Sen's daily

2013-05-08

May to August, 2013

Three Bahais arrested in Isfahan area

HRANA, August 21, 2013

On August 15, agents of the Ministry of Intelligence, accompanied by police officers, raided the home of an elderly Bahai in the village of Helab, Isfahan, where a number of Bahais from the Najafabad and Vilashahr areas had gathered to say prayers and read Bahai books. The agents seized religious books and questioned the residents and arrested three people: Bunafsha Ferdowsian, Afrouz Rouhi (pictured), and Mas`ud Wajdani ( بنفشهفردوسیان، افروز روحی و مسعود وجدانی ). Bunafsha Ferdowsian was later released on bail.
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Bahai martyred in Bandar Abbas

BWNS and the Universal House of Justice, August 27, 2013

A well-known member of the Iranian Baha’i community, Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), was killed in a religiously-motivated attack in Bandar Abbas, in Southern Iran on August 24. His body was found in his car near the railway station on the outskirts of the city: he had been shot in the back of the head. It appears that his assailants may have forced him to drive to the place he was shot.

Mr. Rezvani was well-known as a Baha’i. For three years he was one of the three Bahais who served as local facilitators (Khademin) for the Bahais in the area, which would have involved interactions with local authorities on behalf of the Bahais. His life had previously been threatened by fanatical elements within the city administration, by the office of the Imam Jam`eh and by the Ministry of Intelligence. He was loved and respected by the people of Bandar Abbas for his honesty and helpfulness. As a young man, he was expelled from his engineering studies at university because he was a Baha’i. He nonetheless came to be regarded as an expert in water purification, and his work took him to other cities. Recently, owing to pressure and threats from agents of the Ministry of Intelligence, he was dismissed from his work and had to resort to selling water purification equipment. These agents had also been bringing pressure to bear on him to leave the city. More recently, he had begun receiving menacing telephone calls from unknown persons. On several occasions in the past few years senior local clerics have attempted to incite the population through incendiary sermons against the Bahais of the city. Some years ago, two Bahai men, Mi`ad Afshar and Dr. Meydani ( میعاد افشار و دکتر میدانی ) were stabbed by ‘enforcers’ retained by the Imam Jam`eh, and on an earlier incident, Mr. Iraj Mahdinezhad (ایرج مهدی نژاد) was stabbed by what is described in my sources as “a Muslim mob” [with apologies to true Muslims who will rightly consider this a misuse of the term Muslim ~ Sen.]

In a message dated August 27, the Universal House of Justice, the international head of the Bahai community, writes, “he gave up his life and quaffed the cup of martyrdom.”

Mr. Rezvani’s sister, Sahba Rezvani ( صهبا رضوانی ), has served three and a half years in prison in Semnan and Tehran.
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Siamak Iqani released

PCED, August 9, 2013

Siamak Iqani (سیامک ایقانی ), a Bahai from Semnan, has been released from prison at the end of this three-year sentence for “propaganda against the regime and Bahai propaganda. He was sentenced on July 11, 2009, and began his sentence in Semnan prison on November 6, 2009. [So he has actually served 3 years and 9 months ~ Sen]. He suffered three respiratory attacks in prison, and was hospitalised in February 2011. During his term in prison he had 10 days of prison furlough, in June 2011. His wife, Anisa Fana’eyan (انیسا فنائیان ) was sentenced to 4 years and 4 months on charges of adherence to and teaching the Bahai Faith, reduced by the review court to 22 months in prison. She began her sentence on January 19, 2013. The couple have two young children, who were taken from them when Anisa Fana’eyan began her sentence. Their business in Semnan has also been closed down.
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Navid Khanjani transferred to hospital

HRANA, August 7, 2013

Navid Khanjani (نوید خانجانی ), a Bahai human rights activist and a founding member of the PCED (Campaign against Educational Discrimination), was transferred from Raja’i Shahr prison to a hospital in Tehran on August 3, in relation to problems with his heart, breathing and lower back. He is serving a 12-year sentence, on charges of spreading propaganda (an activity which the IRI itself engages in), disturbing public opinion, propaganda against the regime in the reports and interviews of foreign media, membership of the central committee of the CHRR (Committee of Human Rights Reporters), and founding the PCED.
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Sa`id Reza’i sent to prison from hospital despite needing aftercare

HRANA, August 8, 2013

Sa`id Reza’i (سعید رضائی ) one of the seven ‘Yaran’ (facilitators for the Bahais in Iran) who have served over 5 years of their 20-year sentences,
was hospitalized two weeks ago due to a gastrointestinal disorder, and was transferred back to Rajai Shahr prison on August 7. During his treatment, tests revealed that he also has a 70% blockage in his coronary artery. He underwent emergency heart surgery. Doctors ordered one month of after care in a quiet and suitable location. Ignoring the doctor’s orders for post-op care, officials returned him to Raja’i Shahr prison.
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Sentences of the Khalusi sisters go to review

HRANA, August 8, 2013

The files of Nika and Nava Khalusi (نیکا و نوا خلوصی ), Bahais from Mashhad, were sent to the review court for the province of Khorosan on August 7. Their trial was held on May 12. Nika was sentenced to six years in prison, and Nava to four and a half years, 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. The bail was exceptionally high.
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Samim Zara’i free on bail

PCED, August 2, 2013

Samim Zara’i (صمیم زارعی) a Bahai from Sanandaj who was arrested during a raid on his home on July 6, has been freed on bail, set at 200 million tumans (123,000 euros, $US 162,000)
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“THE GARDENER” wins another award

Makhmalbaf.com, July 31, 2013

The Sixteenth Motovun Film Festival in Croatia has granted its Special Maverick Award (Independent Art) to the film “THE GARDENER” by Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Mohsen Makhmalbaf was present as a guest of honour at the festival, where they held a retrospective some of his works. While receiving the award he said:

“I hope this award could be used as a key in unlocking the doors of cultural and political prisons.
With this hope in my mind, I dedicate this award to that eighty-year-old Baha’i man who has been sentenced to twenty years of prison and is passing the last years of his life in one cell with his grandson.
I dedicate this award to that Baha’i mother from Semnan who is in prison accompanied by her infant child.
I dedicate this award to all the 130 Baha’i prisoners who are in Iran’s political prisons only because they have adopted a different religion or because they have taught Baha’i youth at their homes while the government of Iran has deprived these youth from entering Iranian universities. …”

Full report here
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One arrest in Qorveh

PCED facebook page, July 29, 2013

Behnam Eqdamian (بهنام اقدامیان), a Bahai from Qorveh, was arrested at his workplace there on July 23, 2013. Security agents came with a judicial warrant. He was apparently transferred to the custody of the Ministry of Intelligence, since on July 27, 2013, he was transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence detention facilities in Sanandaj. There has been no word about the reason for his detention or his condition.
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Manizheh Nasrollahi released from prison

Iran Green Voice, July 26, 2013

Manizheh Nasrollahi (منیژه نصراللهی), a 60-year-old Bahai from Semnan who has been serving a sentence of three years in Evin prison, was released on July 26, at the end of her sentence. She was arrested during a raid on her house on June 17, 2009, and taken to Semnan prison, where she was held for about 6 weeks before being released on bail. She was initially sentenced to three and a half years [or three years and 8 months: reports vary], on charges of propaganda against the regime and membership of the Bahai community. This was reduced to three years by the review court. She began her sentence in Semnan prison on February 27, 2010, and was transferred to Evin prison in Tehran on March 11, 2010. While she was in prison in Tehran, her aged husband had to travel back and forth to meet her and take care of administrative matters.
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Passing of Dr. Amin Banani

Baha’is of Santa Monica, July 28, 2013

Professor Amin Banani, a scholar of Persian and of the Bahai Faith, author and translator, Knight of Baha’u’llah and son of Hand of the Cause Musa Banani, passed away Sunday, July 28, 2013. A selection of his works can be seen on his web page.
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Zhinous Rahimi begins 1-year sentence


PCED, July 20, 2013

Zhinous Rahimi (ژینوس رحیمی ) a Bahai from Tehran who has been sentenced to one year in prison, reported to Evin prison on July 20 to begin serving her sentence. She was one of almost 20 Bahai arrested in July 2012, in Tehran, Shiraz, and Mashhad. After being held for about 3 weeks, she was released on bail. She was initially sentenced to three years in prison, reduced to one year by the review court.
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Destruction of the House of Baha’u’llah: update

Messages from the Bahai World Centre, July 17, 2013

In a message addressed to the Bahais of the world, the Universal House of Justice has stated:

“… it was with utter shock and desolating grief that the Baha’is in Baghdad discovered on 26 June that the “most holy habitation” of Baha’u’llah had been razed almost to the ground to make way for the construction of a mosque. It has now been confirmed that the work was undertaken without a legal permit. The destruction of the property, it emerges, had been planned for some time, but the largest part of the operation was carried out over just three days and nights, from 24 to 26 June, using heavy machinery. We understand that the Department of Antiquities, which had previously been preparing to renovate the property, is already taking steps to establish precisely what led to the demolition, to attempt to halt any construction on the same spot, and to bring to account those responsible. …Baha’u’llah foresaw that the Most Great House would be subjected to terrible indignities, but He also stated that, no matter what adversities might arise, the Cause was divinely protected. Let every believer take heart. In a moving apostrophe addressed to that House, the Ancient Beauty asserted: “God hath, in the world of creation, adorned thee with the jewel of His remembrance. Such an ornament no man can, at any time, profane.” He gave a promise, too, that, notwithstanding all that would befall the Blessed House, the future glory of that sanctified place was assured: “In the fullness of time, the Lord shall, by the power of truth, exalt it in the eyes of all men. He shall cause it to become the Standard of His Kingdom, the Shrine round which will circle the concourse of the faithful.”
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Demonstrative rejection of anti-Bahaism from Mohammad Nourizad

HRANA, July 15, 2013

On July 15, the prominent Iranian file director Mohammad Nourizad visited the home of the Rahimiyan family. Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان ) and his wife Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی ) are both serving 4-year prison sentences for their work as teachers at the Bahai Open University (BIHE). Mr. Rahimiyan is in Raja’i Shahr prison, in Karaj, about 50 kilometres from Tehran, and his wife is in Evin prison, in Tehran. Their son Artin (آرتین) is in the care of his grandmother. His grandfather was martyred for his Faith some years ago.

On his web site, Mr. Nourizad has published a photograph showing him kissing the feet of Artin, and writes “Today I went to see a small Bahai family: small in the sense that only the grandmother and her four-year-old grandson remain. I seated Artin, the four-year-old, on a chair and, on behalf of all the arrogant Shiah [sic], I asked his forgiveness, and I kissed his little feet. … Today, I am not fasting [for Ramadan], because I am ill. Artin brought me water, and I drank, he brought me fruit, and I ate.”

Mr. Nourizad’s act, and posting the photograph on his blog, is a demonstrative rejection of both the ideology of the Islamic Republic, which has made anti-Bahaism a feature of its version of Iranian identity, and of the Othering of Bahais in Iranian culture, which is much older than the Islamic Republic. Bahais are popularly regarded as unclean, and this has been confirmed by religious authorities in numerous fatwas since the Revolution. Bahais are therefore not allowed to work in food industries in Iran. To visit a Bahai home and accept food and drink creates a potent symbolic image, showing an alternative Iranian identity which would be free of bigotry and discrimination. It is also a gesture of reconciliation, and for a man living in Iran, an act of courage. He was jailed in 2009 after criticizing the crackdown on protesters challenging the reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Nourizad suggested that by kissing the boy’s feet, he was following the example of Pope Francis, who earlier this year kissed the feet of a young female Muslim prisoner: “When the Pope, the leader of the world’s Catholics, bends, washes, and kisses the feet of a Muslim prisoner, why shouldn’t I kiss your feet as a representative of the office of [Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei] and the Shi’ite sources of emulation?”

“Little Artin meets [his parents] every Sunday. He goes to Karaj to meet his father and uncle and to Evin prison to meet his mother. Artin’s parents have not committed any crime, except that they are Baha’i.”
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Shamim Ettahadi sentenced: 5 years

HRANA, July 14, 2013

Shamim Ettahadi (شمیم اتحادی), a Bahai from Yazd who was arrested during a raid on his home on March 14, has been sentenced to 5 years in prison, on charges of acting against national security and propaganda against the regime. The charges relate to his supposed responsibility for a video documenting the destruction of the Bahai cemetery in Yazd, which was shown on the Persian-language television network Manoto. He was previously arrested in August 2011, along with three other Bahai youths, who had gone walking in a mountainous area. He was sentenced to 91 days in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime, which the review court changed to 3 years probation.
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Concerns for the health of Rahman Vafa’i, imprisoned in Shiraz

PCED, July 13, 2013

Rahman Vafa’i (رحمان وفائی ), a 59-year old Bahai serving a three-year sentence in Adel Abad prison in Shiraz, is in poor physical health and has been denied prison furlough. He suffers from high blood pressure and experiences severe pain from a sciatic nerve. He was receiving medical treatment before his imprisonment, but it has not been possible to continue this in prison. His family send medicines to the prison, but they are not always passed to him by the prison. Although he needs surgery for his sciatic problem, as he has lost all feeling in his left foot, the prison doctor has not recognized that this is necessary. He was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence in Shiraz on July 14, 2012, and after almost 9 months in detention was sentenced, in May 2013, on the charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “membership in Baha’i organizations.”
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Nura Fallah interrogated, released

PCED, July 10

Nura Samitra Fallah [نورا (سمیترا) فلاح], a Bahai from Shiraz, received telephone calls summoning her to the Ministry of Intelligence on July 8. When she presented herself, she was detained and interrogated for hours. It was previously reported here that she had been arrested.
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Leva Khanjani gets leave from prison

CHRR, July 10, 2013

Leva Khanjani ( لوا خانجانی، ), a Bahai student excluded from education, and the granddaughter of the imprisoned Bahai facilitator Jamaloddin Khanjani, was granted 4 days of prison furlough beginning on July 10. She has served 11 months of a two-year sentence in Evin prison in Tehran. She was arrested on January 3, 2010, along with her husband Babak Mobasher ( بابک مبشر). They were among 12 Tehran Bahais blamed for the Ashura protests in late 2009. Her brother Fu’ad Khanjani (فواد خانجانی), another student excluded from education, is serving a 4-years sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison.
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Bahai student expelled in Shiraz

HRANA, July 10

Aida Bandi (آیدا بندی ), a Bahai in the second semester of a degree in English language and literature at the Payam-e Nour University in Shiraz, has been barred from continuing her studies. University officials told her she should either become a Muslim, or continue her studies outside the country like the other Bahais.
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Two arrests in Sanandaj

HRANA, July 9, 2013

Samim Zara’i (صمیم زارعی) a Bahai from Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan Province, was arrested on July 6, when security agents raided his home. HRANA reports that this follows the arrest of Sama Ra’ufi (سما رئوفی) in Sanandaj “within the last two months.” This is presumably a different person to the Sama Ra’ufi, also a Bahai, who was arrested in Arak on February 20, as previously reported.
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One arrest in Shiraz

HRANA, July 8

Nura Samitra Fallah [نورا (سمیترا) فلاح], a Bahai from Shiraz, received telephone calls summoning her to the Ministry of Intelligence on July 8, and was arrested when she presented herself. It is not known where she is being held, or what the reason may be. On February 4, 2012, she was one of those detained in the course of communal arrests of Bahais in Shiraz. She was held in Detention Centre 100 in Shiraz. [I do not know when she was released ~Sen]
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BBC Persian service, July 6, 2013

The Iranian film-maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf is being honored as a special guest at the Jerusalem Film Festival, July 4 – 13. A number of his films will be shown, including “The Gardener,” which is about the Bahai Faith and was shot largely in the Bahai Gardens in Haifa and Akka. The Gardener (Persian: باغبان Baghban) is a poetic documentary film that Mohsen Makhmalbaf co-directed with his son Maysam Makhmalbaf. It is about an Iranian filmmaker and his son who travel to Israel to learn about the role of religion in the world. While the son goes out to the Wailing Wall, the Golden Mosque and Christian sites, the father stays at the Baha’i gardens to learn about a faith that came out of his own country – Iran. While the film is an exploration of the Baha’i Faith, it is also the story of two generations of Iranians debating the positive and negative aspects of religions. Makhmalbaf argues that it is very important for the world to have religion since it is such a powerful force, while his son disagrees, pointing to examples of the corruption of religion. The film is similar to Gabbeh and The Silence in style. At the Beirut International Film Festival in 2012, the The Gardener won the Gold Aleph for best documentary, and Times of India placed it in the top 10 filems of 2012 at the Mumbai International Film Festival.

According to one report, Makhmalbaf made this film in Israel “just to provoke the fundamentalist elements in my country.”
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Bahai memorial service raided in Tenakbon

Azadi Qalam, July 5, 2013

Yesterday, security forces in Tenakbon raided a Bahai meeting marking one year since the death of Mrs Layli Sobhani ( لیلی سبحانی ), disrupting the ceremony and insulting those present. Seven to eight security officers entered the home where lunch was being served for about 80 people and alarmed those present with loud shouting, such as “You members of the deviant Bahai cult … you really have no right to meet, you have no right to protest, you don’t even have a right to have a picnic.” Nobody was arrested: the raid appeared to be aimed only at spoiling the day.
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Guilty verdict in the murder of John Veira in Suriname

DWT online, July 4, 2013 :

Sergio Brank has been found guilty of the murder of John Veira, a prominent member of the Bahai community in Suriname and the Director of Civil Aviation there. Mr. Veira was assassinated in front of his house in Commewijne on the night of April 21, 2010 (the First Day of Ridavan). Two men on a motorcycle arrived, called to him, and shot him three times in the chest when he came out. He died on the spot. He was 59 years old. The motives for the murder have not been clarified. The court has found that Brank was the shooter, and has sentenced him to 18 years in prison. Three other men have been found guilty of assisting in destroying evidence.

The son of the deceased, Jeewan Veira, has stated that he thinks he knows who paid for the murder, but will not speak in public. As regards the motive, he says, “My father had integrity. He was in the way for people engaged in shady dealing. Even if you put a bag of dollars in front of him, he wouldn’t take it. The only way those people could get past him was by clearing him completely out of the way.”

Update, July 10: the man convicted of the murder, who has maintained his innocence. is to appeal his conviction.
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Universal House of Justice Message to the Youth Conferences

Editorial, July 3, 2013

I have placed the text of the Universal House of Justice’s message to the participants at the 114 youth conferences in the Documents Archive section of my Bahai Studies blog.
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House of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad destroyed

Universal Hosue of Justice, June 27

TO: All National Spiritual Assemblies DATE: 27 June 2013
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With shattered hearts, we have received news of the destruction of the Most Great House–the House of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad. While the precise circumstances attending this outrageous violation are as yet unclear, its immediate consequence is without doubt, and must be emphatically stated: The peoples of the world have been robbed of a sanctuary of incalculable sacredness.

So deplorable an act, coming on the eve of the unprecedented worldwide convocation of Baha’u’llah’s young followers and their friends, calls to mind that mysterious interplay of crisis and victory through which His indestructible, irrepressible, inexorable purpose will finally be consummated.

We supplicate the Blessed Beauty to confer upon His faithful followers throughout the world fortitude and resolve in the face of this grievous blow. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

The Universal House of Justice

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Hushang Fana’ayan freed

PCED, June 27, 2013

Hushang Fana’ayan ( هوشنگ فنائیان ), a Bahai from Amol who has been imprisoned in Babol, was released on parole yesterday. He was arrested on March 14, 2011, and charged with participation in the 19th-day feast and membership of the Bahai community. He was separately charged with propaganda against the regime. Initially he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison (on May 24, 2011) which was reduced by the review court to 4 years: three years for being a Bahai and one year for propaganda against the regime. He was held in Amol prison for one year before being transferred to Babol. He suffered from health problems and very poor conditions during his detention, and was denied the usual prison furlough.
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Ramin Aidalkhani transferred to Meshginshahr prison

HRANA, June 15, 2013

Ramin Aidalkhani ( رامین ایدلخانی ), a Bahai from the city of Parsabad in Ardabil province (the extreme northern tip of Iran, on the Azerbaijan bordr), had been transferred unexpectedly from Parsabad prison to Meshginshahr prison, in a town some 200 kilometres south of Parsabad. Mr. Aidalkhani is serving a two-year sentence on charges of propaganda against the regime and insulting the Beloved Leader, to be followed by a 5-year exile from Ardabil province. He and his wife `Ahdieh Rashediyyehrad ( عهدیه راشدی راد ) were arrested on May 5, 2010. He was sentenced in Aradabil on September 20, 2011, and began his sentence on August 21, 2012.
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New Zealand “Supreme Commitment Award” for the prisoner Aziz Samandari

Dominion Post, June 17

Azizullah Samandari ( عزیز‌الله سمندری ), a 40 year-old Baha’i IT specialist who is serving a 5-year prison sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, has been selected for the New Zealand Parliament’s “Supreme Commitment Award.” Mr. Samandari took part in the 2010 Global Enterprise Experience (GEE), which is supported by Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. He received the award in absentia at Parliament last week. The charges against him included communicating with foreigners, a possible reference to his participation in the competition. However the only question he was asked at his trial was whether he belonged to the Baha’i community. The very short judgment – which was read out but not handed over – spoke of his “active membership in the misguided Baha’i sect” and his association with the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education.

GEE founder Deb Gilbertson said Mr Samandari’s school in Iran indicated his participation in the business competition was not the only reason for his arrest, but was probably a factor. “The Supreme Commitment Award is to recognise the exceptional sacrifice he is making to pursue higher education and global communication,” Mrs Gilbertson said.

This year 12 Baha’i students took part in the competition from Iran through the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE). The institute is run secretly out of homes because the Iranian government does not allow Baha’is entry to public universities. Mr Samandari’s father, a founding member of the BIHE, was executed in 1992.

Kasem Samanadri, who lives in France, said his nephew’s trial had lasted less than ten minutes. “It is not like what we have here in the West. “The verdict had been prepared in advance and executed immediately.” Mr Samandari is confined to a 2×3 metre cell with two, at times three, other people.

“We, as his family are extremely proud of Aziz for what he has done to help innocent young Baha’i boys and girls. We are grateful to the New Zealand Government and Parliament for recognising his courage and distinguishing him with this honour.”

The Iranian Embassy’s public relations officer said groups like the Baha’i did not respect Islam and, therefore, could not expect to participate in normal Iranian life. “We recognise them as humans but do not recognise their beliefs as they are 100 per cent anti-Islam. It is just like how Singapore does not recognise gays.”

Ramez Rowhani, who attended the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education with Mr Samandari, spent three months in a different Iranian jail in 1995 after also being charged with communicating with foreigners. He was released without a trial and fled to New Zealand in 2000. Mr Rowhani said the only time he was removed from his 2×1 metre cell was for the “usual” physical and psychological interrogation handed out to Baha’is in prison.

Mr Rowhani, who is now an IT consultant in Wellington, said since then the conditions inside Iranian jails had worsened, with mothers and their infants in jails with horrendous hygiene and overcrowding conditions. “It is difficult to understand how human beings can do these sorts of things to another human being, let alone their own countrymen.”

Amnesty International New Zealand activism manager Margaret Taylor said what had been happening to the Baha’i in Iran was a serious breach of human rights. “The persecution has intensified quite recently. The Iranian government is demonising the Baha’i people and using the state-run media to push this demonisation to their people.”

Full report

[The Dominion Post report incorrectly states that Mr. Samandari is being held in Evin Prison in Tehran. This is no longer correct, was transferred from Evin to Raja’i Shahr prison in August, 2012. He was also tried twice: at the first trial he was acquitted of all charges, and the case was re-opened with new accusations in 27 Oct 2011. This may explain why there are differing accounts of what he was charged with. ~ Sen]
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Kamran Rahimiyan and Foad Khanjani meet family in Evin prison

HRANA, June 18

Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان ) and Fu’ad Khanjani (فواد خانجانی), two Bahai prisoners in Raja’i Shahr prison, near Tehran, have been allowed to meet family members who are imprisoned in Evin prison in Tehran. Kamran Rahimiyan and his wife
Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی ) are both serving 4-year prison sentences for their work as teachers at the Bahai Open University (BIHE). On June 17 Mr. Rahimiyan was moved to Evin prison and was allowed to see his wife. It is six months since the couple last met. The couple have a son, Artin (آرتین), who is four years old, and has been badly affected by the imprisonment of his parents.

Fu’ad Khanjani, who was a student of industrial management in Isfahan until his expulsion, is also serving a 4-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, while his sister Leava Khanjani ( لواء خانجانی ) is serving a 2-year sentence in Evin prison. Mr. Khanjani was transfered to Evin prison to meet his sister. They last met briefly in prison on December 4, 2012.

However Farzad Madadzadeh (فرزاد مددزاده) and Muhammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi(محمد بنازاده امیرخیزی), two political prisoners held in Raja’i Shahr, who have a sisters in Evin prison, have not been permitted to meet them for some time.
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Rozita Vaseghi denied medical treatment

HRANA, June 16

Rozita Vaseghi ( رزیتا واثقی ), a Bahai who is serving two five-year sentences in Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad, is in need of immediate medical attention, but the authorities are against it. Since the (Persian) week of May 22-29, she has suffered (according to the prison doctor’s diagnosis) from swollen and painful gums requiring immediate surgery. However, the Prosecutor for Mashhad, the judge overseeing prison and the Mashhad branch of the Ministry of Intelligence have opposed this treatment. Rozita Vaseghi has also been deprived of the right to furlough, although she has now served almost three years of her sentences. This is not the only case in which Bahai prisoners in Mashhad have been deprived of their legally established rights. [See the report of February 21, 2013, that Bahai prisoners in Mashhad have been denied the normal furlough, because of opposition from the Ministry of Intelligence.]
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Overview of Iranian Bahai university students’ attendance & expulsion

IOPHR, June 12, 2013

A report from a students’ rights group in Iran presents a useful overview of how, for a period, some Bahai students came to be at university there, despite a government policy to hamper the development of the community by limiting Bahais’ rights to employment and education, and of how they have been expelled. The report also covers restrictions on the right of women to education, and the expulsion of “starred” (outspoken) students. As regards the Bahais it says:

Religious Minorities Banned From Education

According to the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, university students must be Muslim or follow one of the accepted religions stipulated in the country’s constitution (Zoroastrian, Jewish or Christian). Due to this law, after the Revolution of 1979, citizens following the Baha’i faith have been prohibited from attending the country’s universities. According to statistics shared by the Baha’i International Community (BIC) with publishers of this report, before 2006 no follower of the Baha’i faith attended university in Iran due to a line in the exam registration form that asked the applicant to state their religion. After 2006 when the question of religion was removed from the forms, 800 followers of the Baha’i faith took part in the national exams; 480 students passed the first application process and 289 were accepted to universities. Since then, over half of the accepted students have been expelled after it was revealed that they were Baha’i.

In the academic year 2007-08, of the 1,000 Baha’i citizens who took part in the national exams, 800 were not issued their test results. The reason given was an “incomplete file” but when the citizens attempted to pursue the reason for this, it was to no avail. Of the 200 citizens who received test results, 121 individuals were accepted to universities and over 50 of them have since been expelled.

In the academic year 2008-09, on the Internet webpage that announces test results, every citizen that had previously been marked as Baha’i (in their secondary schools or other places) was marked with an “incomplete file” and none of them were able to enroll in a university. Today there are very few Baha’i citizens who have been accepted and attend universities in Iran. Appendix 5 of this report details the accounts of about 100 of the banned or expelled Baha’i students in the years 2005-2012. Moreover, during this academic year numerous Baha’i students have been expelled from universities across the country because of their religion.

Persian source
~~~~~~~

Election time shenanigans in Iran

Editorial, June 4

Iranian media in English are reporting the exposure of a spy ring affiliated with the “enemies of Iran and Islam.” The story (probably 100% fiction) says that the head of the ring was recruited several years ago by an Arab intelligence service that is close to Israel. He was put in touch with Mossad and sent to Israel for intelligence and military training, before going to Iran to spy for Mossad. Then he went to the Indian subcontinent and “met with two heads of the Zionist espionage operation, the Baha’is” and established contacts and coordinated with them. His next step was supposed to be to arrange terrorist attacks on June 14, election day. What a great way for a spy to stay undercover.

So why did have to go to India to contact Bahais? Are there no Bahais left in Iran? If he as trained in Israel, couldn’t he just hop on the train to Haifa and ring the bell?
~~~~~~~

`Adnan Rahmat-Penah remains in limbo

Azadi Qalam (blog), June 2

`Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمت‌پناه ) has been held in limbo in `Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz for almost 6 months now. On May 23 it was announced that the Branch 3 of the revolutionary court would determine his status, but when his family went there, as in the three previous cases, the court official said that because of a heavy workload he had not yet read the file. Finally, they were told, “I am not the official responsible for this file, it belongs in Branch 1 of the revolutionary court.” This was a delaying tactic to gain time to deal with the file.

See previous reports of the four previous occasions on which Mr. Rahmat-Penah’s trial was scheduled, on April 16, 17, 29 and 30.
~~~~~~~~

Review court confirms many sentences, reveals some new information

HRANA (English)

HRANA (English)

A number of Bahais are among the cases reviewed by Iran’s national review court in Tehran in the past year. No conviction are overturned, one sentence was reduced, and in most cases the sentence and information is identical to what has previously been published on Sen’s Daily (based largely on the work of the indefatigable and courageous human rights reporters who gather information in Iran). However this report states that Ayeh Anvari (آیه انوری) was fined 20 million Rials by the revolutionary court of Razavi Khorasan on September 1, 2012. This would be a reduction on her previous sentence (reported March 10, 2012) of 18 months in prison. She was arrested in Isfahan on June 27, 2011.

According to this report, Taraneh Torabi ( ترانه ترابی ) of Semnan was sentenced to 20 months in prison, whereas previous reports had been of a 30-month sentence.

Anisa Dehqani (انیسا دهقانی) is reported to have been sentenced to six months in prison by the revolutionary court of Razavi Khorasan on September 16, 2012. Her arrest in Mashhad had previously been reported, but not her sentence.

Keyvan Dehqani (کیوان دهقانی), is reported to have been sentenced to six months in prison by the revolutionary court of Razavi Khorasan on September 16, 2012. His arrest and release on bail had previously been reported, but not his sentence.

The cases for which this report from the review court simply confirms previous information regarding Bahai prisoners are as follows:

Bashir Ehsani ( بشیر احسانی ), sentenced to two years in prison, suspended three years in prison by the revolutionary court of Tehran on April 1, 2012.

Sonya Ahmadi ( سونیا احمدی ), sentenced to five year in prison by the revolutionary court of Razavi Khorasan on June 1, 2013.

Taher Eskandariyan ( طاهر اسکندریان ), sentenced to three years in prison by the revolutionary court of Semnan on October 1, 2012.

Shohreh Azemi ( شهره اعظمی ), sentenced to eight months in prison by the revolutionary court of Semnan on June 22, 2012.

Puya Tabiyaniyan ( پویتبیانیانا ), sentenced to six and a half years in prison by the revolutionary court of Semnan on October 1, 2012.

Sanaz Tafazzoli ( ساناز تفضلی ), sentenced to six months in prison by the revolutionary court of Razavi Khorasan on September 16, 2012.

Elham Ruzbehi (الهام روزبهی) and baby, sentenced to 24 months in prison by the revolutionary court of Semnan on July 1, 2012.

Afrasayab Sobhani ( افراسیاب سبحانی ), sentenced to one year in prison by the revolutionary court of Semnan on October 1, 2012.

Anisa Fana’ayan ( انیسا فناییان ), sentenced to 22 months in prison by the revolutionary court of Semnan on October 1, 2012.

Faramarz Firuzeyan ( فرامرز فیروزیان ), sentenced to one year in prison by the revolutionary court of Semnan on January 1, 2013.

Noora Nabilzadeh ( نورا نبیل‌زاده), sentenced to five years in prison by the revolutionary court of Razavi Khorasan on June 1, 2012.

Muhammad Hussein Nakh`i ( محمد حسین نخعی ), sentenced to one year in prison (released on completion) and a fine of 6 million rials by the revolutionary court of Birjand on February 1, 2013. [The date refers to the decision of the provincial review court to lower his sentence to one year in prison, by which time he had already been in prison from May, 2012.]

Zohreh Nik-A’in ( زهره نیک آئین ) and baby, sentenced to 23 months in prison by the revolutionary court of Semnan on June 22, 2012.
~~~~~~~~~~

Two Bahais sentenced in Shiraz

Radio Zamaneh, May 31

Hamid Eslami ( حمید اسلامی ) and Rahman Vafa’i (رحمان وفائی ), who were arrested in Shiraz on July 14, 2012, have been sentenced to three years in prison. They are charged with with “propaganda against the regime” and “membership in Baha’i organizations.” Mr. Vafayi, who is 59 years old, suffers from heart complications and his family fears the effects of imprisonment on his health.
~~~~~~~~~~

Emanullah Mostaqim transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison

HRANA, May 31

On the evening of May 30, Emanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ), one of the staff of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, was transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison in Kharaj, near Tehran. He reported to Evin prison in Tehran on May 20, to begin serving his 5-year sentence for “membership of the Bahai community” and supporting the University. He has recently had open heart surgery, and suffers from diabetes. His doctors have said that prison conditions will be difficult and perhaps dangerous for him.
~~~~~~~~

Four Bahais sentenced in Mashhad

Zendani Bahai (Facebook group), May 30

Sentences have been announced for four Bahais from Mashhad: Nika Khalusi, Nava Khalusi, Adib Sho`a`i and Mahsa Mahdavi ( نیکا خلوصی، نوا خلوصی، ادیب شعاعی و مهسا مهدوی ). They are accused of teaching the Bahai Faith, propaganda against the regime and membership of Bahai organisations. Their sentences are: Nika Khalusi, 6 years; Nava Khalusi, four and a half years; Adib Sho`a`i, 18 months; Mahsa Mahdavi, 8 months.
~~~~~~~~~~

Government representative addresses Vietnam’s national Bahai convention

Voice of Vietnam, May 28

A report originating from the Vietnam News Agency, and carried in several English-language publications based in vietnam, notes the national Bahai convention, held in Ho Chi Minh city, and states,

Addressing the event, a representative of the Government’s Committee for Religious Affairs praised the community’s contributions over the past years. The committee’s representative suggested that in the next tenure, Baha’i dignitaries should focus on instructing followers to implement the Government’s policies, and consolidating the great national unity bloc and unity with other religions.

According to the report, there are more than 7,000 Bahais in 43 localities in Vietnam, mostly in central and southern regions.
~~~~~~~~~~

Semnan province attorney blocks leave for Bahai prisoners

100 letters for freedom (blog, editorial opinion), May 25

There are numerous Bahais in prison in Semnan, including women with small babies and. in the men’s wing, some Bahais who have serious illnesses. Despite the help given by the General Manager of prisons in Semnan province, Mr. Arab, and the promise that prison furloughs would be granted to prisoners without regard to their personal beliefs, and despite the cooperation of the head of Semnan’s central prison and other prison authorities there, to allow prison furloughs for Bahai prisoners, Mr. Haydar Asyabi ( حیدر آسیابی ), the Provincial Attorney, has refused to allow it. He has even refused Bahais early release at the end of their prison terms. At the Now Ruz holidays, even Bahai prisoners whose medical records were presented, with a recommendation for therapeutic furlough, were denied any leave. In each case, reference is made to the Medical Officer for the prison, Mr. Shateri ( شاطری ) who has knowingly contributed to the oppression of the Bahai community in Semnan. He is responsible for treating all the illnesses in the prison, and the Attorney has relied on his opinion in refusing leave to the prisoners. However the prison regulations specify that it is the Provincial Attorney who is responsible. In some cases, the medical conditions of Bahai prisoners have been exacerbated by lack of timely treatment. The Provincial Attorney’s duties and freedom to act are very broad, and prison regulations and the criminal procedure stress the importance of the physical and mental health of prisoners, which raises the question of why Mr. Asyabi has not used this power to grant leave to the Bahai prisoners? Why has he participated in the oppression of the Bahais, without regard for the rules and principles of Human Rights?
~~~~~~~~~

32 agents raid the home of one 85-year old lady

PCED, May 25

On May 23, 32 agents from the Ministry of “intelligence” in Semnan raided the home of Maryam Khanjani ( مریم خانجانی ) in Semnan. They searched the house and cursed and insulted those present. Mrs. Khanjani’s daughter, Golbanu Khanjani ( گلبانو خانجانی ), lost consciousness as a result. The agents departed when an ambulance arrived for her. Maryam Khanjani is the sister of Mr. Khanjani, one of the seven ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran) who are serving 20-year sentences as prisoners of conscience in Raja’i Shahr prison. Mrs. Golbanu Khanjani is the mother of Omid Firuzeyan ( امید فیروزیان ), who is serving a sentence of four and a half years in Semnan prison.

All 32 agents are reported to have emerged from the day’s action without injury, except to their manhood.
~~~~~~~

Petty harassment of Nika and Nava Khalusi

Azadi Qalam, May 24

Nika and Nava Khalusi ( نیکا و نوا خلوصی ), who were tried recently 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, are free on bail in Mashhad, and awaiting their sentences. Actually, they are waiting for the verdict, but this is Iran and they are Bahais, so in fact the question is, how long will they be in prison? A four-day flower and shrub exhibition was held in Mashhad from May 15, and the two sisters took part. They were assigned a booth, but on the first night of the exhibition the management cut off their electricity. Initially the reason given was “bad hejab,” but when they followed up on this they were told the orders had come from “above” (meaning the Army or Ministry of Intelligence), but they were not given any judicial order or written evidence of the decision. They were later asked to withdraw from the exhibition, which they refused. They continued their work, using candles and the light from neighbouring stalls. At the end of the exhibition, the management agreed to refund half of their exhibition fee.

On a lighter note: the PCED reports that Navid Khanjani (نوید خانجانی) has been allowed to meet his family for 20 minutes.
~~~~~~~~

Sentinel Project launches visualization of persecution of Baha’is in Iran

Bahai News (US), May 22

The Sentinel Project, an independent Toronto-based NGO that focuses on genocide prevention, has recently launched a visualization of the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran. The Sentinel Project has deemed the situation of the Iranian Baha’is to be a “Situation of Concern.” It has previously expressed the need to continue to watch the situation in Iran closely. The visualization show the number of incidents over time (fairly constant in recent months) and the geographical spread (which appears to this layman to roughly follow the distribution of the urbanised population). The article includes links to two previous reports on the genocide risk facing the Bahais in Iran. I am gratified to see that many of the micro-history reports translated on Sen’s Daily have been entered in the database and assembled into an overall picture.
~~~~~~~~~

Heavy sentences for seven Bahais from Gorgan

100 letters for freedom (blog), May 22

The sentences have been announced for seven Bahai men from Gorgan, who were tried in Tehran on April 24. Fahrmand Sana’i, Kamal Kashani, Payam Markazi, Siamak Sadri, Fu’ad Fahandezh and Kourush Ziari ( فرهمند سنایی، کمال کاشانی، پیام مرکزی، سیامک صدری، فواد فهندژ و کوروش زیاری) were sentenced to five years each, while Farhad Fahandezh (فرهاد فهندژ) was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The charges were “organising and running an illegal organisation, membership of an illegal organisation, and propaganda against the regime.” They were among about 20 Bahais who were detained in a wave of arrests on about October 17. (Kourush Ziari is from Gonbad-e Qabus, where he was arrested and later transferred to Gorgan). After some weeks in detention in Gorgan, all seven were transferred to Evin prison in Tehran for interrogation, after which they were sent to Raja’i Shahr prison.
~~~~~~~~

Didar Ra’ufi reports back to prison

HRANA, May 21

Didar Ra’ufi (دیدار رئوفی ) who was reported to have been released from Raja’i Shahr prison on January 27, 2013, having served a three year sentence for membership of the Bahai community and teaching the Bahai Faith, is listed today among the prisoners of conscience on leave, who have been told to return to Raja’i Shahr prison. He was arrested on January 4, 2010, but was free on bail from October 16, 2011 to January 13, 2012 (3 months), and had 5 days of furlough at Now Ruz, 2012. Thus at the time of his release on January 27, he still had about 6 weeks of his sentence to serve.
~~~~~~~~~

Husayn Runaqi-Mulki goes to Evin

PCED, May 21

Husayn Runaqi-Mulki ( حسین رونقی ملکی ), who was yesterday reported to have been sentenced to 5 months in prison for his part in assisting victims of the Azerbaijan earthquake, has begun his sentence in Evin prison. Mr. Runaqi is not, so far as reports indicate, a Bahai, but one of a progressive younger generation of intellectuals and activists who are prepared to work with people of all religions and none, for the betterment of Iran. In addition to his work for the earthquake victims he is a blog writer and human rights activist. He was serving a 15-year sentence as a political prisoner until, in autumn last year, he was released for medical treatment. He suffers from prostrate, bladder, kidney and other disorders. He has now been recalled to prison. Reports indicate that many other political prisoners on leave have also been recalled to prison, in relation to the forthcoming elections in Iran.
~~~~~~~~~

Emanullah Mostaqim begins his 5-year sentence

Yaran Iran (facebook group), May 20

Emanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ), one of the staff of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, reported to Evin prison in Tehran on May 20, to begin serving his 5-year sentence for “membership of the Bahai community” and supporting the University. He has recently had open heart surgery, and suffers from diabetes. His doctors have said that prison conditions will be difficult and perhaps dangerous for him.
~~~~~~~~~~

Two Bahai aid workers sentenced to five months

PCED, May 20

The general court in Tabriz has sentenced Husayn Runaqi-Mulki and Navid Khanjani (حسین رونقی و نوید خانجانی) to five months in prison, and has fined a number of other voluntary aid workers 5 million rials (320 euros, $US 400 ). They organized a relief camp following a major earthquake in the Azerbaijan region in January 2011. The charge was failure to follow the instructions of the police. These sentences are in addition to previous sentences on other charges. They were acquitted on charges of endangering public health.
~~~~~~~~~~~

Father and daughter freed in Semnan

HRANA, May 16

Gudarz Bidaqi ( گودرز بیدقی ) and his daughter Roufiya Bidaqi ( روفیا بیدقی ) have been freed from prison in Semnan, after completing their one-year sentences. Mr. Bidaqi was arrested in March, 2011, and sentenced in September 2011 to one year in prison and two years of exile from the province, on the charge of “propaganda against the regime through teaching the Bahai Faith.” His exile is expected to begin soon. Mr. Bidaqi is in his sixties, and has already served one term in prison for his beliefs, after the 1979 revolution. His daughter, Roufiya Bidaqi ( روفیا بیدقی ) was sentenced to one year in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai activities. The family’s business has also been closed by the authorities.
~~~~~~~~

House of Baha’u’llah in Tehran features in Iran’s pre-election polemics

FARS, May 15

The house in Tehran where Baha’u’llah was born was added to the register of historic buildings in December 2006 and is to be restored. In recent days, reports of this, with numerous photographs of the exterior of the house, have been carried in the conservative FARS news agency and copied by many other publications. This is being used to embarrass Isfandiyar Rahim Masha’i ( اسفندیار رحیم مشایی ), a close ally and relative of President Ahmadinezhad and one of the proposed presidential candidates. FARS claims that there are hundreds of old houses in Tehran with a similar architectural and cultural value, which the provincial authority for Cultural Heritage has not registered. The report lists the homes of princes and prominent clerics of the period that have not been registered, and describes the importance of the house in Bahai history (with the bias one would expect). It was previously owned by an organisation for the propagation of Islam, and purchased by the present owner in 2005, in order to prevent its demolition. This owner has registered it as a historic building and intends to restore it using his own funds. However the ‘transparency” magazine has claimed that it was bought by the Cultural Heritage foundation, at a time when Mr. Masha’i was the head of that organisation.
~~~~~~~~

Nika and Nava Khalusi charged and tried

HRANA, May 16

The third sitting of the trial of Nika and Nava Khalusi ( نیکا و نوا خلوصی ) took place in Mashhad on May 6. They were charged with 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. The two sisters have been free on bail pending the trial. They were arrested on September 26, 2012, and were held for 57 days in solitary confinement, followed by 4 months in Vakil Abad prison, before being released on bail.
~~~~~~~~

Iranian prisoners of conscience protest the detention of BIHE staff

HRANA, May 17

On the second anniversary of the arrest and detention of a number of teachers and administrators in the Bahai Open University (BIHE), 12 prisoners of conscience in one wing of Raja’i Shahr prison have signed an open letter addressed to their compatriots, protesting the imprisonment of Bahais “whose only crime was spreading knowledge and science.”
~~~~~~~~

Appointment of members to the International Teachings Centre

Universal House of Justice, May 15

The members of the International Teaching Centre for the five-year term beginning 23 May 2013 are:

Uransaikhan Baatar: female, re-appointed
Ramchand Coonjul: male, he was appointed Counsellor (Africa) in 2010
Antonella Demonte: female, she was appointed Counsellor (Europe) in 2010
Andrej Donoval: male, he appointed Counsellor (Europe) in 2010
Praveen Mallik: male, re-appointed
Alison Milston: female, she was appointed Counsellor (Americas) in 2010
Juan Mora: male, re-appointed
Rachel Ndegwa: female, re-appointed
Mehranguiz Farid Tehrani: male, he was appointed Counsellor (Asia) in 2010

[Thanks to Steve Marshall for the biographical research ~Sen]

Former members Joan Lincoln, Zenaida Ramirez and Penelope Walker are thanked for their services. Former members Chuungu Malitonga, and Ayman Rouhani are now serving on the Universal House of Justice.

A copy of the letter announcing these changes has been placed in the documents archive of my Bahai Studies blog.
~~~~~~~

Shop goods confiscated in Bojnurd

HRANA, May 11 ~

In recent days, security forces went to the shop of Houshmand Sana’i ( هوشمند ثنایی ) in Bojnurd and seized the entires stock of toiletries and beauty products. several months ago the shop was closed by local body officials, on instructions from the Ministry of Intelligence. No reason was given. Last year, Mr. Sana’i, his wife Sho`eleh Shahidi ( شعله شهیدی ) and their son Shayan Sana’i ( شایان ثنایی ) were arrested and hald for a time by the Ministry of Intelligence in Bojnurd.
~~~~~~~

Fu’ad Moqaddam begins 5-year sentence

Yaran Iran (facebook group), May 11

Dr. Fu’ad Moqaddam ( فواد مقدم ), a Bahai from Isfahan and one of the teachers of the Bahai online university, the BIHE, began his 5-year sentence at Evin Prison in Tehran this morning. He was arrested in Isfahan in May 2012 in the course of the raids that targeted the BIHE, and was tried on June 23. One of the charges against him was “membership of the Bahai community.” He was freed on bail on June 15, 2012.
~~~~~~~~

One arrest in Gorgan, two Bahais sought

HRANA, May 9

Parisa Shahidi ( پریسا شهیدی ), a Bahai from Gorgan, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, who first searched her home, on May 8. She is the wife of Kamal Kashani ( کمال کاشانی ), one of five Bahais from Gorgan who have been held without trial for more than 6 months in Raja’i Shahr prison, near Tehran. On the same day, agents from the Ministry of intelligence tried to arrest two other Bahais in Gorgan, Mazhdeh Zahuri and Mona Farahani ( مژده ظهوری (فهندژ) و مونا فراهانی (نیکو‌نژاد)), but found neither at home. Mazhdeh Zahuri is the wife of Farhad Fahandezh ( فرهاد فهندژ ), another of the Bahais from Gorgan held in Raja’i Shahr prison.
~~~~~~~

`Adnan Rahmat-Penah’s trial again a farce

Azadi Qalam, May 2

After several false starts on April 16 and 17 (reported earlier), the trial of `Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمت‌پناه ), a Bahai from Shiraz, was rescheduled for April 29. When he arrived at the court, Judge Sadati postponed the trial for four hours. At 1 p.m. the judge entered the court, just as the call to prayer sounded, so he left again to attend attend the prayers. After the prayers, the judge told Mr. Rahmat-Penah’s lawyer that there was not sufficient time to deal with the case that day, so the trial would be delayed until the following day. It was notable that, when Mr. Rahmat-Penah and a political prisoner entered the courtroom, the judge — who was under the impression that they were Christian converts — began to insult them. Mr. Rahmat-Penah’s lawyer pointed out that the charges against them were quite different.

On April 30 Mr. Rahmat-Penah appeared in court at 11:30. The judge insulted his religious beliefs, directly and indirectly, and said he was “unclean,” according to the Quran, and told his lawyer that one should not shake hands with them. The lawyer responded that Bahais are human too, and added, “To me, humanity is important.” The judge replied, “Although this matter has been mentioned, we will judge everyone equally.” However the judge continued with his insults, directed not only at the defendant but at all the Bahais, saying, “You Bahais are all animals, only Muslims have the correct beliefs, and then only the twelver Shiahs.” After two hours, the judge finally turned to the case, and finding that Mr. Rahmat-Penah was one of 15 people arrested two years previously, whose cases were being handled by another judge, in courtroom 3, he sent the case there. That trail is not scheduled until late July. Mr. Rahmat-Penah and his family are left in suspense again.
~~~~~~~

Three women and a baby freed in Semnan

Zendani Bahai (FB group), May 4

Three of the Bahai women imprisoned in Semnan have been set free. Zhinous Nourani ( ژینوس نورانی ) was freed on April 30, after serving a one-year sentence. Neda Majidi ( ندا مجیدی ) was released on the same day. She was sentenced to a fine of 40 million 40 rials (2,600 euros; 3200 US dollars) or a six-month sentence. Apparently she was not able to pay the fine. At the time of her arrest she had a nursing child. She has been released one month early because of the poor health of her baby, Sourna ( سورنا). Shohreh Azimi ( شهره اعظمی ) was released on April 28, about 50 days before the end of her 8-month sentence for membership of the Bahai community.
~~~~~~~~~~

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