Sen's daily

News to Dec 12


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Four detainees free on bail in Kermanshah

HRANA, December11, 2017.

Burhan Tebyanian (برهان تبیانیان), Noghmeh Shadabi (نغمه شادابی), Soheila Shadabi (سهیلا شادابی ) and Farzaneh Amini ( فرزانه امینی) have been released on bail of 100 million tumans each (72,000 euros ; $US 84,000), pending their trial. They were arrested on December 2 and December 3, and interrogated by the Ministry of Intelligence. There is no indication of the charges they may face.
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Another arrest in Kermanshah

HRANA, December 4, 2017.

On December 2, security forces went to the home of Burhan Tebyanian (برهان تبیانیان), a Bahai living in Kermanshah, when he was not present. They searched it and seized some of his belongings. They then contacted Mr. Tebyanian and demanded that he should go to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence. When he did so, on December 3, he was arrested. The arrest of Mr. Teebyanian followed the arrest of three other Bahais in that city on December 2: they are Noghmeh Shadabi (نغمه شادابی), Soheila Shadabi (سهیلا شادابی ) and Farzaneh Amini ( فرزانه امینی). All four are still being detained, apparently by the Ministry of Intelligence.
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Behrouz Tavakkoli released after 10 years in prison

HRANA, December 5, 2017.

Behrouz Tavakkoli (بهروز توکلی), one of the seven “Yaran” who once functioned as national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran, was freed from Raja’i Shahr prison on December 4, at the end of a 10-year sentence which he served in full without any furlough. Two other members of this group, Fariba Kamalabadi (فریبا کمال آبادی ) and Mahvash Sabet (مهوش ثابت) have already been released after serving 10 years in prison for their Bahai beliefs.

Mr. Tavakolli has a degree in psychology. After his military service (with a rank of Lieutenant) he was a social worker specialising in care for mental and physical disabilities, working in government service until the early 1980’s, when he lost his job. He became self-employed, with a carpentry workshop in Gonbad. He was at various times arrested and abused. On one accasion, before the arrest of the “Yaran” in 2008, he was held in solitary confinement without any charge against him for four months, which resulted in serious kidney and joint problems.

Background
The seven ‘Yaran’ served as national facilitators assisting the Bahais of Iran in their dealings with government organs until their arrest and imprisonment. They were appointed following the disappearance and execution of the elected leadership of the Bahais in Iran in 1980, and again in 1981. The elected leaders in many cities were also executed at that time, notably in Tehran, Tabriz, Yazd and Hamadan, where a total of 33 members of the local Bahai “Assemblies” were executed, in addition to the 18 members of the two national “Assemblies” and two assistants. In August 1983, the government declared the elected assemblies illegal. In accordance with the principle of obedience to government, the Bahais then dissolved all elected bodies. Nevertheless, seven former members of the national Assembly were arrested and executed. (see this Wikipedia article).

National and local facilitators were later appointed, principally because government bodies needed to have a Bahai representative to discuss necessary matters and to transmit government instructions to the Bahais, which were not publicised in the media. One of the most important tasks of the facilitators was to arrange for Bahai burials, as Bahais are often barred from burial in public cemeteries, and Bahai practice requires a coffin, which is not allowed in many public cemeteries.

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. Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi was one of these, the others being 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, under Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای). 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 spying for Israel, propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and the establishment of an illegal administration – charges that were all rejected completely and categorically by the defendants. According to the defence lawyer, the charge of spying for Israel was based only on the fact that the Bahai properties in Israel are tax exempt. However Bahai properties are tax exempt in almost every country, and Islamic holy sites in Israel are tax exempt! 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, including that of spying for Israel, and reduced their sentence to 10-year jail terms. In March 2011, the prisoners were informed that their original 20-year sentences were reinstated. In November, 2015, the 20-year sentences were again reduced to ten years. Despite repeated requests, neither the prisoners nor their attorneys have ever received official copies of the original verdict or the ruling on appeal.
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Three arrests in Kermanshah, and release of Peyman Qiami

HRANA, December 2, 2017.

Three Bahais living in Kermanshah were arrested by security forced on December 2. They are Noghmeh Shadabi (نغمه شادابی), Soheila Shadabi (سهیلا شادابی ) and Farzaneh Amini ( فرزانه امینی ). So far there is no information on the reasons and circumstances for the arrest.

On the same day, Peyman Qiami (پیمان قیامی), a Bahai who was arrested in Kermanshah about three weeks ago has been released on bail. While he was in detention there were strong concerns about his health, but this report does not say whether he was well at the time of his release.
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Nadia Adadeyan and Siamak Abdolhamidi bailed in Rasht

HRANA, November 22, 2017.

Siamak Abdolhamidi (سیامک عبدالحمیدی) and Mrs Nadia Asadeyan (نادیا اسدیان), a Bahai couple living in Rasht who were arrested on October 24 and November 11, respectively, have been released on bail from Lakan prison.
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Bahnam Salehi hospitalized in Birjand

HRANA, November 23, 2017.

As previously reported, Bahnam Salehi (بهمن صالحی), one of the Bahais arrested in Birjand on October 21, was released on bail on November 18. It is now reported that on his release he was immediately hospitalized because of broken blood vessels and blood clotting in his legs, resulting from poor conditions during his interrogation. He was still in hospital at the time of the report (November 23), and his condition was satisfactory. He suffers from varicose veins, and was interrogated for long hours while held in postures inappropriate for a person with this condition. He received no medical care in prison, despite his deteriorating condition.
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Shiva Rouhani granted early release from Gorgan prison

HRANA, November 26, 2017.

Shiva Rouhani (شیوا روحانی) has been granted conditional release from Amir Abad prison in Gorgan, after serving one third of her 18-month sentence. She began her sentence in early July this year: it appears that her time in detention following her arrest has also been counted. She is one of the 22 Bahais of Golestan Province who were arrested on October 17, 2012, and initially given very heavy sentences. They were charged with collaborating with hostile governments, effective activities to promote the goals of a sect and of anti-Islamic and anti-Shiah hostile governments, and with making propaganda in favour of the Bahai Faith and against the regime of the Islamic Republic, by participating in the ‘Ruhi program’ (Bahai catechism class) in Golestan Province. The heavy sentences were reduced by the Review Court to periods of 18 months or 21 months.
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Parivash Shoja`i granted conditional release in Gorgan

HRANA, November 22, 2017.

Parivash Shoja`i ( پریوش شجاعی ) has been granted a conditional release from Amir Abad prison in Gorgan after serving one third of her sentence of one year and nine months. She began her sentence on July 3, 2017. She had originally been sentenced to nine years in prison for collaborating with hostile governments, effective activities to promote the goals of a sect and of anti-Islamic and anti-Shiah hostile governments, and with making propaganda in favour of the Bahai Faith and against the regime of the Islamic Republic, by participating in the ‘Ruhi program’ (Bahai catechism class) in Golestan Province. This sentence was reduced by the court of review to 21 months. In recent weeks 11 other Bahai prisoners in Golestan Province, most of them in Amir Abad prison, have been granted early conditional release. They are among 22 Bahais of Golestan Province who were first arrested on October 17, 2012.
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Four detainees bailed in Birjand

HRANA, November 20, 2017.

Four more recent Bahai detainees have been freed on bail in Birjand. They are Sohrab Malaki (سهراب ملاكی), Sheyda `Abadi (شيدا عابدی), Maryam Mokhtari (مريم مختاری) and Simin Mohammadi (سيمين محمدی ). Bail was set at 50 million tumans (36,000 euros ; $US 42,000).

Khalil Malaki (خليل ملاكی), Bahnam Salehi (بهمن صالحی) and Saghir Mohammadi (ساغر محمدی) were released on bail a few days earlier. Firooz Ahmadi (فيروز احمدی) and Bijan Ahmadi (بيژن احمدی), arrested at the same time, remain in detention.
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Foad and Payman Yazdani granted conditional release in Rasht

HRANA, November 21, 2017.

On November 17, Foad Yazdani (فواد یزدانی) and his son Peyman Yazdani (پیمان یزدانی) were released from Lakan Prison in Rasht after serving three months of their 2-year prison terms. Their release is conditional.

They were accused of “participating in a propaganda campaign against the regime.” They were among four Bahais and three non-Bahais arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence on May 26, 2015, in a campaign to stop the Shiah population doing business with Bahais. The non-Bahais were charged with “having links with Bahais.” In January and February 2015, 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. The Bahais who were arrested had repair businesses and had customers who were not Bahais.
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Afif Na`imi again released for medical treatment

HRANA, November 20, 2017.

Afif Na`imi (عفیف نعیمی), one of the seven imprisoned ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), who is in the tenth year of his 10-year sentence, suffers serious health problems and has suffered from the lack of adequate medical care in prison. In the past month he has again been given prison furlough from Raja’i Shahr prison, near Tehran, for medical treatment relating to a heart condition. He was released in late October, on the basis of an opinion issued by the prison medical committee and with the agreement of the Public Prosecutor. An initial 15-day leave was extended by another 15 days because he was not fit for prison,and an evident need for treatment. In addition to his heart problems, he suffers from blood clots, lymph node problems and acute swelling of the throat.

On several occasions in recent years, he has been taken from prison to a heart disease hospital in Tehran for treatment, only to be returned to prison with the treatment incomplete. His health problems are described as “severe,” and the prison’s Medical Examiner has determined that he is not fit for prison because of his failing health. In 2016 he was granted a furlough for medical treatment which eventually extended to five months, returning to Rajai Shahr prison on January 28 this year.
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Three detainees bailed in Birjand

HRANA, November 18, 2017.

Khalil Malaki (خليل ملاكی), Bahnam Salehi (بهمن صالحی) and Saghir Mohammadi (ساغر محمدی) have been released on bail of 150 million tumans (36,000 euros ; $US 42,000). They were among nine Bahais who were arrested in raids of 15 Bahai homes on the morning of October 21. During the searches, officials seized mobile phones, laptops, and images and books relating to the Bahai Faith. Another Bahai, Shayda Abedi (شیدا عابدی), was arrested in Birjand on October 29.

Although the nine Bahais were arrested on a Bahai Holy day (marking the Birth of the Bab), it appears from the fact that many homes were raided that the Bahais had not gathered to celebrate the day, but were remembering the occasion separately in their homes.
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Three-year sentences for six Bahais in Sistan and Baluchestan Province

HRANA, November 18, 2017.

Bench 3 of the Revolutionary Tribunal in Zahedan has handed down three-year sentences to six Bahais from three cities in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan. All six are among the many Bahais whose businesses have been shut down by the authorities because they practise the Bahai Faith. The trial was held some time ago, and was announced on November 16 by Bench 3 of the Tribunal, led by Judge Muhammad-Reza Sardi (قاضی محمدرضا صردی ). The Revolutionary Tribunals, in which Bahais are usually tried, are a parallel system to the criminal courts in Iran. Trials before a Revolutionary Tribunal are closed to the public and provide summary justice, generally without a defense attorney.

The six Bahais, accused of membership of the “deviant sect,” are: Houshang Mokhtari (هوشنگ مختاری) of Saravan, Bijan Eslami-Mahdiabadi (بیژن اسلامی مهدی آبادی) of Khash, Ali-Muhammad Anvari-Aliabadi (علی محمد اَنوری علی آبادی) and three Bahais from Chabahar: Bahadar Kamuu (بهادر کامجو), Roushan Barqi (روشن بارقی) and Fahimeyyeh As-haq Nurabadi (فهیمه اسحاق نور آبادی), whose name was previously reported here as Fahemiyyeh Ashaqi (فهمیه اسحاقی). All six were arrested in early May, 2017, and interrogated by the Ministry of Intelligence. They were charged with undermining national security by membership of the Bahai community, but in the court’s ruling the charge was “membership of the deviant sect.” All six have denied undermining national security, and say they are persecuted simply because of their religious beliefs.
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One arrest in Kermanshah

Iran Press Watch, November 16, 2017.

According to the “No to persecution and imprisonment of the Baha’i compatriots Campaign,” Peyman Qiami (پیمان قیامی), a resident of Kermanshah, has again been arrested in connection with his Bahai beliefs. He was arrested by the judicial authorities when he responded to a summons to the Prosecutor’s office. This report suggests that another unnamed Bahai has also been summoned or arrested with Mr. Qiami.

On October 18, 2017, nine Bahais were arrested in Kermanshah, and later bailed (see this report) but Peyman Qiami was not named among this group.
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Hassan Momtazi begins a 5-year sentence for educational activities

HRANA, November 15, 2017.

Hassan Momtazi (حسن ممتازی), a teacher for the Bahai Open University (BIHE), has been arrested in his mother’s home in Shiraz. He was first arrested in 2011. He was one of ten Bahais associated with the BIHE who were tried in Tehran on March 12, 2013. His sentence was handed down by Judge Maqiseh (قاضی مقیسه) on February 25, 2014, and confirmed by the review court. It is thought that he will be taken to Evin Prison to begin his sentence.
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One arrest in Rasht, one released on bail

HRANA, November 13, 2017.

On November 11, Mrs Nadia Adadeyan (نادیا اسدیان) was summoned to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence and arrested. Her husband Siamak Pour-Abdolhamidi (سیامک پورعبدالحمیدی) was arrested in Rasht on October 24 and is still being held. She has been taken to Lakan prison, where her husband and at least two other Bahais are being detained. The other known Bahai detainees are Navideh Bakhshi (نویده بخشی) and Kevan Pezeshki (کیوان پزشکی). Mrs. Nazila Khanipour-Machiani (نازیلا خانی پور ماچیانی), also arrested, was released on bail on November 13.

The latest wave of pressure on the Bahais of Rasht began on September 11, when agents from the Ministry of Intelligence conducted a series of orchestrated searches of at least eleven Bahai homes and two non-Bahai homes in Rasht, Rezvan-Shahr, Pareh Sar, and Manjil, all cities in Iran’s Gilan Province. A number of Bahais are reported to have been arrested at the time and released soon after.
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Mojdeh Zohori free in Gorgan

HRANA, November 11, 2017.

Mojdeh Zohori-Fahandezh (مژده ظهوری (فهندژ)) has been granted a conditional release from Amir Abad prison in Gorgan after serving one third of her sentence of 21 months. Her husband Farhad Fahandezh (فرهاد فهندژ) remains in prison. As previously reported, on October 14 five Bahai prisoners in Gorgan and one in Gonbad were released early under the same provision, and four others were released a few days prior to that. All eleven of those granted early release were among 22 Bahais of Golestan Province who were first arrested on October 17, 2012.
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Three Bahai students who sought justice sent to prison

HRANA, November 8, 2017.

Mr. Sarmad Shadabi (سرمد شادابی), Tara Houshmand (تارا هوشمند) and Rouhiyyeh Safajou (روحیه صفاجو), aged 22, 21 and 21 respectively, have each been sentenced to five years in prison by the notorious human rights violator Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه). All three are students barred from tertiary education because of their Bahai beliefs, who pursued their constitutional rights to equal treatment through various legal means. They were arrested in Tehran on March 8, 2016.

Tara Houshmand was arrested by security agents in her home in Tehran, which was searched. She was one of a group of Bahais excluded from education who responded to a claim made in 2014, by Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Human Rights Council of the Judiciary, that Iranian authorities do not discriminate against Bahais, and challenging the Bahais excluded from education to send documentation. The Bahai students took their documentation to the authorities as requested, thus exposing Mr. Larijani’s lie. The story is detailed here.

Mr. Sarmad Shadabi was arrested at the Roudehen campus of the Islamic Free University, near Tehran. He was a signatory of a letter about the breaches of Bahais’ civil rights, written to a Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights. An interview with him, about his expulsion from University, was cited on the BBC Persian service.

Rouhiyyeh Safajou was arrested by 8 security agents posing as workers from the gas supply company who entered her home. She was one of a group of Bahai students excluded from tertiary education who met with Ali Reza Mahjoub (علی‌رضا محجوب), a reformist Member of Parliament, to argue for the right of education. The meeting was reported on this blog in September 2014. Mr. Mahjoub called the students terrorists and gunmen and expelled them from his office.

The three were summoned to appear in court six times, but court sittings were held on only two occasions. In the first sitting, Judge Moqiseh was absent and another Judge took his place. This Judge heard the accusations and defence, and issued a summons to the Prosecutor’s Office dealing with the defendants’ case to come to court and explain why they had been arrested [since they had not broken any law ~ sen]. However at the next sitting, on September 26 this year, Judge Moqiseh was present, as were the defendants and their lawyer. No representative from the Prosecutor’s office was present to explain why the defendants had been arrested. Judge Moqiseh reserved his judgement, and now, five weeks later, has announced the sentences of five years each on charges of undermining state security in the form of membership of the Bahai sect. The ruling contained no mention of the defence that had been presented, as if the defendants and their lawyer had not attended the court at all.
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Bahai-run computer repair shop closed in Karaj

HRANA, November 6, 2017.

A computer repair workshop in Karaj, run by Ramtin Ziba’i (رامتین زیبایی), has been closed down by the authorities, who claimed this was part of the drive against the black market in smuggled goods. It appears likely that the real reason is that Mr. Ziba’i is a Bahai, since it workshop does not sell products, he sells his labour and expertise in repairing computers.
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Dozens of businesses shut down in Sistan and Baluchistan region

HRANA, November 6, 2017.

A large number of Bahai-run businesses in the Province of Sistan and Baluchistan have had their premises sealed by the authorities because their owners closed them during the recent “Twin Holy Days,” the annual commemoration of the births of the Bab and Baha’u’llah. The closures are said to have taken place “today” (i.e., November 6), in the cities of Zahedan, Zabol, Chabahar, and Iranshahr, and to have affected about thirty businesses.
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Another arrest in Rasht

HRANA, October 30, 2017.

Siamak Pour-Abdolhamidi (سیامک پورعبدالحمیدی) was arrested in Rasht on October 24, but his arrest was not previously reported here. He is being held in Lakan prison in Rasht. His home was one of those searched on September 11, when agents from the Ministry of Intelligence with search orders from the Prosecutor’s Office conducted a series of orchestrated searches of at least eleven Bahai homes and two non-Bahai homes in Rasht, Rezvan-Shahr, Pareh Sar, and Manjil, all cities in Iran’s Gilan Province.
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Summary of recent closures of Bahai businesses

Payam News (Facebook), October 25, 2017.

At least 21 Bahai-run businesses in Mahshahr (Khuzestan Province) have been closed down by the authorities because they were closed on a Bahai Holy Day. It is notable that sixteen of these businesses were run by members of the Afshar family, an aluminum door and window supplier, a shop for locks and door fittings, a hardware shop, a drapery and a clothing store, two electric appliance shops, a TV showroom, two shops selling car parts and accessories, a workshop manufacturing goods from MDF wood and a supplier of ventilation equipment. An informed source said that only two Bahai-owned businesses in the city have continued to operate.

Another 28 Bahai-run businesses have been shut down in Shiraz, Gonbad-e-Kavus and Gorgan, along with 40 in the Province of Golestan.
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Two new arrests in Rasht

HRANA, November 3, 2017.

On October 31, Navid Bakhshi (نویده بخشی) and Kevan Pezeshki (کیوان پزشکی) were summoned to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence in Rasht, where they faced an initial interrogation before being arrested and taken to an unknown place. As of November 3, their families still did not know where they are being held or why.

On September 11, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence with search orders from the Prosecutor’s Office conducted a series of orchestrated searches of at least eleven Bahai homes and two non-Bahai homes in Rasht, Rezvan-Shahr, Pareh Sar, and Manjil, all cities in Iran’s Gilan Province. Agents seized personal items such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, memory cards, desktop computers and religious books, paintings and photographs of Bahai religious figures. Tow of the homes searched at that time belonged to Navid Bakhshi and Keyvan Pezeshki, who have now been arrested.
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Eight more detainees bailed in Kermanshah

HRANA, November 4, 2017.

Following the release of Sepideh Ahrary (سپیده احراری), on October 18, her eight fellow detainees have also been bailed. Mrs. Ahrary, who is pregant, was released on bail of 100 million tumans (31,000 euros, $US 33,000). The report does not specify the amount of bail for the remaining eight — Azzatollah Shahidi (عزت الله شهیدی), Feruzan Amini (فروزان امینی), Kambiz Moradipour (کامبیز مرادی پور), Amrullah Eslami (امرالله اسلامی), Nematullah Shadabi (نعمت الله شادابی), Sino Rasouli (سینو رسولی) and Amir Kadivar ( امیر کدیور). They were arrested in home raids on the morning of October 18, and detained at the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence. These and other recent arrests in Iran apparently relate to Bahais commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, the Iranian who founded the Bahai community.
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Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi summoned yet again

Payam News, October 28, 2017.

Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi (یکتافهندژسعدی), a Bahai from Shiraz, has again been summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence Detention Facility 100 in Shiraz.

Miss Fahandezh-Sa`adi was one of fifteen Bahais arrested in Shiraz in 2010. On February 3, 2012, she was again arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence and spent 82 days in Detention Facility 100. She was released on bail and later charged with propaganda against the regime and undermining national security. She was given a five-year suspended sentence, but was later acquitted — a most unusual event — by the Court of Review.

However she was arrested again by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on March 16, 2014. The agents searched her home and seized books, a laptop and personal effects. She was transferred to Detention Facility 100 and was detained for two months. On June 16, 2016 she was again tried and sentenced by Judge Doctor Sadati (دکتر ساداتی) to five years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “collusion.” A month later, while waiting to begin serving this 5-year sentence, she was arrested again, and held for over 80 days in the Ministry of Intelligence’s detention facilities in Shiraz, before her release on bail on October 4. In December, 2016, the Court of Review in Shiraz reduced her 5-year sentence to two years in prison and a three-year suspended sentence. On March 19 this year she was taken to Adel Abad prison to begin serving this 2-year sentence, but according to the latest report she was released on furlough (not previously reported to my knowledge), and now has been summoned for interrogation on unspecified new charges.

[ It would appear that there is a tussle going on between factions of the governing apparatus. The Ministry of Intelligence in Shiraz, disturbed by her unusual acquittal, seems determined to show who is in charge by detaining her repeatedly ~ Sen ]
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Two arrests in Tehran, one free on bail in Kermanshah

Payam News, October 28, 2017.

On the evening of October 26, Negin Tadrisi (نگین تدریسی) and Sufeya Mobini (سوفیا مبینی), two Bahais living in Tehran, were arrested in Ms. Mobini’s home by security agents. The home was searched, and they were then taken along as the agents went to Ms. Tadrisi’s home and searched that. The agents seized laptops, mobile phones, books and photographs. They two detainees were taken to Evin Prison, where Ms. Tadrisi was allowed to make a phone call on the following day, to inform their families.

Sepideh Ahrary (سپیده احراری), one of nine Bahais arrested in Kermanshah on October 18, has been released on bail. She is pregnant. Bail was set at 100 million tumans (31,000 euros, $US 33,000).
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One arrest in Birjand

Iran Press Watch, October 31, 2017.

On October 29, at 7:00 a.m., Shayda Abedi (شیدا عابدی), a 26-year-old Bahai residing in Birjand in Iran’s Southern Khorasan Province, was arrested by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence. So far, the reason for her arrest and where she has been transferred has not been communicated to her family. Following her arrest, authorities also searched her home.
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Fariba Kamalabadi released after 10 years in prison

Payam News, October 31, 2017.

Fariba Kamalabadi (فریبا کمال آبادی ) one of the seven “Yaran” (National facilitators for the Iranian Bahai community) has been released at the end of her ten-year prison sentence. The seven “Yaran” were arrested in 2008 and sentenced to 20 years in prison each in 2010 for “espionage,” “propaganda against the state,” and “organizing and expanding an illegal group.” The trials were held in a “revolutionary court” (i.e., not in a criminal court) chaired by the notorious human rights violator Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه). Eight and a half years into their sentences, they were reduced to ten years. Shortly after that, Fariba Kamalabadi was granted a five-day leave from Tehran’s Evin Prison following the birth of her grandchild. There was an uproar in the government-controlled media when a one-time fellow prisoner, Faezeh Hashemi visited Kamalabadi at her home. Mrs. Kamalabadi was initially detained in Evin Prison in Tehran. On July 29, 2010, all the Yaran were transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison (Gohar Dasht prison), about 50 kilometers West of Tehran. On May 6, 2011, when the women’s block at Raja’i Shahr was closed, she and Mahvash Sabet were transferred to Gharchak Varamin prison, 40km south of Tehran, where conditions are particularly inhumane. Two weeks later she was again transferred to Evin Prison, where she remained until yesterday.
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One arrest in Tehran; homes searched in Tabriz and Kerman

Payam News, October 25, 2017.

On October 19, Parisa Sadeqi ( پریسا صادقی) was arrested in her home in Tehran by 20 agents from the Ministry of Intelligence (at least 15 male and 5 female agents). There was a gathering at her home, and the agents took written statements from all the guests, but treated them politely.

Eight Bahai homes in Kerman have been thoroughly searched in recent days. Agents seized documents and personal effects and warned some of the Bahais not to leave the city until they are summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence. They were told they had no right to have any meetings, and homes where a meeting took place would be sealed. [In the past, officials had allowed meetings in Bahai homes of a small number of acquaintances ~ Sen]

Officers from the Ministry of Intelligence also searched six Bahai homes in Tabriz, seizing books and communications devices, and issuing summons to two Bahais.
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Afshin Heiratiyan arrested again


Payam News, October 23, 2017.

Afshin Heiratiyan (افشین حیرتیان), a Bahai children’s rights activist, was arrested on October 20. Security agents in plain clothes, without documentation, came to his house and searched it, seizing his personal effects and communication devices. It is believed he has been taken to Evin Prison in Tehran. The reason for his arrest is not known, but in recent weeks some 20 Bahais have been arrested in Kermanshah, Birjand and Rasht.

Mr. Heiratiyan has previously served a 4-year term in Raja’i Shahr prison, near Tehran. Mr. Heiratijyan wrote and published various articles about child labour and World Children’s Rights Day. He was arrested on June 3, 2010, and charged with propaganda against the regime. He began his prison term in Evin prison in Tehran on August 20, 2011. While he was in Evin prison, he was pressured to provide a televised “confession.” He was released on June 16, 2015.
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Kamran Shahidi free on bail in Tehran

Payam News (Facebook), October 20, 2017.

Kamran Shahidi (کامران شهیدی), a Bahai from Karaj, was released on bail from Evin Prison in Tehran on October 18. Bail was set at 500 million tumans (123,00 euros ; $US 145,000). He was held in solitary confinement for 21 days and interrogated closely. Mr. Shahidi was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on September 25. His business, as a gold trader, was also shut down, and its entire holdings of gold — about 2 kilograms — were seized, along with some currency. They have not been returned to him. The arresting agents also went to the home of his sister and daughter and seized all the gold, along with books and pictures relating to the Bahai Faith.

Azzatollah Shahidi (عزت الله شهیدی), who was arrested in Kermanshah on October 18, is the brother of Kamran Shahidi.
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Three Bahai prisoners released after five years

Payam News (Facebook), October 22, 2017.

On October 21, Fu’ad Fahandezh (فواد فهندژ), Payam Markazi (پیام مرکزی) and Siamak Sadri (سیامک صدری) were released from Raja’i Shahr prison at the end of five-year sentences. All three are Bahais from Gorgan. As previously reported, Kourush Ziari (کوروش زیاری), from Gonbad-e Qabus, was released on October 19, while Fahrmand Sana’i ( فرهمند ثنایی) and Kamal Kashani (کمال کاشانی ), from Gorgan, were released on September 20, also at the end of 5-year sentences. All were charged with propaganda against the regime, collaborating with hostile governments and and membership of the secret Bahai organisation.
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14 Bahai-run businesses closed in Shiraz Province

Payam News, October 22, 2017.

Fourteen Bahai-run businesses in the cities of Shiraz, Gonbad-e Qabus, and Gorgan have been closed by the authorities. Five were closed in the Shiraz, eight in Gonbad-e Qabus, and one in Gorgan. The office of public places has claimed they had no business licences: the Bahai owners have responded by posting photographs of their business licences, bearing the yellow stam from the office of public places.

The business owners in Shiraz are Riazullah Khadem (ریاض اله خادم), Isma`il Foruzan (اسماعیل فروزان), Farshad Farzandi (فرشاد فرزندی), Varjavand Mostaqim (ورجاوند مستقیم) and Mostafa Sha`erzadeh (مصطفی شاعرزاده). In Gonbade-e Qabus the owners are Koroush Ziari (کوروش زیاری), owner of two sealed businesses, along with Mrs. Hamideh Ziari (حمیده زیاری), Iraj Roshani (ایرج روشنی), Houman Ta’ef (هومن طائف), Sassan Sabeti (ساسان ثابتی), Shahram Tahdhib (شهرام تهذیب) and Farhad Fana’ayan (فرهاد فنائیان). The Guild authorities in Gonbad had issued a warning that shops should be kept open on last Saturday and Sunday, which were Bahai Holy Days which Bahais take free from work, where possible. The Bahai-run business that was closed in Gorgan was an optometry supplies shop run by Mehran Khalkhali (مهران خلخلی ).

In recent days, at least 40 Bahai businesses in Golestan were warned that they face closure if they take the Bahai Holy Days free.
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Nine arrests in Birjand

Payam News, October 22, 2017.

On the morning of October 21, security forces raided 15 Bahai homes in Birjand and arrested nine Bahai. Those arrested were Bahnam Salehi (بهمن صالحی), Khalil Malaki (خليل ملاكی), Sohrab Malaki (سهراب ملاكی), Saghir Mohammadi (ساغر محمدی), Simin Mohammadi (سيمين محمدی ), Maryam Mokhtari (مريم مختاری), Bijan Ahmadi (بيژن احمدی), Firooz Ahmadi (فيروز احمدی) and Sheyda `Abadi (شيدا عابدی). During the searches, officials seized mobile phones, laptops, and images and books relating to the Bahai Faith.
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Kourush Ziari released after 5 years without furlough

Payam News (Facebook), October 20, 2017.

Kourush Ziari (کوروش زیاری), a Bahai from Gonbad-e Qabus in North-eastern Iran, was released on October 19 at the end of a 5-year sentence, most of which he served in Raja’i Shahr prison near Tehran. He was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence in Gonbad-e Qabus on October 17, 2012, and interrogated at the Ministry of Intelligence interrogation centres in Gorgan and then in Gonbad. In the company of six other Bahai prisoners in Gorgan, he was transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran and finally to Raja’i Shahr prison, on December 22, 2012. All seven were charged with propaganda against regime, collaborating with hostile governments and and membership of the secret Bahai organisation. He never received any prison furlough, despite being imprisoned far from his home. In July, 2015, he was taken to a hospital for treatment required because an injury he had at the time of his arrest had been left untreated, leading to diverse ailments. Two other Bahai men in this group, Fahrmand Sana’i ( فرهمند ثنایی) and Kamal Kashani (کمال کاشانی ), from Gorgan, were released on September 20.
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Nine arrests in Kermanshah

Payam News (Facebook), October 19, 2017.

On the morning of October 18, security forces raided the homes of nine Bahais living in Kermanshah, which they searched thoroughly. They arrested nine Bahais: Azzatollah Shahidi (عزت الله شهیدی), Feruzan Amini (فروزان امینی), Kambiz Moradipour (کامبیز مرادی پور), Sepideh Ahrary (سپیده احراری), Amrullah Eslami (امرالله اسلامی), Nematullah Shadabi (نعمت الله شادابی), Sino Rasouli (سینو رسولی) and Amir Kadivar ( امیر کدیور). It is thought that they are being detained at the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence. Sepideh Ahrary is pregnant. Most of those detailed have been arrested previously (according to this report ~Sen). Azzatollah Shahidi and Feruzan Amini are the father and mother of Iqan Shahidi (ایقان شهیدی), a Bahai from Kermanshah, was released from Raja’i Shahr prison on January 1, 2017, at the end of a five-year sentence for his activism for equality of educational opportunities in Iran.
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One new arrest in Rasht, Gilan Province

Payam News (Facebook), October 17, 2017.

Nazila Khanipour-Machiani (نازیلا خانی پور ماچیانی), a Bahai resident of Rasht, has been arrested on the order of the Prosecutor’s Office, and taken to an unknown place. The reason for her arrest is not known.

On September 11, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence with search orders from the Prosecutor’s Office conducted a series of orchestrated searches of at least eleven Bahai homes and two non-Bahai homes in Rasht, Rezvan-Shahr, Pareh Sar, and Manjil, all cities in Iran’s Gilan Province. Some Bahais were arrested, and released on bail a few days later. The present arrest is thought to be related to these arrests, in which case Mrs. Khanipour has probably been taken for interrogation to the Ministry of Intelligence offices.
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Five Bahai prisoners released early in Gorgan, one in Gonbad

Payam News (Facebook), October 15, 2017.

Puna Sana’i ( پونه ثنایی), Fahrnaz Tabayanian-Sana’i (فرحناز تبیانیان( ثنایی)), Hana Aqiqiyan (هنا عقیقیان), Rufeya Pakzadan ( روفیا پاکزادان), and Behnam Hassani (بهنام حسني) have been granted conditional release from Amir Abad prison in Gorgan. They have served a little one third of their sentences. Rufeya Pakzadan was sentenced to 18 months in prison, while the other four had 21-month sentences.

The name of Fahrnaz Tabayanian-Sana’i was previously reported as Farah Tebyanian-Sana’i (فرح تبیانیان (ثنائی).

Kamelia Bideli (کاملیا بیدلی), from Minudasht, has also been granted conditional release from prison in Gonbad. She was serving an 18-month sentence.

As previously reported, four other Bahais were granted conditional early release from prison in Gorgan a few days ago. All ten of those freed were among 22 Bahais of Golestan Province who were first arrested on October 17, 2012.
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Stock of Bahai optician in Karaj expropriated

Payam News (facebook), October 12, 2017.

The entire stock of an opticians shop formerly run by Farrokh Bandi (فرخ بندی) and Behnam Ellahi (بهنام نبی اللهی), two Bahais living in Karaj, was seized by the authorities on October 11. The shop has been sealed since November 9, 2016. After seizing the contents of the shop, it was resealed. The owners were forced to gather their property together and load it into a rental van, which they were required to pay for. The property confiscated by the government included glasses and accessories, and equipment for making glasses.
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Hana Kushkabaghi begins her sentence in Gorgan

Payam News (Facebook), October 12, 2017.

Hana Kushkabaghi ( هنا کوشکباغی ) from Gonbad-e Qabus, was summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence and taken to Amir Abad prison in Gorgan on October 11, to begin a sentence of one year and nine months for her Bahai beliefs. She was originally sentenced to 9 years, but this was reduced by the Review Court. She was one of 22 Bahais of Golestan Province who were arrested on October 17, 2012. They were charged with collaborating with hostile governments, effective activities to promote the goals of a sect and of anti-Islamic and anti-Shiah hostile governments, and with making propaganda in favour of the Bahai Faith and against the regime of the Islamic Republic, by participating in the ‘Ruhi program’ (Bahai catechism) in Golestan Province.
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Four Bahais given early release from prison in Gorgan

Payam News (Facebook), October 7, 2017.

Nazi Tahqiqi (نازی تحقیقی), Houshmand Dehqan Yazdeli (هوشمند دهقان یزدلی), Mariyam Dehqan Yazdeli (مریم دهقان یزدلی) and Soudabeh Mehdinezhad ( سودابه مهدی نژاد) have been granted conditional early release from prison in Gorgan. They are among 20 Bahais who were arrested in the Province in October, 2012. These four were all sentenced 18 months in prison. Soudabeh Mehdinezhad began his sentence on June 19, 2017, while the other three began their sentences on June 13.
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Five years for five Tehran Bahais; good news in Mashhad

Payam News (Facebook), October 4.

Navid Aqdasi (نوید اقدسی), Yahvah Haqiqat Mehlabani ( یاور حقیقت مهلبانی), Helia Moshtaq (هلیا مشتاق), Nava Monjazeb Qamasari (نوا منجذب قمصری) and Negar Baqeri Tari’ (نگار باقری طاری ) have been sentenced to five years in prison for their Bahai beliefs. The sentence, in the “magistrate’s” court will be reviewed in the Provincial Court of Review. They were among 20 Bahais who were arrested in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on November 15, 2015, two of whom were released within a few hours.

Following their arrests, they were held for interrogation for over a month, and then abiled. Bail for Mrs. Monjazeb, Baqeri and Haqiqat was set at 100 million tumans (31,000 euros, $US 33,000). I do not know the bail for the other two
detainees in Tehran.

In April this year it was announced that Khoshayar and Shayan Tafazolli ( خشایار و شایان تفضلی ) and Sina Aqdas-zadeh ( سینا اقدس زاده ), Bahais from Mashhad, were sentenced by Judge Mansouri (قاضی منصوری) to one year in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime. However the latest report — probably revised following the Court of Review’s ruling, but the report says it comes from the Revolutionary (ideological crimes) Court — is that Shayan Tafazolli was acquitted, and the other two received a one-year sentence to be suspended for five years.
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Mariya Kothari sentenced in Qorveh

Payam News, October 4, 2017.

Dr. Mariya Kothari (ماریا کوثری), a Bahai from Qorveh, who was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on October 4, 2016, has been sentenced to one year in prison, a fine of five million [tumans], and two years in internal exile in the town of Torbat Heydarieh. Mrs. Kothari was accused of teaching the Bahai Faith. She has been free on bail since October 18, 2016. After her arrest in Qorveh she was taken to the Ministry of Intelligence detention facilities first in Qorveh and then in Sanandaj.

Mrs. Kothari’s husband and son do not have Iranian nationality and have been required to leave Iran. Her husband lives in Ecuador and her son in Australia.
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Behnam Rouhanifard free on bail

Payam News (Facebook), October 3, 2017.

Behnam Rouhanifard (بهنام روحانی فرد), a Bahai singer-songwriter, was released on bail from Evin Prison in Tehran today. He was arrested when agents stopped his car in the streets of Tehran on September 3 this year. He was taken to his home, which was searched, and agents filmed the search and all the details of the house. On July 4 this year he was stopped at Tehran Airport, on his return from a European concert tour, and questioned by security officials. Personal effects such as his passport, a mobile phone, laptop and books were seized, and he has been trying unsuccessfully to get these returned. In October 2009, Mr. Rouhanifard was sentenced to 9 months in prison for singing Bahai songs(links to Youtube). He served his sentence in Yazd Prison.
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New arrest in Tehran

Payam News (Facebook), September 29, 2017.

Kamran Shahidi (کامران شهیدی), a Bahai living in Tehran, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on September 25. His business, as a gold trader, was also shut down, and its entire holdings of gold were seized. They then went to the home of his sister and daughter and seized all the gold, along with books and pictures relating to the Bahai Faith. Four days later, the attempts of his family to find out where he is being detained have been fruitless.
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115 Bahai students barred from universities in Iran

Payam News (Facebook), September 19, 2017.
Radio Farda, September 20, 2017

As the results of the annual University Entrance Examination come in, at least 115 Bahai students are known to have received the message “Dear applicant, there’s a flaw in your dossier. Please contact the Response Unit of the Appraisal Agency.” The number actually excluded this year is thought to exceed 200 — some for the first time, some who have been excluded in the past and who have taken the examination again this year. The number of Bahais excluded or expelled from tertiary education since the 1979 revolution is believed to exceed 100,000. Iran’s educational apartheid policy was formalised in a 1991 decree which also sets out other measures intended to block their “progress and development.”

This was the second year that Foad, a Baha’i applicant, received the message. “I have not yet visited the Response Unit of the Appraisal Agency this year. However, last year I had a long discussion with one of the agency’s officials, who told me I was denied entry on the orders of security agents of the Intelligence [Ministry],” he told Radio Farda.

Foad quoted the official as saying, “Therefore, we cannot let you enter a university,” and added, “When I asked the reason behind it, the official said, ‘They have disqualified you because of your faith.’ ”

The answer was not good enough for Foad. “I asked the official to respond to my enquiry in writing. He wrote down my address and telephone number, saying, ‘We’ll send your request to the Intelligence [Ministry] and will let you know if we receive an answer.’ ”

“I never received any answer,” Foad added.

Another Iranian Bahai, Omid, who successfully participated in this year’s national university admission contest but was denied entering a university, told Radio Farda, “Yesterday, I went to the Response Unit of the Appraisal Agency. They introduced me to an expert who was there exclusively for Bahai student cases. They didn’t respond to my enquiry in writing but told me I do not have the right to enter a university because of my belief in the Baha’i faith.”

A Bahai nicknamed Maryam, who used to study at Tehran’s Beheshti University, told Radio Farda, “They did not deliver me anything in writing. They simply closed down my site and, after two semesters, tried me in absentia and expelled me from the university. I called them to find out why I was deprived of continuing my studies. They did not tell me why.”

Maryam had no choice other than to visit the Response Unit of the Appraisal Agency. “There, I discussed my case with the members of the Central Appraisal Board. They said, ‘You know that you are a Baha’i and Bahais do not have the right to education.’ I was deprived of further education solely because my school of thought is different. They insisted the only way for me to return to the university was to write a letter saying I had converted to Islam and rejected Baha’ism.”

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Raids and arrests in Gilan Province

Iran Press Watch, September 20, 2017.

On September 11, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence with search orders from the Prosecutor’s Office conducted a series of orchestrated searches of at least eleven Bahai homes and two non-Bahai homes in Rasht, Rezvan-Shahr, Pareh Sar, and Manjil, all cities in Iran’s Gilan Province.

Agents seized personal items such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, memory cards, desktop computers and religious books, paintings and photographs of Bahai religious figures.

According to reports from HRANA, the residences of Shahab Taeed (شهاب تایید), Keyvan Pezeshki (پزشکی), Siamak Pour-Abdolhamid (سیامک پورعبدالحمید), Aref Aghdasi, Hamid Rahimi, Farajollah Farhangi (فرهنگی) and Ramez Heravi (رامز هروی) were searched in the city of Rasht. At the time of the search of Ramez Heravi’s residence, no one was at home. Agents used force to break into the house and proceeded to search it in the absence of the residents and seize personal belongings including a computer and all the books.

The residences of Jahangir Hasani (جهانگیر حسنی), Bahador Hasani (بهادر حسنی) and Babak Sayyahi (بابک سیاحی) in Rezvan-Shahr and Pareh Sar were among the houses searched. The Hosseinzadeh family residence in Manjil was the last location searched by agents in Gilan province on September 11th.

Susan Badam (Farhangi) ( سوسن بادام) and Farida Asadpour (Rahimi) (فریدا اسدپور رحیمی), two Bahai women, were arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence without any reasons or charges. They were transferred to Lakan Prison in Rasht after undergoing administrative proceedings. As of September 20, they are still in the prison, and have been provided with no clear directive or next steps.

On the same day, it was reported that Agents searched the residences of two non-Bahai families whose identity is being protected, who are acquaintances of the Bahais whose houses were searched. In the process two women were detained. They were taken to the Detention Center of the Intelligence Ministry and were eventually released on September 19. It is not unusual for non-Bahais in Iran to be arrested or intimidated simply for being acquaintances of Bahais.
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Fahrmand Sana’i and Kamal Kashani released after 5 years in prison

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

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

Payam News (Facebook), September 14, 2017.

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

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

Bahai World News Service, September 19, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Payam News (Facebook), September 12, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Payam News, September 10, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bahai World News Service, September 1, 2017.

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

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

Full story: BWNS
~~~~~~~~~

West Azerbaijan Provincial Security Council seeks re-opening of Bahai businesses

Payam News, August 31, 2017.

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

Diyollah Elahian free on bail in Kashan

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

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

Three Bahais in Kashan free on bail

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

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

Saba Golshan gets prison furlough

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

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

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

New Pilgrim Reception Centre opens in Haifa

Bahai World News Service, August 25, 2017.

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

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

The new Reception Centre makes it possible for several hundred pilgrims to visit the Baha’i World Centre at the same time. [Full story here]
~~~~~~~~~

Keyvan Rahimiyan is out of prison

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

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

Neda Mokhtari released on bail

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

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

One new arrest in Mashhad

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

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

Scam version of ‘Church and State’ advertised

Editorial, August 12, 2017.

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

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

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

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

It is very likely that there is a real bookstore called Books Company, based in Oconamowoc, which is a real town. But don’t use this site or any information on it to contact the real bookshop.
~~~~~~~~~

Amrollah Manuchihri and Diyollah Elahian returned to Kashan prison

Payam/Bahai News, August 7, 2017.

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

Four more Bahais businesses closed in Urmia

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

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

Sohayl Haqqdoust arrested, released on bail in Sari

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

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

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

Threat to shut down a Bahai business in Karaj

Iran Press Watch, August 1, 2017.

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

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

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

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

Sentences slashed for Ruhiyyeh Zaynali and Samir Khalousi

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

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

Nine Bahais acquitted by review court in Zahedan

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

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

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

Manuchher Khalousi released in Mashhad

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

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

He was arrested on November 29, 2013, when security forces raided his home, for the sixth time since the 1979 Revolution. At his trial, on July 8, 2014, he was charged with “acting against national security by giving interviews with foreign media.” However no interviews with Mr. Kholousi are known, in either Iranian or foreign media. The court therefore adjourned the sitting for lack of evidence, and a judge was appointed to gather evidence for new charges. A court then sentenced him to six years in prison on charges against of propaganda against the regime and undermining national security. The review court reduced this sentence to one year.

His daughters, Nika and Nava Kholousi (نیکا و نوا خلوصی ), are serving sentences of six years and four and a half years, respectively, on charges of membership of the Bahai organisation, participation in illegal Bahai activities, and propaganda in favour of the Bahais and against the regime of the Islamic Republic.

In 1999, Mr. Kholousi was sentenced to death for being a Bahai. This sentence was later reduced to one year in prison, by which time he had already served 19 months in prison.
~~~~~~~~~

Killers of Farhang Amiri sentenced

Bahai News, July 26, 2017.

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

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

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

Numerous Bahai business sealed in Urmia and other centres

Bahai News (facebook), July 24, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

Two new arrests in Kashan

Payam News, July 20, 2017.

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

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

Noushin Salekian and Farideh Abdi free on bail

Bahai News (Facebook), July 17, 2017.

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

Wilmette Institute signs agreement with the United Theological Seminary

Wilmette Institute, June 30, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

Afnan library online collection opened to the public

Editorial, July 17, 2017.

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

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

Unpublished English language manuscripts (academic theses)- 1 item

Persian and Arabic publications (4 books and 2 journals)

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

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

Eleven Bahai businesses closed in Ahvaz

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

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

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

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

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

Shiva Rouhani begins an 18-month sentence

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

Two arrests in Shiraz


Bahai News (Persian), July 6, 2017.

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

Two new arrests in Kashan

Bahai News (Persian), July 4. 2017.

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

Parivash Shoja`i and Rufeya Pakzadan enter prison

Bahai News (Persian), July 3, 2017.

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

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

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