Sen's daily

2015-07-09

July to September, 2015

Vahed Khalousi arrested in Tehran, transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison

Bahai News, September 14, 2015.

Vahed Khalousi (واحد خلوصی), a Bahai student who has been excluded from tertiary education, was arrested in front of his home in Tehran a few days ago. According to current reports, he has been transferred to Raja’i shahr prison and is being held in the quarantine wing. He is expected to be moved to the wing housing prisoners of conscience on Wednesday. He was arrested in March 2010, along with four other Bahais: Navid Khanjani, Sama Nourani. Eqan Shahidi and Dorsa Sobhani (نوید خانجانی ، سما نورانی، ایقان شهیدی و درسا سبحانی), and later released on bail. It appears he was arrested to begin serving a five-year sentence in connection with this arrest, although another report, in January 2014, states that he was sentenced to two years in prison, possibly on a separate charge. The charges levelled against persons accused of political and religious crimes in Iran are so vague, that it is difficult to distinguish one case from another.

Mr. Khalousi was also one of the 35 social activists, including five Bahais, who were arrested while bring aid to the victims of the the 2011 Azerbaijan earthquake. The activists were detained in Tabriz for almost two months and were charged with assembly and collusion to commit crimes against national security, endangering public health and insulting Iran’s Supreme Leader. All were acquitted in September 2013.
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Sasan Haqiri released early from prison in Isfahan

Bahai News (facebook), September 13, 2015.

Mr. Sasan Haqiri (ساسان حقیری) has been released on parole from Isfahan’s central prison. 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 and a one-year suspended sentence, on charges of propaganda against the regime and society, and began his sentence in mid-June this year.
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Current example of the exclusion of Bahai students from Iran’s universities

HRANA, September 10, 2015.

After completing the national university entrance examinations, Ava Amini Yazdel (آوا امینی یزدلی), an 18-year old Bahai, was confronted with a message on the examinations result site saying that her file was incomplete, and she could not continue her education. “File defective” is currently the usual phrase used to exclude Bahai students from tertiary education. Although President Hassan Rouhani had promised to address the issue of students being excluded from university, many Bahai students were excluded after the entrance examinations this year, on the excuse that their files were incomplete.
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Dhabihullah Ra’ufi arrested again in Sanandaj

HRANA, September 9, 2015.

Dhabihullah Ra’ufi ( ذبیح الله رئوفی ), a 66-year-old Bahai from Sanandaj, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on September 8. Four agents raided his home and seized CD’s, books, pictures and other items relating to the Bahai Faith.

On 12 July 2015, a Baha’i, Mrs. Baji Muhammadifard passed away and her family sought a burial permit to inter her body in the Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj. This was refused, with the officials insisting that Mrs. Muhammadifar’s body be laid to rest in the Baha’i cemetery in Qorveh, a town located approximately an hour and a half from Sanandaj. It emerged that this was part of a nation-wide policy under which Bahais would be buried in only one cemetery in each province of Iran. During and after the difficulties with burying Mrs. Muhammadifar, Bahais in Sanandaj approached a number of officials such as the Friday Prayer Leader and the Public Prosecutor, regarding the burial, and it is thought that the latest arrest may be intended to stifle protests regarding the burial.

Mr. Ra’ufi was arrested in 2009, and sentenced to 6 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime [followed according to my information by 6 months in exile ~Sen]. And in June, 2011, the Ministry of Intelligence in Sanandaj conducted mass interrogations of the Bahais there, seeking information on how Sanandaj’s Bahai community is managed. One of those questioned was Dhabihullah Ra’ufi.
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Two Bahai prisoners in Yazd released on bail
Bahai News, August 31, 2015.

Mr. Sohrab Naqipour ( سهراب نقی پور) and Mrs. Adhar Pourkhorasand (آذر طلوعی – پورخرسند) have been released on bail from their imprisonment in Yazd. They were arrested in July 2012, in raids that netted dozens of Bahais in Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad, Isfahan, Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Yazd. They were sentenced to one year in prison, and a one-year suspended sentence, and began their sentences in late May or early June, 2015. The report does not indicate why they have been released after three months: both were held for less than a month following their first arrest, so previous time in detention is not the explanation.
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Three Bahais tried in Golestan Province

Bahai News (facebook), September 3, 2015.

A court in Golestan Province (Northern Mazandaran region) has tried three Bahais on charges of “propaganda against the regime.” Their names are given as Soudabeh Mehdinezhad ( سودابه مهدی نژاد ), Rufeya Pakzadan ( روفیا پاکزادان), who was also reported to have been tried on July 3, and Nazi Tahqiqi (نازی تحقیقی). They are among 20 Bahais who were arrested in the Province in October, 2012, and later released on bail.
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Officials shut off ‘Bahai’ water supply to Dazgareh township

Iran Press Watch, August 26, 2015.

On Monday 24 August, officials shut off the water supply for residents of the town of Dazgareh in Semnan province. The water comes from a well dug with a legal permit 25 years ago, and given to the town by the Khanjani Family. The family are Bahais. The police, Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Intelligence and Security agents of the water authority and other officials, including Mr. Ehsani, head of the Intelligence service, were in attendance. They had a special expedited order to destroy the well, and used heavy construction machinery. Work continued to 2:00 am in the morning.

Several members of the Khanjani family have been imprisoned for their Bahai beliefs, their property has been confiscated and factories and businesses belonging to family members have been closed down. Intelligence and Security agents had previously destroyed a dirt dam built with a legal permit for the purpose of generating electricity, cutting electric power to the area. One piece of land that was given to one of the members of this family thirty years ago was unjustly seized and given to the Revolutionary Guards. Officials have also destroyed their home, and the executive committee has issued an order to confiscate their lands and farms. The Municipal Security Council of the province, in the presence of the Governor Vakili, appointed by the Rouhani administration of “Prudence and Hope,” have declared the entire area in which the family’s ancestors have lived for generations a military zone. Revolutionary Guard monitors criss-cross the area, and only particular individuals may visit the family property and stay a few hours, or at most a few days. The pressures started during the Ahmadinejad government and continue to the present.

Full translation at Iran Press Watch
Persian report at Campaign against harassment of Bahais
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Trees cut down in the Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh

HRANA, August 24, 2015.

A number of 20-year old trees in the Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh (Urmia) have been cut down with a chainsaw. The destruction apparently happened on July 25, 2015. This is the first time that this cemetery has been targetted by the vandals, although trees have been cut down in the Bahai cemeteries of Marvdasht, Sansgar and Isfahan. In Isfahan, some 2500 trees were cut down October 2008, and in Marvdasht, 1200 were cut down in April, 2011.
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Shahram Falah granted 10-day leave from Kerman prison

Campaign against harassment of Bahais, August 23, 2015.

Shahram Falah (شهرام فلاح), a Bahai from Yazd who began a 3-year prison sentence in Kerman on February 4, 2015, has been granted a 10-day furlough, and left prison this morning. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran August 2012: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman. This report indicates he was held in Kerman prison, although earlier reports said he was in Yazd Prison.
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Details of Bahai businesses closed in Kerman province

Bahai News (Persian), August 15, 2015.

Bahai News reports on a number of Bahai businesses in the Province of Kerman that have been shut down by authorities because they were closed on Bahai Holy Days. 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. No dates are given in the latest report, but these closures appear to be in addition to those previously reported, and are certainly in addition to the 12 closures in Rafsanjan — also in Kerman Province — that were reported on May 1, 2015. The new report gives a picture of how the Bahais in Iran try to make a living, given that they are excluded from government service, most professions, and work in many economic sectors (see the summary of the apartheid rules for Bahais here.) The latest report lists premises for construction pipe sales, car radiator sales or repair, an automobile workshop, and curtain and clothing production, which have been closed by the office of commercial and public places for Kerman Province. The Office has asked the Bahais to sign an undertaking [not to close on Bahai Holy days] for which there is no legal basis. The report states that one of the purposes of the closures is to prevent the businesses developing their customer base, and “to create divisions among the Bahais.” [sic ]
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Amanullah Mostaqim’s medical furlough ends: back to Raja’i Shahr prison

Bahai News (Persian), August 18. 2015.

Amanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ) one of the imprisoned staff members of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, was returned to Raja’i Shahr prison on the morning of August 18. Mr. Mostaqim, a Bahai from Shiraz, is serving a 5-year sentence for educational activities. He had been free on medical leave since late April, 2015, as hesuffers 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. Until this morning, it had been expected that his medical leave would be transformed into conditional release.
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Kamran Rahimiyan freed after 4 years in prison

Bahai News (Persian), August 17, 2015.

Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان ), one of the teachers of the Bahai Open University in Iran, has been released from Raja’i Shahr prison, near Tehran, at the end of a 4-year sentence. His wife Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی ) is still serving a 4-year sentence, in Evin Prison in Tehran, also for educational activities. Mr. Rahimiyan’s father was martyred for his faith in Evin Prison, 32 years ago, following the 1979 revolution.
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Bahai student expelled from a private university in Shiraz

Taghato, August 14, 2015.

Dorsa Qolizadeh (درسا قلی‌زاده), a Bahai student of architecture who had managed to enjoy two terms of tertiary education at Rouzbahan University, a private institution in Sari, has been expelled from the University following pressure from Iran’s Ministry of ‘Intelligence.’ She has described the events in a letter, on which this summary is based. During the examinations at the end of the second term, on June 9, she was summoned by telephone to the Sari office of the Ministry of Intelligence, and asked why she had enrolled when she knew the Bahais were not permitted to attend higher education in Iran. She was accused of teaching the Bahai Faith on the campus, but without any specifics about when or how she was supposed to have done this. When she asked for evidence, she was told it was not her place to ask questions. The two interrogators told her that there were three possibilities: continue in her religious beliefs, and be expelled from the University; continue her studies outside Iran; or renounce the Bahai religion, and go to the Friday Imam [to declare herself a Shiah Muslim], in which case her conversion to Islam would be published in the newspapers and she could continue her studies. Ironically, her examination for the following day would be on the subject “The Islamic Perspective.” She replied that people believe in their hearts, you (the Ministry) cannot take their faith from them, and chose to stick to her beliefs. She was able to sit the last two examinations, and tell her friends that she was being expelled. She reports a great measure of solidarity from her classmates and friends. Next day, she was summoned to the University to sign a form. She did so, and then realized that the form said she was withdrawing from the course. The university staff may have meant well, since signing the form also meant that she would get part of her university fees back.

[I have used her letter, on HRANA, to supplemented the Tagheto report ~Sen]
Update: Iran Press Watch has now translated the entire letter.
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Sentences announced for 10 Bahais in Hamadan

Bahai News, August 15, 2015.

Ten Bahais from Hamadan have been sentenced to one year in prison, and two have also been sentenced to two years in exile in the town of Khash (خاش), near the Afghan border south of Zahedan, which is 1800 kilometres from their homes. The ten were tried on July 29, and charged with propaganda against the regime. Strangely enough, an initial announcement from the court said that they would be acquitted for lack of evidence.

Those sentenced are Shahin Rashedi (شاهین راشدى), `Atefeh Zahedi (عاطفه زاهدى), Roumina Tabibi (رومینا طبیبى), Mina Hemmati (مینا همتى), Parvaneh Ayoubi (پروانه ایوبى),
Mozafer Ayoubi (مظفر ایوبی), Farida Ayoubi (فریده ایوبی), Mehran Khandel (مهران خاندل), Hamid Adharnoush [Azarnoush] (حمید آذرنوش) and Mas`oud Adharnoush (مسعود آذرنوش). Hamid and Mas1oud Adharnoush have also been sentenced to two years in exile.

They were arrested in late March along with the others and bailed one month later. Several of these Bahais have also faced the closure of their businesses or workshops.
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Report on the situation of 3 imprisoned BIHE staff

HRANA, August 14, 2015.

Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان ) and his wife Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی ), and Keyvan Rahimiyan ( کیوان رحیمیان ) are serving prison terms for their work for the Bahai Open University (BIHE): Kamran and Faran have 4-year sentences and Keyvan has a 5-year sentence. All three are said to be in good health at present, Faran Hesami in Evin Prison in Tehran, and the Rahimiyan brothers in Raja’i Shahr prison. Kamran Rahimiyan should be released in a few weeks, on August 22; Faran Hesami on April 7, 2016; and Keyvan Rahimiyan in August, 2017. Kamran and Keyvan have been denied any prison leave during their sentences, but Faran has been allowed leave twice, in November 2014 and March 2015.

Kamran and Faran have a son Artin (آرتین) who is in the care of his grandmother, Mrs. Rahimiyan (his grandfather was martyred for his Faith some years ago), and Artin will begin school on September 23, by which time his father should be free. Faran Hesami has applied for leave on that day, but thus far it has been denied. She is able to meet her son and mother-in-law once a week, first for a few minutes in a visiting cubicle, when they can discuss Artin’s upbringing, and then face-to-face with her son in a room for mothers and children.
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Destruction of Shiraz Bahai cemetery continues

Bahai News (facebook), August 13, 2015.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Fars Province has continued to prepare the site for the cultural, sporting and commercial centre it intends to build on the Bahai cemetery of Shiraz. New burials in the cemetery were forbidden in 1984, soon after 10 Bahai women who had been hung by the government were buried there. In all, the cemetery held the remains of 23 Bahais martyred for their faith, following the 1979 Iranian Revolution. However the cemetery had been in use for nearly 70 years, and contained 950 graves, of which nearly 400 have now been desecrated by earth-moving machinery. The IRGC has chosen to build on the cemetery, although there is a large empty site adjoining it which would be suitable. When the destruction of graves began, there was an international outcry, and the destruction was limited to one area in the cemetery, although the building work continued. However the latest photographs show that work is underway on most of the site’s 16,000 square meters. The Bahais of Shiraz have attempted to discuss the matter with religious and civil authorities, and some have even gone to Qom [to meet senior religious figures there ~sen], but without results. On August 5, 2014, three Bahais were arrested in Shiraz, apparently because they had sought to discuss the destruction of the cemetery with the responsible authorities. On June 14 last year, the head of the IRGC in Fars Province held a religious ceremony on the site, to mark the “night of power,” and used the occasion to insult and threaten the Bahai community.
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Saba Golshan begins 4-year sentence in Isfahan

Bahai News (facebook), August 12, 2015.

Mr. Saba Golshan ( صبا گلشن ) reported to the central prison on Isfahan this morning, to begin serving a 4-year sentence. His sentence also includes a one-year suspended sentence. On August 1, 2011, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided many Bahai homes in the cities of Yazd , Isfahan, Kerman and Arak, and arrested 17 Bahais. Two weeks later, three more Bahais were arrested in Yazd. These 20 Bahais have been given sentences totaling 78 years.
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Two Bahais in Sanandaj targets of vandalism and official pressure

MAF News, August 4, 2015.

Azharkhosh Mansuri (آذرخش منصوری) and Majis Abdu’l-Motallabi (مجید عبدالمطلبی), two Bahais from Sanandaj, were detained at a prayer meeting in a private house on April 1, 2014, and and interrogated for an hour. They are now being pressured by the Ministry of Intelligence to sign undertakings that they will not practice or preach the Bahai Faith. The head of the Sanandaj branch of the Ministry of Intelligence has told them that if they cooperate by identifying other Bahais, they will be allowed to live normally. In the last few days, their houses have been sprayed with anti-Bahai slogans. The slogan in the picture reads “Death to Bahai heretics; Death to American and England.”
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Niki Khanjani summoned for trial

Bahai News facebook page, August 9, 2015.

Alaeddin Khanjani (علا‌ءالدین خانجانی), known as Niki (نیکی), has been summoned to present his final defence before Bench 5 of the court at Evin Prison in Tehran on August 10. Bench 5 has specialised in the persecution of Bahais.

Niki Khanjani and Babak Mobasher ( بابک مبشر ) and some of their Bahai employees were arrested in Tehran on August 24, apparently because they were selling spectacles, which was forbidden for Bahais. However the new regulations making it illegal for Bahais to sell spectacles are still officially secret: the existence of a new law is inferred from arrests of Bahai optometrists and closures of Bahai opticians’ shops across Iran in the course of 2014 and 2015. For a list of the economic sectors that are forbidden for Bahais, see “Iran’s apartheid rules” on this blog.

Niki Khanjani’s father Jamalledin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی) is one of the seven ‘Yaran’ (Bahai national facilitators) who are now in the eighth year of 20-year sentences for their services to the Bahai community. His son Fu’ad Khanjani (فواد خانجانی) is serving a 4-year sentence.
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Letter from the NSA of the United States, July 31, 2015

Editorial, August 6, 2015.

On July 26, Professor Mehrangiz Kar posted an article in Persian on the Rooz Online site, which referenced remarks she made remarks as a guest speaker at a symposium in Virginia, focusing on the historical and social context of Taahereh’s unveiling at Badasht. Dr. Kar’s question, which she repeated in the article on Rooz online, (in Persian) was:

Mehrangiz-Kar-thumbnail“Suppose that Taahereh were to miraculously return to life, and came to the same meeting [in Badasht], and put her name forward for membership of the House of Justice, the highest decision-making body for Bahais. Given the ruling of the new religion, that women are excluded from the principle centre of authority in the Bahai Faith simply by virtue of their sex, could Taahereh, with all her courage, passion, wisdom and knowledge, enter the House of Justice?”

The responses from some Bahais, at the symposium and following her article on Rooz Online, have been such that the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States has published a letter, in Persian and in English, which reproves “the harsh criticism made against Professor Kar by some Baha’is.”

I have posted the entire letter in English on my Bahai Studies blog, under the title “Let’s talk,” together with some reflections on what can be learned, and what could be done.
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Over 30 Bahai businesses closed in Sari

Bahai News (facebook page), August 4, 2015.

Reports from Sari indicate that over 30 Bahais business have been closed by authorities, and that the closures are continuing. Most of the closures have now lasted from 3 weeks to 3 months, and in a few cases much longer. Local Bahais say that officials have two aims: to isolate the Bahais from society, and to force them to leave the country. By keeping the shops locked up, officials ensure that perishable contents will deteriorate. Officials have also tried to get the Bahais to sign an undertaking not to close their businesses on Bahai Holy Days. However the law allows all businesses to close without giving notice, on 15 days during the year, except that businesses such as bakeries are only allowed to close for 3 days and are required to give notice to the authorities before they close.

On May 27 I reported that eleven Bahai business had been closed in Sari. Since then, I have reported on five more closures. the most recent on June 30. The present report apparently includes these earlier closures. In recent months there has been a wave of closures for Bahai business across Iran, in cities such as Hamadan, Karaj, Kerman, Rafsanjan, Tehran and Zahedan, but the Bahais in Sari have faced the heaviest persecution. See the category “economic discrimination” on this blog.
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Mahvash Sabet transferred from Evin Prison to hospital

Bahai News (facebook page), August 2, 2015.

Mahvash Shahreyari-Sabet (مهوش ثابت-شهریاری ), one of the “Yaran” (National facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran) who are serving twenty year prison sentences, has been transferred to hospital. Mrs. Sadiqeh Moradi (صدیقه مرادی) was taken to hospital at the same time: she was arrested on May 1, 2011, and is serving a 10-year sentence for making war on God and having links to the opposition. Both women were taken to the intensive care unit at the Shohada-e Tajrish hospital in Tehran for MRI scans. Mrs. Sabet was handcuffed for the move, and since the handcuffs stayed on for more than six hours, she suffered pain in her hands.

Mrs. Sabet was arrested on March 5, 2008, in Mashhad, where she had gone to make arrangements for the burial of a Bahai. She was held in solitary confinement for 175 days. Concerns for her health in prison were expressed as early as 2010, and on September 26, 2012, she suffered a hip fracture due to osteoporosis but was denied surgery. Before her arrest, she served for 15 years as Director of the Bahai Institute for Higher Education, which provides alternative higher education for Bahai youth who are excluded from all other forms of higher education in Iran.
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Family of Shahriar Cyrus denied prison visiting rights

HRANA, August 1, 2015.

Despite the orders of the Prosecutor, authorities at Evin prison, in Tehran, have refused to allow Shahriar Cyrus (شهریار سیروس), a Bahai painter and a respected art critic, to receive family visits. Mr. Cyrus was arrested on June 30th. On July 23, his wife Afsaneh Eqani (افسانه ایقانی) and their 7-year-old son went to block 209 at Evin prison, where prisoners of conscience are held. They had a visiting permit from the Tehran prosecutor’s office. However the interrogator for bench 3 of Evin court, a Mr. Hosseini (حسینی) refused to allow a visit. Mr. Cyrus has now been held in solitary confinement for a month, yet his family have not been told why he was arrested.
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Further details on the expulsion of Samim Dukuhaki from university in Iran

Farzan Faramarzi blog, July 29, 2015.

We previously carried a brief report on the expulsion of Samim Dukuhaki (صمیم دوکوهکی), a Bahai student of music at the Beyda campus of the Azad University (‘Free University’ in Fars province), because of his religious beliefs. Following the nation-wide university entrance examination, he was denied entry to universities because of his Bahai beliefs, using the pretext of “incomplete files.” However in October 2014 he received an automated SMS message, saying that he had been enrolled to study music at the Azad University. At the end of his first term, just before the examinations, he found his account at the university was blocked. He followed this up immediately, but found that the university authorities did not know of any reason. Since the examinations were imminent, they gave him written permission to sit the exams. However when he came to select his courses for the second term [early March, 2015], he again found that his account was blocked. He to the university went with his father to enquire about this. The Security Office at the university told them, “surely you know you are not allowed to study at a university?”
Mr. Dukuhaki (senior) said “I know that in Iran, nobody is barred from work or tertiary education because of their religious beliefs.”
The Head of security replied “Who told you that!”
“It was Mr. Larijani.” (a reference to ‘lying larry‘, the head of Iran’s Human Rights Council).
University staff, and then the Head of Security, confirmed that Samim Dukuhaki had been expelled from University. In response to protestations, and a request from Samim Dukuhaki for a written explanation of his expulsion, they were told that he could not study at a university because he is a Bahai, and they could provide nothing in writing to confirm that he had ever been registered.
Samim Dukuhaki, who in the estimation of his teachers had made good progress during his first term, said goodbye to his teachers and classmates, and left the University of Freedom.
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“Paint the change” campaign supports equality in education in Iran

Editorial, July 29, 2015.

In its ‘feast letter‘ addressed to the Bahais who will gather at centres across the US on July 31 (the Feast of Kamal), the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the United States calls on the Bahais to participate in a world-wide street art campaign in support of all those excluded from higher education in Iran, especially the Bahai students.

Efforts will draw on the power of public art to give a city’s common spaces a unique character and to help raise awareness of local, national, and international issues and concerns.

“Paint the Change” will commission murals in cities around the world―two of them being New York and Los Angeles. The murals will serve as sites for events and as inspiration for photos and videos …. Beyond the official murals, “Paint the Change” will stimulate individuals and groups to create their own art.

Street art can take many forms, and we hope that you will … find creative ways to express your support of “Paint the Change.” An online handbook will provide useful materials and sample artwork to aid you, and the “Paint the Change” website will enable you to explore ways that you and your community can join this new phase of Education Is Not a Crime. Use of the social media will be integral to the success of “Paint the Change” and it is already active on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. To join the conversation, please follow and “like” the “Paint the Change” pages and use the official hashtags, #EducationIsNotACrime and #PaintTheChange.

The campaign will also be engaging a professional filmmaker to produce video vignettes focusing on activities connected with “Paint the Change” in various locales across the world. These videos will appear throughout the campaign’s duration, concluding in the spring of 2016. Individuals and communities are encouraged to keep the campaign apprised of local activities (you may send images and footage to be@paintthechange.me).

Participants are also reminded to respect local laws and the rights of property owners.
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Official pressure to boycott Bahai-run businesses in Zahedan

Campaign against harassment of Bahais, July 28, 2015.

The Oweis website, whose page header indicates that it speaks for Ayatollah Khamenei’i (whom it promotes to ‘Grand Ayatollah’ ! ), has published a photograph of a Baha’i-run optometry shop in Zahedan, along with an article which says that all the Shiah and Sunni religious authorities have stated that all sorts of transactions and dealings with the Bahais are haram (religiously forbidden), the Atiyeh Sazan Hafez health insurance company has contracts for services with a number of Bahai-run opticians to provide services. It includes some Bahai-run businesses in its list of approved providers, and the pictured optometrist, which is not included in the list, is also said to have a contract with the insurer. [Implying that the company does business with the Bahais without publicizing the fact ~sen]. The report claims that the Bahais attract customers by providing services not covered by the insurance company, and invoicing them incorrectly. The deviant Bahai sect serves the purposes of the satanic Zionist regime and attacks the sacred Republic of Iran, by seeking to dominate the Iranian economy, but they will be thwarted by the diligence of authorities in enforcing the laws [that discriminate against Bahais] and by the citizens’ “imitating” (following) the supreme source of emulation (Khamane’i). The article concludes with various fatwas against having business or social contact with Bahai. [The Bahais of course will have no opportunity to answer these various slanders in the same media ! ] About 70% of the population of Zahedan are Sunni Muslims, who pay no heed to the fatwas of Khamene’i. As the “Campaign” report indicates, the population show a large measure of support for the oppressed Bahai minority.

At the time of writing, the Oweis website is unavailable, but the report can be confirmed by using Google Translate’s cache for the page http://oweis.ir/?p=7986.
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Trial scheduled for 10 Bahais in Hamadan

Bahai News (Persian), July 27, 2015.

Ten Bahais from Hamadan who have been free on bail have been informed that they face trial on July 29. They are to be charged with propaganda against the regime. The names of eight of the Bahais are given as Hamid Adharnoush [/ Azarnoush] (حمید آذرنوش), Mas`oud Adharnoush (مسعود آذرنوش), Shahin Rashedi (شاهین راشدى), `Atefeh Zahedi (عاطفه زاهدى), Roumina Tabibi (رومینا طبیبى), Mina Hemmati (مینا همتى), Mehran Khandel (مهران خاندل) and Parvaneh Ayoubi (پروانه ایوبى). It is likely that the two missing names are those of two Bahai women, Farida Ayoubi and Fataneh Mushtaq (فریده ایوبى و فتانه مشتاق), who were arrested in late March along with the others and bailed a few days later.
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Fresh graffiti in Tehran

Bahai News (Persian), July 26, 2015.

On the night of July 25-26, a Bahai home in the Shahrak-e Gharb district in North-west Tehran was defaced with the usual unimaginative slogan: “Death to Baha’i.” The house on Sazman Barnameh Avenue, in a modern and prosperous neighbourhood near Eram Park, has been occupied by the Aqdasi (اقدسی) family for many years. This is the first time that they have faced such threats there, although graffiti, threatening letters, the vandalism of cars and arson attacks are common enough for the Bahais across Iran.

August 8:
The ‘Fariba Kamalabadi‘ facebook page has a photo of a new slogan spray-painted at the entrance to the same house. This time it reads, “Bahais get out.”
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Qom Seminary launches online training in anti-Bahaism

Iran Press Watch, July 24, 2015.

In an advertisement on its site, Tasnim news agency has announced that the Qom Seminary, the most influential seminary in Iran, intends to hold online introductory courses on the Baha’i Faith and the Ahl-e Haqq for seminary students across the country. These courses will be offered through the “All sects and religions organization,” and the Offices of Propaganda and Practical Training at the Qom Seminary. The Qom Seminary has started extensive propaganda on these subjects in most government centers and government sponsored news websites. The Qom seminary is not the only organisation teaching the principles of anti-Bahaism in Iran. The Habilian Association uses its website and mobile displays to spread anti-Bahaism and partisan political messages throughout Iran.
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Shahrukh Ta’if released after four years in prison

Bahai News (Persian), July 24, 2015.

Shahrukh Ta’if (شاهرخ طائف) was released from Raja’i Shahr prison this morning, at the end of a 4-year sentence. Mr. Ta’if was arrested at his home in Tehran on January 14, 2009 and held for over two months in solitary confinement. He was released on bail on March 18, 2009. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison for “membership of the Bahai community” and began his sentence in Evin prison on January 17, 2012. In August that year he was transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison, where many male prisoners of conscience are detained, and remained there until his release today.
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17-year-old girl expelled from school for her Bahai beliefs

Campaign against harassment of Bahais, July 22, 2015.

Kamand Agahi (کمند آگاهی), a 17-year-old school student in Isfahan, was expelled from Safura High School because of her Bahai beliefs on July 1 this year. The school principal, Mr. Qari (قاری) refused to confirm her school registration, and treated her and her family disrespectfully. After the family complained to the district schools authority, he declared she had been expelled because she was teaching the Bahai Faith in the school.
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Design for local Mashriqu’l-Adhkar in Cambodia unveiled

Bahai World News Service (in English), July 18, 2015.

Dawn prayers were held on the building site to begin the unveiling of the design of the first local Bahai House of Worship for the people of the Battambang region of Cambodia, where the Bahais have developed a vibrant community life centering on the worship of God and service to humanity. The events involved dignitaries and inhabitants of the surrounding communities, numbering over 300 people. Sochet Vitou Tang, the architect of the project, was deeply moved by the occasion as he addressed the audience. Mr. Tang said the project would create a place of tranquility where the mind and soul could find rest and solace, a place where the spiritual and material dimensions of life would be harmonized. He further explained that the House of Worship would become a center where people of all persuasions could “come to learn about life, about the environment, and the world beyond; a place where we come to build a unified world.” Then the model for the temple was unveiled by the architect and local village chiefs.

In the evening, a reception was held for local and regional authorities, including the governor of the Battambang region, Mr Chan Sophal, and the Chairman of the Battambang Provincial Council. Governor Sophal commented that “the Baha’i community has been greatly contributing to the spiritual and material development of the country.” What he found particularly striking, he said, is “that the Baha’i House of Worship to be built is not only for the Baha’is but for all of humanity.” He was attracted by “the concept that the Baha’i House of Worship is not only a place for prayer and worship, but also a place that inspires service to the community.”

A theme throughout the day was the role of prayer in humanity’s individual and collective life, highlighted by the gathering at dawn, and how it must be wedded to service to humanity for the realization of its full effect. The inhabitants have drawn inspiration from a recent message of the Universal House of Justice regarding Houses of Worship in which it explains that “the creation of a new pattern of how society can be” is seen in “the endeavours of community building … Taken in its entirety … the pattern fosters capacity for service. Essential to that pattern is the devotional meeting—a communal aspect of the godly life.”

Battambang is the second local Baha’i House of Worship whose design has been unveiled. It will be one among five local Baha’i Houses of Worship which are due to be built in the coming years.
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Bahai business closed in Karaj

Campaign against harassment of Bahais, July 18, 2015.

A Bahai-run taxi dispatch office in Karaj has been given 10 days to close its doors. The office, which takes telephone bookings for taxis, has been operated by Mr. Haqiqi (حقیقی) for several years. Local officials said that its operating licence would not be extended, because they are not allowed to issue business licences to Bahais, but they did allow him ten days to close his business.
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Burial of Mrs. Muhammadi-far reveals a new restriction on Bahais in Iran

BWNS, July 17, 2015.

On 12 July 2015, a Baha’i, Mrs. Baji Muhammadifard passed away and her family sought a burial permit to inter her body in the Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj. This was refused, with the officials insisting that Mrs. Muhammadifar’s body be laid to rest in the Baha’i cemetery in Qorveh, a town located approximately an hour and a half from Sanandaj. Agreeing to burial in Qorveh would have forced the family to ignore the Bahai burial law requiring bodies to be interred within an hour’s journey from the place of death. The authorities told the family that an ambulance—which could exceed the speed limit—would carry the body.

Local authorities sympathetic to the plight of the Bahais told the family that a memorandum from the Supreme National Security Council has stated that the Bahais are only to be allocated one cemetery in any province. This rule is not applied to any other group in the country, and was not previously known to the Bahais.

“The Iranian authorities seem to have brought themselves down to a new level of absurdity and malice; extending their prejudiced attacks on the Baha’i community beyond the grave,” said Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community Office to the United Nations in New York.

The refusal to allow the burial to take place in the Baha’i cemetery in Sanandaj, an area made beautiful and verdant through decades of effort by the community, meant that the family had to keep the body of their loved one in cool conditions at home. The family knew that if the body were in the public morgue, it would be taken by the authorities without their knowledge or permission and buried with no Bahai rites [as has happened in other cases in Iran ~ Sen].

Members of the wider community who came to mourn Mrs. Muhammadifard’s passing were most sympathetic to the family’s situation. There was a swell of public support in the town, with attention being drawn to the unreasonable behavior of the authorities. Officials responded by summoning the son of the deceased for interrogation. After four hours of grueling questions and threats, he was forced to give up his mother’s body. Soon after it was taken in an ambulance, unaccompanied by any family member, to Qorveh cemetery.

Iranian law requires every town to provide, within its boundaries, cemetery plots for the burial of all its citizens and makes it unlawful for a municipality to accept for burial bodies from outside its jurisdiction.

Abbreviated: full report in English here.
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Another Bahai business closed in Tehran

Bahai News (Persian), July 17, 2015.

A Bahai-run travel agency in Tehran is reported to have been given 10 days to close its doors. The officers who came to the travel agency to announce this told the manager that this was because he or she is a Bahai. A number of Bahais in Karaj are also reported to have had “serious difficulties.” Under Iran’s apartheid rules, Bahais are banned from employment in many sectors, and are not allowed to run businesses such as restaurants, cafeterias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways (Iranian-style), cafe, butchers shops, supermarkets, the production and sale of ice-cream, fruit juice, soft drinks, pastry and sweets, and coffee. Optometry was apparently added to this list in 2014. It may be that the travel sector has also been included.
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Mrs. Baji Muhammadi-Far buried outside Sanandaj

Campaign against harassment of Bahais (Persian facebook page), July 16, 2015.

Government authorities are reported to have buried Mrs. Baji Khanom Muhammadi-Far (باجی محمدی فر), a Bahai from Sanandaj, in the Golestan Javid cemetery in Qorveh. The name of this cemetery (the same as the one in Sanandaj) suggests that it is a Bahai cemetery. When Mrs. Muhammadi-Far died on July 12, authorities refused permission for her to be buried in the “Golestan Javid” cemetery in Sanandaj. It is not clear whether this refers to the Bahai cemetery which was razed by local authorities in December 2013, or a new piece of land that has been acquired as a Bahai cemetery for Sanandaj. The latest report is that authorities have buriend Mrs. Muhammadi-Far in Qorveh against the wishes of her family. Qorveh is about 94 kilometers East of Sanandaj, over a mountain pass at Salavatabad. Not only is the distance a burden for the family, Bahai burial rituals require that the grave should be within one hour’s journey of the place of death. The cemetery at Qorveh does not satisfy this requirement of the Bahais of Sanandaj. The authorities in Sanandaj had previously threatened the family with arrest, and said they would bury Mrs. Muhammadi-Far in Qorveh without any ceremony.
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No room in the morgue for unburied Bahai in Sanandaj

(Persian), July 15, 2015.

As previously reported, when Mrs. Baji Khanom Muhammadi-Far (باجی خانم محمدی فر), a Bahai living in Sanandaj, died on July 12, authorities refused permission for her to be buried in the Golestan Javid cemetery, sending 50 security agents to surround the cemetery and prevent the family and Bahai community performing the burial. Three days later, authorities are still refusing to issue a burial permit, and the family’s questions have gone unanswered. Moreover the body of Mrs Muhammadi-Far has not been allowed to enter the cool storage at the morgue. It is being kept, packed in ice, in a private home. These decisions have apparently not been taken by local officials, but at some higher level. The present news makes it clear that the authorities were not objecting to the possibility of a large Bahai funeral, but rather to the presence of a Bahai body in the morgue or cemetery. According to a primitive superstition which is widespread among the majority Shiah community in Iran, Bahais, Zoroastrians and some other people — whether living or dead — are believed to be ‘unclean’ and able to contaminate ‘pure’ (Shiah) people.
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Bahai funeral blocked by authorities in Sanandaj

Bahai News (Persian), July 13, 2015.

The planned funeral of Mrs. Baji Khanom Muhammadi-Far (باجی خانم محمدی فر) in the Golestan Javid cemetery in Sanandaj yesterday was blocked by a force of 50 uniformed and plain-clothes police officers who surrounded the cemetery. The local government has refused to discuss complaints about the actions of the security forces, saying that the decision was not made at a local level, and they could not say anything.

The Muhammadadi-Far family come from the village of Sisan, in the Tabriz area. The town had a Bahai community numbering about 500 before the 1979 revolution, but arson, looting and official persecution has forced many of them to move to other towns, such as Sanandaj.

In December 2013, the Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj was destroyed by local authorities. That was the third Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj to be erased since 1979. For a discussion of the long history of symbolic violence directed at graves and bodies of Bahais and other in Iran, see Mehrdad Amanat, Set in Stone: Homeless Corpses and Desecrated Graves in Modern Iran.

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Fardin Aghsani released

Campaign against harassment of Bahais

Fardin Aghsani (فردین اغصانی), a Bahai war veteran who has been imprisoned in Urumiyyeh (Urmia), has been released from prison there. Mr Aghsani began serving his 3-year sentence on December 14, 2014. If, as reported, he has been released at the end of his sentence, the courts must have taken account of time in prison before he was sentenced, or his war record. He was a prisoner of war in Iraq for two and a half years. His wife Mrs. Farahnaz Moqadam (فرحناز مقدم) began her own three year sentence on December 10, 2014. The couple were among seven Bahais in Urumiyyeh who, in July 2014, were given sentences ranging from six months to six years for teaching the Bahai Faith and propaganda against the Islamic Republic through hosting regular teaching classes in their homes, teaching minors and attracting Muslims. They were also charged with assembly and collusion in the form of membership of a Bahai Assembly, and having links to the Universal House of Justice (the elected body that heads the international Bahai community).
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Three Bahais released on bail in Yazd

Bahai News (Persian), July 5, 2015.

Nasser Baqeri (ناصر باقری), Fa’ez Baqeri (فائز باقری), and Mrs. Rouha Emani (روحا ایمانی) were freed on bail in the past few hours. The release of Mrs Emani was reported on July 1, but on July 2 it was reported that there had been some delay. She was arrested in Yazd during a raid on her home on May 12. Fa’ez Baqeri and his father Nasser Baqeri were arrested in their home on February 28 this year. On June 25 it was reported that had been moved from prison to hospital because of a severe ear infection.
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Fu’ad Moqaddam’s condition critical

Campaign against harassment of Bahais [undated, apparently July 4, 2015]

The condition of 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 Raja’i Shahr (or Gohardasht) Prison in Karaj, is reported to be critical. He is known to have had at least two heart attacks since he was imprisoned. The lack of air conditioning in prison, the heat, and blocking all the windows with sheets of iron, and limiting exercise hours to three hours per day in the afternoon heat, have caused many medical problems. Throughout his imprisonment, authorities have limited or entirely refused medical treatment for him. This report implies that he has again been denied hospital treatment outside the prison, despite his present condition.

The BIHE is a distance-learning institute which serves students who are excluded from tertiary study in Iran, because they are Bahais. Fu’ad Moqaddam ( فواد مقدم ) was arrested in May, 2011, and sentenced to five years in prison.
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Four more Bahais tried in Gorgan

HRANA, July 3, 2015.

The fourth of a series of group trials of Bahais has taken place in Gorgan. This time four Bahai women were tried on charges of propaganda against the regime, apparently connected to a prayer meeting. The sentences have not been announced (a ‘guilty’ verdict may be assumed, as Bahais are never “not guilty” in Iranian courts). Those tried this time are Rufeya Pakzadan ( روفیا پاکزادان), Shohreh Saimi (شهره صمیمی), Parivash Shoja`i ( پریوش شجاعی ) and Tina Mauhabati ( تینا موهبتی ).

Mrs. Pakzadan was not present and had no defence representation, as she had not received a summons. She was arrested on March 18, 2013, and released on bail on April 1. She was charged with membership of Bahai organisations, teaching the Bahai Faith, and communicating with foreign governments. Shohreh Saimi and Parivash Shoja`i were among the Bahais detained on October 16 and 17, 2012, in a wave of arrests of Bahais in Gorgan and Minudasht. Tina Mauhabati, who lives in Tehran, was arrested at the bus station in Gorgan on the evening of October 23, as she was waiting for the bus to Tehran. Her mother, Shiva Rouhani ( شیوا روحانی ) was one of those arrested in the previous week. The four women tried in the last few days (HRANA does not give a date) have been free on bail, which will continue until they begin their jail sentences.
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Four Bahais from Rasht free on bail

Bahai News (Persian), July 3, 2015.

Foad Yazdani (فواد یزدانی) and his son Peyman Yazdani (پیمان یزدانی), and Nima Najafi (نیما نجفی) and his wife Paria Keshvar (پریا کشاور), have been released on bail in Rasht.

Foad and Peyman Yazdani were arrested on May 26, 2015. Nima Najafi and Paria Keshvar were arrested on May 28. Three other Iranians, who are not Bahais, were arrested at about 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 the four Bahais and seized personal effects and 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. The search was repeated in March 2015, during the New Year period. 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.
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Kourush Ziari moved from prison to hospital

Bahai News (Persian), July 3, 2015.

Kourush Ziari ( کوروش زیاری ), a Bahai from Gonbad-e Qabus in North-eastern Iran who is serving a 5-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, was taken to a hospital on July 2. This ends a long period in which he has been denied both a medical furlough and proper medical treatment. He was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence in Gonbad-e Qabus on October 17, 2012, and later transferred to Gorgan. In the company of 6 other Bahai prisoners in Gorgan, he was transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran and finally to Raja’i Shahr prison, on December 22, 2012. It is interesting to note that the seven prisoners moved from Gorgan prison actually began serving their sentences before they had been sentenced!

About two months before Mr. Ziari’s arrest he was in an accident and suffered a torn tendon and underwent an operation, and at the time of his arrest he was still receiving physiotherapy. Following his arrest the flow of blood to his feet was impeded and his condition worsened for lack of treatment. He developed a lumbar complaint, osteo-arthritis and a tendon complaint in his foot. Prison doctors recommended 40 sessions of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, but this was denied. The bad conditions in prison have made his condition steadily worse.
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Faran Hesami given prison furlough

Bahai News (Persian facebook page), July 1, 2015.

Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی ), one of the imprisoned teachers from the Bahai Open University (BIHE) who is serving a 4-year prison sentence in Evin Prison in Tehran, has been granted a 3-day furlough, starting this morning. She has been granted such leaves twice previously, in March and November 2014. Her husband Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان ) is also serving 4-year prison sentence for educational activities, in Raja’i Shahr prison, about 50 kilometres from Tehran. Their son Artin (آرتین) is in the care of his grandmother. His grandfather was martyred for his Faith some years ago. In March this year, Mrs. Hesami was awarded the Raha Südwind Award which honours individuals who have participated in the promotion and protection of human rights in Iran.
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Rouha Emani free on bail after 6 weeks’ detention

+ update
Bahai News (Persian), July 1, 2015.

Bahai News (Persian), July 1, 2015. Updated July 2.

[July 1] Mrs. Rouha Emani (روحا ایمانی), a Bahai who was arrested in Yazd during a raid on her home on May 12, has been released on bail. See the earlier report on her arrest here.

[July 2] Bahai News reports that Mrs. Emani has not (yet?) been released, and is being held in jail in Yazd.
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