not only a place for prayer and worship, but also a place that inspires service to the community.”
A theme throughout the day was the role of prayer in humanity’s individual and collective life, highlighted by the gathering at dawn, and how it must be wedded to service to humanity for the realization of its full effect. The inhabitants have drawn inspiration from a recent message of the Universal House of Justice regarding Houses of Worship in which it explains that “the creation of a new pattern of how society can be” is seen in “the endeavours of community building … Taken in its entirety … the pattern fosters capacity for service. Essential to that pattern is the devotional meeting—a communal aspect of the godly life.”
Battambang is the second local Baha’i House of Worship whose design has been unveiled. It will be one among five local Baha’i Houses of Worship which are due to be built in the coming years.
Bahai business closed in Karaj
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, July 18, 2015.
A Bahai-run taxi dispatch office in Karaj has been given 10 days to close its doors. The office, which takes telephone bookings for taxis, has been operated by Mr. Haqiqi (حقیقی) for several years. Local officials said that its operating licence would not be extended, because they are not allowed to issue business licences to Bahais, but they did allow him ten days to close his business.
Burial of Mrs. Muhammadi-far reveals a new restriction on Bahais in Iran
BWNS, July 17, 2015.
On 12 July 2015, a Baha’i, Mrs. Baji Muhammadifard passed away and her family sought a burial permit to inter her body in the Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj. This was refused, with the officials insisting that Mrs. Muhammadifar’s body be laid to rest in the Baha’i cemetery in Qorveh, a town located approximately an hour and a half from Sanandaj. Agreeing to burial in Qorveh would have forced the family to ignore the Bahai burial law requiring bodies to be interred within an hour’s journey from the place of death. The authorities told the family that an ambulance—which could exceed the speed limit—would carry the body.
Local authorities sympathetic to the plight of the Bahais told the family that a memorandum from the Supreme National Security Council has stated that the Bahais are only to be allocated one cemetery in any province. This rule is not applied to any other group in the country, and was not previously known to the Bahais.
“The Iranian authorities seem to have brought themselves down to a new level of absurdity and malice; extending their prejudiced attacks on the Baha’i community beyond the grave,” said Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community Office to the United Nations in New York.
The refusal to allow the burial to take place in the Baha’i cemetery in Sanandaj, an area made beautiful and verdant through decades of effort by the community, meant that the family had to keep the body of their loved one in cool conditions at home. The family knew that if the body were in the public morgue, it would be taken by the authorities without their knowledge or permission and buried with no Bahai rites [as has happened in other cases in Iran ~ Sen].
Members of the wider community who came to mourn Mrs. Muhammadifard’s passing were most sympathetic to the family’s situation. There was a swell of public support in the town, with attention being drawn to the unreasonable behavior of the authorities. Officials responded by summoning the son of the deceased for interrogation. After four hours of grueling questions and threats, he was forced to give up his mother’s body. Soon after it was taken in an ambulance, unaccompanied by any family member, to Qorveh cemetery.
Iranian law requires every town to provide, within its boundaries, cemetery plots for the burial of all its citizens and makes it unlawful for a municipality to accept for burial bodies from outside its jurisdiction.
Abbreviated: full report in English here.
Another Bahai business closed in Tehran
Bahai News (Persian), July 17, 2015.
A Bahai-run travel agency in Tehran is reported to have been given 10 days to close its doors. The officers who came to the travel agency to announce this told the manager that this was because he or she is a Bahai. A number of Bahais in Karaj are also reported to have had “serious difficulties.” Under Iran’s apartheid rules, Bahais are banned from employment in many sectors, and are not allowed to run businesses such as restaurants, cafeterias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways (Iranian-style), cafe, butchers shops, supermarkets, the production and sale of ice-cream, fruit juice, soft drinks, pastry and sweets, and coffee. Optometry was apparently added to this list in 2014. It may be that the travel sector has also been included.
Mrs. Baji Muhammadi-Far buried outside Sanandaj
Campaign against harassment of Bahais (Persian facebook page), July 16, 2015.
Government authorities are reported to have buried Mrs. Baji Khanom Muhammadi-Far (باجی محمدی فر), a Bahai from Sanandaj, in the Golestan Javid cemetery in Qorveh. The name of this cemetery (the same as the one in Sanandaj) suggests that it is a Bahai cemetery. When Mrs. Muhammadi-Far died on July 12, authorities refused permission for her to be buried in the “Golestan Javid” cemetery in Sanandaj. It is not clear whether this refers to the Bahai cemetery which was razed by local authorities in December 2013, or a new piece of land that has been acquired as a Bahai cemetery for Sanandaj. The latest report is that authorities have buriend Mrs. Muhammadi-Far in Qorveh against the wishes of her family. Qorveh is about 94 kilometers East of Sanandaj, over a mountain pass at Salavatabad. Not only is the distance a burden for the family, Bahai burial rituals require that the grave should be within one hour’s journey of the place of death. The cemetery at Qorveh does not satisfy this requirement of the Bahais of Sanandaj. The authorities in Sanandaj had previously threatened the family with arrest, and said they would bury Mrs. Muhammadi-Far in Qorveh without any ceremony.
No room in the morgue for unburied Bahai in Sanandaj
As previously reported, when Mrs. Baji Khanom Muhammadi-Far (باجی خانم محمدی فر), a Bahai living in Sanandaj, died on July 12, authorities refused permission for her to be buried in the Golestan Javid cemetery, sending 50 security agents to surround the cemetery and prevent the family and Bahai community performing the burial. Three days later, authorities are still refusing to issue a burial permit, and the family’s questions have gone unanswered. Moreover the body of Mrs Muhammadi-Far has not been allowed to enter the cool storage at the morgue. It is being kept, packed in ice, in a private home. These decisions have apparently not been taken by local officials, but at some higher level. The present news makes it clear that the authorities were not objecting to the possibility of a large Bahai funeral, but rather to the presence of a Bahai body in the morgue or cemetery. According to a primitive superstition which is widespread among the majority Shiah community in Iran, Bahais, Zoroastrians and some other people — whether living or dead — are believed to be ‘unclean’ and able to contaminate ‘pure’ (Shiah) people.
Bahai funeral blocked by authorities in Sanandaj
Bahai News (Persian), July 13, 2015.
The planned funeral of Mrs. Baji Khanom Muhammadi-Far (باجی خانم محمدی فر) in the Golestan Javid cemetery in Sanandaj yesterday was blocked by a force of 50 uniformed and plain-clothes police officers who surrounded the cemetery. The local government has refused to discuss complaints about the actions of the security forces, saying that the decision was not made at a local level, and they could not say anything.
The Muhammadadi-Far family come from the village of Sisan, in the Tabriz area. The town had a Bahai community numbering about 500 before the 1979 revolution, but arson, looting and official persecution has forced many of them to move to other towns, such as Sanandaj.
In December 2013, the Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj was destroyed by local authorities. That was the third Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj to be erased since 1979. 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.
Fardin Aghsani released
Fardin Aghsani (فردین اغصانی), a Bahai war veteran who has been imprisoned in Urumiyyeh (Urmia), has been released from prison there. Mr Aghsani began serving his 3-year sentence on December 14, 2014. If, as reported, he has been released at the end of his sentence, the courts must have taken account of time in prison before he was sentenced, or his war record. He was a prisoner of war in Iraq for two and a half years. His wife Mrs. Farahnaz Moqadam (فرحناز مقدم) began her own three year sentence on December 10, 2014. The couple were among seven Bahais in Urumiyyeh who, in July 2014, were given sentences ranging from six months to six years for teaching the Bahai Faith and propaganda against the Islamic Republic through hosting regular teaching classes in their homes, teaching minors and attracting Muslims. They were also charged with assembly and collusion in the form of membership of a Bahai Assembly, and having links to the Universal House of Justice (the elected body that heads the international Bahai community).
Three Bahais released on bail in Yazd
Bahai News (Persian), July 5, 2015.
Nasser Baqeri (ناصر باقری), Fa’ez Baqeri (فائز باقری), and Mrs. Rouha Emani (روحا ایمانی) were freed on bail in the past few hours. The release of Mrs Emani was reported on July 1, but on July 2 it was reported that there had been some delay. She was arrested in Yazd during a raid on her home on May 12. Fa’ez Baqeri and his father Nasser Baqeri were arrested in their home on February 28 this year. On June 25 it was reported that had been moved from prison to hospital because of a severe ear infection.
Fu’ad Moqaddam’s condition critical
Campaign against harassment of Bahais [undated, apparently July 4, 2015]
The condition of Dr. Fu’ad Moqaddam (فواد مقدم), a 63-year-old physician and one of the administrators of the Baha’i online university, who is serving a five year prison sentence at Raja’i Shahr (or Gohardasht) Prison in Karaj, is reported to be critical. He is known to have had at least two heart attacks since he was imprisoned. The lack of air conditioning in prison, the heat, and blocking all the windows with sheets of iron, and limiting exercise hours to three hours per day in the afternoon heat, have caused many medical problems. Throughout his imprisonment, authorities have limited or entirely refused medical treatment for him. This report implies that he has again been denied hospital treatment outside the prison, despite his present condition.
The BIHE is a distance-learning institute which serves students who are excluded from tertiary study in Iran, because they are Bahais. Fu’ad Moqaddam ( فواد مقدم ) was arrested in May, 2011, and sentenced to five years in prison.
Four more Bahais tried in Gorgan
HRANA, July 3, 2015.
The fourth of a series of group trials of Bahais has taken place in Gorgan. This time four Bahai women were tried on charges of propaganda against the regime, apparently connected to a prayer meeting. The sentences have not been announced (a ‘guilty’ verdict may be assumed, as Bahais are never “not guilty” in Iranian courts). Those tried this time are Rufeya Pakzadan ( روفیا پاکزادان), Shohreh Saimi (شهره صمیمی), Parivash Shoja`i ( پریوش شجاعی ) and Tina Mauhabati ( تینا موهبتی ).
Mrs. Pakzadan was not present and had no defence representation, as she had not received a summons. She was arrested on March 18, 2013, and released on bail on April 1. She was charged with membership of Bahai organisations, teaching the Bahai Faith, and communicating with foreign governments. Shohreh Saimi and Parivash Shoja`i were among the Bahais detained on October 16 and 17, 2012, in a wave of arrests of Bahais in Gorgan and Minudasht. Tina Mauhabati, who lives in Tehran, was arrested at the bus station in Gorgan on the evening of October 23, as she was waiting for the bus to Tehran. Her mother, Shiva Rouhani ( شیوا روحانی ) was one of those arrested in the previous week. The four women tried in the last few days (HRANA does not give a date) have been free on bail, which will continue until they begin their jail sentences.
Four Bahais from Rasht free on bail
Bahai News (Persian), July 3, 2015.
Foad Yazdani (فواد یزدانی) and his son Peyman Yazdani (پیمان یزدانی), and Nima Najafi (نیما نجفی) and his wife Paria Keshvar (پریا کشاور), have been released on bail in Rasht.
Foad and Peyman Yazdani were arrested on May 26, 2015. Nima Najafi and Paria Keshvar were arrested on May 28. Three other Iranians, who are not Bahais, were arrested at about the same time and charged with having links with Bahais. All seven were taken to the Ministry of Intelligence in Rasht.
On November 17, 2014, an agent of the Ministry of Intelligence, accompanied by two representatives of the Revolutionary Court, inspected the homes and businesses of the four Bahais and seized personal effects and various appliances belonging to customers which were waiting for repair. The agents then went to those non-Bahai customers whose contact information had been recorded, and interrogated them. The search was repeated in March 2015, during the New Year period. In the interim, the four Bahais had also been summoned for questioning by the police and Ministry of Intelligence several times, and had lodged several petitions with judicial officials for the return of their confiscated belongings.
In January and February this year, over 20 Muslim residents of Rasht were summoned and threatened by the Ministry of Intelligence because of their relationships with Bahais. Those summoned were subjected to insults, humiliation and threats, and told that they are not allowed to associate or have any business dealings with Bahais. The Ministry of Intelligence also sought to obtain baseless statements from these people regarding the activities of the Bahais.
Kourush Ziari moved from prison to hospital
Bahai News (Persian), July 3, 2015.
Kourush Ziari ( کوروش زیاری ), a Bahai from Gonbad-e Qabus in North-eastern Iran who is serving a 5-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, was taken to a hospital on July 2. This ends a long period in which he has been denied both a medical furlough and proper medical treatment. He was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence in Gonbad-e Qabus on October 17, 2012, and later transferred to Gorgan. In the company of 6 other Bahai prisoners in Gorgan, he was transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran and finally to Raja’i Shahr prison, on December 22, 2012. It is interesting to note that the seven prisoners moved from Gorgan prison actually began serving their sentences before they had been sentenced!
About two months before Mr. Ziari’s arrest he was in an accident and suffered a torn tendon and underwent an operation, and at the time of his arrest he was still receiving physiotherapy. Following his arrest the flow of blood to his feet was impeded and his condition worsened for lack of treatment. He developed a lumbar complaint, osteo-arthritis and a tendon complaint in his foot. Prison doctors recommended 40 sessions of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, but this was denied. The bad conditions in prison have made his condition steadily worse.
Faran Hesami given prison furlough
Bahai News (Persian facebook page), July 1, 2015.
Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی ), one of the imprisoned teachers from the Bahai Open University (BIHE) who is serving a 4-year prison sentence in Evin Prison in Tehran, has been granted a 3-day furlough, starting this morning. She has been granted such leaves twice previously, in March and November 2014. Her husband Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان ) is also serving 4-year prison sentence for educational activities, in Raja’i Shahr prison, about 50 kilometres from Tehran. Their son Artin (آرتین) is in the care of his grandmother. His grandfather was martyred for his Faith some years ago. In March this year, Mrs. Hesami was awarded the Raha Südwind Award which honours individuals who have participated in the promotion and protection of human rights in Iran.
Rouha Emani free on bail after 6 weeks’ detention
Bahai News (Persian), July 1, 2015.
Bahai News (Persian), July 1, 2015. Updated July 2.
[July 1] Mrs. Rouha Emani (روحا ایمانی), a Bahai who was arrested in Yazd during a raid on her home on May 12, has been released on bail. See the earlier report on her arrest here.
[July 2] Bahai News reports that Mrs. Emani has not (yet?) been released, and is being held in jail in Yazd.
Three more Bahai businesses closed in Sari
After closing one Bahai business this morning, the local authorities in Sari closed three more in the course of the afternoon. The businesses are run by Yakub Akbari (یعقوب اکبری), Anbar Aqa’i (عنبر آقایی) and Payam Taqauwi ( پیام تقوی).
Shahriar Cyrus, Bahai artist, arrested
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, June 30, 2015.
Shahriar Cyrus (شهریار سیروس), a Bahai painter and a respected art critic, was arrested today when eleven agents of the security forces raided his home. The agents had an arrest warrant. They seized all his personal possessions and took him away. His whereabouts are unknown, and no other information has been released. The report does not say where he was arrested, but he was born and studied in Tehran.
Bahai business closed in Sari
Bahai News (Persian), June 30, 2015.
A workshop belonging to Mr. Houman Bakhtavar ( هومن بخت آور ) was closed by the local authorities this morning, apparently because Mr. Bakhtavar is a Bahai. There has been a sharp rise in the number of Bahai businesses closed by the authorities in Sari in recent months, as well as in Kerman, Hamadan and Rafsanjan. See the category ‘Economic discrimination‘ on this blog.
[Note to readers: A Bahai of the same name was arrested in Mashhad in 2005, and began a two-year sentence for his Bahai beliefs on August 3, 2010. I would like to know whether this is the same Houman Bakhtavar who now lives (and tries to work) in Sari. ~ Sen]
“..a building that defies rational thought..”
Arch Daily, June 29, 2015.
The Arch Daily (Architecture Daily) has a good illustrated article on the Bahai Temple (Mashriqu’l-Adhkar) in Chile, which is nearing completion. The writer, Guy Horton, calls it “a building that defies rational thought and veers into the realm of the emotional.”
Going in an entirely unexpected direction, the architects created a form made up of nine “sails” that twist, bend, and curve as they reach up to join an “oculus” at the apex. In the harsh Andean terrain, the building appears to billow and coil lightly as it emerges from its heavy concrete base. The architectural language is at once high-tech and organic, combining digital design and fabrication technologies with the personal sensitivity of craft and the rough imperfections of nature.
“We wanted the building to be about light, but with a more special, ancient quality to it,” says project manager and associate-in-charge Doron Meinhard. “We knew we had to do something special because this building was intended to be a 1,000-year project,” he adds. The “sails” are the embodiment of this approach, maintaining the organic character of the original competition-winning design. The architects and engineers allowed complexity to thrive, expressed in cast glass on the exterior and translucent marble panels on the interior. These two translucent layers follow an intricately webbed space frame structure connected with custom nodes. The only concession to simplification was making each “sail” identical and repeating it nine times.
The design team also stayed away from typical annealed or plate glass, going instead for something that looked and felt more like stone, but still had the visual properties of glass. This ultimately led to a four-year collaborative research process with Canadian glass artist Jeff Goodman. Known for his work with ornate blown glass, Goodman created the original prototype for the custom 1.5-inch-thick patterned glass panels that clad the building. The patterning takes its cues from the work of the American artist Mark Tobey, specifically his “white writing” or “structured light” paintings inspired by Chinese calligraphy and his conversion to the Bahá’i faith early in his career. But there is more to the glass than just the way it looks. Significant temperature swings every day of the year posed expansion and contraction challenges to using typical glass. “We did a lot of testing on the glass,” says Frank Kan, principal at SGH. “This type of cast glass, also known as Pyrex, has less thermal expansion.”
Faribourz Baghi’s prison term extended
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, June 26, 2015.
Faribourz Baghi, a Bahai from Yazd who was arrested in July, 2012, and sentenced to two years in prison plus a one-year suspended sentence, began serving his sentence in Yazd on April 23 this year. In the past week he was taken from prison to a court, where he was sentenced to a further two years in prison for “disturbing public order.”
“Clean cut, clean start” : Nasir Sobhani’s hand-on care goes viral
BuzzFeed, June 25, 2015.
Nasir Sobhani, aka “The Street Barber,” is a Bahai barber in Melbourne, Australia, and an ex-addict himself, who spends his days off on the streets with a mobile hairdressing kit, giving haircuts to street people and listening to their stories. He also uses media interviews and an instagram account to talk about social attitudes to the homeless. His story has gone viral in the social media with the hashtag #CleanCutCleanStart
Qa’ez Baqeri receives brief hospital care
Bahai News (Persian), June 25, 2015.
Fa’ez Baqeri (فائز باقری), a 17-year-old Bahai from Yazd who was arrested, along with his father Nasser Baqeri (ناصر باقری), in their home on February 28, 2015, has been moved from prison to hospital because of a severe infection of the inner ear. He is said to have incurred the infection during his detention and interrogation, and to have lost 40% of his hearing. Although he needed nursing care, the prison officers took him in handcuffs and ankle shackles for a brief medical examination and then took him back to prison.
[So far as my records show,Fa’ez Baqeri was arrested without a warrant, and therefore with no charges, and has not been charged or tried — yet he has been detained for three and a half months while the fifth bench of the Court in Yazd prepares a case against him. ~Sen]
Fa’ez Baweri’s mother, Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), began a 4-year sentence in the central prison in Yazd on February 21, 2015.
Anisa Basiri released on bail
Bahai News (Persian), June 24, 2015.
Anisa Basiri (انیسا بصیری) has been released from the Ministry of Intelligence detention facilities in Yazd. On June 18, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested her, after searching her home and workplace. She was interrogated, and was later transferred to Yazd prison. She was released from the prison on bail, which was set at “20 million.” Assuming this is 20 million tumans (200 million rials), that is about 600 euros or 680 US dollars.
Two Bahai women arrested and interrogated in Yazd
Bahai News (Persian), June 19, 2015.
Agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Yazd have arrested two Bahai women, Ms. Anisa Basiri (انیسا بصیری) and Neda Amiri (ندا امیری). They arrived at the home of Anita Basiri and searched it, and then went to her workplace and searched that as well. She was arrested and taken to the detention facilities of the Ministry of Intelligence in Yazd. It is thought that her release has been approved but she will not be released until tomorrow, as the office that must sign the release is closed on Friday [afternoon].
Security officers also searched the home of Neda Amiri and arrested her. She was taken to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence for interrogation, and released a few hours later.
Another Bahai business closed in Sari
Bahai News (Persian), June 19, 2015.
A carpentry workshop belonging to Qavam-adin Thabeteyan ( قوامالدین ثابتیان ), a 74-year-old Bahai from Sari, is still closed, almost two months after local authorities moved to close about a dozen Bahai-run businesses in the city. This workshop was closed on April 26, and is not included in the list of 11 Bahai businesses closed by authorities in our last update, on May 27. At the time it was reported that 15 Bahai-run businesses had been shut down, but details were only available for eleven. The business licences of the owners have also been withdrawn, to prevent them opening new premises. Two officers from the office that administers business premises and licensing in Sari who went to Mr. Thabeteyan’s workshop asked him to sign a written pledge that he would abide by the commercial code, close his premises on public holidays, and seek prior permission from the local authorities before closing his business for one or more days. However the commercial code does not include any rule limiting the closing days of businesses such as Mr. Thabeteyan’s workshop, that is, one-man businesses which do not provide essential goods or services. The code allows such businesses to be closed for up to 15 days every year, for any reason, and for more than 15 days providing the authorities are notified. Thus the third condition imposed by authorities is itself contrary to the commercial code, serving no other purpose but to force Bahai businesses to open on the days of the nine most important Bahai religious observances. Mr. Thabeteyan therefore refused to sign this undertaking, and his workshop is still closed. The report does not indicate what has happened with the other eleven Bahais business that are known to have been closed at the time.
On July 19, 2010, Mr. Thabetan was arrested in his home by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence. His home had previously been searched by officers of the Ministry, who at that time confiscated religious materials. It appears he was arrested for assisting educational rights activists. He was released one month later. Sarah Sabeteyan ( سحر ثابتیان ) was expelled from the Zahra secondary school in Sari on 1 November, for “blasphemy” and because she is a Bahai.
Shahab Dehqani enjoys brief furlough, returns to prison
Bahai News (Persian), June 17, 2015.
Shahab Dehqani ( شهاب دهقانی), a Bahai from Tehran who is serving an 4-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison has returned to prison today, at the end of a three-day furlough. His wife Shomais Mohajer (شمیس مهاجر) was released on May 26, at the end of a one-year sentence. They were among about 20 Bahais who were arrested in early July, 2012, in a wave of arrests in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz. Mr. Dehqani was charged with propaganda against the regime and forming illegal assemblies, and sentenced to four years by Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه). He began his sentence in Evin prison on May 24, 2014, and was moved to Raja’i Shahr prison two days later.
Afshin Heiratiyan released after 4 years in prison
Bahai News (Persian), June 16, 2015.
Afshin Heiratiyan (افشین حیرتیان), a Bahai children’s rights activist, was released from Raja’i Shahr prison, near Tehran, today at the end of a four-year imprisonment. Mr. Heiratijyan wrote and published various articles about child labour and World Children’s Rights Day. He was arrested on June 3, 2010, and charged with propaganda against the regime. He began his prison term in Evin prison in Tehran on August 20, 2011. While he was in Evin prison, he was pressured to provide a televised “confession.” He was transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison, where most of the Yaran, and a number of BIHE teachers are also being held, on August 5, 2012.
`Adnan Rahmat-Penah released after 1 year in prison
Bahai News (Persian), June 16, 2015.
`Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمتپناه ), a Bahai from Shiraz, has been released from in Adel-Abad prison at the end of a one-year sentence. He was arrested during a raid on his home on December 12, 2012, and began his sentence on November 11, 2014. [His release now presumably takes into consideration the time he spent in prison before his trial ~Sen] His health was badly affected by imprisonment. At the end of December that year he received a 5-day medical furlough, and from March 15, 2015, he was free on bail for a time, again for medical reasons. A few days after his release in March, he was sentenced to an additional 18 months in prison, by Judge Farhadipour (فرهادی پور), for insulting the President and preparing anti-filter devices. At that time security forces raided his home and seized books, a laptop computer and other personal effects. However this 18-month sentence has been reduced to a 2-year suspended sentence.
Sasan Haqiri begins a one-year sentence in Isfahan
Bahai News (Persian), June 15, 2015.
Mr. Sasan Haqiri (ساسان حقیری), a Bahai from Isfahan, has begun a one-year sentence in the city’s central prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime and society, and conspiracy against national security. He was one of the Bahais arrested on July 21, 2012, in widespread raids by security forces in cities and towns in Isfahan province. He was sentenced to one year in prison plus a one-year suspended sentence. The sentence was upheld by the court of review in April, 2014. Mr. Sohrab Naqipour ( سهراب نقی پور), Mrs. Adhar Pourkhorasand (آذر طلوعی – پورخرسند), and Mr. Khosrow Dehqani (خسرو دهقانی), who were arrested in the same raids in 2012, have already begun their sentences in Isfahan prison.
Hamid Azizi begins a one-year sentence in Hamadan
Bahai News (Persian), June 11, 2015.
Hamid Azizi (حمید عزیزی), a Bahai from Hamadan, has been taken to prison to begin a one-year sentence. A few days ago he and his wife were summoned and threatened with arrest. Mr. Azizi was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence who came to his home on October 21, 2014. They searched his home for several hours and seized a computer, a laptop computer, and Bahai books and pamphlets. He was charged with propaganda against the regime in the form of supporting opposition groups.
Sarang Etehadi free after one year in prison
Aho Sin (facebook), June 8, 2015
Sarang Etehadi ( سارنگ اتحادی ) was released from prison in Tehran today, at the end of a one-year sentence on charges of “propaganda against the state through participation in Bahai worship and prayer groups.” His wife, Nasim Ashrafi ( نسیم اشرفی ), was freed from Evin prison on April 8, having also served a one-year sentence. The couple, both from Tehran, were arrested in a wave of detentions of Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz in early July, 2012. Mr. Etehadi was originally sentenced to five years, and Mrs Ashrafi to three years in prison, but the review court reduced both sentences to one year.
Afif Na`imi taken to hospital
Baha’i News (Persian), June 3, 2015.
Afif Na`imi ( عفیف نعیمی ), a Bahai prisoner of conscience and one of the seven Yarn (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), has been transferred to the Tehran Heart Center. His physical condition has been deteriorating, but he had previously been denied hospital treatment. Mr. Na`imi was arrested in May 2008 together with six other “Yaran.” They were charged with “formation of the Baha’i sect” and “spying for Israel,” and given 20-year prison sentences. He is 52 years old, and suffers from blood clots which require carefully controlled doses of Warfarin. He received treatment in Tehran’s Heart Center for nine months in 2013 and 2014, but on August 9, 2014, he was taken back to Raja’i Shahr prison, although the forensic doctor had certified that he was unable to bear imprisonment.
Sima Eshraqi released after 5 years in prison
Bahai News (Persian), June 3, 2015.
Sima Eshraqi (سیما اشراقی), a Bahai from Mashhad, has been released at the end of a five-year prison sentence. She was arrested in 2008 and spent three months in solitary confinement before being released on bail. At the end of October, 2009, she and Jalayar Wahdat (جلایر وحدت) were sentenced to 5 years in prison for propaganda against the regime, acting against national security in the form of Bahai activities. illegal assembly, publishing and distributing Bahai books and CDs, and blasphemy. Seven other Bahais from Mashhad were tried at the same time. She began serving her sentence in Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on October 24, 2010. The Bahai prisoners in Mashhad were often denied the normal furlough, because of opposition from the Ministry of Intelligence. [My records do not show any prison furlough for Sima Eshraqi, but my records may be incomplete ~ Sen]
Two Bahais begin 1-year sentences in Isfahan
Bahai News, June 2, 2015.
Within the past week, security forces in Isfahan have arrested Mr. Sohrab Naqipour ( سهراب نقی پور) and Mrs. Adhar Pourkhorasand (آذر طلوعی – پورخرسند), who had been free on bail, and have taken them to Isfahan prison to begin serving their sentences. [The report in Bahai News is contradictory, saying also that they have been taken to Yazd. ~ Sen.] Both have been sentenced to two years in prison, of which one year is suspended. They were among dozens of Bahais arrested in July and August, 2012, in Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad, Isfahan, Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Yazd.
Prison sentences for 6 Bahais in Tabriz
Bahai News (Persian), May 2, 2015.
On May 1, four members of the Bahadori family, Mr. Farzad Bahadari (فرزاد بهادری) and Mrs Simin Rasouli (سیمین رسولی) and their children, Sahar ( سحر بهادری ) and Nassim Bahadari (نسیم بهادری ), along with Shabnam Issakhani (شبنم عیسی خانی) and Rashin Saberi (راشین صابری), were sentenced to one year in prison. These six Bahais were arrested in the Bahadori home in Tabriz on July 12, 2014, by eight agents from the Ministry of Intelligence: five men and three women. From the date of their arrest, it is likely that they had gathered to celebrate the “Feast of Kalimat,” which Bahais around the world mark with prayers and readings from scripture. One source reported that the raid on the Bahadori house was conducted “commando style” by a unity known as the Ashura Intelligence Arm. The agents seized religious books and musical instruments, and also raided Mr. Bahadori’s work place and seized computers. All six were released on bail about two weeks later. Their trials have extended over 10 court sessions.
Update, June 4: The sentences have been confirmed by the Court of Review.
Arrests in Rasht aim to deepen the economic isolation of the Bahais
Bahai News (Persian), May 31, 2015.
Security forces in Rasht, a city on Iran’s Caspian coast, have arrested four Bahais and three other citizens who had associated with the Bahais. On May 26, they arrested Mr. Foad Yazdani (فواد یزدانی) and Mr. Peyman Yazdani (پیمان یزدانی), both Bahais from Rasht, on charges of conspiring to make propaganda against the regime and undermining national security. Two days later, they arrested Mr. Nima Najafi (نیما نجفی) and his wife Paria Keshvar (پریا کشاور) on the same charges. Three other Iranians, who are not Bahais, were arrested at the same time and charged with having links with Bahais. All seven were taken to the Ministry of Intelligence in Rasht.
On November 17, 2014, an agent of the Ministry of Intelligence, accompanied by two representatives of the Revolutionary Court, inspected the homes and businesses of four Bahai citizens in Rasht. They seized all the books, CDs, flash drives and any paper with handwriting on it, and also various appliances belonging to customers which were waiting for repair. The agents then went to those non-Bahai customers whose contact information had been recorded, and interrogated them.
Around the time of Naw Ruz (the New Year festival, from March 20), security forces searched the homes of these Bahais and seized some belongings, including computers, office supplies and the personal belongings of some employees. In the interim, the four Bahais had also been summoned for questioning by the police and Ministry of Intelligence several times, and had lodged several petitions with judicial officials for the return of their confiscated belongings.
In January and February this year, over 20 Muslim residents of Rasht were summoned and threatened by the Ministry of Intelligence because of their relationships with Bahais. Those summoned were subjected to insults, humiliation and threats, and told that they are not allowed to associate or have any business dealings with Bahais. The Ministry of Intelligence also sought to obtain baseless statements from these people regarding the activities of the Bahais.
Eleven Bahai businesses closed in Sari (update)
HRANA, May 27, 2015.
Local authorities in Sari have shut down eleven businesses run by Bahais because they had been closed on Bahai holy days. These include four clothing stores, run by Wahab Darabi (وهاب دارابی), Taraneh Zahedi (ترانه زاهدی), Sa`id Goli ( سعید گلی) and Aramesh Zahuri ( آرامش ظهوری); two electric motor winding shops, run by Farshad Kemali ( فرشاد کمالی) and Mehran Kemali (مهران کمالی); two toiletries and cleaning materials shops run by Ehsanullah Sana’i (احسان الله سنایی) and Ehsan Izadi ( احسان ایزدی), a paint shop run by Ziullah Khushbin (ضیاالله خوشبین), the wood turning workshop of Kemal Akbari (کمال اکبری), and a household container shop run by Pedaram Qanbari ( پدرام قنبری). The list is probably not complete: sources say that fifteen Bahai businesses have closed recently in Sari. Regulations allow local authorities to shut down any business that is closed, unannounced, for more than 15 days in a year. However there are less than 15 Holy Days in the Bahai calendar, and in any case the Bahai owners normally inform local authorities of upcoming Holy Days.
Shomais Mohajer released after 1-year sentence
Besharat-e Bahai, May 26, 2015.
Shomais Mohajer (شمیس مهاجر), a Bahai from Tehran, has been released at the end of a one-year sentence. She was one of almost 20 Bahais who were arrested in early July, 2012, in a wave of arrests in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz. She was charged with
propaganda against the regime and forming an illegal group, and sentenced by by Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه). Her husband, Shahab Dehqani (شهاب دهقانی), was arrested at the same time, and began serving a four-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison on May 26, 2014.
Three Bahai businesses shut down in Sari
HRANA, May 25, 2014.
Local authorities in Sari shut down three businesses run by three Bahais, on May 24, because they had been closed on Bahai holy days. The businesses are a shop selling colours, run by Ziullah Khushbin (ضیاالله خوشبین), the wood turning workshop of Kemal Akbari (کمال اکبری), and a toiletries shop run by Ehsanullah Sana’i (احسان الله سنایی). Recently 12 Bahais in the city of Rafsanjan had their businesses closed by local authorities, because they were shut on the three Bahai holy days of Ridvan, which this year fell on April 21, April 29 and May 2. Regulations allow local authorities to shut down any business that is closed, unannounced, for more than 15 days in a year. However there are less than 15 Holy Days in the Bahai calendar, and in any case the Bahai owners normally inform local authorities of upcoming Holy Days.
Riaz Sobhani released at the end of his sentence
HRANA, May 25, 2015.
Riaz’ullah Sobhani (ریاض الله سبحانی ), a Bahai who taught classes for the Bahai Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), was released from Raja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj today at the end of a four-year sentence. He was arrested on June 14, 2011, not long after security forces raided premises and homes relating to the Institute for Higher Education. He was tried and sentenced in Tehran by Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه).
The BIHE is a distance-learning institute which serves students who are excluded from tertiary study in Iran, because they are Bahais.
Refusal to allow hospital treatment for Afif Na`imi continues
Iran Press Watch, May 18, 2015.
Despite repeated instructions from the Medical Commission regarding cancellation of his prison sentence, Afif Na`imi ( عفیف نعیمی ), a Bahai prisoner of conscience and one of the seven Yarn (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), is still imprisoned although he has severe heart disease ‒ even Tehran’s district attorney has authorized the Rajai Shahr Prison clinic to transfer him to hospital whenever needed and without coordination with the District Attorney’s Office.
Na`imi was arrested in May 2008 together with six other “Yaran.” He was charged with “formation of the Baha’i sect.” His brother and nephew are also held in imprisoned at Rajai Shahr Prison, while his sister-in-law is serving a prison term in the women’s section of Evin Prison in Tehran. He is 52 years old, and suffers from blood clots which require carefully controlled doses of Warfarin. He received treatment in Tehran’s Coronary Hospital for nine months in 2013 and 2014, but on August 9 he was transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison, although the forensic doctor had certified that he was unable to bear imprisonment. Emanullah Mostaqim ( امانالله مستقیم ), one of the staff of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran who is serving a 5-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, was sent from hospital to the prison on the same day, although he too has been certified as unfit for prison.
Iran’s apartheid rules for Bahais clarified
Saham News, May 19, 2015.
Saham News has published an order from the chief of police, dating from April 8, 2010, which clarifies which economic sectors are forbidden for Bahais. Because Bahais in Iran are excluded from employment in the civil service, education and health, and other major sectors, many establish small shops or workshops in sectors where this is permitted, but the rules they must obey have been kept secret. This order from the chief of police to police bureaus all over the country instructs them to constrain, limit and police the activities of Bahais in the specified fields, and ensure the Bahais do not constitute a significant presence in society. The order specifies that Bahais should not be allowed to earn high incomes, but may work or be employed at the standard minimum income. 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, cafetarias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways (Iranian-style), cafes, butchers shops, supermarkets, the production and sale of icecream, fruit juice, soft drinks, pastry and sweets, and coffee.
Since this order was issued, the optometry sector has apparently been added to the list, on or before December 2014. In addition to these limitations on where Bahais may work, the Ministry of Intelligence has pressured Muslims to cut social and economic ties with Bahais, and Bahai businesses across Iran have been shut down where they close to observe the Bahai Holy Days.
Home raid and arrest in Yazd
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, May 16, 2015.
At 7.30 a.m. on May 12, five male plainclothes agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided a Bahai home and arrested Mrs. Rouha Emani (روحا ایمانی), from Kerman. The agents initially identified themselves as investigators for Iran’s subsidies system, but when the women in the house refused to let them in, they forced their way in physically, by cutting the security chain, and identified themselves as Ministry of Intelligence agents. The house is used by three female family members of Mrs. Emani, who dialed “110” (the emergency number in Iran) during these events. When the women asked to see a search warrant, the agents handcuffed Mrs. Emani and said they had a warrant for her arrest, although they did not allow her, or her family, to read it. At this point, two groups of police arrived, in response to the 110 call, but after a short conversation they said they could do nothing, and left. The men in plain clothes searched the house, and seized the personal effects, books, phones and laptops of all those present. Although they were all men, they took Mrs. Emani with them in a car. Mrs. Emani was delivered to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence that evening. The family were not told what the accusation against Mrs. Emani might be. They have contacted the security forces, but there has been no response from the authorities.
Another Bahai student expelled from university
Farzan Faramarzi blog, May 14, 2015.
Samim Dukuhaki (صمیم دوکوهکی), a Bahai student of music at the Beyda campus of the Azad University, was expelled from the University on March 1, 2015 because of his religious beliefs. He had completed one semester of study. The campus is in Fars Province.
Jalayer Vahdat freed at the end of his sentence
HRANA, May 9, 2015.
Jalayer Vahdat (جلایر وحدت) was released from Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on May 8, at the end of a five-year sentence for his religious beliefs. He began his sentence on October 24, 2010. He was charged with propaganda against the regime and acting against national security through assembly and conspiracy and membership of Bahai organizations. His father Nosrullah Vahdat (نصرالله وحدت) was executed in 1984. He was charged with having links with the Bahais. His mother also spent several years in prison.
Bahai businesses in Rafsanjan shut down following Ridvan
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, May 1, 2015.
Twelve Bahais in the city of Rafsanjan have had their businesses closed by local authorities, because they were shut on the three Bahai holy days of Ridvan, which this year fell on April 21, April 29 and May 2. In November 2014, when Bahais in Iran were celebrating the Birthdays of the Bab and Baha’u’llah, close to 90 Bahai-run businesses in Vila Shahr, Nashtarud, and the southern region of Kerman, Rafsanjan, and Jiroft were closed by the authorities. This year, the Bahais informed the authorities of the upcoming closures in advance, in the hope of avoiding difficulties. The closure of businesses, and exclusion from employment in many economic sectors, are among the means the Islamic Republic uses to pressure the Bahai minority to recant their beliefs. See the category “economic discrimination” on this blog.
Another three Bahais tried in Gorgan
HRANA, May 2, 2015.
Hana Aqiqiyan (هنا عقیقیان), a Bahai from Gorgan, and Beyta Hedayati (بیتا هدایتی ) and Hana Kushkabaghi ( هنا کوشکباغی ), from Gonbad-e Qabus, were tried in Gorgan on April 25. Mrs Kushkabaghi was not present, as she had not seen the summons. They were among the Bahais arrested in widespread raids in the towns of Gorgan, Gonbad-e Qabus and Minudasht in October 2012. It would appear that they were released on bail after their arrests, although this did not appear in my sources. The trials of these Bahais, in groups of three or four, began in February 2015. The charges against them, named in the summons, include participation in an illegal organisation harmful to security, the propagation and development of the Bahai Faith through Ruhi groups, propaganda for the Bahai Faith and against the Islamic Republic through active participation in Ruhi groups, and cooperation with hostile governments.
Another three BIHE educators released, nine remain in prison
Iran Press Watch, May 2, 2015.
After four years in prison, Mahmoud Badavam (محمود بادوام), Farhad Sedeqi (فرهاد صدقی) and Ramin Ziba’i (رامین زیبایی), faculty members of the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), were released from Raja’i Shahr Prison on April 30. They were arrested in late May, 2011, when premises and homes relating to the Institute for Higher Education were raided by security forces. In October, 2011, they were sentenced to four years in prison. Noushin Khadem (نوشین خادم), another BIHE educator, was released on April 22. She had also served a four-year sentence, but without receiving any prison furlough. Amanullah Mostaqim ( امانالله مستقیم ), who was sentenced to five years in prison, is free on medical furlough. Sadaf Thabetayan ( صدف ثابتیان ), arrested in 2011, was given a two-year sentence, and freed in the Ramadan amnesty of August, 2012.
Among the other educators arrested for their work with the BIHE is Riaz Sobhani ( ریاض سبحانی ), who was arrested in June 2011: he was also sentenced to 4 years in prison, so his release may be expected in the next few weeks. Faran Hessami ( فاران حسامی ) and her husband Kamran Rahimiyan (کامران رحیمیان) are also serving four-year sentences for educational activities, in Raja’i Shahr prison, but they were not arrested until September 2011. Fu’ad Moqaddam ( فواد مقدم ) was arrested in May, 2011, and sentenced to five years in prison. Talu Golkar (طلوع گلکار) was sentenced to five years in prison for her association with the BIHE in January, 2014. Her date of arrest is not reported. Nasim Baqeri (نسیم باقری), who was arrested in May 2011 and sentenced to four years in prison, did not begin her sentence until April, 2014. She is held in Evin prison. Shahin Negari ( شاهین نگاری) was arrested in May 2011, but he was free on bail from June 2011 to January, 2013, when he began his sentence. Hasan Momtazi (حسن ممتازی) is serving a 5-year sentence. Azizollah Samandari (عزیزالله سمندری) is serving a five-year sentence, which he began on July 7, 2012. He was sentenced in October 2011 after a 10-minute trial, in which the only question he was asked was whether he belonged to the Bahai community. This list of nine BIHE educators still in prison may not be complete.
Bahai Centre in Nepal becomes a refuge
April 28, 2015. (Compiled by the editor).
The National Bahai Centre and Teacher Training Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal, is reported to be largely undamaged, as the building is designed to resist earthquakes. A friend has posted photographs showing some of the many people who have taken shelter in the building and grounds. There are few open spaces in the city of Kathmandu, so residents who have lost their homes, or who fear to go inside because of the risk of aftershocks, have been crowding into the parks and other open areas. So far as is known so far, there are no casualties among the Bahais in Nepal.
Davar Nabilzadeh free after 5 years in prison
Iran Religious News, April 28, 2015.
Davar Nabilzadeh (داور نبیل زاده) has been freed from prison in Mashhad after serving a five year sentence on charges of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic, acting against domestic security through membership and participation in the Bahai sect, propaganda and communication with foreigners after traveling abroad, unlawful assembly, and publishing and distributing misguided Bahai CDs and books.” He began this sentence on July 23, 2010. The sentence relates to his role as a ‘khadem’ (the local facilitators who mediate between Bahais and authorities in some parts of Iran). In 1983 he served a one-year sentence for membership of Bahai organisations. His daughter Nora Nabilzadeh ( نورا نبیل زاده) is presently serving a five-year sentence in Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad, for playing music in an orphanage. She was arrested in June, 2010, and began her sentence on September 15, 2012.
Another Bahai arrested in Hamadan; Bahai businesses remain closed
Iran Religious News, April 26, 2015.
Mehran Khandel (مهران خاندل), a Bahai living in the city of Hamadan, was arrested in his home on the afternoon of April 26. Agents from the security forces of Hamadan Province first searched his home, where Mr. Khandel was present with his two young children. Witnesses said that the agents had no search warrant, and conducted the search and arrest in an inhumane manner.
Agents from the security forces had visited his home earlier, when they arrested nine other Bahais in Hamadan city, but he was travelling at the time. He had just returned, on April 26, when security forces arrived to arrest him.
In November 2012, 32 businesses linked to Bahais in Hamadan Province were closed down by the authorities. The Bahais were told that they could re-open if they agreed not to close on the Bahai holy days. Because Bahais in Iran are excluded from employment by the government and from many economic sectors and professions, they rely heavily on small service and retail businesses to earn their livelihoods. The business remain closed today, although one source of friction, the celebration of the births of the Bab and Baha’u’llah during the month of Muharram in the lunar calendar, has been largely obviated by a change in the Bahai calendar, to celebrate these days on a solar, not lunar, calendar.
Mr. Khandel’s business is one of the Bahai businesses closed down by the authorities, and his father, Hussein Khandel (حسين خاندل), was charged with being a Bahai and executed by the authorities in 1981.
Nine Bahais arrested in Hamadan: seven released on bail
HRANA, April 25, 2015.
In late March, nine Bahais were arrested in Hamadan. In recent days seven of these have been released on bail, ranging from 25 to 60 million tumans (8000 to 19,500 euros / $US 9000 to 21,000). Two Bahai women, Farida Ayoubi and Fataneh Mushtaq (فریده ایوبى و فتانه مشتاق) are still being held. Those who have been bailed are Hamid Adharnoush (حمید آذرنوش), Mas`oud Adharnoush (مسعود آذرنوش), Shahin Rashedi (شاهین راشدى), `Atefeh Zahedi (عاطفه زاهدى), Roumina Tabibi (رومینا طبیبى), Mina Hemmati (مینا همتى) and Parvaneh Ayoubi (پروانه ایوبى). There is no indication of the reasons for the arrests.
Demolition of the house of a Bahai prisoner
In Semnan, the vacation home of Jamaledin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی), one of the seven imprisoned ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), has been demolished by security agents. According to a member of the family, one day they were told that they had 48 hours to vacate their house and the next day, even though they had obtained an order to delay the demolition from the Supreme Court, their house, which was situated in the middle of an agricultural field, was bulldozed.
Jamaledin Khanjani has been in prison since 2009 without leave. He has been sentenced to 20 years of prison. Foad Khanjani, his grandson and Navid Khanjani, another member of the Khanjani family are also in prison.
A member of the family told Rooz (i.e., Rooz Online) that pressure on their family has been growing and systematic since the detention of Jamaledin Khanjani. The family said that the house had been built with the proper construction permits 18 years ago and was the residence of the family. “The land has a deed that goes back a 100 years, but the authorities say the owner is unknown and the deed is not recognized. They also find fault with the house and say that building over extends the permit,” they said. “Even though they gave us 48 hours to vacate, they destroyed 270 square meters of the house and claimed that the construction area exceeded the construction permit. But a court had earlier specifically ruled on this in their favor.” A family member said that the family did not receive any money from the government to build the house or develop the land, which had over 40 hectares of fruit trees. “But when the time for fruit picking comes, they block the road to the farm, depriving us of taking the 200 to 300 tons of fruit to the market. A few years ago they destroyed the water reservoir we had built for the farm even though we had obtained all the necessary government permits. We had a 30-year rental agreement for husbandry which they violated and forced us to sell our livestock.” … “Even though we had legally owned this land for over 200 years, … they set up a security post in the region and began searching all vehicles and frisking individuals. My 85-year old mother had to have a special permit to go around and travel. The Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Intelligence Office of Semnan announced the area to be a military zone and then established a post close to the house that they have demolished. We, our animals and even our plants are not free from invasions. They prevented us from taking our livestock to warner regions, resulting in a number of deaths.” … “Many of our family members are Muslims and we live together, participate in each other’s ceremonies. But it is the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Intelligence Agency’s branch that is harsh on us. We really do not know for how long they intend to continue this.”
One arrest in Tehran
ARAM (translating a HRANA report), April 25, 2015.
Farima Farzandi (فریما فرزندى), a Bahai resident of Tehran was arrested on April 21st and taken to an undisclosed location. According to a report from HRANA, armed government security agents raided Ms. Farzandi’s residence, searching and videotaping what is described as a “violent arrest.” Farima Farzandi was engaged to be married next week. No further information has been released on her location and wellbeing.
Nushin Khadem freed
HRANA, April 22, 2015.
Nushin Khadem (نوشین خادم), one of those arrested in May, 2011, when the Iranian authorities raided the Bahai Institute for High Education (BIHE), has been released from Evin prison at the end of her 4-year sentence. Throughout her sentence she was denied any prison furlough.
Emanullah Mostaqim granted extended medical leave
Saham News, April 21, 2015.
Amanullah Mostaqim ( امانالله مستقیم ) one of the imprisoned staff members of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, has been granted a furlough of four months for medical treatment. Mr. Mostaqim, a Bahai from Shirz, is serving a 5-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison near Tehran. He suffers from diabetes and heart disease. Prison doctors have determined that prison and other stressful circumstances are a danger for him. He began serving his sentence on May 20, 2013, but he has had a number of periods in hospital during his time at Raja’i Shahr prison. The Saham News report expresses the hope that, in view of the time he has remaining to serve, this furlough will extend to his permanent release.
Hassan Badhrafkan begins 1-year sentence
Farzan Faramarzi, April 20, 2015.
Hassan Badhrafkan ( حسن بذرافکن ), a Bahai from Marvdasht county (in Fars Province), was told to report to the authorities to begin serving a 1-year sentence on April 18, although he has appealed the sentence and the review court has not yet issued its ruling. Mr. Badhrafkan was arrested in the street on September 11, 2013, and transferred immediately to the Ministry of Intelligence’s detention facility 100, in Shiraz, where he was held for 48 days before being transferred to Adel Abad prison. He was freed on bail from Adel Abad prison in Shiraz on December 21. Bail was set at 200 million tumans (59,000 euros, $US 80,000).
2015 Ridvan message released
Each year on the “first day of Riḍvan,” which falls on April 20 or April 21, the Universal House of Justice addresses a letter to the worldwide Bahai community, known as the Riḍvan message. These letters touch on many subjects, including the state of the Bahai community, its efforts to contribute to the life of society, and the progress of specific projects and plans.
This year’s message, in seven paragraphs, refers to various signs that the moral force that sustains society has been depleted, and contrasts that to the community-building process in which the Bahais are participating.
Paragraph six summarizes recent developments:
– efforts to methodically catalogue and index the Bahai scriptures, so as to accelerate their publication in both the original languages and in English translations.
– work to establish eight Mashriqu’l-Adhkars (houses of worship) around the world.
– More effective external affairs work by the National Spiritual Assemblies.
– New branch Offices of the Baha’i International Community, in Addis Ababa and Jakarta, will assist the Bahais’ United Nations Offices in New York, Geneva and Brussels, to present Baha’i perspectives in Africa and Southeast Asia.
– The creation at the World Centre of the Office for the Development of Administrative Systems, to assist those National Spiritual Assemblies that are increasing their administrative capacities.
– Establishment of a seven-member International Advisory Board to the Office of Social and Economic Development, to focus on initiatives for social action to improve social and economic circumstances. Three members of the Board will also serve as the Office’s coordinating team and be resident in Israel.
This year’s message can be read online, at the official site of the Universal House of Justice (requires acrobat reader). A plain text (html) version is available in the document archive of my Bahai Studies blog. It will be available to download as a pdf file from the new version of the Reference Library, but was not yet there, at the time of writing.
Egyptian government to confront ‘threats of atheists, Bahais and Shiites’
Egyptian streets, April 17, 2015.
In a meeting held last Tuesday at the headquarters of the Ministry of Religious Endowments in Downtown Cairo, Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Goma’a stated that he plans to form special groups dedicated to spreading awareness of the “threats” of atheism and the Bahai and Shi’a religions, in addition to social issues such as drug addiction and murder. “The groups will include one Qur’an reciter, one chanter and two speakers,” Abdel Razek told Daily News Egypt.
“Remember the Yaran” campaign seeks support
Campaign against harassment of Bahais (facebook), April 18, 2015.
The campaign ‘Remember the Yaran’ is drawing attention to the oppression and persecution of the Bahais in Iran. The facebook group “Campaign to stop the harassment and imprisonment of Baha’i citizens” intends to mark the seventh anniversary of the arrest of seven Bahais known as the Yaran, or Friends, who served as national facilitators assisting the Bahais of Iran in their dealings with government organs. The facebook group supports the ‘Remember the Yaran’ campaign and request the immediate release of the seven Yaran.
They ask all those who support justice and oppose oppression in Iran to support ‘Remember the Yaran’ by publishing photos of your pleas for the release of the Yaran. Those who wish to participate can send a photo of themselves with a sheet of paper bearing the words, “7 years have passed: remember the Yaran,” or write this on the palm of their hands, and send the picture to the facebook page (the link is above). Those who wish to try this in Persian can copy the example below.
Those who do not wish to be identified by using an image of their face, can send a photo of the paper or the writing on their palm, in such a way that they cannot be identified.
Seven years ago, the seven ‘Yaran’ were sentenced to 20 years in prison, there the conditions are unacceptable, and they have been denied prison furloughs. Our aim in this campaign is to be the voice of the people of Iran, and the voice of the religious minorities who suffer oppression and persecution under the present government of Iran. So we would like the support of as many as possible of the people, and minorities, of Iran. The Yaran, and other prisoners of conscience will certainly hear of our support, and know that the people have not forgotten them.
On 5 March 2008, Mahvash Sabet – a schoolteacher and mother of two – was arrested having been summoned to the Iranian city of Mashhad to discuss some matters regarding a Bahai burial. Two months later, on 14 May, the other six “Yaran” (national-level facilitators for Iran’s Baha’i community) were arrested in raids of their homes. The names of these six are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm.
After twenty months in prison without charge, a trial began on January 12, 2010. Throughout their long wait for justice, the seven had received barely one hour’s access to their legal counsel, and suffered appalling treatment and deprivations, including psychological and physical hardship. They were charged with espionage, propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and the establishment of an illegal administration – charges that were all rejected completely and categorically by the defendants. The trial of the seven Baha’i leaders ended on 14 June 2010 after six brief sessions, characterized by their lack of due legal process.
The initial sentence of 20 years imprisonment for each of the defendants, met with outrage and condemnation throughout the world. One month later, the appeal court revoked three of the charges and reduced their sentence to 10-year jail terms. In March 2011, the prisoners were informed that their original 20-year sentences were reinstated. Notwithstanding repeated requests, neither the prisoners nor their attorneys have ever received official copies of the original verdict or the ruling on appeal.
In Tehran: two Bahais bailed, one arrest, two homes raided
Activists in exile, April 11, 2015.
On April 7, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence staged simultaneous raids on two Bahai homes in Tehran. They arrested Mrs. Afsaneh Yadegar (افسانه یادگار), and initially wished to arrest Zhinous Wasali (ژینوس وصلی), but did not do so because she was pregnant. It is not known where Afsaneh Yadegar is being held. One source has indicated that the raids were connected to a series of raids in Tehran and Isfahan on February 16 ad 17, which began with a raid on a Bahai meeting in Tehran, in the home of Sasan Yadegar (ساسان یادگار), and a search of the home of his brother, Mr. Ehsan Yadegar (احسان یادگار). During the search, which lasted five hours, all the books, pictures and religious symbols of those present, as well as computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, were seized, and the agents demanded that those present should sign undertakings not to participate in Bahai meetings. Five Bahais were arrested in Tehran at that time. Two of them have now been released on bail. They are Mrs. Ruhiyyeh Baqr-dokht-Akbari and Mrs. Mona Mehrabani (روحیه باقردخت و مونا مهرابی ), who had been kept in solitary confinement in Teharan’s Evin Prison since their arrest.
Nasim Ashrafi freed from Evin prison
HRANA, April 8, 2015.
Nasim Ashrafi ( نسیم اشرفی ) was freed from Evin prison on April 8, having served a one-year sentence for her Bahai beliefs. She was arrested in a wave of detentions of Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz in early July, 2012, and began serving her sentence on May 6, 2014. She was charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of Bahai organisations, and was originally sentenced to three years in prison, reduced by the court of review to one year.
Farhnaz Mithaqian begins her sentence in Yazd
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, April 9, 2015.
Farhnaz Mithaqian (فرحناز میثاقیان), a Bahai from Yazd, began a one-year prison sentence on April 6. She is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, and has been sentenced to one year in prison plus a one-year suspended sentence.
Lotus temple affected by pollution
A petition filed in India’s National Green Tribunal (NGT) expresses concern over heavy traffic in the Nehru Place area of Delhi harming the pure white marble of the Bahai House of Worship, commonly known as the Lotus Temple. It says vehicular emissions could be causing the building to corrode and turn grey. [Update: Two court commissioners appointed by the National Green Tribunal have visited the temple and found alarming congestion and traffic chaos. One of the commissioners confirmed that some stones on the temple wall did appear yellow, which may be due to exposure to pollution.]
Baha’i House of Worship general manager Shaheen Javed agreed. He told Mail Today: “I don’t have any scientific study to prove this but I have been here for 18 years and know that the polluted environment is taking a toll. We wash the temple every three months with plain water but I am afraid it may not be enough.
“It is made of porous Pentelikon marble, imported from the mines of Greece, which was used in ancient monuments of Parthenon. They are also facing a similar air pollution problem [with the] Parthenon. If you ask me what effect air pollution is having on this temple, I am sure it is the same as in Greece,” Javed added.
Mehran Eslami begins his sentence in Yazd
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, April 6, 2015.
Mehran Eslami (مهران اسلامی), a Bahai from Yazd, reported to the central prison there on April 4, to begin serving his 1-year sentence. He was originally told that he would begin his sentence on February 16, but this was postponed because he was ill. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman.
Behfar Khanjani free
I Free my Iran, April 5, 2015.
Behfar Khanjani (بهفر خانجانی), a Bahai prisoner of conscience serving a four-year sentence in Seman’s central prison, was freed from prison on April 4, at the end of his sentence. He was arrested on January 6, 2010, and held for 25 days in solitary confinement. He was held in prison for another month and released on bail on March 1, 2010. He began serving his sentence, for membership of illegal Bahai groups and attending Bahai prayer meetings and the 19th-day ‘Feast,’ on June 22, 2011. His sentence was later extended by one year for “propaganda against the regime,” but from today’s report it appears that this sentence has been served concurrently, or has not yet been implemented. Mr. Khanjani suffers from an incurable medical condition, and his condition is fragile. He was given a brief medical leave in January 2012.
Cemetery officials in Tabriz continue to turn away Bahais
HRANA, April 7, 2015.
Officials at the public cemetery in Tabriz, the Wadi-ye Rahmat cemetery, have refused to allow the burial of Mr. Maruwati (مروتی), a Bahai from Tabriz who died on March 20, 2015. On the morning when Mr. Maruwati died, his family took his body to the cemetery for burial. The officials concerned told them to take the body to the morgue at the cemetery, and to wait at home until they were contacted. A few hours later someone from the cemetery telephoned, to say that permission for burial had been denied, and the body had been taken to the town of Miandoab for burial. For the past 18 months, Bahais have not been accepted for burial in Tabriz, and the bodies have been taken to the towns around the city to be buried, without informing the families. The families of the deceased have sought a meeting with Mr. Jalali (آقای جلالی), head of the public cemetery, but so far he has been unwilling to meet them or hold a discussion.
In Kermanshah, the home of two Bahai brothers searched
MAF News, April 1, 2015.
On April 1, agents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence raided the home of Mansur and `Ali Mohebi (منصور و علی محبی) in Kermanshah. They had a search warrant, and seized all books, pamphlets, CDs, cassette tapes and pictures relating to the Bahai Faith. They also took a desktop computer. The two brothers, who moved from Sari to Kermanshah a few years ago, were treated disrespectfully by the agents.
Two Bahais begin their sentences in Yazd
HRANA, March 21, 2015.
Mr. Eyman Rashidi (ایمان رشیدی) and Mrs. Shabnam Motahed (شبنم متحد), a Bahai couple from Yazd, were arrested on March 18, and taken to the central prison in Yazd to begin serving their sentences. Mr. Rashidi has been sentenced to three years in prison, and a one year suspended sentence, while Mrs. Motahed has been sentenced to two years in prison and one year suspended.
Nasim Ashrafi given prison furlough for Naw Ruz
Saham News, March 19, 2015.
Nasim Ashrafi ( نسیم اشرفی ), who is serving a one-year sentence for her religious beliefs in Evin Prison, in Tehran, has been granted a 4-day leave for the Naw Ruz period. She was arrested in a wave of detentions of Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz in early July, 2012, and began serving her sentence on May 6, 2014. She was charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of Bahai organisations.
Another Bahai home raided in Shiraz
HRANA, March 18, 2015.
On the morning of March 16, intelligence agents in the city of Shiraz raided the home of Mr. Karamat Amiri (کرامت امیرى ), a 62-year old Bahai. This is the latest in a series of similar raids on over 20 Bahai homes in the city, during the past month. The agents seized personal effects, a laptop computer, a mobile phone and religious books and CDs.
Faran Hessami granted a 4-day furlough
HRANA, March 19, 2015.
Faran Hessami ( فاران حسامی ), who is in Evin prison serving a four-year sentence for educational activities with the Bahai Open University (BIHE), has been granted a 4-day furlough covering the Naw Ruz period. This will enable her to be with her son Artin during the holiday period. Her husband Kamran Rahimiyan (کامران رحیمیان) is also serving a four-year sentence for educational activities, in Raja’i Shahr prison.
`Adnan Rahmat-Penah faces a new sentence
HRANA, March 17, 2015.
A court in Shiraz has handed down another 18-month sentence for `Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمتپناه ), a Bahai from Shiraz who has served nearly 5 months of a one-year sentence in Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz. On March 11, the lower court sentenced him to 6 months in prison on charges of insulting the President of Iran and 12 months for preparing and distributing means of evading the filters which the Iranian government has imposed on internet traffic. Bail was set at 1 billion rials (34,000 euros, 35,000 US dollars), pending the confirmation of this sentence by the court of review. His trial on these charges occurred about a month before his release.
Naghmeh Farabi begins 2-year sentence in Yazd
HRANA, March 14, 2015.
In recent days, security agents went to the home of Mrs. Naghmeh Farabi-Ashaqiyan (نغمه فارابی (اسحاقیان) in Najafabad, and took her to Yazd to serve a 2-year sentence. On the day of her arrest, security agents went to her home when she was not there, and entered by climbing over a wall. They returned during the afternoon and arrested her. She was arrested on July 31, 2012, and sentenced to 2 years in prison and 1 year suspended on charges of membership of the Bahai community.
`Adnan Rahmat-Penah free on bail
Campaign to stop harassment of Bahai Citizens (facebook), December 14, 2015.
`Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمتپناه ) who is serving a one-year sentence in Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz, has been freed on bail, apparently for medical reasons. He was arrested on December 12, 2012, during a raid on his home and sent to Shiraz prison. He began his sentence on November 11, 2014. On December 22, 2014, I reported that he had been denied necessary medical treatment in prison, but on December 25 he was granted a five-day furlough. He was suffering from severe back pain and a chronic influenza-like condition.
Revised translation of Some Answered Questions published
Bahai Distribution Service (USA), March 13, 2015.
The long-awaited revised English translation of Abdu’l-Baha’s Some Answered Questions is now available in hardback. The translation has been supervised and authorised for publication by the Bahai World Centre. The previous translation from Persian (which itself went through several revisions) was made by Hippolyte Dreyfus into French, and then by Dreyfus and Laura Barney into English. The French translation was also the basis for the first German translation.
The book is a compilation of explanations given by Abdu’l-Baha in response to questions posed by Laura Clifford Barney during her visits to Palestine in 1904-1906. The answers were given in Persian, and recorded, and Abdu’l-Baha himself corrected the Persian texts. The original has been preserved at the Bahai World Centre.
Dreyfus learned Persian, and later Arabic, in order to read the Bahai Writings and to serve the Bahai community. He became one of the best translators of Bahai scriptures to European languages. However Some Answered Questions, published in 1908, was among his first translations, and while it is written in Persian it really requires a knowledge of Arabic and of Islamic natural philosophy and theology. Moreover his own knowledge of the Bahai teachings was at that time inadequate: the explanatory footnotes in his first edition were in some cases quite wrong (and were corrected in later editions).
Over the years it became evident that the English translation was in need of a thorough revision to more adequately reflect the meaning and style of the original, convey the subtleties of Abdu’l-Baha’s explanations, and render the philosophical terms used in the text consistently. The present volume is the fruit of efforts to realize those aims.
The publication of Some Answered Questions 2nd edition marks the beginning of an acceleration in the pace of the programme for the translation and publication of the Holy Writings at the Bahai World Centre. Work is already well advanced on a volume of extracts pertaining to Baha’i Holy Days as well as a retranslation of Baha’u’llah’s Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys.
Another Bahai home raided in Shiraz
HRANA, March 13, 2015.
As previously reported, in the weeks leading to March 9, over 20 Bahai homes in Shiraz were raided and searched by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, who seized books, pamphlets, and images relating to the Bahai Faith, and electronic devices. On March 11, the home of Arash Ka’edi (آرش کایدی) was raided in the same way, with a thorough search and the confiscation of his personal effects.
Another arrest in Varamin
PCED, March 10, 2015.
Mr. Ehsan Yadegar (احسان یادگار), a Bahai from Varamin, has been arrested after receiving a summons by telephone from the security forces. He has been taken to Evin prison in Tehran. In recent days he was summoned for questioning several times, by the Ministry of Intelligence in Varamin, and released after questioning.
Several Bahais detained, one arrested, in Varamin, Tehran province
Aeen Bahai (facebook), March 11, 2015.
On the evening of March 9, Laleh Mahdinezhad (لاله مهدینژاد) and a number of Bahais who were present in her home were arrested by agents from the security forces. The agents searched her home and seized some personal effects before taking her to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence in Varamin. After interrogation there, she was taken to Section 209 in Tehran’s Evin Prison, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. Her friends were released without at about 2 in the morning, on March 10, after a short interrogation. It would appear that after being taken to Section 209, Laleh Mahdinezhad was taken back to Varamin for another interrogation, and was then returned to Section 209.
The families of the five Bahais where were previously reported to have been arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence in Tehran’s 10th district — apparently another name for Varamin county (?) — on February 16 and 17 have still not been able to meet them in prison, or have telephone contact. In fact they do not know where they are being held, or other details of their case.
Home raids and property seizures strike the Bahais of Shiraz
HRANA, March 9, 2015.
In recent weeks, over 20 Bahai homes in Shiraz have been raided and searched by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence. All books, pamphlets, and images relating to the Bahai Faith, and desk computers, laptops and mobile phones have been seized. The Bahais who were raided have been told to remain available in case they are summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence for questioning. On March 1, the home of Mr. Rohani (روحانی) was searched in this way, although the search warrant was in the names of his two sons. In addition to the items mentioned above, the agents also seized the equipment they use in their business. On March 7, the home of Mo`in Rohani ( معین روحانی) and his wife Ruya Hatemi (رویا حاتمی) was searched and their possessions seized. In both cases the Bahais were told to be ready for a summons from the Ministry.
Faribourz Baghi begins a 2-year sentence in Yazd
HRANA, March 8, 2015.
Mr. Faribourz Baghi (فریبرز باغی ) reported to prison in Yazd on March 7, in response to a summons sent through his bail guarantor. He is to serve a 2-year term (previously reported as 3 years in prison and 1 year suspended), on charges of acting against national security and propaganda against the regime. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, and the sixth of this group to begin their prison terms.
[It would appear that when the sentences were confirmed by the review court in Yazd, what was reported as “3 years in prison and 1 year suspended” in fact meant, 3 years in prison of which one year is suspended. ~ Sen]
Did Khamene’i restrain anti-bahai hooligans?
Editorial, March 6, 2015.
The Campaign against the harassment of Bahais (on facebook) has published an example of threatening letters that have been sent to a number of Bahai homes in Iran. The letter, couched in religious language, begins with an invocation to Imam Hussein, and a reference to the season of Ashura, and says in part:
We will not allow the Imam-e Zaman (the Lord of the Age), be oppressed. We will not allow the scum and apostates to slander him. The Lord of the Age has not come to us, he has not arisen. But before he does arise, we swear by Hussein, we will wipe the Bahais of this generation from the face of the earth. Either renounce your claims, or face the consequences. This is just the beginning: our work will continue with … (signed) Hezbollah Youth and
Association [that] waits for the Mahdi.
The ‘Campaign’ article does not indicate when the letters were received, where, or in what numbers. [Further information would be appreciated. ~sen]
The Hezbollah Youth and the Association that waits for the Mahdi are real organizations. The website of the latter has articles such as “The mixing of Bahais and Zionism” which claims that the Bahai Faith was founded on the orders of England and America, and is linked to Zionism. The Bahais, English, Americans and Zionists work together because of their hatred for Islam. The article is a fairly typical example of anti-bahaism in contemporary Iran: hateful, uninformed, absurd, but also dangerous, because the population is similarly uninformed and seeking scapegoats.
The name of the Hezbollah Youth under the letter suggests a connection to a recent statement by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, in a meeting with representatives of religious minorities in Iran’s Parliament. It has been translated by Iran Press Watch. He said that Imam Ali said a Muslim would not be blamed if they die of sadness over the harassment of a non-Muslim in a Muslim country. “Even extremist Hezbollah youth have never allowed themselves to attack any non-Muslims.”
Was the Supreme Leader warning the Hezbollah Youth that killing Bahais in Iran now would reduce the propaganda value he has been gaining, by criticizing the killings of Muslims in some western countries?
Khosrow Dehqani arrested in Isfahan
HRANA, March 5, 2015.
On March 3, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Isfahan arrested Mr. Khosrow Dehqani (خسرو دهقانی) and took him to the city’s central prison. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, and given sentences ranging from one to 4 years by the Revolutionary Court in Yazd. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai community activities. Mr. Dehqani was sentenced to three years in prison (previously reported as 4 years) and a 12-month suspended sentence, however it is not clear whether the most recent arrest marks the beginning of his sentence, or is for some other reason.
`Azam Motahari summoned to prison
HRANA, March 3, 2015.
Mrs. `Azam Motahari (اعظم مطهری) has been summoned by telephone to begin serving a one-year sentence in the central prison of Yazd. [An earlier report states that the review court confirmed a sentence of two years in prison and one year’s probation ~ Sen]. The guarantor of her bail was also informed by telephone to bring Mrs. Motahari to prison to begin her sentence. However neither call specified a date on which she should report to prison. Mrs. Motahari is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai community activities.
Mrs. Motahari is the mother of Shamim Ettehadi, a Baha’i from Yazd who has been in prison for over two years.
Increase in anti-Bahai propaganda in Iran
Iran Press Watch, February 25, 2015.
In recent days anti-Bahai posters have been displayed in Tehran metro stations. The propaganda and the simultaneous arrest of 14 Bahais in Tehran and Isfahan in the last two weeks attest to a new wave of pressure on the Bahais in Iran. Saham News reports that the propaganda posters claim that Bahais are members of a cult devised by imperialist powers, whose aim is to spy and to change the culture and religion of the people of Iran, specifically Shiite Muslims. The posters can be seen in most Tehran metro stations.
Concurrently, extensive anti-Bahai programs are being aired on radio and TV carrying the same message: accusations of cultism, spying and propagation of immorality.
Faranak, a 31-year-old Bahai woman, says, “I was shocked to see the poster in the metro station. I didn’t expect them to treat us this way. Although we have become used to harsh and offensive treatment over the years, these posters are alarming; they make us wonder after all these years of persecution and imprisonment: what more are they going to do to us?”
Bahai libraries banned, closed, in four cities in Iran
Maf News, February 24, 2015.
A recent memo signed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (pasdaran) states that Bahais are not permitted to own or manage libraries. In recent days, the Basij militia in the cities of Semnan and Sari (in the North), and in Yazd and Kerman (South-central Iran) has worked with the Pasdaran’s cultural surveillance agency to close libraries owned or managed by Bahais. The relevant documents were signed by local security forces. Six libraries in Semnan and Yazd have been closed, [Note: these are not necessarily libraries of Bahai books for use by Bahais: literacy programmes, especially in rural areas, have long been a focus of Baha’i social work, in Iran and elsewhere. There is already a long-standing practice of confiscating Bahai books and images found in Bahai homes during raids: no new policy would be required to close such personal libraries. ~ Sen]
Two fresh arrests in Yazd
HRANA, February 28, 2015.
Security forces in Yazd have searched the home of the Baqeri family, for the third time in the past year. They seized personal items and arrested Nasser and Fa’ez Baqeri (ناصر و فائز باقری). Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), the wife of Nasser Baqeri, has just begun a 2-year sentence in the central prison in Yazd.
Fariba Ashtari begins her 2-year sentence in Yazd prison
HRANA, February 23, 2015.
On Feburary 21, Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), a Bahai from Yazd, reported to the central prison in the city to begin serving a 2-year sentence. She has also been given a 12-month suspended sentence. She is the fourth of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, to begin her sentence. These 20 Bahais were charged with propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai community activities.
Shahram Chiniyan beaten in prison again
Exiles Activist, February 21, 2015.
Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab (میاندوآب شهرام چینیان ), a Bahai shopkeeper from Tehran who is serving an 8-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, has again been beaten by prison guards and some prisoners from the criminal section of the prison. This follows a letter he wrote to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamene’i, complaining about prison conditions. The beating occurred on February 21, and another prisoner, Arash Moqaddam Aslanpour (آرش مقدم اصلان پور), is also reported to have been severely injured when prisoners from the criminal section raided section 10, where he is held. He is described in the Exiles Activist report as a Bahai prisoner, but other sources describe him as a Zoroastrian civic activist.
On September 20, 2014, Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab was beaten by guards because he refused to wear the standard prison uniform when being taken to see a judge.
Mr. Chiniyan was first arrested in March 2009 and released on March 3, 2010, after using his business license as bail. He was sentenced to 70 lashes and 8 years in prison on a charge of insulting Islam, and began serving his sentence, first in Evin prison in Tehran and then in Raja’i Shahr prison, early in March, 2012. On May 28, 2014, he was transferred to section 1 of Raja’i Shahr, where dangerous criminals are kept. He was punished with one week in solitary from June 25 to July 1, and four days in solitary on August 20, following his first beating by prison guards.
Bahai community in India tipped to be first, as government expands recognition of religious minorities
Sunday Standard, February 22, 2015.
The Indian government has decided to initiate a survey of the socio-economic status of those categorised as “others” in the census, because they do not fall into the existing list of six minority communities -— Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists and Jains.
“Till now, minority meant only Muslims. That’s going to change as more communities will be included,” an official working with the Ministry of Minority Affairs said. According to the official, 7.3 million people, or 0.6 percent of the total population, are “others.” “But there won’t be any frantic moves. There is thought going into all of these issues,” he added.
To begin with, the ministry has decided to look into individual applications from communities to be included in the list and the first one likely to be added is that of Bahais. When asked about the financial clout of the community and the need for assistance from the government, the official said the Bahais were not asking for financial help but for recognition as a minority community.
Sources said recognition to Bahais, who are being persecuted in Islamic countries, especially Iran, will send out a message to the international community that often accuses India of shortchanging its minorities.
The official said the minority ministry had asked the National Commission for Minorities for its opinion and is about to take a final call in the matter. According to him, the government is also looking at the issues of linguistic and ethnic minorities with the same concern and will be studying their status too.
Further details on five recent arrests, and one interrogation, in Tehran
Iran Wire, February 20, 2015.
The arrests in Tehran that were previously reported began about 5 pm on Monday February 16, with a raid by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on a Bahai meeting in the home of Sasan Yadegar (ساسان یادگار) in Tehran’s 10th district. The agents brought a camcorder with them. The agents searched the house thoroughly. The six Bahais present were interrogated one by one in a separate room, and two of them, Mrs. Elham Karam Pisheh (الهام کرم پیشه) and Mrs. Mona Mehrabi (مونا محرابی) were arrested in accordance with a warrant and taken away in a car from the Ministry of Intelligence. During the search, which lasted five hours, all the books, pictures and religious symbols of those present, as well as computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, were seized. An Iran Press Watch report adds that the officers demanded that those present should sign undertakings not to participate in Bahai meetings.
Security forces then went downstairs to the home of Mr. Ehsan Yadegar (احسان یادگار), Sassan’s brother, and searched it. They seized religious books and images, and computers and mobile phones. The Iran Press Watch report adds that they seized some gold coins. He was told to present himself to the public prosecutor’s office in Varamin (the capital of Varamin County in Tehran Provine). He did so, and was released after several hours.
On the same day, officers from the Ministry of Intelligence raided the home of Ruhiyyeh Baqr-dokht-Akbari ((روحیه باقردخت (اکبری), searched it and arrested her. Next day they raided the home of Mrs. Safa Forqani (صفا فرقانی), where they seized a computer and religious books. She too was arrested. An hour later, her father, Mehrdad Forqani (مهرداد فرقانی ) was arrested in his home in Varamin. Security agents also appeared at the home of Mrs. Arghavan Eshraqi (غوان اشراقی), with a warrant for her arrest, but she was not home. The agents searched the house and seized religious books, pictures and poems.
Thus far, the families of the five detainees have not been told the reason for these arrests, and the detainees have not be able to contact their families. According to the judicial authorities, they have all been taken to Evin prison, and their cases will be heard by the court in Varamin.
Bandar Abbas Bahai assaulted, threatened with death
Iran Press Watch, February 21, 2015.
On Saturday 14 February, Kalim Jahandari, a Bahai citizen of Bandar Abbas, was attacked and threatened 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.
10 Bahai detainees freed in Isfahan
Exiles Activist, February 19, 2015.
On the evening of February 19, ten Bahais were freed from Isfahan prison, after two days in detention. There is still no information as to the reasons for their arrests.
Extensive raids in Tehran and Isfahan: 14 Bahais arrested
Campaign to stop harassment of Bahais (facebook), February 18, 2015.
On February 16 and 17, security officers raided and searched the homes of Bahais in Tehran and Isfahan, and arrested 14 Bahais. In Tehran, the homes of Sasan Yadegar (elsewhere reported as Parisa Yadegar), Ehsan Yadegar, Arghavan Eshraqi and Mehrdad Furqani (ساسان یادگار، احسان یادگار، ارغوان اشراقی و مهرداد فرقانی ) were raided, and all the books, desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones were seized. Four Bahais were arrested, in line with arrest warrants, and the officers also had a warrant for the arrest of Mrs. Arghavan Eshraqi, who was not at home at the time of the raids. All those arrested in Tehran are reported to have been taken to Evin prison.
On February 17, security officers in Isfahan raided the homes of Mr. Kavian Dehqan, Houshang Rahimi and Peyman `Atefi (کاویان دهقان، هوشنگ رحیمی و پیمان عاطفی), and confiscated computers, mobile phones and books. They arrested 12 Bahais. There is no word of where they are being held.
Those arrested in Tehran have been named as Mrs. Elham Karam Pisheh (الهام کرم پیشه), Mrs. Mona Mehrabi (مونا محرابی), Mr. Mehrdad Furqani and Mr. Safa Furqani (صفا فرقانی و مهرداد فرقانی).
Those arrested in Isfahan are named as Mrs. Nika Rajabi, Mona Aqdasi, Shiva Aghsani and Negar Sobhaneyan (نیکا رجبی، مونا اقدسی، شیوا اغصانی و نگار سبحانیان), and Mr. Kavian Dehqan, `Aref Dehqan, Shayan Kawthar, Peyman `Atefi, Kaushar Rahimi and Houshang Rahimi (کاویدن دهقان، عارف دهقان، شایان کوثر، پیمان عاطفی، کوشا رحیمی و هوشنگ رحیمی ). [A subsequent report omits Houshang Rahimi and substitutes Houshang Dehqan (هوشنگ دهقان): the later report appears to be the correct one ~ Sen]
Farah Baghi begins her sentence in Yazd
HRANA, February 11, 2015.
Farah Baghi (فرح باغی), a Bahai from Yazd who has been sentenced to one year in prison and a one-year suspended sentence, has reported to prison in Yazd to begin her sentence. She had previously been informed that she would begin her sentence on February 13, but on February 9 security officers appeared at her door to take her to prison. When she explained that she was summoned to prison on February 13, they agreed that she could take herself to the court offices, on February 10. Mrs. Farah Baghi is the third Bahai to begin her sentence, out of group of 20 Bahais who were arrested in Yazd, Isfahan, Kerman, Arak and neighbouring areas in August 2012.
Manuchher Khalousi sentenced: six years for being a Bahai
HRANA, February 10, 2015.
The Revolutionary Court in the city of Mashhad has sentenced Manuchher Khalousi (منوچهر خلوصی) to six years in prison for his Bahai beliefs. The charges against him were “propaganda against the regime” or “acting against national security,” although the evidence cited does not support either charge: it focuses simply on proving that he is a Bahai. He was arrested on November 29, 2013, when security forces raided his home, for the sixth time since the 1979 Revolution. At his trial, on July 8, 2014, he was charged with “acting against national security by giving interviews with foreign media.” However no interviews with Mr. Kholousi are known, in either Iranian or foreign media. The court therefore adjourned the sitting for lack of evidence, and a judge was appointed to gather evidence. Apparently no evidence was found, as he has now been convicted without evidence.
His daughters, Nika and Nava Kholousi (نیکا و نوا خلوصی ), have been sentenced to six years and 4 and a half years in prison, respectively, on charges of membership of the Bahai organisation, participation in illegal Bahai activities, and propaganda in favour of the Bahais and against the regime of the Islamic Republic. In 1999, Mr. Kholousi was sentenced to death for being a Bahai. This sentence was later reduced to one year in prison, by which time he had already served 19 months in prison.
Court rejects complaint of several Bahai students
HRANA, February 10, 2015.
Following the announcement of results from Iran’s national secondary school graduation exam for this academic year, many Bahai youth who achieved good marks, sufficient for entry even to the best of the state-controlled universities, found they were rejected from university due to “defects in the file.” Some of these students filed a legal complaint, which after overcoming various obstacles was actually received and considered by Branch One of the Administrative Court. This court deals with complaints, grievances and protests lodged against officers or government entities, or challenges to government regulations. The Bahai students’ complaint was however rejected. The court, which is reported to have been headed by the President of the Administrative Courts for all of Iran, based its ruling on a decree of the Council for the Cultural Revolution, issued shortly after the 1979 Revolution, which bars Bahais from higher education in government-run institutions. The court did not provide any written decision to the students or their lawyer, and the court records do not contain any mention of the fact that the complainants were Bahais, but rather refer to the general conditions of admission.
Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Human Rights Council of the Judiciary, has publicly stated that “The authorities have never discriminated against the followers of the Bahai Faith merely based on being Bahais, as they believe that based on the Iranian Constitution every individual has the same rights and cannot be deprived of constitutional rights.” Nevertheless, hundreds of Bahai students have been barred from entering universities in Iran, or expelled from university when their religious beliefs became known. Moreover the Bahai Open University (BIHE), established to offer education to those excluded from government-supervised institutions, has been raided and closed down, and its administrators and teachers have been imprisoned.
Two Bahais begin their sentences in Arak and Kerman, 3 summoned to prison in Yazd
HRANA, February 4, 2015.
On January 31, Navid Haqiqi (نوید حقیقی) and Shahram Falah (شهرام فلاح) reported to prisons in Arak and Kerman, respectively, to begin serving 3-year sentences for their faith. In August 2012, 20 Bahais were arrested in central Iran: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman. Mr. Haqiqi and Mr. Falah are the first two of these 20 to begin their sentences. Three Bahais in Yazd have been notified that they will begin their 3-year sentences on February 16. They are named as Mrs. Fara Baghi (فرح باغی), who has been sentenced to one year in prison and 1 year suspended sentence; Mr. Mehran Eslami (مهران اسلامی), facing one year in prison and 1 year suspended sentence (previously reported as two years plus a one year suspended); and Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), sentenced to two years (previously reported as three years).
[Corrected: In my initial report, Mrs. Fara Baghi (فرح باغی) was conflated with Mr. Faribourz Baghi (فریبرز باغی ).
Human Rights Watch calls on Yemen to release Hamed bin Haydara
Human Rights Watch, February 4, 2015.
A statement released by Human Rights Watch says that the Yemeni government should drop all charges against Hamed Kamal Muhammad bin Haydara, a Yemeni Bahai, which violate his basic rights to freedom of religion.
Authorities have detained Hamed Kamal Muhammad bin Haydara, 50, without trial since December 2013. They have often denied him access to lawyers and family and subjected him to torture, his wife, Elham Muhammad Hossain Zara`i, told Human Rights Watch. The authorities allege that Haydara attempted to convert Yemeni Muslims and collaborated with Israel.
“The charges against Hamed Kamel Haydara appear to be based entirely on his adherence to the Bahai faith, flagrantly violating his right to freedom of religion,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of HRW. “Haydara should be released immediately and his allegations of torture impartially investigated.” … “Hamed Kamal Haydara is a victim of a Yemeni government policy that persecutes the Bahai,” Whitson said. “The case sheds a disturbing light on the government’s mistreatment of the country’s religious minorities.”
On January 8, 2015, the Specialized Criminal Court prosecutor issued an indictment claiming that Haydara was an Iranian citizen, using a false name, who arrived in Yemen only in 1991. Photocopies of his Yemini ID and passport provided by his wife show he was born in Yemen in 1964, however. The prosecutor charged him with collaborating with Israel by working for the Universal House of Justice, the Bahai supreme governing institution, which is based in Haifa, Israel. They also allege that he lured potential Muslim converts to the Bahai faith through charitable giving and tried to “establish a homeland for the followers of the Bahai faith” in Yemen.
In the indictment, which Human Rights Watch reviewed, the prosecutor charges Haydara under Yemen’s Penal Code with committing, among other crimes, “an act that violates the independence of the republic, its unity, or the integrity of its lands,” “working for a foreign state’s interests,” “insulting Islam,” and “apostasy.” The prosecutor is seeking “the maximum possible penalty,” which for some of these charges is death, and confiscation of his property. The Prosecutor’s office has informed Haydara that his next hearing is scheduled for February 22, 2015.
On December 3, 2013, officers from the National Security Bureau (NSB), one of the country’s intelligence agencies, arrested Haydara at his workplace in Balhaf, in the southern Yemeni province of Shabwa, and transferred him to an NSB detention center in Sanaa, the capital. On December 17, six security officers searched his home and confiscated paperwork, laptops, and other electronic equipment, his wife told Human Rights Watch. She said that despite her repeated inquiries, authorities refused to give any reasons for his detention until August 2014.
During his first nine months in detention, the authorities denied Haydara access to his lawyer and his family, Zara`i said. She was allowed to speak with him for the first time over the phone on June 3, 2014, but could not visit him until September 2, following intervention by foreign diplomats and others. The authorities then transferred his case file to the attorney general. Haydara told his wife that during the first 45 days of his incarceration, officers beat him with a metal rod, causing him to lose hearing in his left ear, subjected him to electric shocks, and forced him to stand in a bucket of cold water. He said that National Security officers accused him of spying for Israel and proselytizing, and forced him to sign a 19-page document while blindfolded and without knowledge of its contents. Authorities transferred Haydara to Sanaa Central Prison on October 6.
Zara`i told Human Rights Watch that in a September 4 meeting with one of the judges presiding over the case, he threatened her with prison because of her faith and told her that all Bahais should be imprisoned.
Most of the charges against Haydara relate to his practice of the Bahai faith and violate article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states:
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
Yemen ratified the ICCPR in 1987 and is bound under international treaty law to implement its provisions.
About 1,000 Bahais live in Yemen. The case against Haydara is not the first of its kind in Yemen, according to representatives of the global Bahai community. In June 2008, National Security officers arrested Behrooz Rouhani, a Bahai man, and two visiting Bahai friends, all of whom carried Iranian passports, at Rouhani’s home in Sanaa. Officers arrested a fourth Bahai man, who carried an Iraqi passport, the next day. The four were released without charge after 120 days. The authorities told them to leave Yemen within two months, but this order was later revoked and two of them still live in Yemen.
Local human rights activists have reported that past Yemeni governments also imposed unlawful restrictions on other religious minorities, including Christian, Jewish, and Ismaili individuals.
Three Bahais in Tonekabon arrested: trials imminent
HRANA, February 3, 2015.
On February 3, three Bahai men living in the city of Tonekabon, in Iran’s Mazandaran province, were summoned to the court in Tonekabon, charged and arrested, as their trials are about to begin. Their names are given as Zayullah Qadri (ضیاءالله قادری), Soroush Gorshasebi (سروش گرشاسبی) and Faramarz Lotfi ( فرامرز لطفی). They were first arrested on September 23, 2013 (see previous report) after attending a birthday party for a Bahai in Tonekabon, and were held for 17 days. They have been charged with acting against national security, teaching the Bahai Faith and propaganda against the regime. Mr. Lotfi suffers from stomach problems, and his family are concerned about his health.
Ministry of Intelligence pressures Muslims of Rasht to cut ties with Bahais
Iran Press Watch, February 1, 2015.
In the past two months over 20 Muslim residents of Rasht, in Northern Iran, have been summoned and threatened by the Ministry of Intelligence because of their relationships with Bahais. Muslims who have some sort of relation with Bahais are frequently summoned and interrogated. These interrogations last between 5 and 7 hours; so far, 20 individuals aged between 20 and 64 have been subjected to 35 interrogation sessions. The process began on November 17, and the most recent case case was today (February 1), when two more people were summoned for interrogations to be held next week. Those summoned have been subjected to insults, humiliation and threats, and are told that they are not allowed to associate or have any business dealings with Bahais. The Ministry of Intelligence also seeks to obtain baseless statements from these people regarding the activities of members of Bahais.
On November 17, 2014, an agent of the Ministry of Intelligence, accompanied by two representatives of the Revolutionary Court, inspected the homes and businesses of four Bahai citizens in Rasht, on the basis of a hand-written warrant without the authenticating seal of the judge.
Persian source: HRANA
Fu’ad Moqaddam suffers heart attack, hospitalised
Iran Press Watch, January 29, 2015.
On the morning of Wednesday, 28 January 2015, Dr. Fu’ad Moqaddam ( فواد مقدم ), a 63-year-old physician and one of the administrators of the Baha’i online university, who is serving a five year prison sentence at Rajai Shahr (or Gohardasht) Prison in Karaj, was transferred to a hospital outside the prison after a heart attack.
As reported less than two weeks ago by Peace Campaign Activists in Exile, Mr. Moqaddam was forced out of his hospital bed by prison officals despite heart problems and severe health issues, and was returned to prison without receiving treatment. (see previous report) He has now been taken to a hospital rehabilitation unit as an emergency case, after experiencing a second heart attack.
Various reports and news items indicate that blocking the treatment of prisoners in the prison system of the Islamic Republic of Iran is prevalent. [The report continues with more on the health issues of prisoners in Iran. ]
Intelligence officers raid Bahai homes in Shiraz: seize forbidden religious material
Farzan Faramarzi blog, January 30, 2015.
On the morning of January 29, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided the home of Arman Atrian (آرمان عطریان), a Bahai from Shiraz, and seized religious books and images, three desk-top computers, a tablet and a cell phone. In the course of the past week, the home of four other Bahais in Shiraz was raided in a similar way.
Dr. Fu’ad Moqaddam denied medical treatment
Iran Press Watch, January 29, 2015.
Fu’ad Moqaddam ( فواد مقدم ), a 63-year old physician and one of the managers in Isfahan of the Bahai online university, the BIHE, despite heart problems and other health issues, was forced out of his hospital bed by prison authorities and returned to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj without receiving treatment. According to the Peace Activists in Exile Campaign, officials of Rajai Shahr Prison, in Isfahan, blocked any medical treatment for Dr. Moqaddam, who had himself served Iran in front line war zone hospitals for three years. Last week, due to the severity of his health condition, he was transferred to a hospital outside the prison and was admitted to the ICU, but a few hours later, due to pressure from the authorities at Rajai Shahr Prison, in particular at the personal insistence of an individual by the name of “Asadi” (اسدی), he was returned to the prison. The conscript soldier who was accompanying the prisoner protested against this. It is said that he was reprimanded as a result, and his mandatory military service was extended.
Dr. Moqaddam was arrested in Isfahan on May 22, 2011, when Ministry of Intelligence agents entered the homes of at least 30 of the academic staff of the BIHE, seizing books, computers and personal effects. A total of 16 educators were arrested. He was sentenced by the 28th Branch of the Revolutionary Court to five years in prison for his role in educating students who, under the Iranian regime’s apartheid policy, should not be educated. He began his sentence in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj on January 21, 2013.
Rozita Vaseghi freed after 5 years imprisonment
Iran Press Watch / HRANA, January 22, 2015.
Rozita Vaseghi ( رزیتا واثقی ), a Bahai from Mashhad was freed on the evening of January 21, after completing her five-year imprisonment with hard labour in Vakil-Abad prison, in Mashhad. She spent six months of her sentence in solitary confinement in the Office of the Ministry of Intelligence in Mashhad.
During her custody, Ms. Vaseghi was under heavy pressure from the Ministry of Intelligence to sign a statement indicating that she would not participate in any Bahai activities, which she refused. During her five years imprisonment, due to pressure from the Ministry of Intelligence, she was not given a single day of furlough, even for necessary medical attention. Like other Baha’i prisoners in Mashhad, she was barred from contacting non-Bahai prisoners, and was confined in a separate room in the women’s prison.
Behfar Khanjani denied family visits
HRANA, January 23, 2015.
Behfar Khanjani (بهفر خانجانی), a Bahai prisoner of conscience serving a five-year sentence in Seman’s central prison, has been denied the right to receive family visits as a punishment for writing a letter to Dr. Jahangiri, the head of Iran’s Prison Association. Mr. Khanjani was initially given a four-year prison sentence for membership of illegal Bahai groups and attending Bahai prayer meetings and the 19th-day ‘Feast.’ His sentence was later extended by one year for “propaganda against the regime.” Mr. Khanjani suffers from an incurable medical condition which is at an advanced stage, and his condition is fragile. He was given a brief medical leave in January 2012.
Although the Warden of the Central Prison in Semnan and the supervising judge approved an end-of-sentence furlough for Mr. Khanjani, Mr. Asyabi, the City Attorney of Semnan, and Mr. Arab, who is in charge of all the prisons in Semnan, said that he was barred from receiving a furlough. Mr. Khanjani then wrote to Dr. Jahangiri, criticizing the decision and saying that it breached his legal and human rights. Officers at the Semnan central prison then criticized Mr. Khanjani and told him that he would be denied family visits as a punishment.
Bahai home and workplace raided in Shiraz
HRANA, January 21, 2015.
On January 19, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided the workplace and then the home of Mr. Hasan Salehi (حسن صالحی) in Shiraz. They had a search warrant for both properties. The officers said that he was suspected of propaganda against the regime and membership of an illegal organisation. When Mr. Salehi’s family protested the seizure of some Bahai materials, the officers said they were required to collect anything relating to Bahai beliefs, because it was a baseless sect, and anything relating to any family member. In the end, the agents seized a large number of books, pamphlets, photographs and other religious materials, and a desktop computer, from the house. At Mr. Salehi’s workplace they seized accounting, tax and administrative records and computers and even some letters of appreciation from customers.
Bahai student expelled from Technical University in Ramsar
“Fariba Kamalabadi” (public figure Facebook page), January 19, 2015.
Bahrad Adhargan (بهراد آذرگان), a student of Electrical Engineering at the Mulla Sadra Technical University in Ramsar, in the Mazandaran province of Iran, has been expelled because of his Bahai beliefs. However he was able to study for five semesters. Apparently it took this long for the university administration to notice that in his application form, following the question “Religion?” he had written “Of course.” The university then summoned him to the office of the Rector, to ask what he meant, and what religion he followed. Mr Adhargan said that he was a Bahai. They were surprised, and within the hour Mr. Adhargan had been expelled, without any documentation of the reason, or any academic records showing his results over five semesters.
Trials of six Bahais in Tabriz continue
HRANA, January 14, 2015.
The fifth court hearing of charges against six Bahais took place in Tabriz on January 14. The accused are four members of the Bahadori (بهادری ) family, Shabnam Issakhani (شبنم عیسی خانی) and Rashin Saberi (راشین صابری).
During the hearing Simin Rasouli (سیمین رسولی), the mother of the Bahadori family, was questioned, and the court was adjourned until January 21. In the previous hearings, Farzad Bahadori (فرزاد بهادری), the father of the family, Mrs. Rasouli, the children Sahar ( سحر بهادری ) and Nassim Bahadori (نسیم بهادری ), Mrs. Shabnam Issakhani (شبنم عیسی خانی) and Mrs. Rashin Saberi, were questioned for four hours.
These six Bahais were arrested in the Bahadori home in Tabriz on July 12, 2014, by eight agents from the Ministry of Intelligence: five men and three women. The agents seized religious books and musical instruments, and also raided Mr. Bahadori’s work place and seized computers. All six were released on bail about two weeks later.
Bahai arrested in Yemen, more arrests expected
Haberler and other sources, January 12, 2015.
Hamid Kamal Mohammed bin Haidarah (حامد كمال محمد بن حيدرة), a Bahai of Persian background, is to stand trial in Yemen on charges of spying for Israel and seeking to spread the Bahai faith in Yemen. According to Yemen’s official news agency, he was interrogated by prosecutors in the capital Sana’a on Sunday. The prosecution has referred the case to the Specialized Penal Court in the capital Sana’a as a prelude to trial.
Mr. bin Haidarah is also referred to in the report as Hamid Mirza Kamali Sarvestani (حامد ميرزا كمالي سروستاني), indicating that his ancestors came from Sarvestan, in Iran. He lived in the Socotra archipelago and in al-Mukalla, a city near Hadhramaut. The news agency reported one prosecutor as saying that he was arrested in Al-Mukalla last year. He added that the man, 51, had settled in Al-Mukalla on the pretext of doing business in the city. Other suspects are being sought by the security services, according to a judicial source at Yemen’s Penal Prosecution office. He said [incorrectly] that Mr. Sarvestani entered Yemen in 1991, together with his father. The indictment stated that he had bought land with the intention of bringing a large number of Bahais to Yemen, and had worked with Israel, through the Universal House of Justice, to spread the Baha’i Faith. The prosecution explained that the accused has held a number of meetings and symposiums in several forums and in houses to encourage Baha’is and Yemenis to elect members of the National Spiritual Assembly and its branches in the provinces. He is also accused of inciting Muslims against Islam. The prosecution said in the indictment that his activities harm Yemen’s political status and its independence and territorial integrity.
Informed sources said that there is a significant number of Bahais in Yemen, and that some government hospitals have issued birth certificates in which Bahai is recognized as a religious identity, but that in many [Islamic] countries the Bahai Faith is considered a sect, not a religious identity. The Iranian Embassy told Saba news agency that Iran does not recognize the Bahai Faith as a religion.
Update, January 17: The Bahai World News Service has an updated report, which states that:
Mr. bin Haydara was in fact born on Socotra Island in Yemen and has lived in the country as a citizen. 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 sterling service to the poor in society. Citizenship was naturally and rightfully 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.
Bahai student expelled from the University of Mazandaran
HRANA, January 12, 2015.
Noura Mesami (نورا مسمی), a Bahai student of software engineering at the University of Mazandaran, has been expelled from the university at the end of her first semester of studies. She had honestly stated her religion as “Bahai” in her application, and was excluded from the end of term examinations.
Nasim Ashrafi given medical leave from prison
Campaign to stop harassment of Bahai citizens (facebook), January 7, 2015.
Nasim Ashrafi ( نسیم اشرفی ), who is serving a one-year sentence for her religious beliefs in Evin Prison, in Tehran, has been granted medical leave. She was required to deposit bail of 500 million rials (15,000 euros, 18,000 US dollars). She was arrested in a wave of detentions of Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz in early July, 2012, and began serving her sentence on May 6, 2014. She was charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of Bahai organisations.
Jamaleddin Khanjani transferred to hospital
Zendani Siasi (facebook page ‘prisoners of conscience’), January 6, 2014
Jamaleddin Khanjani (جمالدین خانجانی) was transferred from Raja’i Shahr prison to Pars Hospital in Tehran on the morning of January 5, following a heart failure. Mr. Khanjani, aged 82, is one of seven Bahai ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran) who were sentenced to 20 years in prison after their May 2008 arrest. He has been imprisoned in block 12, the wing of Raja’i Shahr prison that holds prisoners of conscience, and suffers from diverse ailments connected to his age. He has previously had heart surgery. Doctors has advised that he should be hospitalized, but officials have allowed him only short medical leaves, before returning him to prison.
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.
Several Bahais arrested in Abadeh
HRANA, January 2, 2015.
On December 29, 2014, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Farshid Rastegar (فرشید رستگار) and a number of Bahai students who had gathered in his home in Abadeh, a town approximately halfway between Isfahan and Shiraz. As in other recent cases, the agents posed as postmen to gain entry to the house, and they did not have a search warrant or arrest warrants. They searched the house, and arrested Mr. Rastegar and the others present, who were all students of the Bahai Open University (BIHE). Mr. Rastegar has been helping students in the Abadeh area who are studying at the Bahai Open University, an institution designed to offer tertiary courses in certain subject to students who are excluded from licenced universities in Iran because of their religious beliefs. The youth who were arrested on December 29 were released next day, but Mr. Rastegar was held for two days, and was questioned mainly about the Bahai Open University.
Abadeh was the scene of large-scale raids on Bahai homes, and threats to the safety of Bahais, reported on this blog in October 2013.
For older news, see the “old news” archive