October to December, 2015
Fu’ad Moqaddam transferred to hospital
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 31, 2015.
Dr. Fu’ad Moqaddam (فواد مقدم) a 63-year-old physician and one of the former administrators of the Bahai online university (BIHE) in Isfahan, was again taken from prison to hospital, about two weeks ago, and is still in hospital. In July this year he was taken to hospital for treatment for heart disease, but it would appear he was later returned to prison, since the latest report states that he has been hospitalized again. He was arrested in May, 2011, and sentenced to five years in prison for his educational activities. He is serving his term at Raja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj, near Tehran.
The BIHE is a distance-learning institute which serves students who are excluded from tertiary study in Iran, because they are Bahais.
Elham Faramani spends her 7-day furlough visiting prison
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 31, 2015.
Mrs. Elham Faramani (الهام فراهانی) has returned to Evin Prison in Tehran, after a seven-day furlough which she spent in visiting Raja’i Shahr prison, about 50 kilometers west of Evin Prison. Her husband `Adel Na`imi (عادل نعیمی) is serving a 10-year sentence there, and her son Shamim Na’imi ( شمیم نعیمی) is serving a 3-year sentence. She was able to meet both of them in a room reserved for face-to-face meetings. Elham Faramani and her son began their sentences on May 11, 2014, while `Adel Na`imi appears to have been held continuously since his first arrest (along with his wife) during wide-spread raids on July 10, 2012. His younger brother `Afif ( نعیمی ), one of the seven Bahai ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators), is serving a 10-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison.
Shahram Najaf-Tumara’i free on bail
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), December 29, 2015.
Shahram Najaf-Tumara’i (شهرام نجف تومرائي) has been released on bail in Tehran. Mr. Najaf-Tumara’i previously served as one of the Khademin (area facilitators) for the Bahais in District 7 in Tehran. He was arrested by the security forces on November 27 and taken to Evin Prison. Web sites linked to the Iranian regime have accused him of espionage. The charge is patently ridiculous: Bahais in Iran are subject to close surveillance, and their homes are frequently searched and their computers seized. This is especially true of prominent Bahais such as Mr. Najaf-Tumara’i. They are also banned from the military, civil service, universities and sensitive economic sectors such as ice-cream manufacture. Therefore no spy in Iran would pose as a Bahai, no Bahai would chose espionage as a career, and no secret service recruiting spies in Iran would consider a known Bahai.
‘Baha’u’llah and the New Era’ banned in Malaysia
The Malaysian Insider, December 28, 2015.
The Ministry of Home Affairs in Malaysia has banned Baha’ullah and the New Era: an introduction to the Bahai Faith with effect from today. Four Islamic publications were also banned: The Teachings of the Quran (possibly referring to the widely used school texts by the renowned scholar Abidullah Ghazi), and three Islamic works in Malay. The authors and publishers are not named in this report. The ban was gazetted on November 26.
Hashimah said The Teachings of the Quran contained “deviationist interpretations,” and that the other banned publications “could damage public peace and alarm the people as they contained elements which could confuse the Muslims and damage their faith.” Anyone printing, importing, selling or possessing the banned materials can be jailed for up to three years and/or fined up to RM20,000 ($US 4,600).
Baha’ullah and the New Era is an introductory book about the Bahai Faith, originally written by J.E. Esslemont and published in 1923. It has been revised and updated several times since then, and is published electronically on the Bahai Reference Library.
Hamid Azizi released
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 28, 2015.
Hamid Azizi (حمید عزیزی), a Bahai from Hamadan, was released from the city’s prison on December 27. He has served almost 7 months of a 1-year sentence. 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 released pending his trial, and was charged with propaganda against the regime in the form of supporting opposition groups. He began his sentence on June 11 this year.
Navid Aqdasi released
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 28, 2015.
Navid Aqdasi has been released on bail from Evin prison in Tehran. Bail was set at one billion rials (30,000 euros, $US 33,000). He was arrested on November 15, and held in solitary confinement for five weeks.
Mr. Aqdasi is a cousin of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), who was murdered two years ago in the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas. He has actively pursued his cousin’s case and has been threatened by the security forces a number of times. On two occasions, graffiti insulting the Bahai Faith has been sprayed on the walls of his home in Tehran.
Sanandaj Ministry of Intelligence applies a new tactic
HRANA, December 24, 2015.
HRANA, December 24, 2015.
The Ministry of Intelligence in Sanandaj has detained a number of persons who have contact with a Bahai family, and has pressured them to submit private complaints against the family, which would accuse them of teaching the Bahai Faith or leading people astray. According to the HRANA report, this took place in August and September this year.
On September 8 the 66-year-old father of the family, Dhabihullah Ra’ufi ( ذبیح الله رئوفی ), was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, along with a number of non-Bahais. Four agents raided his home and seized CD’s, books, pictures and other items relating to the Bahai Faith. He later told a HRANA reporter that his own interrogation was “good,” but after his release some of his non-Bahai contacts were detained and lodged personal complaints against him for no apparent reason.
One of these contacts, Mr. Muhammad Salahaddin Rashidiyan (محمدصلاح الدین رشیدیان) has said that while he was detained at the Ministry of Intelligence office he was threatened with charges of apostasy, which carries the death sentence, but promised freedom if he lodged a complaint against the Bahais. He said that he knew of at least three others who were forced to lodge complaints against the Ra’ufi family in the same way. Their names are given as Entezar Rahimi (انتظار رحیمی), Mrs. Zhila Negahdar (ژیلا نگهدار) and Shahu Mohammadi (شاهو محمدی).
Mr. Ra’ufi said that they did not know exactly what had happened, but they had good relations with these people until they were arrested and released. Later, two or three of them came to apologise, saying they were forced to lodge a complaint. One even brought a signed letter saying he had been forced to complain. One of the complainants came to the Ra’ufi home in the middle of the night, shouting that they had made his wife and children happy [ شما باعث شدی زن و بچه مرا بگیرند — a better translation would be welcome ~Sen].
Mr. Rashidiyan, who is now free on bail, said “I asked the interrogator what I could complain about, since they had not prosyletized or done anything, and he replied, ‘just make a complaint, we already have a promise from them saying that even if someone asked them about the Bahai Faith, they would not answer.'”
Mr. Ra’ufi was arrested in 2009, and sentenced to 6 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime, followed by 6 months in exile (other reports say he was sentenced to 6 month in prison in the town of Tuyserkan, in Hamadan). 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. Parvaneh Rahmani-Ra’ufi (پروانه رحمانی رئوفی), who was arrested on December 19, 2015, is the wife of Mr. Ra’ufi. It appears that she is still being detained.
If the Ministry of Intelligence’s tactic is successful, it will enable the regime to persecute the Bahais under the guise of private legal proceedings, and to enforce social isolation.
Afshin Iqani released
Bahai News (Facebook, Persian), December 25, 2015.
Afshin Iqani (افشین ایقانی), a Bahai shop keeper from Semnan, has been released from prison at the end of a sentence of 4 years and 3 months and one day (elsewhere reported as 4 years and 6 months and one day), on charges of acting against national security and propaganda against the regime. His case began on March 11, 2009, when agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided his shop and seized half of his stock, demanding that he sell the remainder before March 20. He was arrested on January 5, 2010, and began his sentence on September 12, 2011.
Sahba Farnoush freed on bail
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 24.
Sahba Farnoush (صهبا فرنوش), a Bahai from Tehran who was arrested on XX, has been freed on bail from Evin Prison. Bail was set at two million rials (60,000 euros, $US 66,000). Mr. Farnoush is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on November 15, two of whom were released within a few hours.
Conditional release of 9 Bahais in Marvdasht
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 22, 2015.
Nine Bahais who were detained during two house raids in Marvdasht on December 19 have been released after undertaking not to meet one another at night or have dinner parties.
One arrest in Sanandaj
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 22, 2015.
Parvaneh Rahmani-Ra’ufi (پروانه رحمانی رئوفی), a Bahai from Sanandaj, was arrested in her home on December 19, and there is still no word from her. Her home was also searched.
Navid Aqdasi moved from interrogation to detention section
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 21, 2015.
After over a month of solitary detention for interrogation purposes, Navid Aqdasi (نوید اقدسی) was moved to a general section of Evin prison in Tehran. From there, he was able to contact his family on December 20. Mr. Aqdas is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on November 15, two of whom were released within a few hours.
Two house raids and nine arrests in Marvdasht
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 20, 2015.
On the night of December 19, Iranian security forces arrested nine Bahais in the city of Marvdasht, in the Province of Shiraz. They arrived with 8 police officers, video cameras and a fingerprinting device. The raids began with the home of Mr. Nowdhar Falah (نوذر فلاح), where agents questioned all the guests who were present and arrested members of the family. After searching the house, they took one of the guests, Mr. Saraj Kazemi (سراج کاظمی) with them, using his own car, and went to his home and searched it. They seized some books and CDs. On the morning of December 20, the nine arrested Bahais were taken to the Ministry of Intelligence offices, and were not released. The nine Bahais arrested are members of the two households, and three of their guests. Their names are Nowdhar Falah, Sawadbeh Ha’eri (ثوادبه حائری) and the 18-year-old Negin Falah (نگین فلاح), who are members of the Falah family, Mr. Saraj Kazemi, Farhnaz Ashna’i (فرحناز آشنایی) and 18-year-old Elhan Kazemi (الحان کاظمی), in the second family, and from among the guests Jahanbaksh Pazerafkon (جهانبخش بذرافکن), Faribah Falah (فریبافلاح), and Delir Adzideh (دلیر آژیده). Thus far there has been no indication of the reasons for the raid and arrests, except that the gathering was considered an illegal meeting.
Three detainees released on bail in Tehran
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 20, 2015.
Nava Monjazeb (نوا منجذب), Negar Baqeri (نگار باقری) and Yavar Haqiqat (یاور حقیقت) have been freed on bail in Tehran. Bail was set at 100 million tumans (31,000 euros, $US 33,000). They were among 20 Bahais arrested in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on November 15, two of whom were released within a few hours.
Faraneh Daneshgari released on bail
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), December 16, 2015.
Faraneh Daneshgari (فرانه دانشگری), one of the Bahais arrested in widespread raids across Iran on November 15, was released on bail in Mashhad on the evening of December 15.
Sanaz Es’haqi released in Mashhad
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), December 15, 2015.
Sanaz Es’haqi (ساناز اسحاقی), one of the Bahais arrested in widespread raids across Iran on November 15, was released in Mashhad yesterday.
Foad Khanjani released from prison
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 15, 2015.
Foad Khanjani (فواد خانجانی), a former student of industrial management at Isfahan University who was expelled because of his Bahai beliefs, has been released at the end of his four-year sentence. He was arrested in Tehran on March 2, 2010, and taken to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence, released and rearrested, and arrested for the third time on April 27, 2010, when he was sent to Evin Prison. His arrests followed the widespread unrest in Iran following the announcement of national election results. Authorities initially tried to claim that Bahais had a hand in stirring up the protests. His sister Leva Khanjani ( لوا خانجانی ), another student excluded from education for being a Bahai, was also arrested after the election unrest, along with her husband Babak Mobasher ( بابک مبشر). She was arrested on January 3, 2010, and sentenced to two years in prison. She was released on June 24, 2014.
Mr. Khanjani was released on bail on May 8, pending his trial which was conducted on December 11, 2010. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison, by Judge Maqiseh (قاضی مقیسه), and this sentence was confirmed in the review court by Judge Mouhed (قاضی موحد). His lawyer attempted to appeal this sentence to the Supreme Court, but the lawyer was confronted with threats from the Ministry of Intelligence. Mr. Khanjani began his sentence in Evin Prison on January 17, 2012, but on August 5 of that year he was transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison. From late September that year he was in need of urgent hospital treatment for a cyst in the abdomen, which was denied until early November. On March 2, 2013, he was denied family visits for refusing to wear prison uniform.
Foad Khanjani’s father, Ala’eddin Khanjani (علاءالدین خانجانی), known as Niki, was also arrested following the election protests, and again in August 2014, apparently because he was running an optician’s shop, and such businesses had been added — unannounced — to the list of sectors in which Bahais are forbidden to work. He was summoned to appear at Bench 5 of the court at Evin Prison in Tehran on August 10, 2015. Bench 5 has specialised in the persecution of Bahais. So far as I know, his sentence has not yet been announced.
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 10-year sentences for their services to the Bahai community.
Message to the Bahais in Iran, on behalf of the House of Justice
A’en-e Baha’i, December 13 (?), 2015.
The Secretariat at the Bahai World Centre has published a letter in Persian that is of interest to the Bahais in Iran. It responds to a number of questions about collective efforts and teaching the Faith in Iran, and advises the questioner that the answers will be found through consultation with the local friends. It also urges the friends not to be critical of one-another, but to support and encourage one another, most especially during the difficult period when the Bahai Administration is not operating in Iran. I have placed the Persian text in the “Documents Archive” of my Bahai Studies blog.
Ministry of Intelligence in Kermanshah seeks to isolate Bahais
MAF News, December 10, 2015.
In the past week, at least 15 Muslims in Kermanshah have been summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence and questioned and threatened because they have associated with Bahai families in the province. They were told they should not have any links to any Bahais. In the city of Sanandaj, capital of the neighbouring province of Kurdistan, officials refused to register the marriage of a Bahai woman with a non-Bahai man.
Saba Golshan given extended medical leave
Bahai News (Persian), December 9, 2015.
Mr. Saba Golshan ( صبا گلشن ), a Bahai from Isfahan who is serving a 3-year sentence for his Bahai beliefs, has been granted a 2-month medical furlough for surgery and other treatment. Hi sentence is in fact 4 years, of which one year is suspended. He began his sentence on August 12 (not October 11, as in the Bahai News report ~Sen) this year. 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.
Arrests follow motorcycle attacks in Rangpur, Bangladesh
Daily Sun (Bangladesh), December 9, 2015.
As previously reported, on the morning of November 8, three assailants on a motorcycle attacked a Bahai man, Ruhul Amin, who was shot twice, in the leg and shoulder, but survived the attack. Mr. Amin works as Personal Assistant to the Director of Rangpur Medical College Hospital, as well as being active at the Rangpur Bahai Centre. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for this attack, and the murders of a 64-year-old Italian physician, Piero Parolari, who is assistant pastor of the Dinajpur parish of the Roman Catholic church, Rahamat Ali, an attendant at a Sufi shrine who was bludgeoned t death, Cesare Tavella, an Italian aid worker working for a Christian organisation based in the Netherlands, and Kunio Hoshi, a Japanese agricultural worker, on October 3.
Police in Bangladesh have now announced several arrests and a confession of involvement from the local leader of the Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a violent Salafist group native to Bangladesh that seeks to establish an Islamic state there. The JMB leader, Masud Rana, gave his confessional statement before a court in Rangpur on Monday, admitting that he and two accomplices had shot Kunio Hoshi. According to Humayun Kabir, the Deputy Inspector General of Police for the area, Rana was arrested on Thursday, December 3. Rana was also involved in the killing at a shrine in Kaunia on November 10 and the shooting of a Bahai community leader in Rangpur city on November 8, the police official said. “Police also seized huge home-made explosives and sharp weapons from a pond near his house,” he added.
Other sources report two further arrests, of JMB leader Morshed Ali, 36, and his nephew Shahidul Islam, 35, in connection with the shrine killing. Curiously, this report does not mention the shrine killing or Rana, yet some reports indicate that Rana was first arrested in connection with the shrine killing, and only later connected to the murder of Kunio Hoshi. Until a public trial is held, the possibility of mistake and misinformation in the media reports should be borne in mind.
Navid Aqdasi accused of drug-making
Katayoon Taghizadeh (Facebook), November 30, 2015.
Navid Aqdasi (نوید اقدسی), a Bahai arrested in Tehran on November 15, was transferred to Evin prison on November 29 and charged with making synthetic drugs. The charge could lead to the death penalty. Mr. Aqdasi is a cousin of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), who was murdered two years ago in the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas. Navid Aqdasi has actively pursued his cousin’s case and talked to the media about it. As a result, he has been threatened a number of times, including in recent months, when vandals have posted threatening graffiti on the walls of his house. On the first day after his arrest, he was able to contact his family, but there has been no further information about him, and he has not been able to meet his family.
Prison sentence of Navid Khanjani reduced
Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, November 29, 2015.
The prison sentence of Navid Khanjani (نوید خانجانی) has been reduced from 12 years to five years. He has already served more than three years in prison. Mr. Khanjani is a Bahai student who has been barred from university, and a human rights and minority rights activist. He is a member of the central committee of the CHRR (Committee of Human Rights Reporters) and a founding member of the PCED (Campaign against Educational Discrimination). He was arrested in Isfahan on March 2, 2010, and sentenced to 12 years in prison early in 2011. He was charged with making false statements, propaganda against the regime, teaching minority groups, and membership of the banned Human Rights Committee. While he was free on bail he was again arrested, on August 22, 2012, as a member of a group of activists who were assisting victims of a devastating earthquake. He was sentenced to an additional five months for failure to obey instructions given by the police, but in September 2013 he was acquitted of this charge. He began his 12-year sentence on September 9, 2012, and has been hospitalized at least twice since then due to heart and respiratory problems.
Bahai home searched in Isfahan
Bahai News, November 29, 2015.
The family home of Mr. Muhammadreza Thabet-Raseskh (محمدرضا ثابت راسخ) was searched by security forces early this morning, and a large number of CDs, books and personal effects were seized. Mr. Thabet-Rasekh was not present. However on a previous occasion he was detained for some time, and accused of propaganda against the regime. He was freed on bail after pledging his home as collateral. It is not clear whether this search is related to the recent wave of arrests of Bahais in in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad.
Student expelled from Shiraz University for Bahai beliefs
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook)
Matin Nuwah-nejad ( متین نوح نژاد), a Bahai who has completed the first semester of study at Shiraz University, has been expelled because of his Bahai beliefs. He was studying Mathematics and Applications. Under a 1991 policy approved by the Iranian Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council (ISRCC), Bahais “must be expelled from universities, either in the admission process or during the course of their studies, once it becomes known that they are Bahais.”
One new arrest in Tehran
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), November 27, 2015.
Shahram Najaf-Tumara’i (شهرام نجف تومرائي), a Bahai who previously served as one of the Khadamin (area facilitators) for the Bahais in District 7 in Tehran, was arrested by the security forces early this morning, and taken to Evin Prison. The police knocked on his door and said there had been an accident with his parked car, and demanded ‘compensation.’ When he came out of his house, he was taken to prison. Seven officers then searched his home.
Bahais among those protesting personal status law in Iraq
World Magazine, November 16, 2015.
Religious minority groups in Iraq are protesting a new law that would force children, under some circumstances, to become Muslim.
Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad urged Iraqi President Fuad Masum to reject the recently passed national charter, which could take religious freedom away from children and teenagers. Chaldean Catholics, Yazidis, Mandean, Kakai, and Bahai minorities all opposed the charter. One article of the legislation states that children under 18 years old would have to become Muslim if their fathers convert to Islam or their mothers marry a Muslim man, according to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
In a Nov. 6, meeting, Sako urged Masum to veto the charter because the law would violate religious rights enshrined in the Iraqi constitution.
“We want to assert the principle that the child should keep their religious affiliation, so that he or she can freely decide their faith, according to belief, when they come of age,” Sako said in statements published online. “After all, religion is a matter which concerns only the relationship between God and man, and should not be bound by any obligations.”
Emily Fuentes, a spokeswoman for Open Doors, said the new law also would violate international standards for religious freedom and conscience. Because there is often government or community pressure not to convert to any other religion in Muslim countries, the Iraqi law “puts the children in a corner,” Fuentes said.
“Even if they think, ‘Okay, I’ll be Muslim now because it’s legal and switch when I’m 18,’ they can’t really do that,” she said.
Chaldean leaders in Iraq predict the new charter will accelerate the country’s Christian exodus, if enacted, CNA reported.
Kenyan high court ruling allows registration of Bahai marriages
The Star, November 23, 2015.
A judgement issued by the High Court on October 28, 2015, will mean that Bahai marriages can be registered in Kenya. Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruled that while section 6 of the Marriage Act did not mention the Bahai Faith as one of the faiths whose marriages could be registered, the intention was not to exclude the Bahai or any other faith-based marriage. Ngugi said the omission was a result of the failure of people who drafted the Act to use language that would cover not only the main religions practiced in Kenya, but also the minority. Ngugi said it has to be read to include every marriage celebrated in accordance with the faith of a religion duly registered in Kenya.
Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab released from prison
Bahai News (Persian), November 23, 2015.
Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab (میاندوآب شهرام چینیان ), a Bahai shopkeeper from Tehran who has been serving an 8-year sentence, was released from Raja`i Shahr prison on November 21. Mr. Chiniyan was first arrested in March 2009 and released on March 3, 2010, after using his business license as bail. He was sentenced to 70 lashes and 8 years in prison on a charge of insulting Islam, and began serving his sentence, first in Evin prison in Tehran and then in Raja’i Shahr prison, early in March, 2012. On May 28, 2014, he was transferred to section 1 of Raja’i Shahr, where dangerous criminals are kept. He was punished with one week in solitary from June 25 to July 1, and four days in solitary on August 20, following his first beating by prison guards. On September 20, 2014, Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab was again beaten by guards because he refused to wear the standard prison uniform when being taken to see a judge. On February 21, 2015 he was again beaten by prison guards and some prisoners from the criminal section of the prison. This followed a letter he wrote to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamene’i, complaining about prison conditions.
Six recent detainees freed
Bahai News (Persian, facebook), November 22, 2105.
Bahai News is reporting that five Bahais who were arrested recently in Isfahan have been freed on bail, and in a separate report, that Helia Moshtaq (هلیا مشتاق) has been freed on bail in Tehran. Those freed in Isfahan are Parvin Nik-A’in(پروین نیک آیین), Keyvan Nik-A’in (کیوان نیک آیین), Zarin Aqa-Baba’i (زرین آقابابایی), Yeganeh Agahi (یگانه آگاهی) and Vahid Karami (وحید کرمی).
Two Bahai businesses shut down in Bandar Abbas
Iran Press Watch, November 21, 2015.
Two optometry shops run by Bahais have been closed down by authorities in the city of Bandar Abbas. The closures are still in effect in spite of extensive appeals by the shop’s owners, Mr Heidarpour (حیدرپور) and Mr. Rasti (راستی). On November 15, security forces also raided and searched the business of Mr. Navid Hemmat (نوید همت) and confiscated some of his property.
Within the past few days, dozens of Bahai-run businesses in Rafsanjan, Kerman, Tanekabon, Qa`em Shahr, Tehran and Karaj have been closed and sealed by government authorities.
Islamic State claims attempted assassinations in Rajpur
Compiled by Sen, November 20, 2015.
As previously reported, on the morning of November 8, three assailants on motorcycles attacked a Bahai man, Ruhul Amin, who is active at the Rangpur Bahai Centre. On November 18, a very similar attempted assassination in the same city targetted a 64-year-old Italian physician, Piero Parolari, who was shot in the neck by three assailants riding a motorbike. Mr Parolari is assistant pastor of the Dinajpur parish. He was attacked as he was cycling to Saint Vincent Hospital to provide free treatment to tuberculosis patients.
The SITE Intel Group, a US-based terrorism monitoring organisation, has stated that Islamic State, speaking via twitter and the Amaq News Agency, has claimed responsibility for both these attacks, in addition to three recent attacks that killed Rahma Ali, a politician [not confirmed ~Sen]; Cesare Tavella, an Italian aid worker working for a Christian organisation based in the Netherlands, and Kunio Hoshi, a Japanese agricultural worker.
With regard to the latest attacks, the district Detective Branch’s officer-in-charge Rezwan Rahim said they have nothing concrete right at the moment, not even a clue.
Four more business closures reported from Salmanshahr
Raja Harmeet Singh (facebook), November 17, 2015.
Reports indicate that four Bahai-run businesses in the Caspian coast town of Salmanshahr xx were closed by the Bureau of Public Places on the morning of November 14. These reports have not been confirmed by the sources I usually rely on, but they are consistent with other activity in Mazandaran province and appear credible. the businesses are named as the footwear and handbag shop of Farhad Shahidi (فرهاد شهيدي), a clothing shop run by Farshad Shahidi (فرشاد شهيدي), the photography business of Aziz Azemayan (عزيز اعظميان) and the refrigerator repair business of Dariush Ahmadpour (داريوش احمد پور).
Prison sentences of seven “Yaran” reduced to 10 years
Bahai News (Persian), November 18, 2015.
The prison sentences of the seven ‘Yaran’, who served as national facilitators assisting the Bahais of Iran in their dealings with government organs until their arrest and imprisonment, have been reduced from 20 years to 10 years in prison. They have already served more then seven years.
On 5 March 2008, one of the Yaran, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet (مهوش ثابت) – 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 were arrested in raids of their homes. The names of these six are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi (فریبا کمال آبادی), Jamaloddin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی), Afif Na`imi (عفیف نعیمی), Sa`id Reza’i (سعید رضایی), Behrouz Tavakkoli (بهروز توکلی), and Vahid Tizfahm (وحید تیزفهم).
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 accused 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.
Iranian authorities launch widespread crackdown: Bahais arrested, businesses closed
Iran Wire (English), November 16, 2015.
On the morning of Sunday, November 15, Iranian Intelligence Ministry agents arrested 20 Bahais in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad. They also closed down Bahai-run businesses in the Province of Mazandaran.
Among those detained was Nakisa Hajipour (نکیسا حاجی پور), who was detained at Mashhad railway station after Intelligence Ministry agents arrived at her home with an arrest warrant and were told she was traveling. According to an informed source who spoke to IranWire, she was prevented from boarding the train and arrested. Also arrested in Mashhad were Nika Pakzadan (نیکا پاکزادان), Faraneh Daneshgari (فرانه دانشگری), Sanaz Es’haqi (ساناز اسحاقی) and Naghmeh Dhabihayan (نغمه ذبیحیان). They were all arrested at their homes.
In Isfahan, agents arrested Yeganeh Agahi (یگانه آگاهی), Adib Janamian (ادیب جانمیان), Keyvan Nik-A’in (کیوان نیک آیین), Parvin Nik-A’in(پروین نیک آیین), Vahid Karami (وحید کرمی), `Arsheya Rouhani (عرشیا روحانی) and Zarin Aqa-Baba’i (زرین آقابابایی). They also arrested Sahab Rouhani (سحاب روحانی) and Matin Janameyan (متین جانمیان), but released them after several hours. In Tehran, agents arrested Helia Moshtaq (هلیا مشتاق), Negar Baqeri-Tari (نگار باقری طاری), Sahba Farnoush (صهبا فرنوش), Nava Monjazeb (نوا منجذب), Yavar Haqiqat (یاور حقیقت) and Navid Aqdasi (نوید اقدسی).
Navid Aqdasi is a cousin Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), murdered two years ago in the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas. Navid Aqdasi has actively pursued his cousin’s case and talked to the media about it. As a result, he has been threatened a number of times, including in recent months, when vandals have posted threatening graffiti on the walls of his house.
So far, no information has been made available about the charges against the Bahais. Their families have not been informed of their whereabouts. According to reports, it is likely that the prisoners have been taken to detention centers run by the Intelligence Ministry in their respective cities.
On the same day of the arrests took place, the Bureau of Public Places in the province of Mazandaran sealed and shut down 23 businesses belonging to Bahais in the cities of Sari, Qa`em Shahr, Tenakbon and Babolsar. This followed the businesses being closed on Saturday, November 14, a religious holiday for Bahais. Authorities have in the past objected to Bahai businesses observing holy days, threatening them with closure if they failed to keep the same business hours as non-Bahai shops and services.
Two days prior to the closure of Bahai businesses in Mazandaran, authorities also closed all Bahai businesses in the city of Rafsanjan in the southeastern province of Kerman. Among the businesses closed were shops selling cosmetics, health products, musical instruments, eyeglasses, clothes, tires and toys, and businesses offering refrigerator maintenance, photography and photocopier services. Bahais in Iran are barred from employment in most public sector jobs and many private sector jobs, with the result that many depend on small shops and workshops.
Shop and office owners were given no notice of the closure. In some cases, they were not even aware of the operation until some hours later. The town of Babolsar was the only exception. [That is, notice of closure was given in Babolsar. The ٍEnglish report on Iran Wire is incorrect on this point ~Sen]. The nature of the simultaneous arrests and closure suggests a planned operation, ordered and organized by the Intelligence Ministry.
According to reports, Bahai businesses shut down include those belonging to the following individuals:
– Sari: Three optician’s shops run by Dhekrollah Rahimeyan (ذکرالله رحیمیان), Farid Alavi (فرید علوی), Behzad Zabihi (بهزاد ذبیحی) and Bozorgmehr Hor (بزرگمهر حر), the cosmetics shop of Ehsanollah Sana’i (احسان الله سنایی), and the clothing shops of Aramesh Zohouri (آرامش ظهوری) and Houshmand Goli (هوشمند گلی).
– Qa`em Shahr: cosmetics and health products workshops run by Nima Miri (نیما میری) and Changiz Darakhshanian (چنگیز درخشانیان), a toyshop run by Bijan Nokhah (بیژن نوع خواه), a grocery operated by Dhekrollah Baba’i (ذکرالله بابایی), the optician’s shops of Soheil Haqdoost (سهیل حق دوست) and Zahra Golabian (زهرا گلابیان), the tire (or appliance?) business of Farzad Sabeti (فرزاد ثابتی) and a photocopy shop belonging to Shahin Sana’i (شاهین سنایی).
– Tenakbon: The home security workhops of Omid Qaderi (امید قادری), the air conditioning workshops of Farhad Taqipour (فرهاد تقی پور) and of Michele and Armin Esma`ilpour (میشل و آرمین اسماعیل پور) and the refrigeration service business of Ruhollah Iqani (روح الله ایقانی).
– Babolsar: The musical supplies business of Mithaq Leqa’i (میثاق لقایی), the photography business of Nasser Mir-Mohammadi (ناصر میرمحمدی) and the toyshop of Barzu Raf`ati (برزو رفعتی).
Persian source at Iran Wire
Bahai businesses in Iran closed down following twin holy days
Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, November 15, 2015.
Separate reports from Rafsanjan and two cities in Mazandaran indicate that a considerable number of Bahai-run businesses have been shut down by the authorities, after their owners closed their businesses to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the Bab — the first of two consecutive days known as the twin Holy Days. In Mazandaran, almost ten businesses in Qa`em Shahr and Tenakbon were sealed by the authorities on November 14, and on the same day all the Bahai businesses still operating in Rafsanjan were sealed by local authorities. Twelve Bahao-run businesses had already been closed. The exclusion of Bahais from economic activities in Iran, and the confiscation of their properties, has become more systematic and widespread in recent years, as the government seeks to reduce this section of the population to subsistence-level serfdom, and to “block their progress.”
Bahai in killed Shiraz in obscure circumstances
Bahai News (Persian), November 13, 2015.
Koroush Rouhi (کوروش روحی), a Bahai man from Shiraz, was stabbed to death in the parking area of his home on Fazilat Avenue (خیابان فضیلت) yesterday. The circumstances and motives have not been clarified, but there is no indication that he was killed for religious reasons.
Further details on three house raids in Yazd
Iran Press Watch, November 10, 2015.
According to the “No to the Persecution and Imprisonment of Bahai Citizens” campaign, the recently reported raid on the home of three Bahais in Yazd was in fact three raids.
The first home to be raided belonged to Mr. Sahand Dhakeripour (سهند ذاکری پور). Around eight o’clock in the morning, five men in the guise of “postmen” knocked on his door. On opening it, he recognised them as security officers because they had been present at the arrest and interrogation of other Bahaism including Nasser Baqeri (ناصر باقری). After they searched his house, Mr. Dhakeripour was handcuffed and taken to a security office for nearly three hours of interrogation. During the interrogation, the security officers demanded that Mr. Dhakeripour should become their informant, which he refused to do. Finally they asked him not to respond to any inquiries from websites or reporters with respect to this incident. He responded that it was not possible to say nothing to anyone and keep quiet. They said that they knew that very soon that many people on social networks would know about the interrogation, but if anyone asked questions, he should say that it was about banal issues and that their questions were related only to simple religious matters.
The other two recent searches were conducted in one afternoon at around 12 o’clock, first at the house of Mohsen Qane` (محسن قانع) and then at the house of Seyyed Habib’ullah Dehqan (سید حبیب الله دهقان). In all these searches, security officers confiscated mobile phones, computers, tablets, satellite devices and Bahai literature. In all these searches security officers disguised themselves as postmen. When they planned to search Mr. Qane`s house, they first called him, asking for his address in order to deliver a package.
Faran Hessami returns to prison
Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, November 10, 2015.
On November 3, I reported that Faran Hessami ( فاران حسامی ) had begun a prison furlough to enable her to be with her son Artin who required surgery. She has now returned to the women’s section of Evin Prison, in Tehran. Mrs. Hessami is serving a four-year sentence for educational activities with the Bahai Open University (BIHE).
Stock seized from a workshop belonging to a Bahai in Semnan
HRANA, November 8, 2015.
On November 1, judicial officers went to the cut-glass manufacturing shop belonging to Afrasiab Khanjani (افراسیاب خانجانی), a Bahai from Semnan, and seized his entire stock. In 2012, a lens-making workshop belonging to Mr. Khanjani was closed, and his trading licence was revoked.
Motives unclear in attempted assassination of a Bahai in Bangladesh
The News Today (Bangladesh), November 9, 2015.
On the morning of November 8, three assailants on motorcycles attacked Ruhul Amin, who was shot twice, in the leg and shoulder. Mr. Amin is a Bahai, and works as Personal Assistant to the Director of Rangpur Medical College Hospital, as well as being active at the Rangpur Bahai Centre. He was getting into a rickshaw on RK Road in Rangpur at the time of the attack. He has been taken to hospital in Dhaka to have the bullets removed. Police arrested an employee of the Hospital who is secretary of one of the hospital’s Unions.
Bahais in Bangladesh are allowed to run schools, teach their faith and elect the Assemblies that administer their affairs. However Bangladesh has seen several episodes of communal violence directed especially at Hindu and Buddhist places of worship and individuals. On October 24 this year, one person and was killed and many were injured in a bomb attack on a Shia Muslim congregation who were commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hoseyn.
Hassan Badhrafkan and Vahid Taqvaju released
Bahai News (Persian), November 5, 2105.
Hassan Badhrafkan ( حسن بذرافکن ) and Vahid Taqvaju ( وحید تقواجو ) have been released from prison in Shiraz at the end of their one-year sentences. Mr. Taqvaju was released 15 days ago, and Mr. Badhrafkan apparently in the past few days. On September 11, 2013, security forces searched their home and seized computers and books relating to the Bahai Faith. They detained these two men as well as five others, who were released soon after.
Faran Hessami granted compassionate leave
HRANA, November 3, 2015.
Faran Hessami ( فاران حسامی ), who is in Evin prison serving a four-year sentence for educational activities with the Bahai Open University (BIHE), has been granted a furlough to enable her to be with her son Artin who requires surgery. She was released today. Her husband Kamran Rahimiyan (کامران رحیمیان) was released from Raja’i Shahr prison in mid-August this year after serving a four-year sentence for educational activities.
Bahai home raided in Yazd
Bahai News (Persian), November 4, 2015.
This morning, security forces raided a Bahai home in Yazd belonging to three Bahai men, Mohsen Qan`e, Habib’ullah Dehqan and Wahid Dhakera’i (محسن قانع، حبیب الله دهقان و وحید ذاکرای), seizing some of their belongings. They also arrested Mr. Sahand Dhakera’i (سهند ذاکری), but he was released a short time later.
Susan Tabyaniyan released from prison
HRANA, November 3, 2015.
Susan Tabyaniyan (سوسن تبیانیان), a Bahai from Semnan who has been serving a one-year sentence in Isfahan prison, was released from prison on November 2. She was charged with propaganda against the regime, opposition to the regime and propaganda in support of opposition groups, in the form of giving interviews to foreign media about the economic situation of the Bahais in Iran, and began her sentence on December 24, 2014. This was her second prison sentence: in May 2010 she was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime and membership of a Bahai organisation. After serving almost 14 months in Evin prison, she was one of the prisoners granted clemency to mark Eid al-Fitr, on August 27, 2011. She was arrested again on May 31, 2014, released on bail on July 15, and sentenced to one year in prison on September 11. She has two children.
Kurdistan Region of Iraq recognizes Bahais as religious minority
Bas News, August 24, 2015.
The Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs has announced that Jews, Zoroastrians, Kakai and Bahais will have representatives in the Ministry, following confirmation by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Subsequent reports indicate that the KRG has approved the move, and that the Jewish representative has begun work. There is no indication of whether the Bahai representative has been appointed, but the Iranian Consul has visited the Ministry of Religion to complain about the new representatives for Jews and Bahais.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs Mariwan Naqshbandi said in August that according to the constitution, people have the right to choose and practice their religion freely, and they can have representatives in the Ministry. “A number of religious minorities of the Kurdistan region, including Jews, Zoroastrians, Kakai and Bahais will have representatives in the ministry to manage their religious activities in the future.”
There are no official statistics on Bahais in Iraq, but there are communities in Baghdad and also in Sulaimaniyah, in the Kurdistan Region, where they have a degree of security.
Bahai cemetery damaged in India
Indian Express, November 1, 2015.
A ‘First Information Report’ (a complaint to the police) was registered at Sanganer Sadar police station in the Northern Indian city of Jaipur on Friday, following an attack on the local Bahai cemetery by a mob of about 40-50 persons, allegedly led by a sarpanch (village head).
The FIR says the mob beat up the security guard and damaged the guard room and portions of a partly-built prayer house at about 11.30 am on Friday.
Shocked Bahai community leaders have termed it the first such incident in India against their community. On Saturday, Bahai community members, who number just about 1,000 in Jaipur, came together and issued a joint statement, seeking prompt action. One, Niyaz Alam, said, “During elections to appoint village heads (sarpanch) about a year-and-a-half ago, a contestant promised that he will take possession of our ground and will set up a playground or a school instead, and he was subsequently elected. But we didn’t pay any attention as it is in our religion to be apolitical.”
In 2002, the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) allotted the community a ground at Ram Ki Nangal village of Jaipur to perform the the last rites of their dead and “for 12-13 years, we had no trouble and even organise classes for children and conducted prayers.”
Update November 2: A report from The Wire shows that the watchman has not been seriously harmed, as members of the mob have since gone to his house to threaten him with retaliation if he identifies them to the police. The report states that Baha’i representatives have pointed out that during the sarpanch election campaign, Nathu Jangid, (the current village head) was heard promising the villagers that he would get the burial ground demolished. On certain occasions he called the community ‘Muslim’ while on others ‘Christian’. “Since Baha’is, as a rule, don’t participate in party politics, we ignored the campaign”, the Baha’i statement said.
“After the elections, the sarpanch’s men, from time to time, started threatening and intimidating the chowkidar. One day, the sarpanch, accompanied by some Jaipur Development Authority officials, demanded that we produce the allotment letter for the land. This was shown to them. Despite this, he organised a series of village meetings for getting the burial place removed. But when the watchman was threatened and told to leave the place or face dire consequences, some Bahais met Jangid to appeal for peace. He assured them that the chowkidar would no longer be harassed and that he would resort to legal remedy, to which we agreed,” the statement said.
Amanullah Mostaqim released from prison
Bahai News (Persian), October 28, 2015.
Amanullah Mostaqim ( امانالله مستقیم ) one of the imprisoned staff members of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, was released from Raja’i Shahr prison today. He was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in educating students who, under the Iranian regime’s apartheid policy, should not be educated. He began serving his prison term in Tehran’s Evin Prison in May, 2013, but has been released early because of a heart condition. He had heart surgery just before his arrest on May 22, 2011, when premises and homes relating to the BIHE were raided by security forces. During his time in prison he has been hospitalized outside the prison several times, and was returned to prison. although doctors had said he needed treatment for clogged arteries and was unfit for life in prison.
Shahram Eshraqi begins a 3-year sentence in Isfahan
Iran Press Watch, October 23, 2015.
Shahram Eshraqi (شهرام اشراقی), one of 20 Bahais who were sentenced to a total of 78 years in prison by a court in Yazd in April, 2014, began his 3-year sentence on October 11.
Keyvan Rahimiyan receives medical care
HRANA, October 20, 2015.
Keyvan Rahimiyan ( کیوان رحیمیان), a Bahai from Tehran and one of the imprisoned teachers at the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, was recently taken from Raja’i Shahr Prison to hospital, for treatment and a checkup relating to problems with his eyes and ears. He was then returned to prison. He has been imprisoned for more than three years, without any prison furlough. He was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of 97 million rials (6,300 euro, 7,900 US dollars) on charges of collaborating with the Bahai Open University. He is due for release in September, 2017.
Three more Bahais tried in Gorgan
HRANA, October 21, 2015.
On October 12 a court in Gorgan, in Iran’s Golestan Province, held the sixth in a series of trials of the Bahais who were arrested in the Province in October, 2012, and later released on bail. The accused at this trial were Mitra Nouri (میترا نوری) and Shiva Rouhani (شیوا روحانی), both from Gorgan city, and Navid Moalemi (نوید معلمی) from Gonbad-e Qabus. They were charged with “propaganda against the regime.” There was no Prosecutor present, and the defendants were summoned orally. In September this year the court tried 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).
`Afif Na`imi returned to hospital
HRANA, October 21, 2015.
`Afif Na`imi ( عفیف نعیمی ), a Bahai prisoner of conscience held in Raja’i Shahr prison, and one of the seven Yaran (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), was taken to hospital on October 20. He is to receive treatment for blood clotting problems and fainting, and his existing medications will be adjusted. It was also reported that he has suffered from acute irritation and swelling of the lymph glands, exacerbated by lack of treatment. 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, only to be returned to the Tehran Heart Center in early June this year.
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, although it is inherently improbable that the Israeli security services would recruit the seven most high-profile Bahais as spies (Bahais are under constant surveillance, and are excluded from work in the civil services, armed forces and many other sectors), no proof of this “spying” was given, and in any case the maximum penalty for spying for foreign powers in Iran is 10 years in prison.
Tahereh Reza’i begins a one-year sentence
Bahai News (Persian), October 19, 2015.
Mrs. Tahereh Reza’i ( طاهره رضایی ), a Bahai from Isfahan, was arrested in front of her home on October 19 and taken to prison in Yazd. She 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. [The report does not indicate Mrs. Reza’i’s sentence, but it would appear this is the same person as Tahereh Rouhani (طاهره روحانی), arrested on July 31, 2012, who was sentenced to two years in prison, of which one year is suspended. ~Sen]
Azita Rafizadeh to begin prison sentence for her work at Baha’i University
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, October 19, 2015.
Azita Rafizadeh (آزیتا رفیعزاده), a Bahai who taught at the Bahai Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), must report to prison on October 24 to begin serving her four-year sentence. Rafizadeh said her main concern now is for her five-year-old son because her husband, Peyman Koushk-Baghi (پیمان کوشکباغی), who has also been sentenced to five years in prison for cooperation with BIHE, will be summoned to prison to begin serving his sentence as well.
“We have a child who is five years and nine months old. He goes to kindergarten. If I go to prison and my husband is also summoned to go to prison, what will happen to our child? None of our relatives have the means to help,” Rafizadeh said.
Azita Rafizadeh was tried by Judge Moghisseh of Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court in June 2014, and her husband Peyman Koushk-Baghi was separately tried by him in May 2015. Moghisseh sentenced them respectively to four and five years in prison for “membership in the illegal and misguided Baha’i group with the aim of acting against national security through illegal activities at the BIHE educational institute.”
The Appeals Court upheld their prison sentences.
“I was one of the BIHE professors when the homes of professors of this online university were stormed in June of 2010, said Rafizadeh. “The news was widely reported. They came to our house with a warrant to arrest me and my husband. They searched the house and interrogated us. They asked us to promise not to work for the BIHE. If we had agreed, the case would have been closed, as was the case for a few others. But my husband and I did not agree. So they only let us go temporarily on 50-million-tuman [approximately $16,700] bail.”
Rafizadeh, 35, received her Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from BIHE and her Master’s degree in the same subject from a university in India. She began teaching computer engineering at BIHE in 2002.
Agricultural land confiscated in Semnan
HRANA, October 17, 2015.
Fifty hectares of land and the livestock on it, belonging to Zia’ullah Muta`arifi (ضیاء الله متعارفی), a 65-year-old Bahai from Semnan, was confiscated on October 15. The decision was made at a court hearing in Semnan, attended by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture in Semnan, the Public Prosecutor, and representatives of the security forces. Mr. Muta`arifi has been working this land since 1982, and purchased it in 1999, paying in installments. He was told his title would be confirmed once he paid a fee to confirm the area and improvements, and this last cheque had been cleared. But afterwards, the sellers denied having sold the land. A lower court decided against Mr. Muta`arifi, and the case was referred to the Provincial court of review. According to Mr. Muta`arifi, the review court judge initially overturned the lower court ruling, but later said that this was a mistake and referred the case to another court, which ruled that the land should be confiscated. Mr. Muta`arifi has been allowed to retain 3552 square meters, which he says is not suitable for use due to its location. The confiscated land had 17,000 mature trees and vines: pistachio nuts, olives, pine trees, grapes, pomegranates and others. Mr. Muta`arifi was not permitted to remove his belongings and implements from the land.
Mr. Muta`arifi had also written to an advisor to the President, who passed his letter to the Ministry of Agriculture, who said that this was a political case, and they could not interfere.
Mr. Muta`arifi introduced the first pressurized irrigation system in the province, and planted the first olive trees. He has received several awards from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agricultural Development, and a recognition from the international Food and Agriculture Organisation. According to another report, by the Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, the farm employed about seven staff, some of whom lived on the land with their families.
Mr. Muta`arifi said that his only concern was to serve the people of Iran, and his only fear was that the trees would be left to dry out and die. In January, 2010, Mr. Muta`arifi’s license to run an animal husbandry unit was revoked by the Department of Agricultural Development, who levelled accusations which Mr. Muta`arifi denied.
Baha’i student expelled from school for not participating in Islamic Friday congregational prayers
Iran Press Watch, October 16, 2015.
Parsa Hemmat (پارسا همت), a Bahai school pupil from Isfahan, has been prevented from continuing his education because he did not attend the Muslim congregational prayer in his school. He was in his second year of high school. Informed sources said, “this Bahai citizen did not show up at the prayer room because of his religious beliefs; he announced that he did not find it necessary to participate in the congregational prayer because he is not a Muslim. He has been expelled from school for the same reason.”
Persian report (Bahai News)
Little ‘Aref goes to school
Bahai News (Persian), October 10, 2015.
‘Aref Hekmat-Sho’ar (عارف حکمت شعار), a 10-year old boy who has been excluded from three schools in Karaj, is to return to school. His father has said that the Ministry of Intelligence for the province of Alborz has now returned his son’s file, and his son will be readmitted to school on October 11. The report does not say which school has accepted him. Following ‘Aref’s third expulsion, from “the cradle of knowledge” (گهواره دانش school in the Mehrvila district of Karaj, a number of human rights activists intervened, and some of them travelled to Karaj to protest.
Baha’i child expelled from a private school in Karaj
Iran Press Watch, October 1, 2015.
According to the “No to the Persecution and Imprisonment of Bahai Citizens” campaign, a 10-year-old child has been expelled from his primary school in Karaj because he is a Bahai.
Mohammad Nourizad (محمد نوری زاد), a human rights activist in Iran, writes:
Last Saturday I received an email from a friend telling me that they wanted to expel his 10-year-old son [‘Aref (عارف)] from school in Karaj because he is a Bahai. [He has only been attending that school for two or three days.] I told my friend a 10-year-old couldn’t be Bahai or Moslem or Christian. But the school Principal, Mrs. Eskandari (خانم اسکندری) saw this child as a Bahai, and insisted that either he goes or she will go. I arranged to meet the father in front of the school the next day and we entered together. [This private school in the Mahr Vila is called “the cradle of knowledge” (گهواره دانش). It presents itself as a strongly religious school.]
The Principal was a slight, sullen 60-year-old woman. The father said to her, you asked me to come and collect my son’s file. “Yes”, she replied – either he goes or I go.” I asked her: “Is there anything wrong with this child?” She said: “There’s nothing wrong except that he is not acceptable in my creed.”
I said: “So if there is a problem it is because of your beliefs. … If you had any sense you would accept this child and try to attract him with your kindness, courtesy, wisdom and tolerance instead of repelling him from Shi’ite Islam with the garment of hatred you have forced on him. If I cannot close down your school because of your actions, I will make sure that every car that passes your school will jeer at the ignorance which is prevalent here.”
When we were outside, I told the father not to take the file under any circumstances. I said: “Your son is a student in this school; drop him off here every morning; let them refuse to admit him; we must sweep away this ignorance once and for all.”
Update, October 10.
Baha’i Campaign reports that Mohammad Nourizad, Doctor Maleki (دکترملکی), Mr. Karim Bigi (کریم بیگی) and ‘Aref’s father went to the school with ‘Aref on the morning of October 6. Mr. Muhammadi (محمدی ), the proprietor, initially refused them entry. When he was introduced to Dr. Maleki [a well-known author and the first President of the University of Tehran], his attitude changed. They went inside, to a room at the school, where the Principal, Mrs. Eskandri, joined them. A polite discussion was interrupted by five members of the Revolutionary Guards, who expelled the visitors from the school, although the leader of the team was polite and said that these [Bahai] children should have the same rights as their own children, and offered to help enroll ‘Aref in another school.