Two Bahais begin their sentences in Yazd
HRANA, March 21, 2015.
Mr. Eyman Rashidi (ایمان رشیدی) and Mrs. Shabnam Motahed (شبنم متحد), a Bahai couple from Yazd, were arrested on March 18, and taken to the central prison in Yazd to begin serving their sentences. Mr. Rashidi has been sentenced to three years in prison, and a one year suspended sentence, while Mrs. Motahed has been sentenced to two years in prison and one year suspended.
Nasim Ashrafi given prison furlough for Naw Ruz
Saham News, March 19, 2015.
Nasim Ashrafi ( نسیم اشرفی ), who is serving a one-year sentence for her religious beliefs in Evin Prison, in Tehran, has been granted a 4-day leave for the Naw Ruz period. She was arrested in a wave of detentions of Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz in early July, 2012, and began serving her sentence on May 6, 2014. She was charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of Bahai organisations.
Another Bahai home raided in Shiraz
HRANA, March 18, 2015.
On the morning of March 16, intelligence agents in the city of Shiraz raided the home of Mr. Karamat Amiri (کرامت امیرى ), a 62-year old Bahai. This is the latest in a series of similar raids on over 20 Bahai homes in the city, during the past month. The agents seized personal effects, a laptop computer, a mobile phone and religious books and CDs.
Faran Hessami granted a 4-day furlough
HRANA, March 19, 2015.
Faran Hessami ( فاران حسامی ), who is in Evin prison serving a four-year sentence for educational activities with the Bahai Open University (BIHE), has been granted a 4-day furlough covering the Naw Ruz period. This will enable her to be with her son Artin during the holiday period. Her husband Kamran Rahimiyan (کامران رحیمیان) is also serving a four-year sentence for educational activities, in Raja’i Shahr prison.
`Adnan Rahmat-Penah faces a new sentence
HRANA, March 17, 2015.
A court in Shiraz has handed down another 18-month sentence for `Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمتپناه ), a Bahai from Shiraz who has served nearly 5 months of a one-year sentence in Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz. On March 11, the lower court sentenced him to 6 months in prison on charges of insulting the President of Iran and 12 months for preparing and distributing means of evading the filters which the Iranian government has imposed on internet traffic. Bail was set at 1 billion rials (34,000 euros, 35,000 US dollars), pending the confirmation of this sentence by the court of review. His trial on these charges occurred about a month before his release.
Naghmeh Farabi begins 2-year sentence in Yazd
HRANA, March 14, 2015.
In recent days, security agents went to the home of Mrs. Naghmeh Farabi-Ashaqiyan (نغمه فارابی (اسحاقیان) in Najafabad, and took her to Yazd to serve a 2-year sentence. On the day of her arrest, security agents went to her home when she was not there, and entered by climbing over a wall. They returned during the afternoon and arrested her. She was arrested on July 31, 2012, and sentenced to 2 years in prison and 1 year suspended on charges of membership of the Bahai community.
`Adnan Rahmat-Penah free on bail
Campaign to stop harassment of Bahai Citizens (facebook), December 14, 2015.
`Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمتپناه ) who is serving a one-year sentence in Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz, has been freed on bail, apparently for medical reasons. He was arrested on December 12, 2012, during a raid on his home and sent to Shiraz prison. He began his sentence on November 11, 2014. On December 22, 2014, I reported that he had been denied necessary medical treatment in prison, but on December 25 he was granted a five-day furlough. He was suffering from severe back pain and a chronic influenza-like condition.
Revised translation of Some Answered Questions published
Bahai Distribution Service (USA), March 13, 2015.
The long-awaited revised English translation of Abdu’l-Baha’s Some Answered Questions is now available in hardback. The translation has been supervised and authorised for publication by the Bahai World Centre. The previous translation from Persian (which itself went through several revisions) was made by Hippolyte Dreyfus into French, and then by Dreyfus and Laura Barney into English. The French translation was also the basis for the first German translation.
The book is a compilation of explanations given by Abdu’l-Baha in response to questions posed by Laura Clifford Barney during her visits to Palestine in 1904-1906. The answers were given in Persian, and recorded, and Abdu’l-Baha himself corrected the Persian texts. The original has been preserved at the Bahai World Centre.
Dreyfus learned Persian, and later Arabic, in order to read the Bahai Writings and to serve the Bahai community. He became one of the best translators of Bahai scriptures to European languages. However Some Answered Questions, published in 1908, was among his first translations, and while it is written in Persian it really requires a knowledge of Arabic and of Islamic natural philosophy and theology. Moreover his own knowledge of the Bahai teachings was at that time inadequate: the explanatory footnotes in his first edition were in some cases quite wrong (and were corrected in later editions).
Over the years it became evident that the English translation was in need of a thorough revision to more adequately reflect the meaning and style of the original, convey the subtleties of Abdu’l-Baha’s explanations, and render the philosophical terms used in the text consistently. The present volume is the fruit of efforts to realize those aims.
The publication of Some Answered Questions 2nd edition marks the beginning of an acceleration in the pace of the programme for the translation and publication of the Holy Writings at the Bahai World Centre. Work is already well advanced on a volume of extracts pertaining to Baha’i Holy Days as well as a retranslation of Baha’u’llah’s Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys.
Another Bahai home raided in Shiraz
HRANA, March 13, 2015.
As previously reported, in the weeks leading to March 9, over 20 Bahai homes in Shiraz were raided and searched by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, who seized books, pamphlets, and images relating to the Bahai Faith, and electronic devices. On March 11, the home of Arash Ka’edi (آرش کایدی) was raided in the same way, with a thorough search and the confiscation of his personal effects.
Another arrest in Varamin
PCED, March 10, 2015.
Mr. Ehsan Yadegar (احسان یادگار), a Bahai from Varamin, has been arrested after receiving a summons by telephone from the security forces. He has been taken to Evin prison in Tehran. In recent days he was summoned for questioning several times, by the Ministry of Intelligence in Varamin, and released after questioning.
Several Bahais detained, one arrested, in Varamin, Tehran province
Aeen Bahai (facebook), March 11, 2015.
On the evening of March 9, Laleh Mahdinezhad (لاله مهدینژاد) and a number of Bahais who were present in her home were arrested by agents from the security forces. The agents searched her home and seized some personal effects before taking her to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence in Varamin. After interrogation there, she was taken to Section 209 in Tehran’s Evin Prison, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. Her friends were released without at about 2 in the morning, on March 10, after a short interrogation. It would appear that after being taken to Section 209, Laleh Mahdinezhad was taken back to Varamin for another interrogation, and was then returned to Section 209.
The families of the five Bahais where were previously reported to have been arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence in Tehran’s 10th district — apparently another name for Varamin county (?) — on February 16 and 17 have still not been able to meet them in prison, or have telephone contact. In fact they do not know where they are being held, or other details of their case.
Home raids and property seizures strike the Bahais of Shiraz
HRANA, March 9, 2015.
In recent weeks, over 20 Bahai homes in Shiraz have been raided and searched by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence. All books, pamphlets, and images relating to the Bahai Faith, and desk computers, laptops and mobile phones have been seized. The Bahais who were raided have been told to remain available in case they are summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence for questioning. On March 1, the home of Mr. Rohani (روحانی) was searched in this way, although the search warrant was in the names of his two sons. In addition to the items mentioned above, the agents also seized the equipment they use in their business. On March 7, the home of Mo`in Rohani ( معین روحانی) and his wife Ruya Hatemi (رویا حاتمی) was searched and their possessions seized. In both cases the Bahais were told to be ready for a summons from the Ministry.
Faribourz Baghi begins a 2-year sentence in Yazd
HRANA, March 8, 2015.
Mr. Faribourz Baghi (فریبرز باغی ) reported to prison in Yazd on March 7, in response to a summons sent through his bail guarantor. He is to serve a 2-year term (previously reported as 3 years in prison and 1 year suspended), on charges of acting against national security and propaganda against the regime. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, and the sixth of this group to begin their prison terms.
[It would appear that when the sentences were confirmed by the review court in Yazd, what was reported as “3 years in prison and 1 year suspended” in fact meant, 3 years in prison of which one year is suspended. ~ Sen]
Did Khamene’i restrain anti-bahai hooligans?
Editorial, March 6, 2015.
The Campaign against the harassment of Bahais (on facebook) has published an example of threatening letters that have been sent to a number of Bahai homes in Iran. The letter, couched in religious language, begins with an invocation to Imam Hussein, and a reference to the season of Ashura, and says in part:
We will not allow the Imam-e Zaman (the Lord of the Age), be oppressed. We will not allow the scum and apostates to slander him. The Lord of the Age has not come to us, he has not arisen. But before he does arise, we swear by Hussein, we will wipe the Bahais of this generation from the face of the earth. Either renounce your claims, or face the consequences. This is just the beginning: our work will continue with … (signed) Hezbollah Youth and
Association [that] waits for the Mahdi.
The ‘Campaign’ article does not indicate when the letters were received, where, or in what numbers. [Further information would be appreciated. ~sen]
The Hezbollah Youth and the Association that waits for the Mahdi are real organizations. The website of the latter has articles such as “The mixing of Bahais and Zionism” which claims that the Bahai Faith was founded on the orders of England and America, and is linked to Zionism. The Bahais, English, Americans and Zionists work together because of their hatred for Islam. The article is a fairly typical example of anti-bahaism in contemporary Iran: hateful, uninformed, absurd, but also dangerous, because the population is similarly uninformed and seeking scapegoats.
The name of the Hezbollah Youth under the letter suggests a connection to a recent statement by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, in a meeting with representatives of religious minorities in Iran’s Parliament. It has been translated by Iran Press Watch. He said that Imam Ali said a Muslim would not be blamed if they die of sadness over the harassment of a non-Muslim in a Muslim country. “Even extremist Hezbollah youth have never allowed themselves to attack any non-Muslims.”
Was the Supreme Leader warning the Hezbollah Youth that killing Bahais in Iran now would reduce the propaganda value he has been gaining, by criticizing the killings of Muslims in some western countries?
Khosrow Dehqani arrested in Isfahan
HRANA, March 5, 2015.
On March 3, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Isfahan arrested Mr. Khosrow Dehqani (خسرو دهقانی) and took him to the city’s central prison. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, and given sentences ranging from one to 4 years by the Revolutionary Court in Yazd. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai community activities. Mr. Dehqani was sentenced to three years in prison (previously reported as 4 years) and a 12-month suspended sentence, however it is not clear whether the most recent arrest marks the beginning of his sentence, or is for some other reason.
`Azam Motahari summoned to prison
HRANA, March 3, 2015.
Mrs. `Azam Motahari (اعظم مطهری) has been summoned by telephone to begin serving a one-year sentence in the central prison of Yazd. [An earlier report states that the review court confirmed a sentence of two years in prison and one year’s probation ~ Sen]. The guarantor of her bail was also informed by telephone to bring Mrs. Motahari to prison to begin her sentence. However neither call specified a date on which she should report to prison. Mrs. Motahari is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai community activities.
Mrs. Motahari is the mother of Shamim Ettehadi, a Baha’i from Yazd who has been in prison for over two years.
Increase in anti-Bahai propaganda in Iran
Iran Press Watch, February 25, 2015.
In recent days anti-Bahai posters have been displayed in Tehran metro stations. The propaganda and the simultaneous arrest of 14 Bahais in Tehran and Isfahan in the last two weeks attest to a new wave of pressure on the Bahais in Iran. Saham News reports that the propaganda posters claim that Bahais are members of a cult devised by imperialist powers, whose aim is to spy and to change the culture and religion of the people of Iran, specifically Shiite Muslims. The posters can be seen in most Tehran metro stations.
Concurrently, extensive anti-Bahai programs are being aired on radio and TV carrying the same message: accusations of cultism, spying and propagation of immorality.
Faranak, a 31-year-old Bahai woman, says, “I was shocked to see the poster in the metro station. I didn’t expect them to treat us this way. Although we have become used to harsh and offensive treatment over the years, these posters are alarming; they make us wonder after all these years of persecution and imprisonment: what more are they going to do to us?”
Bahai libraries banned, closed, in four cities in Iran
Maf News, February 24, 2015.
A recent memo signed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (pasdaran) states that Bahais are not permitted to own or manage libraries. In recent days, the Basij militia in the cities of Semnan and Sari (in the North), and in Yazd and Kerman (South-central Iran) has worked with the Pasdaran’s cultural surveillance agency to close libraries owned or managed by Bahais. The relevant documents were signed by local security forces. Six libraries in Semnan and Yazd have been closed, [Note: these are not necessarily libraries of Bahai books for use by Bahais: literacy programmes, especially in rural areas, have long been a focus of Baha’i social work, in Iran and elsewhere. There is already a long-standing practice of confiscating Bahai books and images found in Bahai homes during raids: no new policy would be required to close such personal libraries. ~ Sen]
Two fresh arrests in Yazd
HRANA, February 28, 2015.
Security forces in Yazd have searched the home of the Baqeri family, for the third time in the past year. They seized personal items and arrested Nasser and Fa’ez Baqeri (ناصر و فائز باقری). Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), the wife of Nasser Baqeri, has just begun a 2-year sentence in the central prison in Yazd.
Fariba Ashtari begins her 2-year sentence in Yazd prison
HRANA, February 23, 2015.
On Feburary 21, Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), a Bahai from Yazd, reported to the central prison in the city to begin serving a 2-year sentence. She has also been given a 12-month suspended sentence. She is the fourth of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, to begin her sentence. These 20 Bahais were charged with propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai community activities.
Shahram Chiniyan beaten in prison again
Exiles Activist, February 21, 2015.
Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab (میاندوآب شهرام چینیان ), a Bahai shopkeeper from Tehran who is serving an 8-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, has again been beaten by prison guards and some prisoners from the criminal section of the prison. This follows a letter he wrote to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamene’i, complaining about prison conditions. The beating occurred on February 21, and another prisoner, Arash Moqaddam Aslanpour (آرش مقدم اصلان پور), is also reported to have been severely injured when prisoners from the criminal section raided section 10, where he is held. He is described in the Exiles Activist report as a Bahai prisoner, but other sources describe him as a Zoroastrian civic activist.
On September 20, 2014, Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab was beaten by guards because he refused to wear the standard prison uniform when being taken to see a judge.
Mr. Chiniyan was first arrested in March 2009 and released on March 3, 2010, after using his business license as bail. He was sentenced to 70 lashes and 8 years in prison on a charge of insulting Islam, and began serving his sentence, first in Evin prison in Tehran and then in Raja’i Shahr prison, early in March, 2012. On May 28, 2014, he was transferred to section 1 of Raja’i Shahr, where dangerous criminals are kept. He was punished with one week in solitary from June 25 to July 1, and four days in solitary on August 20, following his first beating by prison guards.
Bahai community in India tipped to be first, as government expands recognition of religious minorities
Sunday Standard, February 22, 2015.
The Indian government has decided to initiate a survey of the socio-economic status of those categorised as “others” in the census, because they do not fall into the existing list of six minority communities -— Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists and Jains.
“Till now, minority meant only Muslims. That’s going to change as more communities will be included,” an official working with the Ministry of Minority Affairs said. According to the official, 7.3 million people, or 0.6 percent of the total population, are “others.” “But there won’t be any frantic moves. There is thought going into all of these issues,” he added.
To begin with, the ministry has decided to look into individual applications from communities to be included in the list and the first one likely to be added is that of Bahais. When asked about the financial clout of the community and the need for assistance from the government, the official said the Bahais were not asking for financial help but for recognition as a minority community.
Sources said recognition to Bahais, who are being persecuted in Islamic countries, especially Iran, will send out a message to the international community that often accuses India of shortchanging its minorities.
The official said the minority ministry had asked the National Commission for Minorities for its opinion and is about to take a final call in the matter. According to him, the government is also looking at the issues of linguistic and ethnic minorities with the same concern and will be studying their status too.
Further details on five recent arrests, and one interrogation, in Tehran
Iran Wire, February 20, 2015.
The arrests in Tehran that were previously reported began about 5 pm on Monday February 16, with a raid by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on a Bahai meeting in the home of Sasan Yadegar (ساسان یادگار) in Tehran’s 10th district. The agents brought a camcorder with them. The agents searched the house thoroughly. The six Bahais present were interrogated one by one in a separate room, and two of them, Mrs. Elham Karam Pisheh (الهام کرم پیشه) and Mrs. Mona Mehrabi (مونا محرابی) were arrested in accordance with a warrant and taken away in a car from the Ministry of Intelligence. During the search, which lasted five hours, all the books, pictures and religious symbols of those present, as well as computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, were seized. An Iran Press Watch report adds that the officers demanded that those present should sign undertakings not to participate in Bahai meetings.
Security forces then went downstairs to the home of Mr. Ehsan Yadegar (احسان یادگار), Sassan’s brother, and searched it. They seized religious books and images, and computers and mobile phones. The Iran Press Watch report adds that they seized some gold coins. He was told to present himself to the public prosecutor’s office in Varamin (the capital of Varamin County in Tehran Provine). He did so, and was released after several hours.
On the same day, officers from the Ministry of Intelligence raided the home of Ruhiyyeh Baqr-dokht-Akbari ((روحیه باقردخت (اکبری), searched it and arrested her. Next day they raided the home of Mrs. Safa Forqani (صفا فرقانی), where they seized a computer and religious books. She too was arrested. An hour later, her father, Mehrdad Forqani (مهرداد فرقانی ) was arrested in his home in Varamin. Security agents also appeared at the home of Mrs. Arghavan Eshraqi (غوان اشراقی), with a warrant for her arrest, but she was not home. The agents searched the house and seized religious books, pictures and poems.
Thus far, the families of the five detainees have not been told the reason for these arrests, and the detainees have not be able to contact their families. According to the judicial authorities, they have all been taken to Evin prison, and their cases will be heard by the court in Varamin.
Bandar Abbas Bahai assaulted, threatened with death
Iran Press Watch, February 21, 2015.
On Saturday 14 February, Kalim Jahandari, a Bahai citizen of Bandar Abbas, was attacked and threatened by unknown armed assailants.
According to reports received by Saham News, his attackers blind-folded him and took him to a deserted area of town, where they subjected him to harassment and persecution, denigrated his family — who are not Bahai — and threatened him with severe repercussions should he decide to promulgate his Faith.
The fact that these unidentified attackers have access to detailed information about the personal lives of Bahais in Bandar Abbas heightens the fear of a connection with the security authorities.
The assailants also declared that they were responsible for “sending to Hell” Ataollah Rezvani, a former member of the administrative body of the Baha’i community of Bandar Abbas, and threatened to kill two other former members, Mehran Afshar and Behzad Rasti, at the appropriate time.
These threats come in the aftermath of the assassination of the 52-year-old Ataollah Rezvani, who was shot to death last August by unknown agents who have yet to be identified or prosecuted by the security forces or the judiciary. The status of the case remains unclear.
The Bahais of Bandar Abbas have lodged complaints with the Security Council and the Department of Justice of Bandar Abbas, and have demanded protection against self-appointed groups.
10 Bahai detainees freed in Isfahan
Exiles Activist, February 19, 2015.
On the evening of February 19, ten Bahais were freed from Isfahan prison, after two days in detention. There is still no information as to the reasons for their arrests.
Extensive raids in Tehran and Isfahan: 14 Bahais arrested
Campaign to stop harassment of Bahais (facebook), February 18, 2015.
On February 16 and 17, security officers raided and searched the homes of Bahais in Tehran and Isfahan, and arrested 14 Bahais. In Tehran, the homes of Sasan Yadegar (elsewhere reported as Parisa Yadegar), Ehsan Yadegar, Arghavan Eshraqi and Mehrdad Furqani (ساسان یادگار، احسان یادگار، ارغوان اشراقی و مهرداد فرقانی ) were raided, and all the books, desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones were seized. Four Bahais were arrested, in line with arrest warrants, and the officers also had a warrant for the arrest of Mrs. Arghavan Eshraqi, who was not at home at the time of the raids. All those arrested in Tehran are reported to have been taken to Evin prison.
On February 17, security officers in Isfahan raided the homes of Mr. Kavian Dehqan, Houshang Rahimi and Peyman `Atefi (کاویان دهقان، هوشنگ رحیمی و پیمان عاطفی), and confiscated computers, mobile phones and books. They arrested 12 Bahais. There is no word of where they are being held.
Those arrested in Tehran have been named as Mrs. Elham Karam Pisheh (الهام کرم پیشه), Mrs. Mona Mehrabi (مونا محرابی), Mr. Mehrdad Furqani and Mr. Safa Furqani (صفا فرقانی و مهرداد فرقانی).
Those arrested in Isfahan are named as Mrs. Nika Rajabi, Mona Aqdasi, Shiva Aghsani and Negar Sobhaneyan (نیکا رجبی، مونا اقدسی، شیوا اغصانی و نگار سبحانیان), and Mr. Kavian Dehqan, `Aref Dehqan, Shayan Kawthar, Peyman `Atefi, Kaushar Rahimi and Houshang Rahimi (کاویدن دهقان، عارف دهقان، شایان کوثر، پیمان عاطفی، کوشا رحیمی و هوشنگ رحیمی ). [A subsequent report omits Houshang Rahimi and substitutes Houshang Dehqan (هوشنگ دهقان): the later report appears to be the correct one ~ Sen]
Farah Baghi begins her sentence in Yazd
HRANA, February 11, 2015.
Farah Baghi (فرح باغی), a Bahai from Yazd who has been sentenced to one year in prison and a one-year suspended sentence, has reported to prison in Yazd to begin her sentence. She had previously been informed that she would begin her sentence on February 13, but on February 9 security officers appeared at her door to take her to prison. When she explained that she was summoned to prison on February 13, they agreed that she could take herself to the court offices, on February 10. Mrs. Farah Baghi is the third Bahai to begin her sentence, out of group of 20 Bahais who were arrested in Yazd, Isfahan, Kerman, Arak and neighbouring areas in August 2012.
Manuchher Khalousi sentenced: six years for being a Bahai
HRANA, February 10, 2015.
The Revolutionary Court in the city of Mashhad has sentenced Manuchher Khalousi (منوچهر خلوصی) to six years in prison for his Bahai beliefs. The charges against him were “propaganda against the regime” or “acting against national security,” although the evidence cited does not support either charge: it focuses simply on proving that he is a Bahai. He was arrested on November 29, 2013, when security forces raided his home, for the sixth time since the 1979 Revolution. At his trial, on July 8, 2014, he was charged with “acting against national security by giving interviews with foreign media.” However no interviews with Mr. Kholousi are known, in either Iranian or foreign media. The court therefore adjourned the sitting for lack of evidence, and a judge was appointed to gather evidence. Apparently no evidence was found, as he has now been convicted without evidence.
His daughters, Nika and Nava Kholousi (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. In 1999, Mr. Kholousi was sentenced to death for being a Bahai. This sentence was later reduced to one year in prison, by which time he had already served 19 months in prison.
Court rejects complaint of several Bahai students
HRANA, February 10, 2015.
Following the announcement of results from Iran’s national secondary school graduation exam for this academic year, many Bahai youth who achieved good marks, sufficient for entry even to the best of the state-controlled universities, found they were rejected from university due to “defects in the file.” Some of these students filed a legal complaint, which after overcoming various obstacles was actually received and considered by Branch One of the Administrative Court. This court deals with complaints, grievances and protests lodged against officers or government entities, or challenges to government regulations. The Bahai students’ complaint was however rejected. The court, which is reported to have been headed by the President of the Administrative Courts for all of Iran, based its ruling on a decree of the Council for the Cultural Revolution, issued shortly after the 1979 Revolution, which bars Bahais from higher education in government-run institutions. The court did not provide any written decision to the students or their lawyer, and the court records do not contain any mention of the fact that the complainants were Bahais, but rather refer to the general conditions of admission.
Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Human Rights Council of the Judiciary, has publicly stated that “The authorities have never discriminated against the followers of the Bahai Faith merely based on being Bahais, as they believe that based on the Iranian Constitution every individual has the same rights and cannot be deprived of constitutional rights.” Nevertheless, hundreds of Bahai students have been barred from entering universities in Iran, or expelled from university when their religious beliefs became known. Moreover the Bahai Open University (BIHE), established to offer education to those excluded from government-supervised institutions, has been raided and closed down, and its administrators and teachers have been imprisoned.
Two Bahais begin their sentences in Arak and Kerman, 3 summoned to prison in Yazd
HRANA, February 4, 2015.
On January 31, Navid Haqiqi (نوید حقیقی) and Shahram Falah (شهرام فلاح) reported to prisons in Arak and Kerman, respectively, to begin serving 3-year sentences for their faith. In August 2012, 20 Bahais were arrested in central Iran: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman. Mr. Haqiqi and Mr. Falah are the first two of these 20 to begin their sentences. Three Bahais in Yazd have been notified that they will begin their 3-year sentences on February 16. They are named as Mrs. Fara Baghi (فرح باغی), who has been sentenced to one year in prison and 1 year suspended sentence; Mr. Mehran Eslami (مهران اسلامی), facing one year in prison and 1 year suspended sentence (previously reported as two years plus a one year suspended); and Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), sentenced to two years (previously reported as three years).
[Corrected: In my initial report, Mrs. Fara Baghi (فرح باغی) was conflated with Mr. Faribourz Baghi (فریبرز باغی ).
Human Rights Watch calls on Yemen to release Hamed bin Haydara
Human Rights Watch, February 4, 2015.
A statement released by Human Rights Watch says that the Yemeni government should drop all charges against Hamed Kamal Muhammad bin Haydara, a Yemeni Bahai, which violate his basic rights to freedom of religion.
Authorities have detained Hamed Kamal Muhammad bin Haydara, 50, without trial since December 2013. They have often denied him access to lawyers and family and subjected him to torture, his wife, Elham Muhammad Hossain Zara`i, told Human Rights Watch. The authorities allege that Haydara attempted to convert Yemeni Muslims and collaborated with Israel.
“The charges against Hamed Kamel Haydara appear to be based entirely on his adherence to the Bahai faith, flagrantly violating his right to freedom of religion,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of HRW. “Haydara should be released immediately and his allegations of torture impartially investigated.” … “Hamed Kamal Haydara is a victim of a Yemeni government policy that persecutes the Bahai,” Whitson said. “The case sheds a disturbing light on the government’s mistreatment of the country’s religious minorities.”
On January 8, 2015, the Specialized Criminal Court prosecutor issued an indictment claiming that Haydara was an Iranian citizen, using a false name, who arrived in Yemen only in 1991. Photocopies of his Yemini ID and passport provided by his wife show he was born in Yemen in 1964, however. The prosecutor charged him with collaborating with Israel by working for the Universal House of Justice, the Bahai supreme governing institution, which is based in Haifa, Israel. They also allege that he lured potential Muslim converts to the Bahai faith through charitable giving and tried to “establish a homeland for the followers of the Bahai faith” in Yemen.
In the indictment, which Human Rights Watch reviewed, the prosecutor charges Haydara under Yemen’s Penal Code with committing, among other crimes, “an act that violates the independence of the republic, its unity, or the integrity of its lands,” “working for a foreign state’s interests,” “insulting Islam,” and “apostasy.” The prosecutor is seeking “the maximum possible penalty,” which for some of these charges is death, and confiscation of his property. The Prosecutor’s office has informed Haydara that his next hearing is scheduled for February 22, 2015.
On December 3, 2013, officers from the National Security Bureau (NSB), one of the country’s intelligence agencies, arrested Haydara at his workplace in Balhaf, in the southern Yemeni province of Shabwa, and transferred him to an NSB detention center in Sanaa, the capital. On December 17, six security officers searched his home and confiscated paperwork, laptops, and other electronic equipment, his wife told Human Rights Watch. She said that despite her repeated inquiries, authorities refused to give any reasons for his detention until August 2014.
During his first nine months in detention, the authorities denied Haydara access to his lawyer and his family, Zara`i said. She was allowed to speak with him for the first time over the phone on June 3, 2014, but could not visit him until September 2, following intervention by foreign diplomats and others. The authorities then transferred his case file to the attorney general. Haydara told his wife that during the first 45 days of his incarceration, officers beat him with a metal rod, causing him to lose hearing in his left ear, subjected him to electric shocks, and forced him to stand in a bucket of cold water. He said that National Security officers accused him of spying for Israel and proselytizing, and forced him to sign a 19-page document while blindfolded and without knowledge of its contents. Authorities transferred Haydara to Sanaa Central Prison on October 6.
Zara`i told Human Rights Watch that in a September 4 meeting with one of the judges presiding over the case, he threatened her with prison because of her faith and told her that all Bahais should be imprisoned.
Most of the charges against Haydara relate to his practice of the Bahai faith and violate article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states:
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
Yemen ratified the ICCPR in 1987 and is bound under international treaty law to implement its provisions.
About 1,000 Bahais live in Yemen. The case against Haydara is not the first of its kind in Yemen, according to representatives of the global Bahai community. In June 2008, National Security officers arrested Behrooz Rouhani, a Bahai man, and two visiting Bahai friends, all of whom carried Iranian passports, at Rouhani’s home in Sanaa. Officers arrested a fourth Bahai man, who carried an Iraqi passport, the next day. The four were released without charge after 120 days. The authorities told them to leave Yemen within two months, but this order was later revoked and two of them still live in Yemen.
Local human rights activists have reported that past Yemeni governments also imposed unlawful restrictions on other religious minorities, including Christian, Jewish, and Ismaili individuals.
Three Bahais in Tonekabon arrested: trials imminent
HRANA, February 3, 2015.
On February 3, three Bahai men living in the city of Tonekabon, in Iran’s Mazandaran province, were summoned to the court in Tonekabon, charged and arrested, as their trials are about to begin. Their names are given as Zayullah Qadri (ضیاءالله قادری), Soroush Gorshasebi (سروش گرشاسبی) and Faramarz Lotfi ( فرامرز لطفی). They were first arrested on September 23, 2013 (see previous report) after attending a birthday party for a Bahai in Tonekabon, and were held for 17 days. They have been charged with acting against national security, teaching the Bahai Faith and propaganda against the regime. Mr. Lotfi suffers from stomach problems, and his family are concerned about his health.
Ministry of Intelligence pressures Muslims of Rasht to cut ties with Bahais
Iran Press Watch, February 1, 2015.
In the past two months over 20 Muslim residents of Rasht, in Northern Iran, have been summoned and threatened by the Ministry of Intelligence because of their relationships with Bahais. Muslims who have some sort of relation with Bahais are frequently summoned and interrogated. These interrogations last between 5 and 7 hours; so far, 20 individuals aged between 20 and 64 have been subjected to 35 interrogation sessions. The process began on November 17, and the most recent case case was today (February 1), when two more people were summoned for interrogations to be held next week. Those summoned have been subjected to insults, humiliation and threats, and are told that they are not allowed to associate or have any business dealings with Bahais. The Ministry of Intelligence also seeks to obtain baseless statements from these people regarding the activities of members of Bahais.
On November 17, 2014, an agent of the Ministry of Intelligence, accompanied by two representatives of the Revolutionary Court, inspected the homes and businesses of four Bahai citizens in Rasht, on the basis of a hand-written warrant without the authenticating seal of the judge.
Persian source: HRANA
Fu’ad Moqaddam suffers heart attack, hospitalised
Iran Press Watch, January 29, 2015.
On the morning of Wednesday, 28 January 2015, Dr. Fu’ad Moqaddam ( فواد مقدم ), a 63-year-old physician and one of the administrators of the Baha’i online university, who is serving a five year prison sentence at Rajai Shahr (or Gohardasht) Prison in Karaj, was transferred to a hospital outside the prison after a heart attack.
As reported less than two weeks ago by Peace Campaign Activists in Exile, Mr. Moqaddam was forced out of his hospital bed by prison officals despite heart problems and severe health issues, and was returned to prison without receiving treatment. (see previous report) He has now been taken to a hospital rehabilitation unit as an emergency case, after experiencing a second heart attack.
Various reports and news items indicate that blocking the treatment of prisoners in the prison system of the Islamic Republic of Iran is prevalent. [The report continues with more on the health issues of prisoners in Iran. ]
Intelligence officers raid Bahai homes in Shiraz: seize forbidden religious material
Farzan Faramarzi blog, January 30, 2015.
On the morning of January 29, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided the home of Arman Atrian (آرمان عطریان), a Bahai from Shiraz, and seized religious books and images, three desk-top computers, a tablet and a cell phone. In the course of the past week, the home of four other Bahais in Shiraz was raided in a similar way.
Dr. Fu’ad Moqaddam denied medical treatment
Iran Press Watch, January 29, 2015.
Fu’ad Moqaddam ( فواد مقدم ), a 63-year old physician and one of the managers in Isfahan of the Bahai online university, the BIHE, despite heart problems and other health issues, was forced out of his hospital bed by prison authorities and returned to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj without receiving treatment. According to the Peace Activists in Exile Campaign, officials of Rajai Shahr Prison, in Isfahan, blocked any medical treatment for Dr. Moqaddam, who had himself served Iran in front line war zone hospitals for three years. Last week, due to the severity of his health condition, he was transferred to a hospital outside the prison and was admitted to the ICU, but a few hours later, due to pressure from the authorities at Rajai Shahr Prison, in particular at the personal insistence of an individual by the name of “Asadi” (اسدی), he was returned to the prison. The conscript soldier who was accompanying the prisoner protested against this. It is said that he was reprimanded as a result, and his mandatory military service was extended.
Dr. Moqaddam was arrested in Isfahan on May 22, 2011, when Ministry of Intelligence agents entered the homes of at least 30 of the academic staff of the BIHE, seizing books, computers and personal effects. A total of 16 educators were arrested. He was sentenced by the 28th Branch of the Revolutionary Court to five years in prison for his role in educating students who, under the Iranian regime’s apartheid policy, should not be educated. He began his sentence in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj on January 21, 2013.
Rozita Vaseghi freed after 5 years imprisonment
Iran Press Watch / HRANA, January 22, 2015.
Rozita Vaseghi ( رزیتا واثقی ), a Bahai from Mashhad was freed on the evening of January 21, after completing her five-year imprisonment with hard labour in Vakil-Abad prison, in Mashhad. She spent six months of her sentence in solitary confinement in the Office of the Ministry of Intelligence in Mashhad.
During her custody, Ms. Vaseghi was under heavy pressure from the Ministry of Intelligence to sign a statement indicating that she would not participate in any Bahai activities, which she refused. During her five years imprisonment, due to pressure from the Ministry of Intelligence, she was not given a single day of furlough, even for necessary medical attention. Like other Baha’i prisoners in Mashhad, she was barred from contacting non-Bahai prisoners, and was confined in a separate room in the women’s prison.
Behfar Khanjani denied family visits
HRANA, January 23, 2015.
Behfar Khanjani (بهفر خانجانی), a Bahai prisoner of conscience serving a five-year sentence in Seman’s central prison, has been denied the right to receive family visits as a punishment for writing a letter to Dr. Jahangiri, the head of Iran’s Prison Association. Mr. Khanjani was initially given a four-year prison sentence for membership of illegal Bahai groups and attending Bahai prayer meetings and the 19th-day ‘Feast.’ His sentence was later extended by one year for “propaganda against the regime.” Mr. Khanjani suffers from an incurable medical condition which is at an advanced stage, and his condition is fragile. He was given a brief medical leave in January 2012.
Although the Warden of the Central Prison in Semnan and the supervising judge approved an end-of-sentence furlough for Mr. Khanjani, Mr. Asyabi, the City Attorney of Semnan, and Mr. Arab, who is in charge of all the prisons in Semnan, said that he was barred from receiving a furlough. Mr. Khanjani then wrote to Dr. Jahangiri, criticizing the decision and saying that it breached his legal and human rights. Officers at the Semnan central prison then criticized Mr. Khanjani and told him that he would be denied family visits as a punishment.
Bahai home and workplace raided in Shiraz
HRANA, January 21, 2015.
On January 19, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided the workplace and then the home of Mr. Hasan Salehi (حسن صالحی) in Shiraz. They had a search warrant for both properties. The officers said that he was suspected of propaganda against the regime and membership of an illegal organisation. When Mr. Salehi’s family protested the seizure of some Bahai materials, the officers said they were required to collect anything relating to Bahai beliefs, because it was a baseless sect, and anything relating to any family member. In the end, the agents seized a large number of books, pamphlets, photographs and other religious materials, and a desktop computer, from the house. At Mr. Salehi’s workplace they seized accounting, tax and administrative records and computers and even some letters of appreciation from customers.
Bahai student expelled from Technical University in Ramsar
“Fariba Kamalabadi” (public figure Facebook page), January 19, 2015.
Bahrad Adhargan (بهراد آذرگان), a student of Electrical Engineering at the Mulla Sadra Technical University in Ramsar, in the Mazandaran province of Iran, has been expelled because of his Bahai beliefs. However he was able to study for five semesters. Apparently it took this long for the university administration to notice that in his application form, following the question “Religion?” he had written “Of course.” The university then summoned him to the office of the Rector, to ask what he meant, and what religion he followed. Mr Adhargan said that he was a Bahai. They were surprised, and within the hour Mr. Adhargan had been expelled, without any documentation of the reason, or any academic records showing his results over five semesters.
Trials of six Bahais in Tabriz continue
HRANA, January 14, 2015.
The fifth court hearing of charges against six Bahais took place in Tabriz on January 14. The accused are four members of the Bahadori (بهادری ) family, Shabnam Issakhani (شبنم عیسی خانی) and Rashin Saberi (راشین صابری).
During the hearing Simin Rasouli (سیمین رسولی), the mother of the Bahadori family, was questioned, and the court was adjourned until January 21. In the previous hearings, Farzad Bahadori (فرزاد بهادری), the father of the family, Mrs. Rasouli, the children Sahar ( سحر بهادری ) and Nassim Bahadori (نسیم بهادری ), Mrs. Shabnam Issakhani (شبنم عیسی خانی) and Mrs. Rashin Saberi, were questioned for four hours.
These six Bahais were arrested in the Bahadori home in Tabriz on July 12, 2014, by eight agents from the Ministry of Intelligence: five men and three women. The agents seized religious books and musical instruments, and also raided Mr. Bahadori’s work place and seized computers. All six were released on bail about two weeks later.
Bahai arrested in Yemen, more arrests expected
Haberler and other sources, January 12, 2015.
Hamid Kamal Mohammed bin Haidarah (حامد كمال محمد بن حيدرة), a Bahai of Persian background, is to stand trial in Yemen on charges of spying for Israel and seeking to spread the Bahai faith in Yemen. According to Yemen’s official news agency, he was interrogated by prosecutors in the capital Sana’a on Sunday. The prosecution has referred the case to the Specialized Penal Court in the capital Sana’a as a prelude to trial.
Mr. bin Haidarah is also referred to in the report as Hamid Mirza Kamali Sarvestani (حامد ميرزا كمالي سروستاني), indicating that his ancestors came from Sarvestan, in Iran. He lived in the Socotra archipelago and in al-Mukalla, a city near Hadhramaut. The news agency reported one prosecutor as saying that he was arrested in Al-Mukalla last year. He added that the man, 51, had settled in Al-Mukalla on the pretext of doing business in the city. Other suspects are being sought by the security services, according to a judicial source at Yemen’s Penal Prosecution office. He said [incorrectly] that Mr. Sarvestani entered Yemen in 1991, together with his father. The indictment stated that he had bought land with the intention of bringing a large number of Bahais to Yemen, and had worked with Israel, through the Universal House of Justice, to spread the Baha’i Faith. The prosecution explained that the accused has held a number of meetings and symposiums in several forums and in houses to encourage Baha’is and Yemenis to elect members of the National Spiritual Assembly and its branches in the provinces. He is also accused of inciting Muslims against Islam. The prosecution said in the indictment that his activities harm Yemen’s political status and its independence and territorial integrity.
Informed sources said that there is a significant number of Bahais in Yemen, and that some government hospitals have issued birth certificates in which Bahai is recognized as a religious identity, but that in many [Islamic] countries the Bahai Faith is considered a sect, not a religious identity. The Iranian Embassy told Saba news agency that Iran does not recognize the Bahai Faith as a religion.
Update, January 17: The Bahai World News Service has an updated report, which states that:
Mr. bin Haydara was in fact born on Socotra Island in Yemen and has lived in the country as a citizen. His father, a physician, moved to Yemen from Iran in the 1940s and was granted Yemeni citizenship by the Mahra Sultan of Qishn and Socotra, in recognition of his sterling service to the poor in society. Citizenship was naturally and rightfully passed down to his son. The Sultan gave Mr. bin Haydara’s father his Yemeni name as an honor and in recognition of his respect for his adopted country.
Bahai student expelled from the University of Mazandaran
HRANA, January 12, 2015.
Noura Mesami (نورا مسمی), a Bahai student of software engineering at the University of Mazandaran, has been expelled from the university at the end of her first semester of studies. She had honestly stated her religion as “Bahai” in her application, and was excluded from the end of term examinations.
Nasim Ashrafi given medical leave from prison
Campaign to stop harassment of Bahai citizens (facebook), January 7, 2015.
Nasim Ashrafi ( نسیم اشرفی ), who is serving a one-year sentence for her religious beliefs in Evin Prison, in Tehran, has been granted medical leave. She was required to deposit bail of 500 million rials (15,000 euros, 18,000 US dollars). She was arrested in a wave of detentions of Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz in early July, 2012, and began serving her sentence on May 6, 2014. She was charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of Bahai organisations.
Jamaleddin Khanjani transferred to hospital
Zendani Siasi (facebook page ‘prisoners of conscience’), January 6, 2014
Jamaleddin Khanjani (جمالدین خانجانی) was transferred from Raja’i Shahr prison to Pars Hospital in Tehran on the morning of January 5, following a heart failure. Mr. Khanjani, aged 82, is one of seven Bahai ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran) who were sentenced to 20 years in prison after their May 2008 arrest. He has been imprisoned in block 12, the wing of Raja’i Shahr prison that holds prisoners of conscience, and suffers from diverse ailments connected to his age. He has previously had heart surgery. Doctors has advised that he should be hospitalized, but officials have allowed him only short medical leaves, before returning him to prison.
Bahai suffers lethal poisoning in Shiraz
HRANA, January 5, 2015.
Leila Kargar (لیلا کارگر), a 42-year-old Bahai woman living in Shiraz, has been poisoned and killed by an unknown person, using Aluminium Phosphide, a powder that is used to kill insects and rodents. It reacts with acid in the digestive system to produce the toxic phosphine gas. Mrs. Kargar was in the habit of saying prayers while walking in a park near to the spot where the House of Bab once stood, before its destruction by the Islamic regime in 1979. On December 29 she was late in returning home, and after her return her condition became very serious, with severe vomiting. She was taken to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with Amuninium Phosphide poisoning, for which there is no cure. She died shortly afterwards. She told her family that she had been discussing religious matters with a well-spoken lady, who had given her a drink of fruit juice. Her body is still being held by authorities in Shiraz.
Several Bahais arrested in Abadeh
HRANA, January 2, 2015.
On December 29, 2014, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Farshid Rastegar (فرشید رستگار) and a number of Bahai students who had gathered in his home in Abadeh, a town approximately halfway between Isfahan and Shiraz. As in other recent cases, the agents posed as postmen to gain entry to the house, and they did not have a search warrant or arrest warrants. They searched the house, and arrested Mr. Rastegar and the others present, who were all students of the Bahai Open University (BIHE). Mr. Rastegar has been helping students in the Abadeh area who are studying at the Bahai Open University, an institution designed to offer tertiary courses in certain subject to students who are excluded from licenced universities in Iran because of their religious beliefs. The youth who were arrested on December 29 were released next day, but Mr. Rastegar was held for two days, and was questioned mainly about the Bahai Open University.
Abadeh was the scene of large-scale raids on Bahai homes, and threats to the safety of Bahais, reported on this blog in October 2013.