Navid Aqdasi accused of drug-making
Katayoon Taghizadeh (Facebook), November 30, 2015.
Navid Aqdasi (نوید اقدسی), a Bahai arrested in Tehran on November 15, was transferred to Evin prison on November 29 and charged with making synthetic drugs. The charge could lead to the death penalty. Mr. Aqdasi is a cousin of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), who was murdered two years ago in the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas. Navid Aqdasi has actively pursued his cousin’s case and talked to the media about it. As a result, he has been threatened a number of times, including in recent months, when vandals have posted threatening graffiti on the walls of his house. On the first day after his arrest, he was able to contact his family, but there has been no further information about him, and he has not been able to meet his family.
Prison sentence of Navid Khanjani reduced
Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, November 29, 2015.
The prison sentence of Navid Khanjani (نوید خانجانی) has been reduced from 12 years to five years. He has already served more than three years in prison. Mr. Khanjani is a Bahai student who has been barred from university, and a human rights and minority rights activist. He is a member of the central committee of the CHRR (Committee of Human Rights Reporters) and a founding member of the PCED (Campaign against Educational Discrimination). He was arrested in Isfahan on March 2, 2010, and sentenced to 12 years in prison early in 2011. He was charged with making false statements, propaganda against the regime, teaching minority groups, and membership of the banned Human Rights Committee. While he was free on bail he was again arrested, on August 22, 2012, as a member of a group of activists who were assisting victims of a devastating earthquake. He was sentenced to an additional five months for failure to obey instructions given by the police, but in September 2013 he was acquitted of this charge. He began his 12-year sentence on September 9, 2012, and has been hospitalized at least twice since then due to heart and respiratory problems.
Bahai home searched in Isfahan
Bahai News, November 29, 2015.
The family home of Mr. Muhammadreza Thabet-Raseskh (محمدرضا ثابت راسخ) was searched by security forces early this morning, and a large number of CDs, books and personal effects were seized. Mr. Thabet-Rasekh was not present. However on a previous occasion he was detained for some time, and accused of propaganda against the regime. He was freed on bail after pledging his home as collateral. It is not clear whether this search is related to the recent wave of arrests of Bahais in in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad.
Student expelled from Shiraz University for Bahai beliefs
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook)
Matin Nuwah-nejad ( متین نوح نژاد), a Bahai who has completed the first semester of study at Shiraz University, has been expelled because of his Bahai beliefs. He was studying Mathematics and Applications. Under a 1991 policy approved by the Iranian Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council (ISRCC), Bahais “must be expelled from universities, either in the admission process or during the course of their studies, once it becomes known that they are Bahais.”
One new arrest in Tehran
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), November 27, 2015.
Shahram Najaf-Tumara’i (شهرام نجف تومرائي), a Bahai who previously served as one of the Khadamin (area facilitators) for the Bahais in District 7 in Tehran, was arrested by the security forces early this morning, and taken to Evin Prison. The police knocked on his door and said there had been an accident with his parked car, and demanded ‘compensation.’ When he came out of his house, he was taken to prison. Seven officers then searched his home.
Bahais among those protesting personal status law in Iraq
World Magazine, November 16, 2015.
Religious minority groups in Iraq are protesting a new law that would force children, under some circumstances, to become Muslim.
Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad urged Iraqi President Fuad Masum to reject the recently passed national charter, which could take religious freedom away from children and teenagers. Chaldean Catholics, Yazidis, Mandean, Kakai, and Bahai minorities all opposed the charter. One article of the legislation states that children under 18 years old would have to become Muslim if their fathers convert to Islam or their mothers marry a Muslim man, according to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
In a Nov. 6, meeting, Sako urged Masum to veto the charter because the law would violate religious rights enshrined in the Iraqi constitution.
“We want to assert the principle that the child should keep their religious affiliation, so that he or she can freely decide their faith, according to belief, when they come of age,” Sako said in statements published online. “After all, religion is a matter which concerns only the relationship between God and man, and should not be bound by any obligations.”
Emily Fuentes, a spokeswoman for Open Doors, said the new law also would violate international standards for religious freedom and conscience. Because there is often government or community pressure not to convert to any other religion in Muslim countries, the Iraqi law “puts the children in a corner,” Fuentes said.
“Even if they think, ‘Okay, I’ll be Muslim now because it’s legal and switch when I’m 18,’ they can’t really do that,” she said.
Chaldean leaders in Iraq predict the new charter will accelerate the country’s Christian exodus, if enacted, CNA reported.
Kenyan high court ruling allows registration of Bahai marriages
The Star, November 23, 2015.
A judgement issued by the High Court on October 28, 2015, will mean that Bahai marriages can be registered in Kenya. Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruled that while section 6 of the Marriage Act did not mention the Bahai Faith as one of the faiths whose marriages could be registered, the intention was not to exclude the Bahai or any other faith-based marriage. Ngugi said the omission was a result of the failure of people who drafted the Act to use language that would cover not only the main religions practiced in Kenya, but also the minority. Ngugi said it has to be read to include every marriage celebrated in accordance with the faith of a religion duly registered in Kenya.
Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab released from prison
Bahai News (Persian), November 23, 2015.
Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab (میاندوآب شهرام چینیان ), a Bahai shopkeeper from Tehran who has been serving an 8-year sentence, was released from Raja`i Shahr prison on November 21. 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. On September 20, 2014, Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab was again beaten by guards because he refused to wear the standard prison uniform when being taken to see a judge. On February 21, 2015 he was again beaten by prison guards and some prisoners from the criminal section of the prison. This followed a letter he wrote to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamene’i, complaining about prison conditions.
Six recent detainees freed
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), November 22, 2105.
Bahai News is reporting that five Bahais who were arrested recently in Isfahan have been freed on bail, and in a separate report, that Helia Moshtaq (هلیا مشتاق) has been freed on bail in Tehran. Those freed in Isfahan are Parvin Nik-A’in(پروین نیک آیین), Keyvan Nik-A’in (کیوان نیک آیین), Zarin Aqa-Baba’i (زرین آقابابایی), Yeganeh Agahi (یگانه آگاهی) and Vahid Karami (وحید کرمی).
Two Bahai businesses shut down in Bandar Abbas
Iran Press Watch, November 21, 2015.
Two optometry shops run by Bahais have been closed down by authorities in the city of Bandar Abbas. The closures are still in effect in spite of extensive appeals by the shop’s owners, Mr Heidarpour (حیدرپور) and Mr. Rasti (راستی). On November 15, security forces also raided and searched the business of Mr. Navid Hemmat (نوید همت) and confiscated some of his property.
Within the past few days, dozens of Bahai-run businesses in Rafsanjan, Kerman, Tanekabon, Qa`em Shahr, Tehran and Karaj have been closed and sealed by government authorities.
Islamic State claims attempted assassinations in Rajpur
Compiled by Sen, November 20, 2015.
As previously reported, on the morning of November 8, three assailants on motorcycles attacked a Bahai man, Ruhul Amin, who is active at the Rangpur Bahai Centre. On November 18, a very similar attempted assassination in the same city targetted a 64-year-old Italian physician, Piero Parolari, who was shot in the neck by three assailants riding a motorbike. Mr Parolari is assistant pastor of the Dinajpur parish. He was attacked as he was cycling to Saint Vincent Hospital to provide free treatment to tuberculosis patients.
The SITE Intel Group, a US-based terrorism monitoring organisation, has stated that Islamic State, speaking via twitter and the Amaq News Agency, has claimed responsibility for both these attacks, in addition to three recent attacks that killed Rahma Ali, a politician [not confirmed ~Sen]; Cesare Tavella, an Italian aid worker working for a Christian organisation based in the Netherlands, and Kunio Hoshi, a Japanese agricultural worker.
With regard to the latest attacks, the district Detective Branch’s officer-in-charge Rezwan Rahim said they have nothing concrete right at the moment, not even a clue.
Four more business closures reported from Salmanshahr
Raja Harmeet Singh (facebook), November 17, 2015.
Reports indicate that four Bahai-run businesses in the Caspian coast town of Salmanshahr xx were closed by the Bureau of Public Places on the morning of November 14. These reports have not been confirmed by the sources I usually rely on, but they are consistent with other activity in Mazandaran province and appear credible. the businesses are named as the footwear and handbag shop of Farhad Shahidi (فرهاد شهيدي), a clothing shop run by Farshad Shahidi (فرشاد شهيدي), the photography business of Aziz Azemayan (عزيز اعظميان) and the refrigerator repair business of Dariush Ahmadpour (داريوش احمد پور).
Prison sentences of seven “Yaran” reduced to 10 years
Bahai News (Persian), November 18, 2015.
The prison sentences of the seven ‘Yaran’, who served as national facilitators assisting the Bahais of Iran in their dealings with government organs until their arrest and imprisonment, have been reduced from 20 years to 10 years in prison. They have already served more then seven years.
On 5 March 2008, one of the Yaran, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet (مهوش ثابت) – 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 were arrested in raids of their homes. The names of these six are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi (فریبا کمال آبادی), Jamaloddin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی), Afif Na`imi (عفیف نعیمی), Sa`id Reza’i (سعید رضایی), Behrouz Tavakkoli (بهروز توکلی), and Vahid Tizfahm (وحید تیزفهم).
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 accused 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.
Iranian authorities launch widespread crackdown: Bahais arrested, businesses closed
Iran Wire (English), November 16, 2015.
On the morning of Sunday, November 15, Iranian Intelligence Ministry agents arrested 20 Bahais in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad. They also closed down Bahai-run businesses in the Province of Mazandaran.
Among those detained was Nakisa Hajipour (نکیسا حاجی پور), who was detained at Mashhad railway station after Intelligence Ministry agents arrived at her home with an arrest warrant and were told she was traveling. According to an informed source who spoke to IranWire, she was prevented from boarding the train and arrested. Also arrested in Mashhad were Nika Pakzadan (نیکا پاکزادان), Faraneh Daneshgari (فرانه دانشگری), Sanaz Es’haqi (ساناز اسحاقی) and Naghmeh Dhabihayan (نغمه ذبیحیان). They were all arrested at their homes.
In Isfahan, agents arrested Yeganeh Agahi (یگانه آگاهی), Adib Janamian (ادیب جانمیان), Keyvan Nik-A’in (کیوان نیک آیین), Parvin Nik-A’in(پروین نیک آیین), Vahid Karami (وحید کرمی), `Arsheya Rouhani (عرشیا روحانی) and Zarin Aqa-Baba’i (زرین آقابابایی). They also arrested Sahab Rouhani (سحاب روحانی) and Matin Janameyan (متین جانمیان), but released them after several hours. In Tehran, agents arrested Helia Moshtaq (هلیا مشتاق), Negar Baqeri-Tari (نگار باقری طاری), Sahba Farnoush (صهبا فرنوش), Nava Monjazeb (نوا منجذب), Yavar Haqiqat (یاور حقیقت) and Navid Aqdasi (نوید اقدسی).
Navid Aqdasi is a cousin Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), murdered two years ago in the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas. Navid Aqdasi has actively pursued his cousin’s case and talked to the media about it. As a result, he has been threatened a number of times, including in recent months, when vandals have posted threatening graffiti on the walls of his house.
So far, no information has been made available about the charges against the Bahais. Their families have not been informed of their whereabouts. According to reports, it is likely that the prisoners have been taken to detention centers run by the Intelligence Ministry in their respective cities.
On the same day of the arrests took place, the Bureau of Public Places in the province of Mazandaran sealed and shut down 23 businesses belonging to Bahais in the cities of Sari, Qa`em Shahr, Tenakbon and Babolsar. This followed the businesses being closed on Saturday, November 14, a religious holiday for Bahais. Authorities have in the past objected to Bahai businesses observing holy days, threatening them with closure if they failed to keep the same business hours as non-Bahai shops and services.
Two days prior to the closure of Bahai businesses in Mazandaran, authorities also closed all Bahai businesses in the city of Rafsanjan in the southeastern province of Kerman. Among the businesses closed were shops selling cosmetics, health products, musical instruments, eyeglasses, clothes, tires and toys, and businesses offering refrigerator maintenance, photography and photocopier services. Bahais in Iran are barred from employment in most public sector jobs and many private sector jobs, with the result that many depend on small shops and workshops.
Shop and office owners were given no notice of the closure. In some cases, they were not even aware of the operation until some hours later. The town of Babolsar was the only exception. [That is, notice of closure was given in Babolsar. The ٍEnglish report on Iran Wire is incorrect on this point ~Sen]. The nature of the simultaneous arrests and closure suggests a planned operation, ordered and organized by the Intelligence Ministry.
According to reports, Bahai businesses shut down include those belonging to the following individuals:
– Sari: Three optician’s shops run by Dhekrollah Rahimeyan (ذکرالله رحیمیان), Farid Alavi (فرید علوی), Behzad Zabihi (بهزاد ذبیحی) and Bozorgmehr Hor (بزرگمهر حر), the cosmetics shop of Ehsanollah Sana’i (احسان الله سنایی), and the clothing shops of Aramesh Zohouri (آرامش ظهوری) and Houshmand Goli (هوشمند گلی).
– Qa`em Shahr: cosmetics and health products workshops run by Nima Miri (نیما میری) and Changiz Darakhshanian (چنگیز درخشانیان), a toyshop run by Bijan Nokhah (بیژن نوع خواه), a grocery operated by Dhekrollah Baba’i (ذکرالله بابایی), the optician’s shops of Soheil Haqdoost (سهیل حق دوست) and Zahra Golabian (زهرا گلابیان), the tire (or appliance?) business of Farzad Sabeti (فرزاد ثابتی) and a photocopy shop belonging to Shahin Sana’i (شاهین سنایی).
– Tenakbon: The home security workhops of Omid Qaderi (امید قادری), the air conditioning workshops of Farhad Taqipour (فرهاد تقی پور) and of Michele and Armin Esma`ilpour (میشل و آرمین اسماعیل پور) and the refrigeration service business of Ruhollah Iqani (روح الله ایقانی).
– Babolsar: The musical supplies business of Mithaq Leqa’i (میثاق لقایی), the photography business of Nasser Mir-Mohammadi (ناصر میرمحمدی) and the toyshop of Barzu Raf`ati (برزو رفعتی).
Persian source at Iran Wire
Bahai businesses in Iran closed down following twin holy days
Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, November 15, 2015.
Separate reports from Rafsanjan and two cities in Mazandaran indicate that a considerable number of Bahai-run businesses have been shut down by the authorities, after their owners closed their businesses to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the Bab — the first of two consecutive days known as the twin Holy Days. In Mazandaran, almost ten businesses in Qa`em Shahr and Tenakbon were sealed by the authorities on November 14, and on the same day all the Bahai businesses still operating in Rafsanjan were sealed by local authorities. Twelve Bahao-run businesses had already been closed. The exclusion of Bahais from economic activities in Iran, and the confiscation of their properties, has become more systematic and widespread in recent years, as the government seeks to reduce this section of the population to subsistence-level serfdom, and to “block their progress.”
Bahai in killed Shiraz in obscure circumstances
Bahai News (Persian), November 13, 2015.
Koroush Rouhi (کوروش روحی), a Bahai man from Shiraz, was stabbed to death in the parking area of his home on Fazilat Avenue (خیابان فضیلت) yesterday. The circumstances and motives have not been clarified, but there is no indication that he was killed for religious reasons.
Further details on three house raids in Yazd
Iran Press Watch, November 10, 2015.
According to the “No to the Persecution and Imprisonment of Bahai Citizens” campaign, the recently reported raid on the home of three Bahais in Yazd was in fact three raids.
The first home to be raided belonged to Mr. Sahand Dhakeripour (سهند ذاکری پور). Around eight o’clock in the morning, five men in the guise of “postmen” knocked on his door. On opening it, he recognised them as security officers because they had been present at the arrest and interrogation of other Bahaism including Nasser Baqeri (ناصر باقری). After they searched his house, Mr. Dhakeripour was handcuffed and taken to a security office for nearly three hours of interrogation. During the interrogation, the security officers demanded that Mr. Dhakeripour should become their informant, which he refused to do. Finally they asked him not to respond to any inquiries from websites or reporters with respect to this incident. He responded that it was not possible to say nothing to anyone and keep quiet. They said that they knew that very soon that many people on social networks would know about the interrogation, but if anyone asked questions, he should say that it was about banal issues and that their questions were related only to simple religious matters.
The other two recent searches were conducted in one afternoon at around 12 o’clock, first at the house of Mohsen Qane` (محسن قانع) and then at the house of Seyyed Habib’ullah Dehqan (سید حبیب الله دهقان). In all these searches, security officers confiscated mobile phones, computers, tablets, satellite devices and Bahai literature. In all these searches security officers disguised themselves as postmen. When they planned to search Mr. Qane`s house, they first called him, asking for his address in order to deliver a package.
Faran Hessami returns to prison
Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, November 10, 2015.
On November 3, I reported that Faran Hessami ( فاران حسامی ) had begun a prison furlough to enable her to be with her son Artin who required surgery. She has now returned to the women’s section of Evin Prison, in Tehran. Mrs. Hessami is serving a four-year sentence for educational activities with the Bahai Open University (BIHE).
Stock seized from a workshop belonging to a Bahai in Semnan
HRANA, November 8, 2015.
On November 1, judicial officers went to the cut-glass manufacturing shop belonging to Afrasiab Khanjani (افراسیاب خانجانی), a Bahai from Semnan, and seized his entire stock. In 2012, a lens-making workshop belonging to Mr. Khanjani was closed, and his trading licence was revoked.
Motives unclear in attempted assassination of a Bahai in Bangladesh
The News Today (Bangladesh), November 9, 2015.
On the morning of November 8, three assailants on motorcycles attacked Ruhul Amin, who was shot twice, in the leg and shoulder. Mr. Amin is a Bahai, and works as Personal Assistant to the Director of Rangpur Medical College Hospital, as well as being active at the Rangpur Bahai Centre. He was getting into a rickshaw on RK Road in Rangpur at the time of the attack. He has been taken to hospital in Dhaka to have the bullets removed. Police arrested an employee of the Hospital who is secretary of one of the hospital’s Unions.
Bahais in Bangladesh are allowed to run schools, teach their faith and elect the Assemblies that administer their affairs. However Bangladesh has seen several episodes of communal violence directed especially at Hindu and Buddhist places of worship and individuals. On October 24 this year, one person and was killed and many were injured in a bomb attack on a Shia Muslim congregation who were commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hoseyn.
Hassan Badhrafkan and Vahid Taqvaju released
Bahai News (Persian), November 5, 2105.
Hassan Badhrafkan ( حسن بذرافکن ) and Vahid Taqvaju ( وحید تقواجو ) have been released from prison in Shiraz at the end of their one-year sentences. Mr. Taqvaju was released 15 days ago, and Mr. Badhrafkan apparently in the past few days. On September 11, 2013, security forces searched their home and seized computers and books relating to the Bahai Faith. They detained these two men as well as five others, who were released soon after.
Faran Hessami granted compassionate leave
HRANA, November 3, 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 furlough to enable her to be with her son Artin who requires surgery. She was released today. Her husband Kamran Rahimiyan (کامران رحیمیان) was released from Raja’i Shahr prison in mid-August this year after serving a four-year sentence for educational activities.
Bahai home raided in Yazd
Bahai News (Persian), November 4, 2015.
This morning, security forces raided a Bahai home in Yazd belonging to three Bahai men, Mohsen Qan`e, Habib’ullah Dehqan and Wahid Dhakera’i (محسن قانع، حبیب الله دهقان و وحید ذاکرای), seizing some of their belongings. They also arrested Mr. Sahand Dhakera’i (سهند ذاکری), but he was released a short time later.
Susan Tabyaniyan released from prison
HRANA, November 3, 2015.
Susan Tabyaniyan (سوسن تبیانیان), a Bahai from Semnan who has been serving a one-year sentence in Isfahan prison, was released from prison on November 2. She was charged with propaganda against the regime, opposition to the regime and propaganda in support of opposition groups, in the form of giving interviews to foreign media about the economic situation of the Bahais in Iran, and began her sentence on December 24, 2014. This was her second prison sentence: in May 2010 she was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime and membership of a Bahai organisation. After serving almost 14 months in Evin prison, she was one of the prisoners granted clemency to mark Eid al-Fitr, on August 27, 2011. She was arrested again on May 31, 2014, released on bail on July 15, and sentenced to one year in prison on September 11. She has two children.
Kurdistan Region of Iraq recognizes Bahais as religious minority
Bas News, August 24, 2015.
The Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs has announced that Jews, Zoroastrians, Kakai and Bahais will have representatives in the Ministry, following confirmation by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Subsequent reports indicate that the KRG has approved the move, and that the Jewish representative has begun work. There is no indication of whether the Bahai representative has been appointed, but the Iranian Consul has visited the Ministry of Religion to complain about the new representatives for Jews and Bahais.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs Mariwan Naqshbandi said in August that according to the constitution, people have the right to choose and practice their religion freely, and they can have representatives in the Ministry. “A number of religious minorities of the Kurdistan region, including Jews, Zoroastrians, Kakai and Bahais will have representatives in the ministry to manage their religious activities in the future.”
There are no official statistics on Bahais in Iraq, but there are communities in Baghdad and also in Sulaimaniyah, in the Kurdistan Region, where they have a degree of security.
Bahai cemetery damaged in India
Indian Express, November 1, 2015.
A ‘First Information Report’ (a complaint to the police) was registered at Sanganer Sadar police station in the Northern Indian city of Jaipur on Friday, following an attack on the local Bahai cemetery by a mob of about 40-50 persons, allegedly led by a sarpanch (village head).
The FIR says the mob beat up the security guard and damaged the guard room and portions of a partly-built prayer house at about 11.30 am on Friday.
Shocked Bahai community leaders have termed it the first such incident in India against their community. On Saturday, Bahai community members, who number just about 1,000 in Jaipur, came together and issued a joint statement, seeking prompt action. One, Niyaz Alam, said, “During elections to appoint village heads (sarpanch) about a year-and-a-half ago, a contestant promised that he will take possession of our ground and will set up a playground or a school instead, and he was subsequently elected. But we didn’t pay any attention as it is in our religion to be apolitical.”
In 2002, the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) allotted the community a ground at Ram Ki Nangal village of Jaipur to perform the the last rites of their dead and “for 12-13 years, we had no trouble and even organise classes for children and conducted prayers.”
Update November 2: A report from The Wire shows that the watchman has not been seriously harmed, as members of the mob have since gone to his house to threaten him with retaliation if he identifies them to the police. The report states that Baha’i representatives have pointed out that during the sarpanch election campaign, Nathu Jangid, (the current village head) was heard promising the villagers that he would get the burial ground demolished. On certain occasions he called the community ‘Muslim’ while on others ‘Christian’. “Since Baha’is, as a rule, don’t participate in party politics, we ignored the campaign”, the Baha’i statement said.
“After the elections, the sarpanch’s men, from time to time, started threatening and intimidating the chowkidar. One day, the sarpanch, accompanied by some Jaipur Development Authority officials, demanded that we produce the allotment letter for the land. This was shown to them. Despite this, he organised a series of village meetings for getting the burial place removed. But when the watchman was threatened and told to leave the place or face dire consequences, some Bahais met Jangid to appeal for peace. He assured them that the chowkidar would no longer be harassed and that he would resort to legal remedy, to which we agreed,” the statement said.
Amanullah Mostaqim released from prison
Bahai News (Persian), October 28, 2015.
Amanullah Mostaqim ( امانالله مستقیم ) one of the imprisoned staff members of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, was released from Raja’i Shahr prison today. He was sentenced 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 serving his prison term in Tehran’s Evin Prison in May, 2013, but has been released early because of a heart condition. He had heart surgery just before his arrest on May 22, 2011, when premises and homes relating to the BIHE were raided by security forces. During his time in prison he has been hospitalized outside the prison several times, and was returned to prison. although doctors had said he needed treatment for clogged arteries and was unfit for life in prison.
Shahram Eshraqi begins a 3-year sentence in Isfahan
Iran Press Watch, October 23, 2015.
Shahram Eshraqi (شهرام اشراقی), one of 20 Bahais who were sentenced to a total of 78 years in prison by a court in Yazd in April, 2014, began his 3-year sentence on October 11.
Keyvan Rahimiyan receives medical care
HRANA, October 20, 2015.
Keyvan Rahimiyan ( کیوان رحیمیان), a Bahai from Tehran and one of the imprisoned teachers at the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, was recently taken from Raja’i Shahr Prison to hospital, for treatment and a checkup relating to problems with his eyes and ears. He was then returned to prison. He has been imprisoned for more than three years, without any prison furlough. He was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of 97 million rials (6,300 euro, 7,900 US dollars) on charges of collaborating with the Bahai Open University. He is due for release in September, 2017.
Three more Bahais tried in Gorgan
HRANA, October 21, 2015.
On October 12 a court in Gorgan, in Iran’s Golestan Province, held the sixth in a series of trials of the Bahais who were arrested in the Province in October, 2012, and later released on bail. The accused at this trial were Mitra Nouri (میترا نوری) and Shiva Rouhani (شیوا روحانی), both from Gorgan city, and Navid Moalemi (نوید معلمی) from Gonbad-e Qabus. They were charged with “propaganda against the regime.” There was no Prosecutor present, and the defendants were summoned orally. In September this year the court tried Soudabeh Mehdinezhad ( سودابه مهدی نژاد ), Rufeya Pakzadan ( روفیا پاکزادان), who was also reported to have been tried on July 3, and Nazi Tahqiqi (نازی تحقیقی).
`Afif Na`imi returned to hospital
HRANA, October 21, 2015.
`Afif Na`imi ( عفیف نعیمی ), a Bahai prisoner of conscience held in Raja’i Shahr prison, and one of the seven Yaran (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), was taken to hospital on October 20. He is to receive treatment for blood clotting problems and fainting, and his existing medications will be adjusted. It was also reported that he has suffered from acute irritation and swelling of the lymph glands, exacerbated by lack of treatment. 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, only to be returned to the Tehran Heart Center in early June this year.
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, although it is inherently improbable that the Israeli security services would recruit the seven most high-profile Bahais as spies (Bahais are under constant surveillance, and are excluded from work in the civil services, armed forces and many other sectors), no proof of this “spying” was given, and in any case the maximum penalty for spying for foreign powers in Iran is 10 years in prison.
Tahereh Reza’i begins a one-year sentence
Bahai News (Persian), October 19, 2015.
Mrs. Tahereh Reza’i ( طاهره رضایی ), a Bahai from Isfahan, was arrested in front of her home on October 19 and taken to prison in Yazd. She is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran August 2012: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman. [The report does not indicate Mrs. Reza’i’s sentence, but it would appear this is the same person as Tahereh Rouhani (طاهره روحانی), arrested on July 31, 2012, who was sentenced to two years in prison, of which one year is suspended. ~Sen]
Azita Rafizadeh to begin prison sentence for her work at Baha’i University
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, October 19, 2015.
Azita Rafizadeh (آزیتا رفیعزاده), a Bahai who taught at the Bahai Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), must report to prison on October 24 to begin serving her four-year sentence. Rafizadeh said her main concern now is for her five-year-old son because her husband, Peyman Koushk-Baghi (پیمان کوشکباغی), who has also been sentenced to five years in prison for cooperation with BIHE, will be summoned to prison to begin serving his sentence as well.
“We have a child who is five years and nine months old. He goes to kindergarten. If I go to prison and my husband is also summoned to go to prison, what will happen to our child? None of our relatives have the means to help,” Rafizadeh said.
Azita Rafizadeh was tried by Judge Moghisseh of Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court in June 2014, and her husband Peyman Koushk-Baghi was separately tried by him in May 2015. Moghisseh sentenced them respectively to four and five years in prison for “membership in the illegal and misguided Baha’i group with the aim of acting against national security through illegal activities at the BIHE educational institute.”
The Appeals Court upheld their prison sentences.
“I was one of the BIHE professors when the homes of professors of this online university were stormed in June of 2010, said Rafizadeh. “The news was widely reported. They came to our house with a warrant to arrest me and my husband. They searched the house and interrogated us. They asked us to promise not to work for the BIHE. If we had agreed, the case would have been closed, as was the case for a few others. But my husband and I did not agree. So they only let us go temporarily on 50-million-tuman [approximately $16,700] bail.”
Rafizadeh, 35, received her Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from BIHE and her Master’s degree in the same subject from a university in India. She began teaching computer engineering at BIHE in 2002.
Agricultural land confiscated in Semnan
HRANA, October 17, 2015.
Fifty hectares of land and the livestock on it, belonging to Zia’ullah Muta`arifi (ضیاء الله متعارفی), a 65-year-old Bahai from Semnan, was confiscated on October 15. The decision was made at a court hearing in Semnan, attended by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture in Semnan, the Public Prosecutor, and representatives of the security forces. Mr. Muta`arifi has been working this land since 1982, and purchased it in 1999, paying in installments. He was told his title would be confirmed once he paid a fee to confirm the area and improvements, and this last cheque had been cleared. But afterwards, the sellers denied having sold the land. A lower court decided against Mr. Muta`arifi, and the case was referred to the Provincial court of review. According to Mr. Muta`arifi, the review court judge initially overturned the lower court ruling, but later said that this was a mistake and referred the case to another court, which ruled that the land should be confiscated. Mr. Muta`arifi has been allowed to retain 3552 square meters, which he says is not suitable for use due to its location. The confiscated land had 17,000 mature trees and vines: pistachio nuts, olives, pine trees, grapes, pomegranates and others. Mr. Muta`arifi was not permitted to remove his belongings and implements from the land.
Mr. Muta`arifi had also written to an advisor to the President, who passed his letter to the Ministry of Agriculture, who said that this was a political case, and they could not interfere.
Mr. Muta`arifi introduced the first pressurized irrigation system in the province, and planted the first olive trees. He has received several awards from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agricultural Development, and a recognition from the international Food and Agriculture Organisation. According to another report, by the Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, the farm employed about seven staff, some of whom lived on the land with their families.
Mr. Muta`arifi said that his only concern was to serve the people of Iran, and his only fear was that the trees would be left to dry out and die. In January, 2010, Mr. Muta`arifi’s license to run an animal husbandry unit was revoked by the Department of Agricultural Development, who levelled accusations which Mr. Muta`arifi denied.
Baha’i student expelled from school for not participating in Islamic Friday congregational prayers
Iran Press Watch, October 16, 2015.
Parsa Hemmat (پارسا همت), a Bahai school pupil from Isfahan, has been prevented from continuing his education because he did not attend the Muslim congregational prayer in his school. He was in his second year of high school. Informed sources said, “this Bahai citizen did not show up at the prayer room because of his religious beliefs; he announced that he did not find it necessary to participate in the congregational prayer because he is not a Muslim. He has been expelled from school for the same reason.”
Persian report (Bahai News)
Little ‘Aref goes to school
Bahai News (Persian), October 10, 2015.
‘Aref Hekmat-Sho’ar (عارف حکمت شعار), a 10-year old boy who has been excluded from three schools in Karaj, is to return to school. His father has said that the Ministry of Intelligence for the province of Alborz has now returned his son’s file, and his son will be readmitted to school on October 11. The report does not say which school has accepted him. Following ‘Aref’s third expulsion, from “the cradle of knowledge” (گهواره دانش school in the Mehrvila district of Karaj, a number of human rights activists intervened, and some of them travelled to Karaj to protest.
Baha’i child expelled from a private school in Karaj
Iran Press Watch, October 1, 2015.
According to the “No to the Persecution and Imprisonment of Bahai Citizens” campaign, a 10-year-old child has been expelled from his primary school in Karaj because he is a Bahai.
Mohammad Nourizad (محمد نوری زاد), a human rights activist in Iran, writes:
Last Saturday I received an email from a friend telling me that they wanted to expel his 10-year-old son [‘Aref (عارف)] from school in Karaj because he is a Bahai. [He has only been attending that school for two or three days.] I told my friend a 10-year-old couldn’t be Bahai or Moslem or Christian. But the school Principal, Mrs. Eskandari (خانم اسکندری) saw this child as a Bahai, and insisted that either he goes or she will go. I arranged to meet the father in front of the school the next day and we entered together. [This private school in the Mahr Vila is called “the cradle of knowledge” (گهواره دانش). It presents itself as a strongly religious school.]
The Principal was a slight, sullen 60-year-old woman. The father said to her, you asked me to come and collect my son’s file. “Yes”, she replied – either he goes or I go.” I asked her: “Is there anything wrong with this child?” She said: “There’s nothing wrong except that he is not acceptable in my creed.”
I said: “So if there is a problem it is because of your beliefs. … If you had any sense you would accept this child and try to attract him with your kindness, courtesy, wisdom and tolerance instead of repelling him from Shi’ite Islam with the garment of hatred you have forced on him. If I cannot close down your school because of your actions, I will make sure that every car that passes your school will jeer at the ignorance which is prevalent here.”
When we were outside, I told the father not to take the file under any circumstances. I said: “Your son is a student in this school; drop him off here every morning; let them refuse to admit him; we must sweep away this ignorance once and for all.”
Update, October 10.
Baha’i Campaign reports that Mohammad Nourizad, Doctor Maleki (دکترملکی), Mr. Karim Bigi (کریم بیگی) and ‘Aref’s father went to the school with ‘Aref on the morning of October 6. Mr. Muhammadi (محمدی ), the proprietor, initially refused them entry. When he was introduced to Dr. Maleki [a well-known author and the first President of the University of Tehran], his attitude changed. They went inside, to a room at the school, where the Principal, Mrs. Eskandri, joined them. A polite discussion was interrupted by five members of the Revolutionary Guards, who expelled the visitors from the school, although the leader of the team was polite and said that these [Bahai] children should have the same rights as their own children, and offered to help enroll ‘Aref in another school.
Vahed Khalousi arrested in Tehran, transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison
Bahai News, September 14, 2015.
Vahed Khalousi (واحد خلوصی), a Bahai student who has been excluded from tertiary education, was arrested in front of his home in Tehran a few days ago. According to current reports, he has been transferred to Raja’i shahr prison and is being held in the quarantine wing. He is expected to be moved to the wing housing prisoners of conscience on Wednesday. He was arrested in March 2010, along with four other Bahais: Navid Khanjani, Sama Nourani. Eqan Shahidi and Dorsa Sobhani (نوید خانجانی ، سما نورانی، ایقان شهیدی و درسا سبحانی), and later released on bail. It appears he was arrested to begin serving a five-year sentence in connection with this arrest, although another report, in January 2014, states that he was sentenced to two years in prison, possibly on a separate charge. The charges levelled against persons accused of political and religious crimes in Iran are so vague, that it is difficult to distinguish one case from another.
Mr. Khalousi was also one of the 35 social activists, including five Bahais, who were arrested while bring aid to the victims of the the 2011 Azerbaijan earthquake. The activists were detained in Tabriz for almost two months and were charged with assembly and collusion to commit crimes against national security, endangering public health and insulting Iran’s Supreme Leader. All were acquitted in September 2013.
Sasan Haqiri released early from prison in Isfahan
Bahai News (facebook), September 13, 2015.
Mr. Sasan Haqiri (ساسان حقیری) has been released on parole from Isfahan’s central prison. 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 and a one-year suspended sentence, on charges of propaganda against the regime and society, and began his sentence in mid-June this year.
Current example of the exclusion of Bahai students from Iran’s universities
HRANA, September 10, 2015.
After completing the national university entrance examinations, Ava Amini Yazdel (آوا امینی یزدلی), an 18-year old Bahai, was confronted with a message on the examinations result site saying that her file was incomplete, and she could not continue her education. “File defective” is currently the usual phrase used to exclude Bahai students from tertiary education. Although President Hassan Rouhani had promised to address the issue of students being excluded from university, many Bahai students were excluded after the entrance examinations this year, on the excuse that their files were incomplete.
Dhabihullah Ra’ufi arrested again in Sanandaj
HRANA, September 9, 2015.
Dhabihullah Ra’ufi ( ذبیح الله رئوفی ), a 66-year-old Bahai from Sanandaj, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on September 8. Four agents raided his home and seized CD’s, books, pictures and other items relating to the Bahai Faith.
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. It emerged that this was part of a nation-wide policy under which Bahais would be buried in only one cemetery in each province of Iran. During and after the difficulties with burying Mrs. Muhammadifar, Bahais in Sanandaj approached a number of officials such as the Friday Prayer Leader and the Public Prosecutor, regarding the burial, and it is thought that the latest arrest may be intended to stifle protests regarding the burial.
Mr. Ra’ufi was arrested in 2009, and sentenced to 6 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime [followed according to my information by 6 months in exile ~Sen]. And in June, 2011, the Ministry of Intelligence in Sanandaj conducted mass interrogations of the Bahais there, seeking information on how Sanandaj’s Bahai community is managed. One of those questioned was Dhabihullah Ra’ufi.
Two Bahai prisoners in Yazd released on bail
Bahai News, August 31, 2015.
Mr. Sohrab Naqipour ( سهراب نقی پور) and Mrs. Adhar Pourkhorasand (آذر طلوعی – پورخرسند) have been released on bail from their imprisonment in Yazd. They were arrested in July 2012, in raids that netted dozens of Bahais in Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad, Isfahan, Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Yazd. They were sentenced to one year in prison, and a one-year suspended sentence, and began their sentences in late May or early June, 2015. The report does not indicate why they have been released after three months: both were held for less than a month following their first arrest, so previous time in detention is not the explanation.
Three Bahais tried in Golestan Province
Bahai News (facebook), September 3, 2015.
A court in Golestan Province (Northern Mazandaran region) has tried three Bahais on charges of “propaganda against the regime.” Their names are given as Soudabeh Mehdinezhad ( سودابه مهدی نژاد ), Rufeya Pakzadan ( روفیا پاکزادان), who was also reported to have been tried on July 3, and Nazi Tahqiqi (نازی تحقیقی). They are among 20 Bahais who were arrested in the Province in October, 2012, and later released on bail.
Officials shut off ‘Bahai’ water supply to Dazgareh township
Iran Press Watch, August 26, 2015.
On Monday 24 August, officials shut off the water supply for residents of the town of Dazgareh in Semnan province. The water comes from a well dug with a legal permit 25 years ago, and given to the town by the Khanjani Family. The family are Bahais. The police, Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Intelligence and Security agents of the water authority and other officials, including Mr. Ehsani, head of the Intelligence service, were in attendance. They had a special expedited order to destroy the well, and used heavy construction machinery. Work continued to 2:00 am in the morning.
Several members of the Khanjani family have been imprisoned for their Bahai beliefs, their property has been confiscated and factories and businesses belonging to family members have been closed down. Intelligence and Security agents had previously destroyed a dirt dam built with a legal permit for the purpose of generating electricity, cutting electric power to the area. One piece of land that was given to one of the members of this family thirty years ago was unjustly seized and given to the Revolutionary Guards. Officials have also destroyed their home, and the executive committee has issued an order to confiscate their lands and farms. The Municipal Security Council of the province, in the presence of the Governor Vakili, appointed by the Rouhani administration of “Prudence and Hope,” have declared the entire area in which the family’s ancestors have lived for generations a military zone. Revolutionary Guard monitors criss-cross the area, and only particular individuals may visit the family property and stay a few hours, or at most a few days. The pressures started during the Ahmadinejad government and continue to the present.
Trees cut down in the Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh
HRANA, August 24, 2015.
A number of 20-year old trees in the Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh (Urmia) have been cut down with a chainsaw. The destruction apparently happened on July 25, 2015. This is the first time that this cemetery has been targetted by the vandals, although trees have been cut down in the Bahai cemeteries of Marvdasht, Sansgar and Isfahan. In Isfahan, some 2500 trees were cut down October 2008, and in Marvdasht, 1200 were cut down in April, 2011.
Shahram Falah granted 10-day leave from Kerman prison
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, August 23, 2015.
Shahram Falah (شهرام فلاح), a Bahai from Yazd who began a 3-year prison sentence in Kerman on February 4, 2015, has been granted a 10-day furlough, and left prison this morning. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran August 2012: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman. This report indicates he was held in Kerman prison, although earlier reports said he was in Yazd Prison.
Details of Bahai businesses closed in Kerman province
Bahai News (Persian), August 15, 2015.
Bahai News reports on a number of Bahai businesses in the Province of Kerman that have been shut down by authorities because they were closed on Bahai Holy Days. 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. No dates are given in the latest report, but these closures appear to be in addition to those previously reported, and are certainly in addition to the 12 closures in Rafsanjan — also in Kerman Province — that were reported on May 1, 2015. The new report gives a picture of how the Bahais in Iran try to make a living, given that they are excluded from government service, most professions, and work in many economic sectors (see the summary of the apartheid rules for Bahais here.) The latest report lists premises for construction pipe sales, car radiator sales or repair, an automobile workshop, and curtain and clothing production, which have been closed by the office of commercial and public places for Kerman Province. The Office has asked the Bahais to sign an undertaking [not to close on Bahai Holy days] for which there is no legal basis. The report states that one of the purposes of the closures is to prevent the businesses developing their customer base, and “to create divisions among the Bahais.” [sic ]
Amanullah Mostaqim’s medical furlough ends: back to Raja’i Shahr prison
Bahai News (Persian), August 18. 2015.
Amanullah Mostaqim ( امانالله مستقیم ) one of the imprisoned staff members of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, was returned to Raja’i Shahr prison on the morning of August 18. Mr. Mostaqim, a Bahai from Shiraz, is serving a 5-year sentence for educational activities. He had been free on medical leave since late April, 2015, as hesuffers 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. Until this morning, it had been expected that his medical leave would be transformed into conditional release.
Kamran Rahimiyan freed after 4 years in prison
Bahai News (Persian), August 17, 2015.
Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان ), one of the teachers of the Bahai Open University in Iran, has been released from Raja’i Shahr prison, near Tehran, at the end of a 4-year sentence. His wife Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی ) is still serving a 4-year sentence, in Evin Prison in Tehran, also for educational activities. Mr. Rahimiyan’s father was martyred for his faith in Evin Prison, 32 years ago, following the 1979 revolution.
Bahai student expelled from a private university in Shiraz
Taghato, August 14, 2015.
Dorsa Qolizadeh (درسا قلیزاده), a Bahai student of architecture who had managed to enjoy two terms of tertiary education at Rouzbahan University, a private institution in Sari, has been expelled from the University following pressure from Iran’s Ministry of ‘Intelligence.’ She has described the events in a letter, on which this summary is based. During the examinations at the end of the second term, on June 9, she was summoned by telephone to the Sari office of the Ministry of Intelligence, and asked why she had enrolled when she knew the Bahais were not permitted to attend higher education in Iran. She was accused of teaching the Bahai Faith on the campus, but without any specifics about when or how she was supposed to have done this. When she asked for evidence, she was told it was not her place to ask questions. The two interrogators told her that there were three possibilities: continue in her religious beliefs, and be expelled from the University; continue her studies outside Iran; or renounce the Bahai religion, and go to the Friday Imam [to declare herself a Shiah Muslim], in which case her conversion to Islam would be published in the newspapers and she could continue her studies. Ironically, her examination for the following day would be on the subject “The Islamic Perspective.” She replied that people believe in their hearts, you (the Ministry) cannot take their faith from them, and chose to stick to her beliefs. She was able to sit the last two examinations, and tell her friends that she was being expelled. She reports a great measure of solidarity from her classmates and friends. Next day, she was summoned to the University to sign a form. She did so, and then realized that the form said she was withdrawing from the course. The university staff may have meant well, since signing the form also meant that she would get part of her university fees back.
Sentences announced for 10 Bahais in Hamadan
Bahai News, August 15, 2015.
Ten Bahais from Hamadan have been sentenced to one year in prison, and two have also been sentenced to two years in exile in the town of Khash (خاش), near the Afghan border south of Zahedan, which is 1800 kilometres from their homes. The ten were tried on July 29, and charged with propaganda against the regime. Strangely enough, an initial announcement from the court said that they would be acquitted for lack of evidence.
Those sentenced are Shahin Rashedi (شاهین راشدى), `Atefeh Zahedi (عاطفه زاهدى), Roumina Tabibi (رومینا طبیبى), Mina Hemmati (مینا همتى), Parvaneh Ayoubi (پروانه ایوبى),
Mozafer Ayoubi (مظفر ایوبی), Farida Ayoubi (فریده ایوبی), Mehran Khandel (مهران خاندل), Hamid Adharnoush [Azarnoush] (حمید آذرنوش) and Mas`oud Adharnoush (مسعود آذرنوش). Hamid and Mas1oud Adharnoush have also been sentenced to two years in exile.
They were arrested in late March along with the others and bailed one month later. Several of these Bahais have also faced the closure of their businesses or workshops.
Report on the situation of 3 imprisoned BIHE staff
HRANA, August 14, 2015.
Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان ) and his wife Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی ), and Keyvan Rahimiyan ( کیوان رحیمیان ) are serving prison terms for their work for the Bahai Open University (BIHE): Kamran and Faran have 4-year sentences and Keyvan has a 5-year sentence. All three are said to be in good health at present, Faran Hesami in Evin Prison in Tehran, and the Rahimiyan brothers in Raja’i Shahr prison. Kamran Rahimiyan should be released in a few weeks, on August 22; Faran Hesami on April 7, 2016; and Keyvan Rahimiyan in August, 2017. Kamran and Keyvan have been denied any prison leave during their sentences, but Faran has been allowed leave twice, in November 2014 and March 2015.
Kamran and Faran have a son Artin (آرتین) who is in the care of his grandmother, Mrs. Rahimiyan (his grandfather was martyred for his Faith some years ago), and Artin will begin school on September 23, by which time his father should be free. Faran Hesami has applied for leave on that day, but thus far it has been denied. She is able to meet her son and mother-in-law once a week, first for a few minutes in a visiting cubicle, when they can discuss Artin’s upbringing, and then face-to-face with her son in a room for mothers and children.
Destruction of Shiraz Bahai cemetery continues
Bahai News (facebook), August 13, 2015.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Fars Province has continued to prepare the site for the cultural, sporting and commercial centre it intends to build on the Bahai cemetery of Shiraz. New burials in the cemetery were forbidden in 1984, soon after 10 Bahai women who had been hung by the government were buried there. In all, the cemetery held the remains of 23 Bahais martyred for their faith, following the 1979 Iranian Revolution. However the cemetery had been in use for nearly 70 years, and contained 950 graves, of which nearly 400 have now been desecrated by earth-moving machinery. The IRGC has chosen to build on the cemetery, although there is a large empty site adjoining it which would be suitable. When the destruction of graves began, there was an international outcry, and the destruction was limited to one area in the cemetery, although the building work continued. However the latest photographs show that work is underway on most of the site’s 16,000 square meters. The Bahais of Shiraz have attempted to discuss the matter with religious and civil authorities, and some have even gone to Qom [to meet senior religious figures there ~sen], but without results. On August 5, 2014, three Bahais were arrested in Shiraz, apparently because they had sought to discuss the destruction of the cemetery with the responsible authorities. On June 14 last year, the head of the IRGC in Fars Province held a religious ceremony on the site, to mark the “night of power,” and used the occasion to insult and threaten the Bahai community.
Saba Golshan begins 4-year sentence in Isfahan
Bahai News (facebook), August 12, 2015.
Mr. Saba Golshan ( صبا گلشن ) reported to the central prison on Isfahan this morning, to begin serving a 4-year sentence. His sentence also includes a one-year suspended sentence. 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 78 years.
Two Bahais in Sanandaj targets of vandalism and official pressure
MAF News, August 4, 2015.
Azharkhosh Mansuri (آذرخش منصوری) and Majis Abdu’l-Motallabi (مجید عبدالمطلبی), two Bahais from Sanandaj, were detained at a prayer meeting in a private house on April 1, 2014, and and interrogated for an hour. They are now being pressured by the Ministry of Intelligence to sign undertakings that they will not practice or preach the Bahai Faith. The head of the Sanandaj branch of the Ministry of Intelligence has told them that if they cooperate by identifying other Bahais, they will be allowed to live normally. In the last few days, their houses have been sprayed with anti-Bahai slogans. The slogan in the picture reads “Death to Bahai heretics; Death to American and England.”
Niki Khanjani summoned for trial
Bahai News facebook page, August 9, 2015.
Alaeddin Khanjani (علاءالدین خانجانی), known as Niki (نیکی), has been summoned to present his final defence before Bench 5 of the court at Evin Prison in Tehran on August 10. Bench 5 has specialised in the persecution of Bahais.
Niki Khanjani and Babak Mobasher ( بابک مبشر ) and some of their Bahai employees were arrested in Tehran on August 24, apparently because they were selling spectacles, which was forbidden for Bahais. However the new regulations making it illegal for Bahais to sell spectacles are still officially secret: the existence of a new law is inferred from arrests of Bahai optometrists and closures of Bahai opticians’ shops across Iran in the course of 2014 and 2015. For a list of the economic sectors that are forbidden for Bahais, see “Iran’s apartheid rules” on this blog.
Niki Khanjani’s father Jamalledin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی) is one of the seven ‘Yaran’ (Bahai national facilitators) who are now in the eighth year of 20-year sentences for their services to the Bahai community. His son Fu’ad Khanjani (فواد خانجانی) is serving a 4-year sentence.
Letter from the NSA of the United States, July 31, 2015
Editorial, August 6, 2015.
On July 26, Professor Mehrangiz Kar posted an article in Persian on the Rooz Online site, which referenced remarks she made remarks as a guest speaker at a symposium in Virginia, focusing on the historical and social context of Taahereh’s unveiling at Badasht. Dr. Kar’s question, which she repeated in the article on Rooz online, (in Persian) was:
“Suppose that Taahereh were to miraculously return to life, and came to the same meeting [in Badasht], and put her name forward for membership of the House of Justice, the highest decision-making body for Bahais. Given the ruling of the new religion, that women are excluded from the principle centre of authority in the Bahai Faith simply by virtue of their sex, could Taahereh, with all her courage, passion, wisdom and knowledge, enter the House of Justice?”
The responses from some Bahais, at the symposium and following her article on Rooz Online, have been such that the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States has published a letter, in Persian and in English, which reproves “the harsh criticism made against Professor Kar by some Baha’is.”
I have posted the entire letter in English on my Bahai Studies blog, under the title “Let’s talk,” together with some reflections on what can be learned, and what could be done.
Over 30 Bahai businesses closed in Sari
Bahai News (facebook page), August 4, 2015.
Reports from Sari indicate that over 30 Bahais business have been closed by authorities, and that the closures are continuing. Most of the closures have now lasted from 3 weeks to 3 months, and in a few cases much longer. Local Bahais say that officials have two aims: to isolate the Bahais from society, and to force them to leave the country. By keeping the shops locked up, officials ensure that perishable contents will deteriorate. Officials have also tried to get the Bahais to sign an undertaking not to close their businesses on Bahai Holy Days. However the law allows all businesses to close without giving notice, on 15 days during the year, except that businesses such as bakeries are only allowed to close for 3 days and are required to give notice to the authorities before they close.
On May 27 I reported that eleven Bahai business had been closed in Sari. Since then, I have reported on five more closures. the most recent on June 30. The present report apparently includes these earlier closures. In recent months there has been a wave of closures for Bahai business across Iran, in cities such as Hamadan, Karaj, Kerman, Rafsanjan, Tehran and Zahedan, but the Bahais in Sari have faced the heaviest persecution. See the category “economic discrimination” on this blog.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.
August 8: The ‘Fariba Kamalabadi‘ facebook page has a photo of a new slogan spray-painted at the entrance to the same house. This time it reads, “Bahais get out.”
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.
For older news, see the “old news” archive.