Sen's daily

News to Sep 20


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Fahrmand Sana’i and Kamal Kashani released after 5 years in prison

Payam News, (Facebook), September 20, 2017.

Fahrmand Sana’i ( فرهمند ثنایی) and Kamal Kashani (کمال کاشانی ), Bahais from Gorgan who have served five years in Raja’i Shahr prison near Tehran for their Bahai beliefs, were released on September 20. They were among about 20 Bahais who were detained in a wave of arrests on about October 17, 2012. A few weeks later they were transferred from Gorgan to Evin Prison in Tehran for interrogation, and then to Raja’i Shahr prison. They have had no prison furlough during their time in prison.
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Behzad Dhabihi begins 6-month sentence in Sari

Payam News (Facebook), September 14, 2017.

Behzad Dhabihi Mahforujaki (بهزاد ذبیحی ماهفروجکی ), a Bahai from Sari, was arrested on September 4 and taken to prison to begin serving his sentence. He was originally sentenced to one year in prison and two years in internal exile in Heris County in Eastern Azerbaijan (the report says, Western Azerbaijan), but this sentence was reduced by the Court of Review to six months in prison. It is not clear whether the internal exile was also annulled. He was convicted in the Islamic Court (that is, not in a criminal court) in Sari on a charge of propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith, although at the court sitting the charges were presented as “propaganda against Islam and the Quran.” The text of the court’s judgement shows it was prepared by the Ministry of Intelligence in Mazandaran Province.

Mr. Dhabihi has been arrested four times in the last six years, and shops he ran have been shut down three times in the same period. On February 22, 2016, his shop in Sari was closed by the authorities, and remains closed despite efforts to reopen it.
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Mahvash Sabet freed after 10 years in prison

Bahai World News Service, September 19, 2017.

After enduring ten years of unjust imprisonment and harsh treatment, the prison sentence of Mahvash Sabet (مهوش ثابت) has come to an end. She is one of the seven members of the former leadership group of the Bahais in Iran known as the Yaran, who were jailed on false charges.

During her confinement in Iran’s notorious Evin and Rajai Shahr prisons, Mrs. Sabet distinguished herself by the loving care and kindness she extended to her fellow prisoners. Journalist Roxana Saberi, who shared a cell in Evin with Mrs. Sabet and fellow Yaran member Fariba Kamalabadi, has written about how their compassion touched the lives of other inmates, as well as a touching recollection of how they cared for her during her hunger strike.

While in prison, Mrs. Sabet, a former teacher and school principal who also worked with the National Literacy Committee of Iran, found solace in writing poetry. Her remarkable compositions were collected and adapted into English, published in a volume entitled Prison Poems in 2013 that was widely praised for its literary quality and profound subject matter.

As has occurred with prisoners of conscience, writers, thought-leaders, and poets who have been wrongly imprisoned throughout history, the power of her ideas and beliefs was only amplified by her persecution.

Mrs. Sabet, now 64 years old, was arrested in March 2008. The six other members of the Yaran were imprisoned in May of the same year. All seven members were held without communication for weeks, were subjected to solitary confinement, and suffered appalling treatment and deprivations, including psychological and physical hardships.

The other imprisoned members of the Yaran are also expected to complete their sentences in the coming months.
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Bahai couple taken from Shiraz prison

Payam News (Facebook), September 12, 2017.

Varqa Mehdizadeh (ورقا مهدیزاده) and Shiva Ekhlaqi (شیوا اخلاقی), a Bahai couple serving 8-month sentences in Adel Abad prison in Shiraz, have been taken from the prison. When their families arrived for a scheduled meeting, prison officials told them they had been transferred ‘outside the prison.’ It is probable that they have been taken to the Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) intelligence unit in Shiraz.

On February 14, 2016, they were arrested with violence in the street, and held for 17 days of interrogation before being released on bail of 150 million tumans (40,000 euros ; $US 46,000). They were charged with publishing photographs on the internet, photographs actually posted by someone else, who used their [photographic] studio. After their arrest, their business was also shut down by the authorities. They are also facing charges for taking photographs at a wedding where men and women were present together. They began their sentences on July 3, 2017.
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Bahai business reopens in Birjand

Payam News (Persian, facebook), 11 September 2017.

A Bahai-run business in Birjand has been allowed to reopen, nine months and 3 days after it was closed by the Bureau of Public Places. The technical systems shop belonging to Mr. ‘Ali Zamani (علی زمانی) was sealed by the authorities on December 6, 2016 because he is a Bahai, and closed his shop to observe the Bahai Holy Days. The authorities revoked the business licence before closing it down. The business was allowed to reopen on September 4.
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Mehta Iqani free on bail

Payam News (Persian, Facebook), September 10, 2017.

Mehta Iqani (مهتا ایقانی), a Bahai from Mashhad who was arrested on September 2, has been released on bail after 9 days in detention. There is still no information about the reason for her detention.
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Bahai businesses in Ahvaz allowed to reopen

Payam News, September 10, 2017.

Fourteen businesses run by Bahais in the city of Ahvaz, closed by authorities since July 9, were allowed to reopen on September 7, following an order given orally by the Bureau of Public Places in the city.
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Four Bahais sentenced in Kerman

Payam News (Persian, Facebook), September 5, 2017.

Amrullah Khalqiyan (امرالله خالقیان), Ehasanullah Amiri-nia (احسان الله امیری نیا), Nima Rajab-zadeh (نیما رجب زاده) and Arman Bandi (آرمان بندی) have been sentenced to five years on charges of undermining internal security. The hearings were held on May 22 and August 1. Mr. Khalqiyan was arrested on the morning of December 21, 2016, and the other three were arrested on February 8, 2017. Following the first hearing, which they attended in handcuffs and shackles, they were released on bail of 100 million tumans each (24,000 euros ; $US30,000). In the first hearing, they were tried separately in trials ranging from 2 hours to 20 minutes. The sentences are subject to confirmation by the Court of Review.
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Nava Kholousi released from prison in Mashhad

Payam News (Persian, Facebook), September 5, 2017.

Nava Kholousi (نوا خلوصی) was released from Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on September 4, at the end of her sentence of four and a half years for “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.” She began her sentence on March 17, 2014 along with her sister Nika Kholousi (نیکا خلوصی) who is still serving a six-year sentence [This report says, six and a half years] in Vakil Abad prison. They were first arrested on September 6, 2012, and were detained for 185 days before being released on bail. Their father (منوچهر خلوصی) has been arrested six times because of his Bahai beliefs, and imprisoned several times. In 1999 he was sentenced to death, but the verdict was later declared invalid. He is at present free.
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Bahai student expelled in Shiraz

Payam News (Persian, Facebook), September 3, 2017.

On September 3, Laya Sho`arzadeh (لعیا شاعرزاده) was expelled from Hafez University in Shiraz, where she was in the third semester of a course in architectural draughtsmanship, because of her Bahai beliefs. The University is a non-governmental tertiary institute.
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The singer Behnam Rouhanifard arrested in Tehran

Payam News (Persian, Facebook), September 3, 2017.

Eight members of the security forces followed Behnam Rouhanifard (بهنام روحانی فرد) in a street in Tehran and detained him. Mr. Rouhanifard is a Bahai and a professional singer-songwriter. On October 12 2009 he was arrested in Yazd and sentenced to 9 months in prison for singing Bahai songs. He served his sentence in Yazd Prison. He is presently in the process of moving house: when he was stopped on the street he told the agents his new address and was taken there, and the agents searched the house. He was then arrested and taken away, presumably to Evin Prison, as his family were told to go there tomorrow. On July 4 this year he was stopped at Tehran Airport, on his return from a European concert tour, and questioned by security officials. Personal effects such as a mobile phone, laptop and books were seized, along with his passport, and he has been trying unsuccessfully to get these returned.
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New arrest in Mashhad

Payam News (Persian, Facebook), September 2, 2017.

Mehta Iqani (مهتا ایقانی), a Bahai from Mashhad, was arrested today following a four-hour interrogation at the Police Intelligence offices there. She had responded to a summons to go to the office. She is being held in the women’s section of the police jail. She had been summoned three times in the past week, when she was in Tehran and unable to attend. The police have not explained the summons to her or her family, as they themselves have no information.

Mrs. Iqani’s husband Arman Mukhtari ( آرمان مختاری ) was one of a number of Bahai youths arrested in February 2012, for participating in a handcraft exhibition in Mashhad to raise funds for the disadvantaged. They were eventually charged with propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith, and membership of the Bahai community. Mr. Mukhtari was sentenced to 6 month in prison, and has served his sentence. On August 17 this year he was again arrested, and was freed on bail of 50 million tumans (12,000 euros ; $US15,000) four days later.
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Battambang House of Worship opened

Bahai World News Service, September 1, 2017.

Some 2,500 people have gathered this morning at a conference to mark the historic dedication of the local Baha’i House of Worship in Battambang, Cambodia. The program also included remarks by several officials from the national and provincial governments as well as the architect and representatives of the Baha’i community.

The Universal House of Justice addressed a letter to those assembled for the opening. The opening of a new House of Worship intended to serve a local community “is a historic occasion, prefiguring the appearance of many more local as well as national Mashriqu’l-Adhkars (Houses of Worship), in obedience to Baha’u’llah’s commandment … “Build ye houses of worship throughout the lands in the name of Him Who is the Lord of all religions.””

Full story: BWNS
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West Azerbaijan Provincial Security Council seeks re-opening of Bahai businesses

Payam News, August 31, 2017.

Forty days after the closure of 23 Bahai-run businesses in Urmia (Urumiyyeh), the Provincial Security Council for the West Azerbaijan Province has issued a request that they be allowed to re-open. However the Office of Public Places in the city of Urmia has not acted on this, and has instead extended their closure for one week. One leather clothing shop run by Rita Latifi (ریتا لطیفی) has been allowed to re-open, after being transferred [to a non-Bahai proprietor ?].
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Diyollah Elahian free on bail in Kashan

Payam News (Persian, facebook), August 28, 2017.

As noted yesterday, Diyollah Elahian (ضیاالله الهیان) was expected to be freed on bail along with Amrollah Manuchihri (امرالله منوچهری), but some difficulty prevented this. Today he too has been released, on bail of 300 million tumans (75,000 euros ; $US 90,000).
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Three Bahais in Kashan free on bail

Payam News (Persian, Facebook), August 26, 2017.

Amrollah Manuchihri (امرالله منوچهری), a Bahai from Kashan, was released on bail today after 56 days in detention. Bail was set at 300 million tumans (75,000 euros ; $US 90,000). He was arrested in Kashan on July 3, along with Diyollah Elahian (ضیاالله الهیان), and taken to Isfahan. On August 2 they were returned to Kashan Prison, but were denied telephone calls and prison visits from their families. After some time their files were sent to the Revolutionary Court (for prosecution). Mr. Elahian was also due to be released on bail, but some difficulty prevented this. Faridun Falah (فریدون فلاح) and Neda Payandeh (ندا پاینده), a Bahai couple living in Kashan, who were arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on July 17 have also been released on bail.
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Saba Golshan gets prison furlough

Payam News (Facebook, Persian), August 26, 2017.

Mr. Saba Golshan ( صبا گلشن ), who is serving a 3-year sentence in Isfahan prison for his Bahai beliefs, has been granted a 3-day furlough. He suffers from severe cardio-pulmonary disease. Around the end of 2015 he was granted a 2-month medical furlough for surgery and other treatment, but a request to extend this, in February 2016, was refused. In August 2016 he was again released for medical treatment, and re-imprisoned on a date I have not found.

On August 1, 2011, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided many Bahai homes in the cities of Yazd, Isfahan, Kerman and Arak, and arrested 17 Bahais. Two weeks later, three more Bahais were arrested in Yazd. These 20 Bahais have been given sentences totaling 58 years (or 78 years, of which 20 years are suspended sentences) by the Revolutionary Court in Yazd. Mr. Golshan’s sentence is 4 years, of which one year is suspended. He began his sentence on August 12, 2015.
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New Pilgrim Reception Centre opens in Haifa

Bahai World News Service, August 25, 2017.

A new Pilgrim Reception Centre has opened this month, ready to receive a growing number of pilgrims and visitors at the spiritual and administrative center of the Baha’i Faith.

The three-story stone structure, which is located immediately to the west of the Shrine of the Bab, will receive the season’s first pilgrim group in October, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah.

The new Reception Centre makes it possible for several hundred pilgrims to visit the Baha’i World Centre at the same time. [Full story here]
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Keyvan Rahimiyan is out of prison

Payam News (Facebook, Persian), August 25, 2017.

Keyvan Rahimiyan ( کیوان رحیمیان), a Bahai from Tehran imprisoned for teaching students at the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, has been released from Raja’i Shahr prison. He was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of 97 million rials (6,300 euro, 7,900 US dollars) for educational crimes, by Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای). Mr Rahimiyan is a graduate in the field of psychology. He was not granted any prison furlough during his imprisonment, but was once taken to a hospital outside the prison for treatment and a checkup relating to problems with his eyes and ears.
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Neda Mokhtari released on bail

Payam News (Facebook, Persian), August 23, 2017.

Neda Mokhtari (ندا مختاری ), a 21-year-old Bahai from Mashhad, was released on August 21. Bail was set at 50 million tumans (12,800 euros ; $US 15,000). She was arrested in her home on August 17, when agents from the Intelligence branch of the Police (the NAJA) came to her home and searched it, seizing personal effects, books, mobile phones and a laptop computer.
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One new arrest in Mashhad

Payam News (Persian, Facebook), August 17, 2017.

Neda Mokhtari (ندا مختاری ), a 21-year-old Bahai from Mashhad, was arrested in her home on August 17. Agents from the Ministry of Intelligence came to her home and searched it, seizing personal effects, books, mobile phones and a laptop computer. They arrested here and took her away. Her family believe she is being held in the Ministry of Intelligence’s detention facilities in Mashhad.
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Scam version of ‘Church and State’ advertised

Editorial, August 12, 2017.

I have a google alert for references to my book Church and State, which is self-published as a Master’s dissertation. This morning the alert tells me that “Virgin Virtual Group” is offering a download version. I have not released any electronic version myself, but there’s nothing to stop someone — living where copyright is not enforced — scanning a book and selling the digital version for profit. In this case it’s a free download, which is rather insulting, but a profit can also be made from advertising on the pages that offer free downloads. But I would expect such people to start at the top of Amazon’s fastest-selling books list and work down, rather than starting at the bottom, as in this case. That arouses suspicion.

The URL goes to virginvirttualgroup.co.uk, but the link in fact takes you to booksco.co. That’s the first warning sign: I was out of there immediately.

A scan down the results of a google search on “Booksco” (without clicking any links) reveals that it is a bookseller with bad grammar. That’s another warning sign, although I am sure that there are some quite nice people who don’t know the difference between “if” and “whether.”

Scamadvisor says that booksco.co is a very new site located in the United States, not in the UK, and adds “but the real location is being hidden.” The owner is in Panama. Its trust score is 29%, less than a U.S. President on a bad day. So as far as I am concerned, it’s case closed: this is fake Church and State. It may take your money or your bank details or provide you with free malware, but it won’t deliver you my dissertation.

It is very likely that there is a real bookstore called Books Company, based in Oconamowoc, which is a real town. But don’t use this site or any information on it to contact the real bookshop.
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Amrollah Manuchihri and Diyollah Elahian returned to Kashan prison

Payam/Bahai News, August 7, 2017.

Amrollah Manuchihri (امرالله منوچهری) and Diyollah Elahian (ضیاالله الهیان) (pictured on the right), two Bahai residents of Kashan who were arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence there on July 3, and taken to Isfahan for questioning, were taken back to Kashan on August 2. They have not been allowed visits or contact with their families, and there is no indication of what the charges may be.
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Four more Bahais businesses closed in Urmia

Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), August 3, 2017.

Four more Bahai-run businesses in Urmia (Urumiyyeh) have been closed down by the authorities in recent days, bringing the total in the past two weeks to 23. The authorities have not given any response to the Bahais who have made enquiries about the closures.
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Sohayl Haqqdoust arrested, released on bail in Sari

Bahai News (Facebook, Persian), July 30, 2017.

Sohayl Haqqdoust (سهیل حق دوست) has been released from the Ministry of Intelligence detention facility in Sari after posting bail. His arrest, not previously reported on Sen’s Daily, took place on July 25, when five agents entered his home without his permission and arrested him for “media reports about the closure of his business.” The agents were accompanied by officials known as the Ansar Hosseini (انصار حسینی), charged with religious affairs in the Province of Mazandaran. Mr Haqqdoust was released on bail on July 29.

In April, 2016, 15 Bahai-run businesses in Qaemshahr were shut down by the authorities because they were closed for the Bahai holy day of the first day of Ridvan. One of these businesses belonged to Mr. Haqqdoust. On the morning of November 8, 2016, he was one of five Bahais from Qaemshahr who were arrested at the Mazandaran Provincial Governor’s Office, where Bahais had gathered to seek interaction with public officials regarding the closure of Bahai businesses.
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Threat to shut down a Bahai business in Karaj

Iran Press Watch, August 1, 2017.

Following the widespread closures of Baha’i businesses in recent weeks, the Office of Public Property of Alborz Province has sent a letter to Mehran Naseri, a Baha’i resident of Karaj, requesting the removal of his personal items.

According to the website of Human Rights in Iran, a letter sent to Mehran Naseri (مهران ناصری،) by the Alborz Provincial Office has warned this Bahai citizen to remove any perishables or personal items and leave his business within 10 days. He [also?] owns several commercial spaces which are rented by Muslims. According to Payam News, recently agents of the Office of Public Property have summoned those Muslims who rent business space from Bahais to the government sanctions office.

Recently at least 25 businesses in Urumiyeh and one business in Shahrud have been sealed because they were closed on a Bahai religious holiday. In addition, a number of Bahai business owners in Khorramshahr have also been summoned for questioning by the Office of Public Property of Khuzestan Province.

Over the past year, more than 300 Bahai businesses have suffered the closure of their businesses solely because they closed on Bahai religious holidays and for their belief in the Bahai Faith.
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Sentences slashed for Ruhiyyeh Zaynali and Samir Khalousi

Human Rights in Iran (Persian), July 31, 2017.

The review court in Kerman has cut the senteces of Ruhiyyeh Zaynali (روحیه زینلی) and her husband Samir Khalousi (سمیر خلوصی) from five years each, to five months for Mr. Khalousi and 33 days for Mrs. Zaynali. They have already served this time in detention, while they were held by the Ministry of Intelligence, so they will not have to present themselves for imprisonment. Samir Khalousi (سمیر خلوصی) was arrested during a violent raid on the their home on December 30, 2016, and interrogated for 152 days before being released after posting bail of 100 million tumans (29,000 euros; $US 31,000). Ruhiyyeh Zaynali (روحیه زینلی) was arrested in Kerman on January 3, and released after posting the same amount in bail. After her arrest she was held for almost two months of interrogation by the Ministry of Intelligence, before being transferred to the Kerman Provincial Prison. The couple have two children, aged 7 and 16.
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Nine Bahais acquitted by review court in Zahedan

Human Rights in Iran (Persian), July 31, 2017.

Eight Bahais who had previously been sentenced to five years in prison have been acquitted by the Review Court in Zahedan, along with another Bahai, the 19-year old Tabsim Hosseini (تبسم حسینی), who had been sentenced to one year in prison. The other eight are named as Siavash Rahimi (سیاوش رحیمی), Shayan Rahimi (شایان رحیمی), Shoeleh Ram (شعله رام ), Bahram Ruhani (بهرام روحانی), Farshid Dadvan (فرشید دادور), Heyda Yazdan (هیدا یزدان), Mehroush Ramdani (مهرنوش رمضانی), Amelia Hokiman (امیلیا حکیمان) — the mother of Tabsim Hosseini. The arrest and sentencing of Shayan Rahimi and Shoeleh Ram were not previously reported on Sen’s Daily.

Farshid Dadvar, Amelia Hokiman and Tabsim Hosseini were arrested by agents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence on November 6, 2016. On November 21, Tabsim Hosseini was released on bail from the Ministry of Intelligence jail. Mr. Dadvar, who is from Yazd, had previously been detained for two months after being arrested (with two other Bahais) in Zahedan on December 23, 2012. It would appear that on that occasion no charges were laid against him. On November 25, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence searched the home and workplace of Bahram Ruhani in Zahedan, seizing books, CDs, casette tapes, and a mobile telephone. On the following morning Mehroush Ramdani, Heyda Yazdanand Siavash Rahimi were arrested in their homes in the same way.
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Manuchher Khalousi released in Mashhad

Human Rights in Iran (Persian), July 31, 2017.

Manuchher Khalousi (منوچهر خلوصی) was released from Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on July 31. He began serving a 1-year sentence on October 6, 2016.

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 for new charges. A court then sentenced him to six years in prison on charges against of propaganda against the regime and undermining national security. The review court reduced this sentence to one year.

His daughters, Nika and Nava Kholousi (نیکا و نوا خلوصی ), are serving sentences of six years and four and a half years, 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.
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Killers of Farhang Amiri sentenced

Bahai News, July 26, 2017.

The two brothers who murdered Farhang Amiri (فرهنگ امیری) in Yazd have been sentenced: the elder brother to eleven years in prison and two years’ exile, and his younger brother, as accessory to the murder, to half this sentence.

Mr. Amiri, 63, was attacked outside his home on 26 September 2016 in the city of Yazd. On the evening of the murder, the two youths, who had come to his residence the night before under the pretense of wanting to purchase his vehicle, returned to ask for Mr. Amiri. When he came to the door, they stabbed him repeatedly. He died before reaching hospital.

The two brothers, residents of Yazd, were apprehended by local shopkeepers as they tried to run away and were delivered to the police. During their subsequent interrogations and court hearings, they admitted to having killed Mr. Amiri because he was a Bahai. In their defence hearing, on July 10, they defended their actions by citing verses from the Quran.
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Numerous Bahai business sealed in Urmia and other centres

Bahai News (facebook), July 24, 2017.

Local authorities in Urmia (Urumiyyeh) have sealed the doors of at least 19 Bahai run business in Urmia, on the excuse that the businesses were closed on July 9 this year, when Bahais around the world remembered the martyrdom of the Bab in Tabriz, in 1850. The closures began on July 19, and is continuing. Notices of forthcoming closure have been issued progressively, affecting 6 businesses each day. At first the owners were given 10 days notice of closure, but later only 4 days. The agents concerned have said that more than 100 businesses run by Bahais in Urmia will be closed, which would amount to about 90 percent of the Bahai-run businesses.

In a separate report, Bahai News reports that since July 9, Bahais who have businesses in Khorramshahr have been individually summoned, sometimes by telephone, to the Ministry of Intelligence and threatened with closure. They were asked why their businesses were closed on July 9, and told that they must inform the authorities of any closure 1 week in advance. The summonses are still occurring, and have thus far seen 9 Bahais threatened with the closure of their businesses.

In the past year, over 300 Bahai-run businesses across Iran have been closed by the authorities, on the excuse that they closed their doors on a Bahai Holy Day. Yet this is perfectly legal: business owners in non-essential sectors are allowed to close their businesses for up to 15 days in the course of each year, without notifying the authorities.

The shops and workshops that have reported closed thus far, in Urmia, belonged to Vahab Moghaddam (وهاب مقدم), Navid Morghi (نوید مرغی), Siavash Abdi (سیاوش عبدی), Fardin `Owza’i (فردین اعضائی), Faridoun `Owza’i (فریدون اعضائی), Aynullah Aqdasi (عین الله اقدسی), Sina Derakhti (سینا درختی), Chengir Shahmohammedi (چنگیر شاه محمدی), `Erfan Samandari (عرفان سمندری), Ali Latifi (علی لطیفی), Elham `Abdi (الهام عبدی), Arman Nourzai (آرمان نورزی), Nasr Panahi (ناصر پناهی ), Omid Latifi (امید لطیفی), Rita Latifi (ریتا لطیفی), Sassan Karimi (ساسان کریمی), Bonyan Maqsudi (بنیان مقصودی), Qorban Najafzadeh (قربان نجف زاده) and Mr. Suleimani (سلیمانی).

In addition, a business run by Farhad Joushnei (فرهاد جوشنی), a Bahai living in Shahrud, has recently been closed.
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Two new arrests in Kashan

Payam News, July 20, 2017.

Faridun Falah (فریدون فلاح) and Neda Payandeh (ندا پاینده), a Bahai couple living in Kashan, were arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on July 17. The agents went to their place of work, which they searched. The couple were then arrested and taken to their home, which was also searched. The agents seized their books, pictures, mobile telephones and pictorial carpets, before taking them back to their business where they were asked to open the safe, and seized all the documents it contained. The two searches lasted about 6 hours. They were taken away, probably to the Ministry of Intelligence detention facility.

On July 3, Amrollah Manuchihri (امرالله منوچهری) and Diyollah Elahian (ضیاالله الهیان), two other Bahai residents of Kashan, were arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence, and are still being detained, although their names are not recorded as prisoners and no charges have been laid.
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Noushin Salekian and Farideh Abdi free on bail

Bahai News (Facebook), July 17, 2017.

Noushin Salekian (نوشین سالکیان) and Farideh Abdi (فریده عبدی), two Bahai detainees from Shahin Shahr, in Isfahan Province, were released on bail on July 16. They were arrested on June 13, 2017, when they reported to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Shahin Shar in response to a summons. Their homes had previously been searched. After two hours of interrogation, they were arrested and transferred to the Dolatabad prison, where the female prisoners are held. They were charged with “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the regime.”
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Wilmette Institute signs agreement with the United Theological Seminary

Wilmette Institute, June 30, 2017.

On June 13, 2017, the Wilmette Institute completed an articulation agreement with the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (UTS), located in New Brighton, Minnesota. The agreement allows seminary students to take a group of core courses on the Bahai Faith for graduate credit. These include:

Bahai History, 1844–Present (HS 305)
The Bahai Faith, a Comprehensive Introduction (RL 370)
Bahai Theology: Concepts of God, Revelation, Manifestation, Creation, Humanity, Covenant, and Afterlife (PT390)
The Bahai Faith and Social Change (SC 305)
Bahai Institutions, the Community, and the Individual (CA 342)
Baha’u’llah’s Revelation, a Systematic Survey (ST331).

Other courses can be included as arranged. Two students have already signed up for ST 340: Introduction to the Kitab-e Iqan, Baha’u’llah’s second most important work.

The United Theological Seminary will include the Wilmette Institute’s core courses in its catalog and will list a group of Wilmette Institute faculty as UTS adjunct faculty. UTS will reimburse the Wilmette Institute for its tuition costs. Bahai students have two options. They can register as special students with UTS, pay UTS tuition, and take individual Wilmette Institute courses for credit. Or they can consider three Master’s degree options that UTS has designed: a Master of Divinity in Interfaith Chaplaincy, a Master of Arts in Leadership for Social Transformation, and a Master of Arts in Religion. All three professional degrees can include up to six courses on the Bahai Faith, and, because UTS is an accredited institution of higher education, its students are eligible for student loans and other financial aid. The Master of Arts degree is available only online, and the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Leadership in hybrid/online format. An interfaith chaplaincy degree qualifies one to serve as a chaplain in hospitals and prisons and in the military. Such a profession is a remarkable opportunity for Bahais to serve the spiritual needs of people in challenging personal circumstances. It does not require ordination as clergy.

Now that graduate study involving significant Bahai content is possible through UTS, it will be much easier for the Wilmette Institute to help students arrange for credit for Wilmette Institute courses from other universities. The Institute hopes that Bahai undergraduates will take advantage of this new opportunity to include one or more Bahai courses as part of their Bachelor’s degrees.
~~~~~~~~~

Afnan library online collection opened to the public

Editorial, July 17, 2017.

The Afnan library has announced the opening of its online collection, including the 99 volumes of the Iranian National Bahai Archives. The works available now include:

English and other European-language publications (books and journals (the latter being ‘The Dawn,’ an important journal containing hitherto unnoticed translations by Shoghi Effendi).

Unpublished English language manuscripts (academic theses)- 1 item

Persian and Arabic publications (4 books and 2 journals)

Persian and Arabic manuscripts, being the very important INBA series (99 volumes plus indexes), and other materials are promised.

There are also categories of “English and other European-language unpublished papers” and “other materials” which have no content yet. News about the Afnan Library will continue to be published on their Facebook page.
~~~~~~~~~

Eleven Bahai businesses closed in Ahvaz

Iran Press Watch, July 15, 2017.
Indifferent to a recent verdict of the Administrative Bureau of Justice, the shops and businesses of at least 11 Bahais who closed their businesses in observance of a religious holiday (between the 8th and 10th of July) were closed and sealed by authorities in the city of Ahvaz. According to the law, citizens are permitted to close their place of business for up to 15 days a year without any particular or specified reason. However this law doesn’t seem to apply to Bahai citizens. Whenever Bahais close their businesses in observance of their religious holidays in which work should be suspended, authorities are quick to move in and seal the businesses.

Rostam Derakhshan (رستم درخشان), Sam Derakhshan (سام درخشان), Sohrab Firouzmandi (سهراب فیروزمندی), Khosrou Zohdi (خسرو زهدی), Vargha Derakhshan (ورقا درخشان), Sohrab Derakhshan (سهراب درخشان), Farzad Afshar (فرزاد افشار), Farshid Afshar (فرشید افشار), Jamshid Najafi (جمشید نجفی), Feyzollah Qanvatiyan (فیض الله قنواتیان) and Kianoush Afshar (کیانوش افشار) were among the citizens whose businesses were sealed.

According to an informed source, the official Closure Notification stated that “this closure has been ordered by the Judicial Authority (deputy prosecutor’s office), and will be carried out by security forces.”

The law states that a business owner is allowed to closed their business for up to 15 days a year without any particular or specified reason.

Recently the Administrative Bureau of Justice issued a verdict in favor of the Bahai citizens of Mazandaran, whose businesses had been closed in similar manner, stating that the legal right of these citizens to close their business for up to 15 days a year without any specific reason had been ignored.
~~~~~~~~~

Shiva Rouhani begins an 18-month sentence

Human Rights in Iran, July 11, 2017.
Shiva Rouhani ( شیوا روحانی ), a Bahai from Gorgan, has begun serving her 18-month sentence in Amir Abad prison. She joins 12 other Bahais from Gorgan who have begun their sentences in recent weeks. They are among the 22 Bahais of Golestan Province who were arrested on October 17, 2012.
~~~~~~~~~

Two arrests in Shiraz


Bahai News (Persian), July 6, 2017.

Varqa Mehdizadeh (ورقا مهدیزاده) and Shiva Ekhaqi (شیوا اخلاقی), a Bahai couple living in Shiraz, were summoned to the Revolution Court in Shiraz on July 3, where they were arrested. They have been taken to Adel Abad prison to serve 8-month prison sentences. On February 14, 2016, they were arrested with violence in the street, and held for 17 days of interrogation before being released on bail of 150 million tumans (40,000 euros ; $US 46,000). They were charged with publishing photographs on the internet, photographs actually posted by someone else, who used their [photographic] studio. After their arrest, their business was also shut down by the authorities. They are also facing charges for taking photographs at a wedding where men and women were present together.
~~~~~~~~~~

Two new arrests in Kashan

Bahai News (Persian), July 4. 2017.

Amrullah Manuchihri (امرالله منوچهری) and Diyullah Elahian (ضیاالله الهیان), two Bahai residents of Kashan, were arrested on July 3, after being summonsed by telephone. It is not known where they are being detained. The arrests are apparently related to a raid on their homes by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on April 30. The search warrant said they were accused of propaganda against the regime. During the searches, books and other materials relating to the Bahai Faith were seized, along with the mobile phones of the entire family, lap tops, flash drives etc.
~~~~~~~~~

Parivash Shoja`i and Rufeya Pakzadan enter prison

Bahai News (Persian), July 3, 2017.

Parivash Shoja`i ( پریوش شجاعی ) and Rufeya Pakzadan ( روفیا پاکزادان), Bahais from Gorgan, have been summoned to begin their prison sentences. They were taken to Amir Abad prison in Gorgan. Parivash Shoja`i faces one year and 9 months in prison for her Bahai beliefs, and Rufeya Pakzadan has an 18-month sentence. In the past week, 11 Bahais in Gorgan have begun serving prison sentences. They are among the 22 Bahais of Golestan Province who were arrested on October 17, 2012. They were charged with collaborating with hostile governments, effective activities to promote the goals of a sect and of anti-Islamic and anti-Shiah hostile governments, and with making propaganda in favour of the Bahai Faith and against the regime of the Islamic Republic, by participating in the ‘Ruhi program’ (Bahai catechism class) in Golestan Province.
~~~~~~~~

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

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