January to March, 2014
Khalusi sisters begin long prison terms
HRANA, March 30, 2014
Early on March 30, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Nava and Nika Khalusi ( نیکا خلوصی نوا و ). Nava Khalusi was arrested at her home in Mashhad. Nika Khalusi, and her parents, had gone on a Naw Ruz outing to Babolsar and Nika was arrested there. Nika Khalusi has been sentenced to 6 years in prison, and Nava to four and a half years, on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “participation in Bahai activities.” Their arrests apparently signal the beginning of their prison sentences.
Document of manumission of Isfandiyar by Baha’u’llah published
BahaiTeachings.org, March 2014
BahaiTeachings has announced the discovery and translation of a document that has both historical and scriptural importance for Bahais: the prayer in which Baha’u’llah frees (manumits) a slave, presumed to be Isfandiyar, and explains why slavery is inherently wrong.
Mirza Buzurg, Baha’u’llah’s father owned a number of slaves. Baha’u’llah apparently inherited his father’s slaves when Mirza Buzurg died in 1839, and set them free. Dr. Nader Saiedi has discovered Baha’u’llah’s written, autobiographical account, in Arabic and provided a provisional translation into English. This remarkable Tablet is cast in the form of a prayer:
Sanctified art Thou, O my God! At this moment, one slave (mamlūk) is standing before another slave and seeks, from him, his freedom.
Yet his owner, himself, is naught but a slave of Thee, a servant in Thy Threshold, and absolute nothingness before the manifestations of Thy Lordship.
Standing before Thee, I bear witness, at this very moment, to that which Thou hast testified by Thyself for Thyself, that verily Thou art God and there is none other God but Thee …
All mighty kings are mere slaves before the gate of Thy grace, and all the wealthy are the essence of poverty in the shore of Thy holy dominion, and all the exalted are abject lowliness within the glorified court of Thy bounty.
Notwithstanding this, how then can this slave claim for himself ownership of any other human being? Nay, his existence is a mere crime, graver than any sin in Thy kingdom …
And now, O my God, since that servant hath asked from this servant his freedom, therefore, I call Thee to witness, at this moment, that I am setting him free in Thy path, liberating him in Thy name, and emancipating his neck from the chain of servitude, so that he may serve Thee in the daytime and in the night season, longing that my neck would never be relieved from the cord of Thy servitude.
This verily is my most cherished desire and my supreme end. – Baha’u’llah, unpublished Tablet (A08212). Provisional translation by Nader Saiedi.
Leva Khanjani given prison furlough
Iran Green Voice, March 25, 2014
Leva Khanjani ( لواء خانجانی ), a Bahai serving a two-year sentence in Evin prison, has been granted furlough for Naw Ruz. Leva Khanjani is a student excluded from education because of her Bahai beliefs. She was arrested on January 3, 2010, along with her husband Babak Mobasher, on the pretext that they had participated in street protests following the 2009 elections.
136 Bahais in prison in Iran: signs of progress in civil society
ICHRI, March 24, 2014
Dian Alaei, Baha’i community representative, reacted to the March 17 statements made by Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Council, in which he claimed that no Baha’is were imprisoned simply because of their faith.
“There are currently 136 Baha’is in the Islamic Republic’s prisons who were arrested only because they were Baha’is. They have committed no other crime,” Dian Alaei told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. She added that some imprisoned Baha’is had been charged with membership in “illegal organizations” or “spying for foreign countries,” but no evidence had been offered to prove such accusations.
“Mr. Larijani must be uninformed about the present situation facing the Baha’i community in Iran,” Alaei said, “or else he would know that Baha’i youths cannot attend university, Baha’i cemeteries are demolished with bulldozers, and Baha’i shops are locked up when their owners close during official Baha’i holidays.” Alaei added that representatives of dozens of countries had met with UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed to express their concerns about human rights abuses against Baha’is in Iran.
The Baha’i community representative, who presented a report to the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this month, said the Iranian government is not prepared to take responsibility for human rights issues and is thus unable to cooperate to solve them.
Alaie praised a group of civil activists in Iran who recently wrote an open letter to President Rouhani calling for Baha’i rights to be respected. “This was a very positive and important step,” Alaei said. “Every day we see more ordinary Iranians defending Baha’is.”
Anti-Bahai demonstration planned for Tehran
Iran Press News, March 16
Iran Press News, a usually reliable, source, reports that an anti-Bahai demonstration was planned in Tehran. It was to take place in front of the United Nations offices in Tehran, on March 16. It is not clear whether the demonstration did take place there, or whether the authorities intervened. The belief that the United Nations, the BBC, human rights organisations and lawyers, the British government and other foreign organs are controlled by Bahais is a common feature of anti-Bahaism in Iran, but it seems unlikely that the authorities would welcome a public display of anti-Bahaism where it could be witnessed from the UN offices.
A statement released by the demonstration’s organisers states that the “deviant sect of Bahais” is a terrorist organisation with its headquarters in the territories occupied by Zionism [Israel], and supported by the Zionist regime. It is linked to this illegal murderous regime which has shed the blood of thousands of innocent people. The actions of this deviant sect are not limited to physical acts of terrorism, they interfere systematically in the lives of the devotees, who are subjected to control from childhood, depriving them of freedom of conscience and the chance to investigate. Moreover, the sect subjects those who leave the sect and seek guidance [become Muslims] to the most inhumane possible treatment, ranging from character assassination to shunning.
The Bahai Faith is a religion founded in Iran in the 19th century, which functions democratically without any priesthood. The Ottoman authorities exiled its founder, Baha’u’llah, to Akka, where he died in 1892, approximately 50 years before Israel came into existence. In the early 20th century there was an appreciable Bahai community in various parts of what is now Israel, but as the future character of the state of Israel became evident, they were all asked to leave. Today there are no Bahais with a permanent residence in Israel, although there are a few hundred staff with temporary appointments working at the Bahai shrines there. The organisers’ “guilt by association” argument is not only logically invalid, it is factually wrong. One of the most important Bahai teachings is the independent investigation of truth: children of Bahais are not automatically enrolled as Bahais, but may chose to enroll from the age of 15, if they wish. There is undoubtedly some separation, in Iran, between Bahais and those who have left the Bahai community to become Muslims. A long-standing fatwa, recently re-iterated by Ayatollah Khamene’i, states that good Muslims should avoid any contact with Bahais.
One arrest in Shiraz
Radio Sahrvand (web site), March 17, 2014
Yekta Fahandezh (یکتا فهندژ), a Bahai from Shiraz, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on March 16. The agents searched her home and seized books, a laptop and personal effects. She was transferred to Detention Facility 100 in Shiraz, and was allowed to meet her husband on March 17. In February 2012, Yekta was arrested and spent 83 days in Detention Facility 100. She was released on bail and later charged with propaganda against the regime.
Second Bahai student expelled from Mazandaran University
PCED, March 13, 2014
It was previously reported that Setayash Asadi (ستایش اسدی), a Bahai studying Tourism Management at the Babolsar campus of the University of Mazandaran, has been expelled because of her religious beliefs. The PCED reports that Sama Hashemi (سما هاشمی), a student of management at the same campus, was also expelled, for the same reason: “religious minorities are not entitled to tertiary education.”
Student expelled from Mazandaran University for being a Bahai
HRANA, March 12, 2014
Setayash Asadi (ستایش اسدی), a Bahai studying Tourism Management at the Babolsar campus of the University of Mazandaran, has been expelled because of her religious beliefs. She was admitted in the current academic year, and expelled in the middle of the second semester, after gaining 19 university credits. A HRANA reporter was told that, after her student web page was closed, she was referred to the Office of Education and told that “religious minorities are not entitled to tertiary education.”
Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi: “Equal Rights for the Bahais and the Jews are Against Islam”
Iran Wire, March 3
In a speech to seminary students and teachers, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, an influential hardliner in the Iranian regime, stated “Some have come forward with a plan for citizenship rights and want to give equal rights to the Bahais and the Jews and the Muslims and…We can never accept this.” There was no doubt that he was referring to the Draft Citizenship Rights Charter presented by Rouhani’s administration last November.
Yazdi’s ire was directed at the principle that all citizens are equal under the law. “All Iranian citizens, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, wealth, social class, race, etc, enjoy citizenship rights and the foreseen guarantees in rules and regulations,” declares the draft charter’s first article. The sentence does not include the term “religion,” probably intentionally, but the “etc.” leaves a lot of room for speculation. Hardliners have been quick to speculate, especially when it comes to the Bahai community, which has been harassed relentlessly since the Islamic Revolution.
“The standard is always Islam,” Yazdi told the theological school students. “Western human rights and citizenship rights, meaning equality between Muslims and Bahais, has no relation to Islam. These rights, as described by the West, utterly go against Islam, the constitution and the way of Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini]. The people of this country, who have suffered hardships and have given so many martyrs, would not accept anything that goes against Islam. Of course, even those who are not Muslims must be respected. They have rights, which Islam recognizes.”
Ayatollah Yazdi says that religious inequality is acceptable. “Islam never considers a Jew and a Muslim as equals,” he said. “Even though Islam has conferred certain rights to Jews, this does not mean that they are equals in every right. Sometimes this is called ‘second-class citizenship’. They can call it whatever they want, but it does not change the reality.”
Here, Bahais are conspicuous by their absence. Whereas in pronouncements condemning “equality,” Bahais were included [if only to be excluded ~Sen], when it came to “rights” they were not mentioned – not as second-class citizens, not even as third-class citizens. Not at all.
Human rights activists and liberal commentators have been critical of the rights charter for a number of reasons, labeling it “elegant but useless” and a “hodgepodge of things,” but Yazdi sees the charter as anti-Islamic both in word and in spirit.
The spirit, of course, comes from the people who wrote the draft under orders from Rouhani. Addressing the students, Yazdi asserted that those who promote citizenship rights are wrong about Islam and wrong about the history of the Islamic Republic. When citizenship rights supporters cite Ayatollah Khomeini’s respect for democratic practices such as the right to vote, they are misconstruing his words. They believe Khomeini “was a political figure and a national hero who opposed the previous regime because it was harmful for the country and wanted to establish a system which would be more beneficial to people.” But, according to Yazdi, this is simply untrue. “People who think like this are secular and, in their view, good and evil consist of material things,” he said, adding that, for these people, “evil is material backwardness and the absence of well-being, while good is using technology and providing a good life for everybody. They believe religion is something marginal, a fantasy.”
Islam was absolutely central to Khomeini’s thinking, Yazdi said. “When he said that society was facing a great danger, he meant a great danger for Islam. This was something that was not important to many politicians.”
Are the people who want equal rights for all citizens enemies of Islam? asked one student. “They are not really enemies of Islam,” he answered, “but this is how they see the world, especially if the person is educated in England or some other place like that, because in those places they talk of human rights, citizenship rights and other rights with such reverence that gradually the student comes to consider them as the most important issue.” He added that, although he was 80 years old, it would still be possible for him to fall under the influence of Western rhetoric if he travelled to one of these countries. So it was logical to assume a “young person who has no deep understanding of Islamic principles” to be particularly vulnerable to influence.
Sentences confirmed for four Bahais in Mashhad
HRANA, February 24, 2014
The Court of Review for the Province of Khorasan has confirmed the sentences of four Bahais from Mashhad who have been sentenced to prison because of their religious beliefs. Nika and Nava Khalusi (نیکا و نوا خلوصی ) have had their sentences of six years and 4 and a half years in prison, respectively, confirmed. The sentence of Adib Sho`a`i (ادیب شعاعی) was reduced from 18 months to six months, and the sentence of Mahsa Mahdavi was reduced from eight months to three months and one day. All four 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.
Bahai homes raided in Yazd
PCED, February 21
On February 19, police carrying search warrants raided the homes of Rostam Behifarr, Ramin Hosuri, Majid Qane`, Mehran Basiri and Mehran Bandi (رستم بهی فر، رامین حصوری، مجید قانع، مهران بصیری و مهران بندی). They seized some personal effects, books and computers, but did not arrest anyone.
Five Bahai youth in Semnan sent to military service
HRANA, February 19, 2014
In the past two months, five young Bahais in Semnan have been arrested and sent to military service, on the orders of a judge (or in a previous report, an assistant prosecutor) known as Mr. Zaman. HRANA states that the military call-up law had been disused for some years, and that its application to the Bahais has been initiated by the Ministry of Intelligence. The names of the young Bahai men sent on military service in this way are given as follows:
Erfan Ehsani (عرفان احسانی): at the time of his arrest, he was made to promise that he would serve in the military after completing his time in prison. he was sentenced to one year in prison, which he began serving on October 30, 2012. After his release on parole, he was drafted into the army although his wife and their baby were in prison.
Soroush Firuzayan (سروش فیروزیان): after his home was raided, he was arrested and sent on military service.
Ardeshir Fana’ayan (اردشیر فناییان) was serving a 9-month sentence in Semnan prison. On completing his sentence, he was sent to do military service.
Omid Pirasteh (امید پیراسته): presently doing his military service.
Na’im Hedayati (نعیم هدایتی): presently doing his military service.
Another Bahai youth, Avarakhsh Hedayati (اورخش هدایتی), was reported among the Bahai youths who were arrested in November, 2013, but has been exempted from military service.
Iranian MP claims Bahai community spy for Israel and US
Jerusalem Post, February 19, 2014
Ahmad Salek, chairman of Iran’s parliamentary cultural commission, on Tuesday accused his country’s Baha’i community of spying for Israel and the United States. “I declare very explicitly that Baha’ism is an espionage organization which gathers intelligence for the CIA and Mossad, and there are abundant documents to prove this,” the Fars news agency quoted Salek saying.
Fars, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard, reported in the same article comments that Iran’s then-prosecutor-general Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi made in 2009: “We [as the state] offer a variety of services to the Baha’i sect in Iran and respect them as human beings, but not as insiders, spies, or a political grouplet supported by Britain and Israel to cause disturbance in Iran.”
Neither gentleman explained why the US / British / Israeli secret services would recruit Bahais as spies in Iran, where Bahais are banned from government employment, permanent service in the armed forces, and work in sensitive industries, and their homes are continually monitored and frequently raided. Nor was there any explanation of why, despite this close monitoring, no evidence of the supposed spying has emerged.
Last October, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, issued a report that included a section on the persecution of the Bahais.
He wrote, ”The special rapporteur continues to observe what appears to be an escalating pattern of systematic human rights violations targeting members of the Baha’i community, who face arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, national security charges for active involvement in religious affairs, restrictions on religious practice, denial of higher education, obstacles to state employment and abuses within schools.”
Emanullah Mostaqim on medical leave again
PCED, February 19
Emanullah Mostaqim ( امانالله مستقیم ) was granted medical leave from Raja’i Shahr prison on February 16. He has returned to the prison on February 10, after his previous medical leave was not extended. He has been under treatment for a heart ailment, and was transferred to hospital one month ago, only to be returned to prison. Mr. Mostaqim was one of the staff of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, which provides tertiary training to students who have been expelled or barred from Iranian universities because of their religious beliefs. He has been sentenced to five years for his educational activities, but doctors say his health is not adequate to withstand prison conditions.
Two Bahai businesses closed in Karaj
HRANA, February 17
On the morning of February 16, a business owned by two Bahais, Saman and Badi`i Ashkar (سامان بدیعی و اشکان بدیعی ), was closed by the local authorities of Karaj, and their business licence was revoked. The action was taken because of their religious beliefs, and flimsy pretexts.
Bahai candidate for Columbia City Council breaks new ground
Colombia Faith and Values (researched blog), January 28, 2014
Tyree Byndom, a young black Bahai and talk show host in Columbia, Missouri, USA, has put his name forward for election to the City Council, with the approval of the Bahai administration in the United States. “My running for political office is teaching members of my faith about what it means to be Bahai,” Byndom says. “I had to show leaders there is nothing that restricts me from running.” If elected, Byndom would be Columbia’s third African American to serve on the City Council. He was mentored by Almeta Crayton, a three-term Columbia City Councilwoman, who represented the First Ward. Her death on October 21, 2013, has stirred Byndom’s memories of conversations with Crayton. “I remember one weekend, when we were done doing our radio show on KOPN 89.5 FM, called Straight Talk, Almeta and Wynna Faye (Albert) were joking with me and they said ‘Well, Tyree, I guess we have to pass the baton to you, because ain’t nobody else around,’” Byndom says. “My response to them was ‘I don’t want it!’”
“The truth is that I didn’t feel worthy. When we lost Almeta Crayton this past year, it did something to me,” Byndom says. “Her words, the things she fought for, the people that she cared about, her lamentation at the challenges facing her son, this community that she loved, all echoed in my thoughts and the phrase ‘Be worthy’, was the reply.”
Straight Talk, Byndom’s weekly radio show on KOPN, offers Columbia’s black community a place to voice opinions. Listeners talk about increasing gun violence, substance abuse, unemployment for youth and minorities, underemployment for professionals with skills, high cost of living, fast cash stores, growing poverty and a loss of middle class jobs.
Ma’udi family recuperating well
Radio Yekjahan (facebook report), February 12
The condition of ‘Azam Ma’udi (اعظم مودی) is reported to have improved, and she is expected to be discharged from hospital tomorrow. She was stabbed, along with her parents, in an attack on her parents’ home in Birjand on February 3. Her parents were discharged from hospital today, and are in good health.
Emanullah Mostaqim returns to prison
HRANA, February 11, 2014
Emanullah Mostaqim ( امانالله مستقیم ), one of the staff of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran who is serving a 5-year prison sentence for his educational activities, returned to Raja’i Shahr prison on February 10. He had been held for one month in a therapeutic centre, followed by a one-week medical furlough, which was not extended although his condition had not improved. He suffers from a heart disorder which doctors have said is getting worse, to the extent that prison conditions are a danger to him. The Bahai Open University provides tertiary training to students who have been expelled or barred from Iranian universities because of their religious beliefs.
Prayers requested for `Azam Ma’udi
Radio Yakjahan (facebook report), February 11, 2014
‘Azam Ma’udi (اعظم مودی), who was stabbed in the chest during an apparently religiously-motivated attack on her parents’ home in Birjand on February 3, is reported to be in a serious condition. Prayers are requested.
Murder with impunity in Miandoab
HRANA, February 5, 2014
10 months after the murder of Sa’idullah Aqdasi (سعیداله اقدسی) in Miandoab, the security forces have still not taken any steps to apprehend the murderers. Mr. Aqdasi, an 83-year-old Bahai was found dead in his home on April 23, 2013. It appeared that his hands and feet had been bound with rope, and he had been killed by seven blows from a sharp object. The coroner determined that he had been killed three days earlier, that is, on April 21st, an important Bahai festival, that the door had been forcibly entered, and that nothing was stolen. A relative said that the house was full of blood, indicating that Mr. Aqdasi was alive when the seven blows were struck. His body was sent to the Coroner in Urumiyyeh, who stated that the Coroner’s office could not obtain a lawyer [a detective to deal with the case], since the officer responsible for Bahai cases was not present. Ten months have now passed, but no steps have been taken to investigate the murder.
Home invasion: 3 stabbed in Birjand
HRANA, February 5, 2014
In Birjand, a provincial capital close to Iran’s border with Afghanistan, a masked individual has entered the home of a Bahai family and brutally stabbed three of them. The attack occurred on February 3. Mr. Qodratullah Mu’adda (قدرت الله مودی) was stabbed in the abdomen and side, Mrs. Tibi Mu’adda (طوبی مودی) in the neck, close to the jugular vein, and ‘Azam Mu’adda (اعظم مودی) was stabbed in the chest. The assailant left the house without making any attempt to steal anything. Mr. and Mrs. Mu’adda are a middle-aged couple, living alone. Their daughter, who lives in Tehran, had arrived that morning on a visit.
Another student expelled for Bahai beliefs
HRANA, February 3, 2014
Farshad Farzan (فرشاد فرزان), a student at the Shahid Bahonar school of engineering and technology in Shiraz, has been expelled because of his Bahai beliefs. He began a course in business accounting at the university in October 2011 and earned a preparatory qualification. He was then admitted to the Bachelor’s degree course, but was expelled on January 21, 2014, after completing one semester of study, because of his Bahai beliefs. He was not only denied further study, the university credits he had earned in his first semester were denied to him.
Universal House of Justice writes to Bahai youth in Iran
Editorial, January 30, 2014
A year after a chain of Bahai youth conferences were held around the world — in which the Bahai youth in Iran could not participate — the Universal House of Justice has released a message to Bahai youth living in Iran. I have placed the Persian text in the documents archive of my Bahai studies blog, in PDF format. It may not display correctly in Firefox, but works in Explorer. The URL is :
Sarang Ettehadi sentenced without trial: 5 years
Khodnevis, January 29, 2014
Sarang Ettehadi, a Bahai from Tehran, has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “membership in Bahai institutions.” An unusual aspect of the sentence is that Mr. Ettehadi had already been pardoned, and that the sentence was issued three days before the trial — which functioned only to inform the accused of his sentence.
Mr. Ettehadi was arrested was arrested in Tehran on June 27, 2012, in a wave of arrests in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz that netted almost 20 Bahais. He was among those pardoned for the Eid al-Fitr on August 15, 2012. Mr Ettehadi has written his own account of his conviction and sentencing, which has been translated by Dr. Nizam Missaghi:
On January 15, 2014, I appeared in the Revolutionary Court to meet the judge as ordered. However, upon my arrival, the Judge’s assistant, Mojtaba, told me that there would be no hearing for me on that day and that my sentence had already been issued in absentia three days prior to the scheduled court date. I reviewed the court document in disbelief and learned that I had been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “membership in Bahá’í institutions.”
My sentence was issued in absentia on January 12, 2014. However, my court date had initially been communicated as January 8 and had been postponed by the court to January 15, the date when I appeared in court. My attorney objected to the sentencing prior to the court date in absentia and insisted that we meet with the judge. After the urging of my counsel, we briefly met with the judge, who, without any hesitation or reasoning, re-read the same sentence to us and confirmed it had been issued.
It is noteworthy that my initial charge had been “propaganda against the regime,” which carries a maximum one-year prison sentence. However, the judge had illegally annexed another charge to my file prior to issuing the five-year sentence as follows: “membership in an illegal organization in order to disturb national security.” The judge addressed me directly and said, “you participated in prayer gatherings and religious rituals with other Bahá’ís, which constitutes an organized and illegal activity.” However, I responded, the Iranian Constitution clearly protects the rights of religious minorities to assembly and worship. When I asked the judge to explain how saying prayers with friends would constitute “propaganda against the regime” or could “disturb national security,” he responded matter-of-factly, “the assembly of even two or three people is an organized activity and is against the law!”
Unfortunately, legal due process in Iran is lamentably defective. Minorities, ethnic or religious, and dissidents are typically at the mercy of a judge who can add to their charges as he wishes, choose to not communicate a change in the defendant’s court date, and sentence the defendant in absentia without proper time allotted for the defense to respond or even know of the charges. The sentencing and the outcome, by and large, are forgone conclusions, and the hearing, if it actually takes place, is nothing but a formality reminiscent of a show trial. The longer such defective judicial system is in place, the more lives will be ruined, youth will be lost, trust will be replaced with despair, and the future of our glorious Iran will be overshadowed with injustice.
Punished for complaining: Hadjbar Firuzeyan begins his sentence
HRANA, January 26, 2014
On January 25, Hadjbar Firuzeyan (هژبر فیروزیان) reported to Semnan prison to begin serving a 40-day sentence. He is the father of Golrokh and Shidrokh Firuzeyan (شیدرخ و گلرخ فیروزیان), who began serving 6-month sentences in Semnan prison on January 8, 2014. His name has also been reported as Hadjir Firuzeyan (هژیر فیروزیان). He complained of the physical abuse of Golrokh by a Ministry of Intelligence interrogator. During one of her interrogations, the interrogators were harsh. One interrogator stood behind her and pulled here again the back of the chair, leaving her with severe back pains and a bleeding nose. Mr. Firuzeyan informed the officer handling the case, the Prosecutor and the Chief Justice. When there was no response from them, he wrote to the President of Iran, detailing the treatment of his daughter, and also tried to present this letter to the President when he was visiting Semnan. [From the dates, it would appear this refers to President Rouhani, who promised that human rights would be respected in Iran but has not been able to improve the situation at all.] Mr. Firuzeyan was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence and held in solitary confinement for some time. He was later fined 12 million rials (350 euros, $US 480), which was confirmed on appeal, for defaming the head of the Semnan office of the Ministry of Intelligence, Mohammad Reza Hashemian (محمد رضا هاشمیان). He has chosen to serve 40 days in prison rather than pay the fine.
Burial of Bahais in Tabriz hindered by officials
HRANA, January 23, 2014
Since July, 2011, officials have been preventing the Bahais of Tabriz from washing the bodies of their loved ones, and from using coffins in their burial. Following the death of Fatemeh Zara’i (فاطمه سلطان زارعی), officials at the Wadi Rahmat cemetery in Tabriz announced that it was not permissible to wash the body, or to use a coffin for her burial — both of which are part of Bahai burial practices — and that they would not allow her to be buried. This is despite the fact that the Bahais shared in the cost of construction and maintenance of the cemetery, and had previously been buried there alongside others, without any problems. The Bahais of Tabriz have sought redress with officials at all levels, including the Municipality, the Friday Prayer leader, the cemetery’s administrators, the committee for sects and religions, the Mayor, the office of the Supreme Leader, the President of the IRI and members of parliament, but all have refused to consider the matter.
Following the death of one young Bahai, Sabet Muhammadi (ثابت محمدی), his family was told they should hand over his body, and that a burial place would be found by noon, [thus denying the family an opportunity to wash and prepare the body according to Bahai law.] In 11 previous cases, bodies were buried without being washed, and without coffins, in the town of Miandoab, about 160 km south of Tabriz. Bahai teachings do not allow either moving a body long distances for burial (more than one hour’s travel), or burying the body of a Bahai in ways contrary to the Bahai burial rites.
Talu` Golkar sentenced : 5 years for educational activities
HRANA, January 22, 2014
Talu` Golkar, a Bahai from Tehran, has been sentenced to five years in prison, on charges of having links to the Bahai Open University (BIHE). The sentence was communicated to her lawyer on January 14. Talu ` Golkar was one of then Bahais associated with the Bahai Open University who appeared at the Public Prosecutor’s office in Tehran on March 12, 2013. After presenting their defence, they were released on bail. At present more than 10 Bahais associated with the university are serving prison terms for their educational activities, in Raja’i Shahr prison and in the women’s wing of Evin prison.
Shamim Ettahadi’s sentence changed by review court
HRANA, January 21, 2014
The review court has adjusted the sentence of Shamim Ettahadi (شمیم اتحادی), a Bahai from Yazd who was arrested during a raid on his home on March 14, 2013. He was charged with propaganda against the regime, membership of Bahai organisations, insulting officials, spreading lies and having satellite receiving equipment. The charges relate to his supposed responsibility for a 4-minute video documenting the destruction of the Bahai cemetery in Yazd, which was shown on the Persian-language television network Manoto. The sentence of the lower court has been variously reported at 5 or 7 and half years in prison. The review court has changed this to 3 years in prison, 74 lashes, a two-year ban on leaving Iran, and a fine of 40 million rials (1200 euros; $US 1600). He was previously arrested in August 2011, along with three other Bahai youths who had gone walking in a mountainous area. On that occasion, he was sentenced to 91 days in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime, which the review court changed to 3 years probation.
Manuchher Khalasi barred from meeting his daughters
HRANA, January 18, 2014.
Manuchher Khalasi ( منوچهر خلوصی) was arrested at his home in Mashhad on November 29, 2013, and has now been held for more than seven weeks. He has been accused of propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith, and membership in Bahai organisations. On January 16 he was finally allowed to meet his wife, mother and father for some 30 minutes. However for reasons that are not clear, his two daughters were not allowed to meet their father. His daughters, Nika and Nava Khalusi (نیکا و نوا خلوصی ), have been sentenced to six years and 4 and a half years in prison, respectively, on charges of membership of the Bahai organisation, participation in illegal Bahai activities, and propaganda in favour of the Bahais and against the regime of the Islamic Republic. They are at present free on bail, pending the announcement of the review court’s findings on these sentences.
In 1999, Mr. Khalasi 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.
PM of Western Samoa acknowledges Bahai contribution to the nation
Samoa Observer, January 15, 2014
A celebration of the Bahai Faith’s 60th anniversary in Western Samoa, held yesterday, was attended by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and Cabinet Ministers. The Prime Minister said, “I take this opportunity to express the appreciation of the government for the important contribution that you make to the spiritual life of our country.” He added that the work of the Baha’i Faith and all churches in Samoa is paramount in bringing out the best from Samoan people. He said there are many members of the faith in different parts of Samoa’s society and he thanked them for their contribution to Samoa. The Prime Minister gave an assurance that the Government would continue to strive to protect the freedom of everyone – including the right to worship.
“As part of Samoa’s engagement internationally through its membership with the UN, Samoa endeavours to support efforts to protect the rights of people in various countries including Iran where the Baha’i faith struggle through persecution.” He assured members of the Faith that the Government would contribute to support work done through the UN to bring an end to abuses and violations of human rights.
Malaysian Baha’is affected by ban on ‘Allah’
The Sun Daily, January 14, 2014
The Executive Councillor for Islamic affairs for Selangor state in Malaysia, Sallehin Mukhyi, stated on January 13 that “The Selangor Non-Islamic Religions Enactment 1988 (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) prohibits all non-Muslims from using ‘Allah’ and 34 other Arabic words….Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah’s decree last December specifically states that the word ‘Allah’ is exclusive to the Muslims.” The Malaysian Bahais are among the groups affected by the ban on the use of the word “Allah.” Bahais use the words “Allah-u-Abbha”, which means “God the most glorious” as a greeting. A spokesman for the Baha’i community of Malaysia said the ban would be deliberated upon by members before they make any statements.
Three Bahais begin their sentences in Semnan
HRANA, January 10, 2014
Ardeshir Fena’eyan (اردشیر فناییان) Golrokh Firuzeyan ( گلرخ فیروزیان ) and Shidrokh Firuzeyan ( شیدرخ فیروزیان ) were arrested on January 8, without prior warning, to begin serving their sentences in Semnan prison. The Firuzeyan sisters face 6 month sentences, and were arrested in their home, while Mr. Fenayan faces an eight-month sentence. He was arrested in the street. All three were tried on August 21, 2013. They were charged with various offenses, but eventually sentenced for “propaganda against the regime.”
Three Bahai women free on parole
RAHANA, January 11, 2014
Elham Ruzbehi (الهام روزبهی) and her baby have been released from Isfahan prison on January 8, while Negar Mulkzadeh and Behnaz Hodadzadeh (نگار ملکزاده و بهناز حدادزاده) have been freed from Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad. Elham Ruzbehi, a Bahai from Isfahan who began serving her 2 year sentence with her baby on April 27, 2013, in Semnan prison, and was later transferred to Isfahan prison, has been released on parole. Negar Mulkzadeh and Behnaz Hodadzadeh were among 10 Baha’i arrested in connection with a handicraft exhibition in Mashhad. They were sentenced to 6 months in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime, and entered Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on November 17, 2013. They too have been freed on parole.
Emanullah Mostaqim hospitalized
PCED, January 10, 2014
On January 8, Emanullah Mostaqim ( امانالله مستقیم ), one of the staff of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran who was serving a 5-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, suffered a sudden heart complaint and was taken to Imam Khomeini hospital in Tehran.
Mr. Mostaqim also suffers from diabetes, and doctors have said that he should be under treatment in a hospital specialising in heart disease. He had an open-heart operation not long before his arrest in May 2011, and has been hospitalised several times since he was imprisoned. The forensic doctor has stated that his physical condition is such that he should not be in prison. On September 4, 2013, he was granted leave from prison on medical grounds. It is not clear from this report whether he had since returned to prison, or was still on leave when his condition required him to be hospitalised on January 8.
Hassan Badhrafkan free on bail
HRANA, January 14, 2014
Hassan Badhrafkan ( حسن بذرافکن ), a Bahai from Marvdasht county (in Fars Province), is reported to have been freed on bail from Adel Abad prison in Shiraz on December 21. Bail was set at 200 million tumans (59,000 euros, $US 80,000). Mr. Badhrafkan was arrested in the street on September 11, 2013, and transferred immediately to the Ministry of Intelligence’s detention facility 100, in Shiraz, where he was held for 48 days before being transferred to Adel Abad prison.