Three more Bahai businesses closed in Sari
After closing one Bahai business this morning, the local authorities in Sari closed three more in the course of the afternoon. The businesses are run by Yakub Akbari (یعقوب اکبری), Anbar Aqa’i (عنبر آقایی) and Payam Taqauwi ( پیام تقوی).
Shahriar Cyrus, Bahai artist, arrested
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, June 30, 2015.
Shahriar Cyrus (شهریار سیروس), a Bahai painter and a respected art critic, was arrested today when eleven agents of the security forces raided his home. The agents had an arrest warrant. They seized all his personal possessions and took him away. His whereabouts are unknown, and no other information has been released. The report does not say where he was arrested, but he was born and studied in Tehran.
Bahai business closed in Sari
Bahai News (Persian), June 30, 2015.
A workshop belonging to Mr. Houman Bakhtavar ( هومن بخت آور ) was closed by the local authorities this morning, apparently because Mr. Bakhtavar is a Bahai. There has been a sharp rise in the number of Bahai businesses closed by the authorities in Sari in recent months, as well as in Kerman, Hamadan and Rafsanjan. See the category ‘Economic discrimination‘ on this blog.
[Note to readers: A Bahai of the same name was arrested in Mashhad in 2005, and began a two-year sentence for his Bahai beliefs on August 3, 2010. I would like to know whether this is the same Houman Bakhtavar who now lives (and tries to work) in Sari. ~ Sen]
“..a building that defies rational thought..”
Arch Daily, June 29, 2015.
The Arch Daily (Architecture Daily) has a good illustrated article on the Bahai Temple (Mashriqu’l-Adhkar) in Chile, which is nearing completion. The writer, Guy Horton, calls it “a building that defies rational thought and veers into the realm of the emotional.”
Going in an entirely unexpected direction, the architects created a form made up of nine “sails” that twist, bend, and curve as they reach up to join an “oculus” at the apex. In the harsh Andean terrain, the building appears to billow and coil lightly as it emerges from its heavy concrete base. The architectural language is at once high-tech and organic, combining digital design and fabrication technologies with the personal sensitivity of craft and the rough imperfections of nature.
“We wanted the building to be about light, but with a more special, ancient quality to it,” says project manager and associate-in-charge Doron Meinhard. “We knew we had to do something special because this building was intended to be a 1,000-year project,” he adds. The “sails” are the embodiment of this approach, maintaining the organic character of the original competition-winning design. The architects and engineers allowed complexity to thrive, expressed in cast glass on the exterior and translucent marble panels on the interior. These two translucent layers follow an intricately webbed space frame structure connected with custom nodes. The only concession to simplification was making each “sail” identical and repeating it nine times.
The design team also stayed away from typical annealed or plate glass, going instead for something that looked and felt more like stone, but still had the visual properties of glass. This ultimately led to a four-year collaborative research process with Canadian glass artist Jeff Goodman. Known for his work with ornate blown glass, Goodman created the original prototype for the custom 1.5-inch-thick patterned glass panels that clad the building. The patterning takes its cues from the work of the American artist Mark Tobey, specifically his “white writing” or “structured light” paintings inspired by Chinese calligraphy and his conversion to the Bahá’i faith early in his career. But there is more to the glass than just the way it looks. Significant temperature swings every day of the year posed expansion and contraction challenges to using typical glass. “We did a lot of testing on the glass,” says Frank Kan, principal at SGH. “This type of cast glass, also known as Pyrex, has less thermal expansion.”
Faribourz Baghi’s prison term extended
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, June 26, 2015.
Faribourz Baghi, a Bahai from Yazd who was arrested in July, 2012, and sentenced to two years in prison plus a one-year suspended sentence, began serving his sentence in Yazd on April 23 this year. In the past week he was taken from prison to a court, where he was sentenced to a further two years in prison for “disturbing public order.”
“Clean cut, clean start” : Nasir Sobhani’s hand-on care goes viral
BuzzFeed, June 25, 2015.
Nasir Sobhani, aka “The Street Barber,” is a Bahai barber in Melbourne, Australia, and an ex-addict himself, who spends his days off on the streets with a mobile hairdressing kit, giving haircuts to street people and listening to their stories. He also uses media interviews and an instagram account to talk about social attitudes to the homeless. His story has gone viral in the social media with the hashtag #CleanCutCleanStart
Qa’ez Baqeri receives brief hospital care
Bahai News (Persian), June 25, 2015.
Fa’ez Baqeri (فائز باقری), a 17-year-old Bahai from Yazd who was arrested, along with his father Nasser Baqeri (ناصر باقری), in their home on February 28, 2015, has been moved from prison to hospital because of a severe infection of the inner ear. He is said to have incurred the infection during his detention and interrogation, and to have lost 40% of his hearing. Although he needed nursing care, the prison officers took him in handcuffs and ankle shackles for a brief medical examination and then took him back to prison.
[So far as my records show,Fa’ez Baqeri was arrested without a warrant, and therefore with no charges, and has not been charged or tried — yet he has been detained for three and a half months while the fifth bench of the Court in Yazd prepares a case against him. ~Sen]
Fa’ez Baweri’s mother, Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), began a 4-year sentence in the central prison in Yazd on February 21, 2015.
Anisa Basiri released on bail
Bahai News (Persian), June 24, 2015.
Anisa Basiri (انیسا بصیری) has been released from the Ministry of Intelligence detention facilities in Yazd. On June 18, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested her, after searching her home and workplace. She was interrogated, and was later transferred to Yazd prison. She was released from the prison on bail, which was set at “20 million.” Assuming this is 20 million tumans (200 million rials), that is about 600 euros or 680 US dollars.
Two Bahai women arrested and interrogated in Yazd
Bahai News (Persian), June 19, 2015.
Agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Yazd have arrested two Bahai women, Ms. Anisa Basiri (انیسا بصیری) and Neda Amiri (ندا امیری). They arrived at the home of Anita Basiri and searched it, and then went to her workplace and searched that as well. She was arrested and taken to the detention facilities of the Ministry of Intelligence in Yazd. It is thought that her release has been approved but she will not be released until tomorrow, as the office that must sign the release is closed on Friday [afternoon].
Security officers also searched the home of Neda Amiri and arrested her. She was taken to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence for interrogation, and released a few hours later.
Another Bahai business closed in Sari
Bahai News (Persian), June 19, 2015.
A carpentry workshop belonging to Qavam-adin Thabeteyan ( قوامالدین ثابتیان ), a 74-year-old Bahai from Sari, is still closed, almost two months after local authorities moved to close about a dozen Bahai-run businesses in the city. This workshop was closed on April 26, and is not included in the list of 11 Bahai businesses closed by authorities in our last update, on May 27. At the time it was reported that 15 Bahai-run businesses had been shut down, but details were only available for eleven. The business licences of the owners have also been withdrawn, to prevent them opening new premises. Two officers from the office that administers business premises and licensing in Sari who went to Mr. Thabeteyan’s workshop asked him to sign a written pledge that he would abide by the commercial code, close his premises on public holidays, and seek prior permission from the local authorities before closing his business for one or more days. However the commercial code does not include any rule limiting the closing days of businesses such as Mr. Thabeteyan’s workshop, that is, one-man businesses which do not provide essential goods or services. The code allows such businesses to be closed for up to 15 days every year, for any reason, and for more than 15 days providing the authorities are notified. Thus the third condition imposed by authorities is itself contrary to the commercial code, serving no other purpose but to force Bahai businesses to open on the days of the nine most important Bahai religious observances. Mr. Thabeteyan therefore refused to sign this undertaking, and his workshop is still closed. The report does not indicate what has happened with the other eleven Bahais business that are known to have been closed at the time.
On July 19, 2010, Mr. Thabetan was arrested in his home by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence. His home had previously been searched by officers of the Ministry, who at that time confiscated religious materials. It appears he was arrested for assisting educational rights activists. He was released one month later. Sarah Sabeteyan ( سحر ثابتیان ) was expelled from the Zahra secondary school in Sari on 1 November, for “blasphemy” and because she is a Bahai.
Shahab Dehqani enjoys brief furlough, returns to prison
Bahai News (Persian), June 17, 2015.
Shahab Dehqani ( شهاب دهقانی), a Bahai from Tehran who is serving an 4-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison has returned to prison today, at the end of a three-day furlough. His wife Shomais Mohajer (شمیس مهاجر) was released on May 26, at the end of a one-year sentence. They were among about 20 Bahais who were arrested in early July, 2012, in a wave of arrests in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz. Mr. Dehqani was charged with propaganda against the regime and forming illegal assemblies, and sentenced to four years by Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه). He began his sentence in Evin prison on May 24, 2014, and was moved to Raja’i Shahr prison two days later.
Afshin Heiratiyan released after 4 years in prison
Bahai News (Persian), June 16, 2015.
Afshin Heiratiyan (افشین حیرتیان), a Bahai children’s rights activist, was released from Raja’i Shahr prison, near Tehran, today at the end of a four-year imprisonment. Mr. Heiratijyan wrote and published various articles about child labour and World Children’s Rights Day. He was arrested on June 3, 2010, and charged with propaganda against the regime. He began his prison term in Evin prison in Tehran on August 20, 2011. While he was in Evin prison, he was pressured to provide a televised “confession.” He was transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison, where most of the Yaran, and a number of BIHE teachers are also being held, on August 5, 2012.
`Adnan Rahmat-Penah released after 1 year in prison
Bahai News (Persian), June 16, 2015.
`Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمتپناه ), a Bahai from Shiraz, has been released from in Adel-Abad prison at the end of a one-year sentence. He was arrested during a raid on his home on December 12, 2012, and began his sentence on November 11, 2014. [His release now presumably takes into consideration the time he spent in prison before his trial ~Sen] His health was badly affected by imprisonment. At the end of December that year he received a 5-day medical furlough, and from March 15, 2015, he was free on bail for a time, again for medical reasons. A few days after his release in March, he was sentenced to an additional 18 months in prison, by Judge Farhadipour (فرهادی پور), for insulting the President and preparing anti-filter devices. At that time security forces raided his home and seized books, a laptop computer and other personal effects. However this 18-month sentence has been reduced to a 2-year suspended sentence.
Sasan Haqiri begins a one-year sentence in Isfahan
Bahai News (Persian), June 15, 2015.
Mr. Sasan Haqiri (ساسان حقیری), a Bahai from Isfahan, has begun a one-year sentence in the city’s central prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime and society, and conspiracy against national security. He was one of the Bahais arrested on July 21, 2012, in widespread raids by security forces in cities and towns in Isfahan province. He was sentenced to one year in prison plus a one-year suspended sentence. The sentence was upheld by the court of review in April, 2014. Mr. Sohrab Naqipour ( سهراب نقی پور), Mrs. Adhar Pourkhorasand (آذر طلوعی – پورخرسند), and Mr. Khosrow Dehqani (خسرو دهقانی), who were arrested in the same raids in 2012, have already begun their sentences in Isfahan prison.
Hamid Azizi begins a one-year sentence in Hamadan
Bahai News (Persian), June 11, 2015.
Hamid Azizi (حمید عزیزی), a Bahai from Hamadan, has been taken to prison to begin a one-year sentence. A few days ago he and his wife were summoned and threatened with arrest. Mr. Azizi was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence who came to his home on October 21, 2014. They searched his home for several hours and seized a computer, a laptop computer, and Bahai books and pamphlets. He was charged with propaganda against the regime in the form of supporting opposition groups.
Sarang Etehadi free after one year in prison
Aho Sin (facebook), June 8, 2015
Sarang Etehadi ( سارنگ اتحادی ) was released from prison in Tehran today, at the end of a one-year sentence on charges of “propaganda against the state through participation in Bahai worship and prayer groups.” His wife, Nasim Ashrafi ( نسیم اشرفی ), was freed from Evin prison on April 8, having also served a one-year sentence. The couple, both from Tehran, were arrested in a wave of detentions of Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz in early July, 2012. Mr. Etehadi was originally sentenced to five years, and Mrs Ashrafi to three years in prison, but the review court reduced both sentences to one year.
Afif Na`imi taken to hospital
Baha’i News (Persian), June 3, 2015.
Afif Na`imi ( عفیف نعیمی ), a Bahai prisoner of conscience and one of the seven Yarn (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), has been transferred to the Tehran Heart Center. His physical condition has been deteriorating, but he had previously been denied hospital treatment. Mr. Na`imi was arrested in May 2008 together with six other “Yaran.” They were charged with “formation of the Baha’i sect” and “spying for Israel,” and given 20-year prison sentences. He is 52 years old, and suffers from blood clots which require carefully controlled doses of Warfarin. He received treatment in Tehran’s Heart Center for nine months in 2013 and 2014, but on August 9, 2014, he was taken back to Raja’i Shahr prison, although the forensic doctor had certified that he was unable to bear imprisonment.
Sima Eshraqi released after 5 years in prison
Bahai News (Persian), June 3, 2015.
Sima Eshraqi (سیما اشراقی), a Bahai from Mashhad, has been released at the end of a five-year prison sentence. She was arrested in 2008 and spent three months in solitary confinement before being released on bail. At the end of October, 2009, she and Jalayar Wahdat (جلایر وحدت) were sentenced to 5 years in prison for propaganda against the regime, acting against national security in the form of Bahai activities. illegal assembly, publishing and distributing Bahai books and CDs, and blasphemy. Seven other Bahais from Mashhad were tried at the same time. She began serving her sentence in Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on October 24, 2010. The Bahai prisoners in Mashhad were often denied the normal furlough, because of opposition from the Ministry of Intelligence. [My records do not show any prison furlough for Sima Eshraqi, but my records may be incomplete ~ Sen]
Two Bahais begin 1-year sentences in Isfahan
Bahai News, June 2, 2015.
Within the past week, security forces in Isfahan have arrested Mr. Sohrab Naqipour ( سهراب نقی پور) and Mrs. Adhar Pourkhorasand (آذر طلوعی – پورخرسند), who had been free on bail, and have taken them to Isfahan prison to begin serving their sentences. [The report in Bahai News is contradictory, saying also that they have been taken to Yazd. ~ Sen.] Both have been sentenced to two years in prison, of which one year is suspended. They were among dozens of Bahais arrested in July and August, 2012, in Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad, Isfahan, Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Yazd.
Prison sentences for 6 Bahais in Tabriz
Bahai News (Persian), May 2, 2015.
On May 1, four members of the Bahadori family, Mr. Farzad Bahadari (فرزاد بهادری) and Mrs Simin Rasouli (سیمین رسولی) and their children, Sahar ( سحر بهادری ) and Nassim Bahadari (نسیم بهادری ), along with Shabnam Issakhani (شبنم عیسی خانی) and Rashin Saberi (راشین صابری), were sentenced to one year in prison. 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. From the date of their arrest, it is likely that they had gathered to celebrate the “Feast of Kalimat,” which Bahais around the world mark with prayers and readings from scripture. One source reported that the raid on the Bahadori house was conducted “commando style” by a unity known as the Ashura Intelligence Arm. 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. Their trials have extended over 10 court sessions.
Update, June 4: The sentences have been confirmed by the Court of Review.
Arrests in Rasht aim to deepen the economic isolation of the Bahais
Bahai News (Persian), May 31, 2015.
Security forces in Rasht, a city on Iran’s Caspian coast, have arrested four Bahais and three other citizens who had associated with the Bahais. On May 26, they arrested Mr. Foad Yazdani (فواد یزدانی) and Mr. Peyman Yazdani (پیمان یزدانی), both Bahais from Rasht, on charges of conspiring to make propaganda against the regime and undermining national security. Two days later, they arrested Mr. Nima Najafi (نیما نجفی) and his wife Paria Keshvar (پریا کشاور) on the same charges. Three other Iranians, who are not Bahais, were arrested at the same time and charged with having links with Bahais. All seven were taken to the Ministry of Intelligence in Rasht.
On November 17, 2014, an agent of the Ministry of Intelligence, accompanied by two representatives of the Revolutionary Court, inspected the homes and businesses of four Bahai citizens in Rasht. They seized all the books, CDs, flash drives and any paper with handwriting on it, and also various appliances belonging to customers which were waiting for repair. The agents then went to those non-Bahai customers whose contact information had been recorded, and interrogated them.
Around the time of Naw Ruz (the New Year festival, from March 20), security forces searched the homes of these Bahais and seized some belongings, including computers, office supplies and the personal belongings of some employees. In the interim, the four Bahais had also been summoned for questioning by the police and Ministry of Intelligence several times, and had lodged several petitions with judicial officials for the return of their confiscated belongings.
In January and February this year, over 20 Muslim residents of Rasht were summoned and threatened by the Ministry of Intelligence because of their relationships with Bahais. Those summoned were subjected to insults, humiliation and threats, and told that they are not allowed to associate or have any business dealings with Bahais. The Ministry of Intelligence also sought to obtain baseless statements from these people regarding the activities of the Bahais.
Eleven Bahai businesses closed in Sari (update)
HRANA, May 27, 2015.
Local authorities in Sari have shut down eleven businesses run by Bahais because they had been closed on Bahai holy days. These include four clothing stores, run by Wahab Darabi (وهاب دارابی), Taraneh Zahedi (ترانه زاهدی), Sa`id Goli ( سعید گلی) and Aramesh Zahuri ( آرامش ظهوری); two electric motor winding shops, run by Farshad Kemali ( فرشاد کمالی) and Mehran Kemali (مهران کمالی); two toiletries and cleaning materials shops run by Ehsanullah Sana’i (احسان الله سنایی) and Ehsan Izadi ( احسان ایزدی), a paint shop run by Ziullah Khushbin (ضیاالله خوشبین), the wood turning workshop of Kemal Akbari (کمال اکبری), and a household container shop run by Pedaram Qanbari ( پدرام قنبری). The list is probably not complete: sources say that fifteen Bahai businesses have closed recently in Sari. Regulations allow local authorities to shut down any business that is closed, unannounced, for more than 15 days in a year. However there are less than 15 Holy Days in the Bahai calendar, and in any case the Bahai owners normally inform local authorities of upcoming Holy Days.
Shomais Mohajer released after 1-year sentence
Besharat-e Bahai, May 26, 2015.
Shomais Mohajer (شمیس مهاجر), a Bahai from Tehran, has been released at the end of a one-year sentence. She was one of almost 20 Bahais who were arrested in early July, 2012, in a wave of arrests in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz. She was charged with
propaganda against the regime and forming an illegal group, and sentenced by by Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه). Her husband, Shahab Dehqani (شهاب دهقانی), was arrested at the same time, and began serving a four-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison on May 26, 2014.
Three Bahai businesses shut down in Sari
HRANA, May 25, 2014.
Local authorities in Sari shut down three businesses run by three Bahais, on May 24, because they had been closed on Bahai holy days. The businesses are a shop selling colours, run by Ziullah Khushbin (ضیاالله خوشبین), the wood turning workshop of Kemal Akbari (کمال اکبری), and a toiletries shop run by Ehsanullah Sana’i (احسان الله سنایی). Recently 12 Bahais in the city of Rafsanjan had their businesses closed by local authorities, because they were shut on the three Bahai holy days of Ridvan, which this year fell on April 21, April 29 and May 2. Regulations allow local authorities to shut down any business that is closed, unannounced, for more than 15 days in a year. However there are less than 15 Holy Days in the Bahai calendar, and in any case the Bahai owners normally inform local authorities of upcoming Holy Days.
Riaz Sobhani released at the end of his sentence
HRANA, May 25, 2015.
Riaz’ullah Sobhani (ریاض الله سبحانی ), a Bahai who taught classes for the Bahai Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), was released from Raja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj today at the end of a four-year sentence. He was arrested on June 14, 2011, not long after security forces raided premises and homes relating to the Institute for Higher Education. He was tried and sentenced in Tehran by Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه).
The BIHE is a distance-learning institute which serves students who are excluded from tertiary study in Iran, because they are Bahais.
Refusal to allow hospital treatment for Afif Na`imi continues
Iran Press Watch, May 18, 2015.
Despite repeated instructions from the Medical Commission regarding cancellation of his prison sentence, Afif Na`imi ( عفیف نعیمی ), a Bahai prisoner of conscience and one of the seven Yarn (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), is still imprisoned although he has severe heart disease ‒ even Tehran’s district attorney has authorized the Rajai Shahr Prison clinic to transfer him to hospital whenever needed and without coordination with the District Attorney’s Office.
Na`imi was arrested in May 2008 together with six other “Yaran.” He was charged with “formation of the Baha’i sect.” His brother and nephew are also held in imprisoned at Rajai Shahr Prison, while his sister-in-law is serving a prison term in the women’s section of Evin Prison in Tehran. He is 52 years old, and suffers from blood clots which require carefully controlled doses of Warfarin. He received treatment in Tehran’s Coronary Hospital for nine months in 2013 and 2014, but on August 9 he was transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison, although the forensic doctor had certified that he was unable to bear imprisonment. Emanullah Mostaqim ( امانالله مستقیم ), one of the staff of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran who is serving a 5-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, was sent from hospital to the prison on the same day, although he too has been certified as unfit for prison.
Iran’s apartheid rules for Bahais clarified
Saham News, May 19, 2015.
Saham News has published an order from the chief of police, dating from April 8, 2010, which clarifies which economic sectors are forbidden for Bahais. Because Bahais in Iran are excluded from employment in the civil service, education and health, and other major sectors, many establish small shops or workshops in sectors where this is permitted, but the rules they must obey have been kept secret. This order from the chief of police to police bureaus all over the country instructs them to constrain, limit and police the activities of Bahais in the specified fields, and ensure the Bahais do not constitute a significant presence in society. The order specifies that Bahais should not be allowed to earn high incomes, but may work or be employed at the standard minimum income. Bahais may not work in cultural, educational or financial institutions, and are not to be allowed to work in the sectors of periodicals, jewelry, watchmaking, print-making, tourist agencies, car rentals, publishing and bookshops, photography, film-making, internet gaming, computers, or internet cafes.
They may not own printing works or hotels and other accommodation for travellers, or teach tailoring skills. The order refers to the widespread Iranian belief that Bahais are unclean, and requires the police bureaus to block them from restaurants, cafetarias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways (Iranian-style), cafes, butchers shops, supermarkets, the production and sale of icecream, fruit juice, soft drinks, pastry and sweets, and coffee.
Since this order was issued, the optometry sector has apparently been added to the list, on or before December 2014. In addition to these limitations on where Bahais may work, the Ministry of Intelligence has pressured Muslims to cut social and economic ties with Bahais, and Bahai businesses across Iran have been shut down where they close to observe the Bahai Holy Days.
Home raid and arrest in Yazd
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, May 16, 2015.
At 7.30 a.m. on May 12, five male plainclothes agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided a Bahai home and arrested Mrs. Rouha Emani (روحا ایمانی), from Kerman. The agents initially identified themselves as investigators for Iran’s subsidies system, but when the women in the house refused to let them in, they forced their way in physically, by cutting the security chain, and identified themselves as Ministry of Intelligence agents. The house is used by three female family members of Mrs. Emani, who dialed “110” (the emergency number in Iran) during these events. When the women asked to see a search warrant, the agents handcuffed Mrs. Emani and said they had a warrant for her arrest, although they did not allow her, or her family, to read it. At this point, two groups of police arrived, in response to the 110 call, but after a short conversation they said they could do nothing, and left. The men in plain clothes searched the house, and seized the personal effects, books, phones and laptops of all those present. Although they were all men, they took Mrs. Emani with them in a car. Mrs. Emani was delivered to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence that evening. The family were not told what the accusation against Mrs. Emani might be. They have contacted the security forces, but there has been no response from the authorities.
Another Bahai student expelled from university
Farzan Faramarzi blog, May 14, 2015.
Samim Dukuhaki (صمیم دوکوهکی), a Bahai student of music at the Beyda campus of the Azad University, was expelled from the University on March 1, 2015 because of his religious beliefs. He had completed one semester of study. The campus is in Fars Province.
Jalayer Vahdat freed at the end of his sentence
HRANA, May 9, 2015.
Jalayer Vahdat (جلایر وحدت) was released from Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on May 8, at the end of a five-year sentence for his religious beliefs. He began his sentence on October 24, 2010. He was charged with propaganda against the regime and acting against national security through assembly and conspiracy and membership of Bahai organizations. His father Nosrullah Vahdat (نصرالله وحدت) was executed in 1984. He was charged with having links with the Bahais. His mother also spent several years in prison.
Bahai businesses in Rafsanjan shut down following Ridvan
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, May 1, 2015.
Twelve Bahais in the city of Rafsanjan have had their businesses closed by local authorities, because they were shut on the three Bahai holy days of Ridvan, which this year fell on April 21, April 29 and May 2. In November 2014, when Bahais in Iran were celebrating the Birthdays of the Bab and Baha’u’llah, close to 90 Bahai-run businesses in Vila Shahr, Nashtarud, and the southern region of Kerman, Rafsanjan, and Jiroft were closed by the authorities. This year, the Bahais informed the authorities of the upcoming closures in advance, in the hope of avoiding difficulties. The closure of businesses, and exclusion from employment in many economic sectors, are among the means the Islamic Republic uses to pressure the Bahai minority to recant their beliefs. See the category “economic discrimination” on this blog.
Another three Bahais tried in Gorgan
HRANA, May 2, 2015.
Hana Aqiqiyan (هنا عقیقیان), a Bahai from Gorgan, and Beyta Hedayati (بیتا هدایتی ) and Hana Kushkabaghi ( هنا کوشکباغی ), from Gonbad-e Qabus, were tried in Gorgan on April 25. Mrs Kushkabaghi was not present, as she had not seen the summons. They were among the Bahais arrested in widespread raids in the towns of Gorgan, Gonbad-e Qabus and Minudasht in October 2012. It would appear that they were released on bail after their arrests, although this did not appear in my sources. The trials of these Bahais, in groups of three or four, began in February 2015. The charges against them, named in the summons, include participation in an illegal organisation harmful to security, the propagation and development of the Bahai Faith through Ruhi groups, propaganda for the Bahai Faith and against the Islamic Republic through active participation in Ruhi groups, and cooperation with hostile governments.
Another three BIHE educators released, nine remain in prison
Iran Press Watch, May 2, 2015.
After four years in prison, Mahmoud Badavam (محمود بادوام), Farhad Sedeqi (فرهاد صدقی) and Ramin Ziba’i (رامین زیبایی), faculty members of the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), were released from Raja’i Shahr Prison on April 30. They were arrested in late May, 2011, when premises and homes relating to the Institute for Higher Education were raided by security forces. In October, 2011, they were sentenced to four years in prison. Noushin Khadem (نوشین خادم), another BIHE educator, was released on April 22. She had also served a four-year sentence, but without receiving any prison furlough. Amanullah Mostaqim ( امانالله مستقیم ), who was sentenced to five years in prison, is free on medical furlough. Sadaf Thabetayan ( صدف ثابتیان ), arrested in 2011, was given a two-year sentence, and freed in the Ramadan amnesty of August, 2012.
Among the other educators arrested for their work with the BIHE is Riaz Sobhani ( ریاض سبحانی ), who was arrested in June 2011: he was also sentenced to 4 years in prison, so his release may be expected in the next few weeks. Faran Hessami ( فاران حسامی ) and her husband Kamran Rahimiyan (کامران رحیمیان) are also serving four-year sentences for educational activities, in Raja’i Shahr prison, but they were not arrested until September 2011. Fu’ad Moqaddam ( فواد مقدم ) was arrested in May, 2011, and sentenced to five years in prison. Talu Golkar (طلوع گلکار) was sentenced to five years in prison for her association with the BIHE in January, 2014. Her date of arrest is not reported. Nasim Baqeri (نسیم باقری), who was arrested in May 2011 and sentenced to four years in prison, did not begin her sentence until April, 2014. She is held in Evin prison. Shahin Negari ( شاهین نگاری) was arrested in May 2011, but he was free on bail from June 2011 to January, 2013, when he began his sentence. Hasan Momtazi (حسن ممتازی) is serving a 5-year sentence. Azizollah Samandari (عزیزالله سمندری) is serving a five-year sentence, which he began on July 7, 2012. He was sentenced in October 2011 after a 10-minute trial, in which the only question he was asked was whether he belonged to the Bahai community. This list of nine BIHE educators still in prison may not be complete.
Bahai Centre in Nepal becomes a refuge
April 28, 2015. (Compiled by the editor).
The National Bahai Centre and Teacher Training Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal, is reported to be largely undamaged, as the building is designed to resist earthquakes. A friend has posted photographs showing some of the many people who have taken shelter in the building and grounds. There are few open spaces in the city of Kathmandu, so residents who have lost their homes, or who fear to go inside because of the risk of aftershocks, have been crowding into the parks and other open areas. So far as is known so far, there are no casualties among the Bahais in Nepal.
Davar Nabilzadeh free after 5 years in prison
Iran Religious News, April 28, 2015.
Davar Nabilzadeh (داور نبیل زاده) has been freed from prison in Mashhad after serving a five year sentence on charges of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic, acting against domestic security through membership and participation in the Bahai sect, propaganda and communication with foreigners after traveling abroad, unlawful assembly, and publishing and distributing misguided Bahai CDs and books.” He began this sentence on July 23, 2010. The sentence relates to his role as a ‘khadem’ (the local facilitators who mediate between Bahais and authorities in some parts of Iran). In 1983 he served a one-year sentence for membership of Bahai organisations. His daughter Nora Nabilzadeh ( نورا نبیل زاده) is presently serving a five-year sentence in Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad, for playing music in an orphanage. She was arrested in June, 2010, and began her sentence on September 15, 2012.
Another Bahai arrested in Hamadan; Bahai businesses remain closed
Iran Religious News, April 26, 2015.
Mehran Khandel (مهران خاندل), a Bahai living in the city of Hamadan, was arrested in his home on the afternoon of April 26. Agents from the security forces of Hamadan Province first searched his home, where Mr. Khandel was present with his two young children. Witnesses said that the agents had no search warrant, and conducted the search and arrest in an inhumane manner.
Agents from the security forces had visited his home earlier, when they arrested nine other Bahais in Hamadan city, but he was travelling at the time. He had just returned, on April 26, when security forces arrived to arrest him.
In November 2012, 32 businesses linked to Bahais in Hamadan Province were closed down by the authorities. The Bahais were told that they could re-open if they agreed not to close on the Bahai holy days. Because Bahais in Iran are excluded from employment by the government and from many economic sectors and professions, they rely heavily on small service and retail businesses to earn their livelihoods. The business remain closed today, although one source of friction, the celebration of the births of the Bab and Baha’u’llah during the month of Muharram in the lunar calendar, has been largely obviated by a change in the Bahai calendar, to celebrate these days on a solar, not lunar, calendar.
Mr. Khandel’s business is one of the Bahai businesses closed down by the authorities, and his father, Hussein Khandel (حسين خاندل), was charged with being a Bahai and executed by the authorities in 1981.
Nine Bahais arrested in Hamadan: seven released on bail
HRANA, April 25, 2015.
In late March, nine Bahais were arrested in Hamadan. In recent days seven of these have been released on bail, ranging from 25 to 60 million tumans (8000 to 19,500 euros / $US 9000 to 21,000). Two Bahai women, Farida Ayoubi and Fataneh Mushtaq (فریده ایوبى و فتانه مشتاق) are still being held. Those who have been bailed are Hamid Adharnoush (حمید آذرنوش), Mas`oud Adharnoush (مسعود آذرنوش), Shahin Rashedi (شاهین راشدى), `Atefeh Zahedi (عاطفه زاهدى), Roumina Tabibi (رومینا طبیبى), Mina Hemmati (مینا همتى) and Parvaneh Ayoubi (پروانه ایوبى). There is no indication of the reasons for the arrests.
Demolition of the house of a Bahai prisoner
In Semnan, the vacation home of Jamaledin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی), one of the seven imprisoned ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), has been demolished by security agents. According to a member of the family, one day they were told that they had 48 hours to vacate their house and the next day, even though they had obtained an order to delay the demolition from the Supreme Court, their house, which was situated in the middle of an agricultural field, was bulldozed.
Jamaledin Khanjani has been in prison since 2009 without leave. He has been sentenced to 20 years of prison. Foad Khanjani, his grandson and Navid Khanjani, another member of the Khanjani family are also in prison.
A member of the family told Rooz (i.e., Rooz Online) that pressure on their family has been growing and systematic since the detention of Jamaledin Khanjani. The family said that the house had been built with the proper construction permits 18 years ago and was the residence of the family. “The land has a deed that goes back a 100 years, but the authorities say the owner is unknown and the deed is not recognized. They also find fault with the house and say that building over extends the permit,” they said. “Even though they gave us 48 hours to vacate, they destroyed 270 square meters of the house and claimed that the construction area exceeded the construction permit. But a court had earlier specifically ruled on this in their favor.” A family member said that the family did not receive any money from the government to build the house or develop the land, which had over 40 hectares of fruit trees. “But when the time for fruit picking comes, they block the road to the farm, depriving us of taking the 200 to 300 tons of fruit to the market. A few years ago they destroyed the water reservoir we had built for the farm even though we had obtained all the necessary government permits. We had a 30-year rental agreement for husbandry which they violated and forced us to sell our livestock.” … “Even though we had legally owned this land for over 200 years, … they set up a security post in the region and began searching all vehicles and frisking individuals. My 85-year old mother had to have a special permit to go around and travel. The Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Intelligence Office of Semnan announced the area to be a military zone and then established a post close to the house that they have demolished. We, our animals and even our plants are not free from invasions. They prevented us from taking our livestock to warner regions, resulting in a number of deaths.” … “Many of our family members are Muslims and we live together, participate in each other’s ceremonies. But it is the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Intelligence Agency’s branch that is harsh on us. We really do not know for how long they intend to continue this.”
One arrest in Tehran
ARAM (translating a HRANA report), April 25, 2015.
Farima Farzandi (فریما فرزندى), a Bahai resident of Tehran was arrested on April 21st and taken to an undisclosed location. According to a report from HRANA, armed government security agents raided Ms. Farzandi’s residence, searching and videotaping what is described as a “violent arrest.” Farima Farzandi was engaged to be married next week. No further information has been released on her location and wellbeing.
Nushin Khadem freed
HRANA, April 22, 2015.
Nushin Khadem (نوشین خادم), one of those arrested in May, 2011, when the Iranian authorities raided the Bahai Institute for High Education (BIHE), has been released from Evin prison at the end of her 4-year sentence. Throughout her sentence she was denied any prison furlough.
Emanullah Mostaqim granted extended medical leave
Saham News, April 21, 2015.
Amanullah Mostaqim ( امانالله مستقیم ) one of the imprisoned staff members of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, has been granted a furlough of four months for medical treatment. Mr. Mostaqim, a Bahai from Shirz, is serving a 5-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison near Tehran. He suffers from diabetes and heart disease. Prison doctors have determined that prison and other stressful circumstances are a danger for him. He began serving his sentence on May 20, 2013, but he has had a number of periods in hospital during his time at Raja’i Shahr prison. The Saham News report expresses the hope that, in view of the time he has remaining to serve, this furlough will extend to his permanent release.
Hassan Badhrafkan begins 1-year sentence
Farzan Faramarzi, April 20, 2015.
Hassan Badhrafkan ( حسن بذرافکن ), a Bahai from Marvdasht county (in Fars Province), was told to report to the authorities to begin serving a 1-year sentence on April 18, although he has appealed the sentence and the review court has not yet issued its ruling. 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. He was 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).
2015 Ridvan message released
Each year on the “first day of Riḍvan,” which falls on April 20 or April 21, the Universal House of Justice addresses a letter to the worldwide Bahai community, known as the Riḍvan message. These letters touch on many subjects, including the state of the Bahai community, its efforts to contribute to the life of society, and the progress of specific projects and plans.
This year’s message, in seven paragraphs, refers to various signs that the moral force that sustains society has been depleted, and contrasts that to the community-building process in which the Bahais are participating.
Paragraph six summarizes recent developments:
– efforts to methodically catalogue and index the Bahai scriptures, so as to accelerate their publication in both the original languages and in English translations.
– work to establish eight Mashriqu’l-Adhkars (houses of worship) around the world.
– More effective external affairs work by the National Spiritual Assemblies.
– New branch Offices of the Baha’i International Community, in Addis Ababa and Jakarta, will assist the Bahais’ United Nations Offices in New York, Geneva and Brussels, to present Baha’i perspectives in Africa and Southeast Asia.
– The creation at the World Centre of the Office for the Development of Administrative Systems, to assist those National Spiritual Assemblies that are increasing their administrative capacities.
– Establishment of a seven-member International Advisory Board to the Office of Social and Economic Development, to focus on initiatives for social action to improve social and economic circumstances. Three members of the Board will also serve as the Office’s coordinating team and be resident in Israel.
This year’s message can be read online, at the official site of the Universal House of Justice (requires acrobat reader). A plain text (html) version is available in the document archive of my Bahai Studies blog. It will be available to download as a pdf file from the new version of the Reference Library, but was not yet there, at the time of writing.
Egyptian government to confront ‘threats of atheists, Bahais and Shiites’
Egyptian streets, April 17, 2015.
In a meeting held last Tuesday at the headquarters of the Ministry of Religious Endowments in Downtown Cairo, Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Goma’a stated that he plans to form special groups dedicated to spreading awareness of the “threats” of atheism and the Bahai and Shi’a religions, in addition to social issues such as drug addiction and murder. “The groups will include one Qur’an reciter, one chanter and two speakers,” Abdel Razek told Daily News Egypt.
“Remember the Yaran” campaign seeks support
Campaign against harassment of Bahais (facebook), April 18, 2015.
The campaign ‘Remember the Yaran’ is drawing attention to the oppression and persecution of the Bahais in Iran. The facebook group “Campaign to stop the harassment and imprisonment of Baha’i citizens” intends to mark the seventh anniversary of the arrest of seven Bahais known as the Yaran, or Friends, who served as national facilitators assisting the Bahais of Iran in their dealings with government organs. The facebook group supports the ‘Remember the Yaran’ campaign and request the immediate release of the seven Yaran.
They ask all those who support justice and oppose oppression in Iran to support ‘Remember the Yaran’ by publishing photos of your pleas for the release of the Yaran. Those who wish to participate can send a photo of themselves with a sheet of paper bearing the words, “7 years have passed: remember the Yaran,” or write this on the palm of their hands, and send the picture to the facebook page (the link is above). Those who wish to try this in Persian can copy the example below.
Those who do not wish to be identified by using an image of their face, can send a photo of the paper or the writing on their palm, in such a way that they cannot be identified.
Seven years ago, the seven ‘Yaran’ were sentenced to 20 years in prison, there the conditions are unacceptable, and they have been denied prison furloughs. Our aim in this campaign is to be the voice of the people of Iran, and the voice of the religious minorities who suffer oppression and persecution under the present government of Iran. So we would like the support of as many as possible of the people, and minorities, of Iran. The Yaran, and other prisoners of conscience will certainly hear of our support, and know that the people have not forgotten them.
On 5 March 2008, Mahvash Sabet – a schoolteacher and mother of two – was arrested having been summoned to the Iranian city of Mashhad to discuss some matters regarding a Bahai burial. Two months later, on 14 May, the other six “Yaran” (national-level facilitators for Iran’s Baha’i community) were arrested in raids of their homes. The names of these six are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm.
After twenty months in prison without charge, a trial began on January 12, 2010. Throughout their long wait for justice, the seven had received barely one hour’s access to their legal counsel, and suffered appalling treatment and deprivations, including psychological and physical hardship. They were charged with espionage, propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and the establishment of an illegal administration – charges that were all rejected completely and categorically by the defendants. The trial of the seven Baha’i leaders ended on 14 June 2010 after six brief sessions, characterized by their lack of due legal process.
The initial sentence of 20 years imprisonment for each of the defendants, met with outrage and condemnation throughout the world. One month later, the appeal court revoked three of the charges and reduced their sentence to 10-year jail terms. In March 2011, the prisoners were informed that their original 20-year sentences were reinstated. Notwithstanding repeated requests, neither the prisoners nor their attorneys have ever received official copies of the original verdict or the ruling on appeal.
In Tehran: two Bahais bailed, one arrest, two homes raided
Activists in exile, April 11, 2015.
On April 7, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence staged simultaneous raids on two Bahai homes in Tehran. They arrested Mrs. Afsaneh Yadegar (افسانه یادگار), and initially wished to arrest Zhinous Wasali (ژینوس وصلی), but did not do so because she was pregnant. It is not known where Afsaneh Yadegar is being held. One source has indicated that the raids were connected to a series of raids in Tehran and Isfahan on February 16 ad 17, which began with a raid on a Bahai meeting in Tehran, in the home of Sasan Yadegar (ساسان یادگار), and a search of the home of his brother, Mr. Ehsan Yadegar (احسان یادگار). 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, and the agents demanded that those present should sign undertakings not to participate in Bahai meetings. Five Bahais were arrested in Tehran at that time. Two of them have now been released on bail. They are Mrs. Ruhiyyeh Baqr-dokht-Akbari and Mrs. Mona Mehrabani (روحیه باقردخت و مونا مهرابی ), who had been kept in solitary confinement in Teharan’s Evin Prison since their arrest.
Nasim Ashrafi freed from Evin prison
HRANA, April 8, 2015.
Nasim Ashrafi ( نسیم اشرفی ) was freed from Evin prison on April 8, having served a one-year sentence for her Bahai beliefs. 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, and was originally sentenced to three years in prison, reduced by the court of review to one year.
Farhnaz Mithaqian begins her sentence in Yazd
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, April 9, 2015.
Farhnaz Mithaqian (فرحناز میثاقیان), a Bahai from Yazd, began a one-year prison sentence on April 6. She is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, and has been sentenced to one year in prison plus a one-year suspended sentence.
Lotus temple affected by pollution
A petition filed in India’s National Green Tribunal (NGT) expresses concern over heavy traffic in the Nehru Place area of Delhi harming the pure white marble of the Bahai House of Worship, commonly known as the Lotus Temple. It says vehicular emissions could be causing the building to corrode and turn grey. [Update: Two court commissioners appointed by the National Green Tribunal have visited the temple and found alarming congestion and traffic chaos. One of the commissioners confirmed that some stones on the temple wall did appear yellow, which may be due to exposure to pollution.]
Baha’i House of Worship general manager Shaheen Javed agreed. He told Mail Today: “I don’t have any scientific study to prove this but I have been here for 18 years and know that the polluted environment is taking a toll. We wash the temple every three months with plain water but I am afraid it may not be enough.
“It is made of porous Pentelikon marble, imported from the mines of Greece, which was used in ancient monuments of Parthenon. They are also facing a similar air pollution problem [with the] Parthenon. If you ask me what effect air pollution is having on this temple, I am sure it is the same as in Greece,” Javed added.
Mehran Eslami begins his sentence in Yazd
Campaign against harassment of Bahais, April 6, 2015.
Mehran Eslami (مهران اسلامی), a Bahai from Yazd, reported to the central prison there on April 4, to begin serving his 1-year sentence. He was originally told that he would begin his sentence on February 16, but this was postponed because he was ill. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman.
Behfar Khanjani free
I Free my Iran, April 5, 2015.
Behfar Khanjani (بهفر خانجانی), a Bahai prisoner of conscience serving a four-year sentence in Seman’s central prison, was freed from prison on April 4, at the end of his sentence. He was arrested on January 6, 2010, and held for 25 days in solitary confinement. He was held in prison for another month and released on bail on March 1, 2010. He began serving his sentence, for membership of illegal Bahai groups and attending Bahai prayer meetings and the 19th-day ‘Feast,’ on June 22, 2011. His sentence was later extended by one year for “propaganda against the regime,” but from today’s report it appears that this sentence has been served concurrently, or has not yet been implemented. Mr. Khanjani suffers from an incurable medical condition, and his condition is fragile. He was given a brief medical leave in January 2012.
Cemetery officials in Tabriz continue to turn away Bahais
HRANA, April 7, 2015.
Officials at the public cemetery in Tabriz, the Wadi-ye Rahmat cemetery, have refused to allow the burial of Mr. Maruwati (مروتی), a Bahai from Tabriz who died on March 20, 2015. On the morning when Mr. Maruwati died, his family took his body to the cemetery for burial. The officials concerned told them to take the body to the morgue at the cemetery, and to wait at home until they were contacted. A few hours later someone from the cemetery telephoned, to say that permission for burial had been denied, and the body had been taken to the town of Miandoab for burial. For the past 18 months, Bahais have not been accepted for burial in Tabriz, and the bodies have been taken to the towns around the city to be buried, without informing the families. The families of the deceased have sought a meeting with Mr. Jalali (آقای جلالی), head of the public cemetery, but so far he has been unwilling to meet them or hold a discussion.
In Kermanshah, the home of two Bahai brothers searched
MAF News, April 1, 2015.
On April 1, agents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence raided the home of Mansur and `Ali Mohebi (منصور و علی محبی) in Kermanshah. They had a search warrant, and seized all books, pamphlets, CDs, cassette tapes and pictures relating to the Bahai Faith. They also took a desktop computer. The two brothers, who moved from Sari to Kermanshah a few years ago, were treated disrespectfully by the agents.