Sen's daily

2020

One-year sentences confirmed for nine Bahais from Karaj

HRANA, December 31, 2020. –

A review court for Tehran Province, headed by Judge Seyyed-Ahmad Zargar (قاضی سید احمد زرگر) and Counsellor ‘Abbaas-`Ali Houzaan (عباسعلی حوزان), has confirmed the one-year sentences of nine Bahais from Karaj that were announced by a Revolutionary Court in August this year. It was Judge Zargar who, earlier this year, confirmed the outrageous 10-year sentence handed down to the Bahai scholar and translator Faruq Izadinia (فاروق ایزدی نیا ), and the five-year sentence of Samin Maqsudi (ثمین مقصودی).

The Bahais whose one-year sentences were announced today are Mr. Houman Khoushnam (هومن خوشنام), Mrs. Ilham Salmanzadeh (الهام سلمانزاده), Mr. Payaam Sha’baani (پیام شعبانی ), Mr. Keyaanush Salmaanzaadeh (کیانوش سلمانزاده), Mr. Soroush Agaahi (سروش آگاهی), Mr. Parvan Ma`navi (پروان معنوی), Mrs. Jamileh Paakrou-Mohammad-Hosseini (جمیله پاکرو محمدحسینی), Mr. Paymaan Ma’navi (پیمان معنوی) and Mrs. Neda Shabaani-Bik-Aqaa’i (ندا شبانی بیوک آقایی). They were charged with propaganda against the regime through activity and propaganda for the Bahais. They were arrested in September and November, 2018, and are at present free on bail. The trial was held on July 27, and sentences were announced on August 6. The trial judge was Judge Panahi (قاضی پناهی).

At the time of their arrest, agents searched the homes of some of these detainees and seized personal belongings, including books, computers, laptops and mobile phones. The business premises of some of them were also sealed after their arrest.

The case of Maryam Ghaffaarmanesh (مریم غفارمنش) is also pending before the same court. She was one of five Bahais arrested at a meeting for environmental education in Karaj on September 16, 2018.
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Sentences confirmed for five Bahais from Mashhad

HRANA, December 26, 2020. –

The Review Court for Khorasan Province has confirmed the one-year prison terms that Judge Baagh-dehi (قاضی باغ دهی), in the Revolutionary Court in Mashhad, had ordered for Nika Paakzaadaan (نیکا پاکزادان), Faraaneh Daaneshgari (فرانه دانشگری), Saanaaz Eshaaqi (ساناز اسحاقی), Nakisa Hajipour (نکیسا حاجی پور) and Noghmeh Dhabihayan (نغمه ذبیحیان). The Review Court decision was announced on December 17. These five Bahai women were arrested on November 13, 2015, at the same time as agents from the Ministry of Intelligence also arrested 15 other Bahais in Tehran and Isfahan, and Bahai-run businesses were closed down in Mazandaran Province. Nakisa Hajipour was arrested at the Mashhad railway station, and the other four at their homes. The Revolutionary court trial was held on 28 September, 2019.

Noghmeh Dhabihayan-Esami was previously arrested in connection with a handcrafts exhibition in Mashhad. This HRANA report states that she was sentenced to 6 months in prison, but my own records from the time show she was acquitted.

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Bandar Abbas: 8 Bahais sentenced to prison and re-education

HRANA, December 24, 2020.

A Revolutionary Court in Bandar Abbas has sentenced Arash Raasekhi (آرش راسخی), Nasim Qanawaateyaan (نسیم قنواتیان), Maaraal Raasti (مارال راستی), Mahnaaz Jan-Nethaar (مهناز جان نثار), Omid Afaaqi (امید آفاقی) and Ruhollah Afshaar (روح الله افشار) to two years in prison, while Adib Haqq-pazhuh (ادیب حق پژوه) and Farhaad Amri (فرهاد امری) wee sentenced to one year in prison. In addition, all eight were given a two-year ban on membership of social and political parties and groups and attending Bahai meetings, and are required to attend five counselling sessions on “sects” under the supervision of the “Sajjadiyyeh” Institute (named after the fourth Imam, aka Zayn al-Abidin). Failure to attend the counselling will result in a one-third increase in their prison sentence for the first omission, and for repeated absences, to imprisonment or a fine. They were charged with conspiracy to undermine national security.

Mr Haqq-pazhuh was arrested in Shiraz in April, 2017, and transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence detention facilities in Bandar Abbas on April 19. He had previously been arrested, in August 2014, and sentenced to six months in prison for propaganda against the regime and in favour of its enemies, but benefited from an amnesty granted in February 2019. The other seven were arrested in Bandar Abbas on April 18, and held by the Ministry of Intelligence.

The eight detainees were interrogated by the Ministry for about three weeks before being transferred to the central prison for Hormuzgan Province, which is also in Bandar Abbas. From there, they were released on bail, although I have no record of the details. The behaviour of local and provincial officials during the interrogation was described as good, but interrogators who travelled to Bandar Abbas from Tehran behaved badly, insulting the detainees.

For three years, the case file remained with a Mr. Rahimi from the Prosecutor’s Office, who was supposed to investigate. The charge at that point was “propaganda against the regime.” After three years, the arrestees were told that the Ministry of Intelligence had failed to provide any evidence, and had been given one further month to do so, or the case would be closed. Mr. Rahimi was then removed from the case, and a new prosecutor made a more serious charge, of conspiracy, and sent it to the Revolutionary Court without informing the defendants or their lawyer. The trial was held on December 12, and it was only then that the defendants learned what a more serious charge had been laid. Although their lawyer argued that the process was flawed and should be returned to the prosecutor’s office, the judge proceeded with a verdict. The additional sentence of counselling by the theological institute shows that they were in fact sentenced only for being Bahais, as the first case investigator had said that no evidence had been presented.
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Wahda Silaani begins her sentence in Kerman

Iran Press Watch, December 16, 2020. –

Wahda Silaani (وحدا سیلانی) a Bahai living in Kerman, was arrested on Sunday, December 13, 2020, after being summoned to the Revolutionary Court “for some explanations.” She was transferred to Kerman Prison to serve her sentence. She had previously been sentenced by the Kerman Revolutionary Court to seven months in prison.

Wahda Silaani was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents on December 29, 2019 and transferred to Kerman Prison. During the arrest, officers searched Ms. Silaani’s home and confiscated some of her personal belongings. She was temporarily released on January 15, 2020, on 100 million toman [approx. $23,750] bail. She was later tried by the Kerman Revolutionary Court and sentenced to seven months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime by means of Bahai propaganda.
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Ruhollah Zibaa’i released

HRANA, December 2, 2020. –

Ruhollah Zibaa’i (روح‌الله زیبایی), who began a 4-month sentence in Karaj central prison on December 1, was released on December 2 for health reason. He was accused of propaganda against the regime and in favour of the Bahai Faith. Due to extensive injuries sustained in multiple actions during the Iran-Iraq war (he was wounded three times in Dehlawieh, Susangard, and Ahvaz), he requires constant medical care. The report suggests that he has lodged bail, since it says he can apply to have to returned to him after four months.
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Ruhollah Zibaa’i goes to jail

HRANA, December 1, 2020. –

Ruhollah Zibaa’i (روح‌الله زیبایی) was arrested at his home in Baghastan (Karaj) on December 1 and taken to Karaj central prison to begin his 4-month sentence. He was given a one-year sentence by Judge `Assef Al-Husseini (قاضی عاصف الحسینی), on a charge of propaganda against the regime and in favour of the Bahai Faith. This was reduced to four months by the Provincial Court of Review. [The previous report on Sen’s Daily (May 11, 2020) said that the Review Court had confirmed the one-year sentence.] He was arrested in Karaj on August 3, 2019, and released on bail on September 2.
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23 Bahai homes raided across Iran

HRANA, November 25, 2020. –

On the morning of Sunday, November 22, in simultaneous operations in various cities across Iran, security agents raided at least 23 Bahai homes. Radio Farda cites estimates that 30 to 50 Bahai homes were raided. The security agents seized personal belongings, including laptops, mobile phones, personal computers, cash, bank cards, real estate documents, identification documents, and books relating to the Bahai Faith. The home raids confirmed by HRANA in Tehran targetted Niki Khaanjaani (نیکی خانجانی), Riaz Sobhaani (ریاض سبحانی), `Arshi Moqaddam (عرشی مقدم), Homa Etemaadi (هما اعتمادی), Shahla Hekmat-Sho`aar (شهلا حکمت شعار), Ataa’ullah Ashrafi (عطاءالله اشرفی) and, in the outlying suburb of Baaba Salmaan, the home of Jamshid Shah Mohammadi (جمشید شاه محمدی); in Karaj, near Tehran, it was the homes of `Afif Na’imi (عفیف نعیمی), Shaahrokh Taa’ef (شاهرخ طائف), Sirous Mithaaqi (سیروس میثاقی), Taaher Safaajou (طاهر صفاجو), Anis Safaajou (انیس صفاجو) and Shahraam Safaajou (شهرام صفاجو); in Isfahan, the homes of Khosrou Shafi`zaadeh (خسرو شفیع زاده), Elhaam Amiri (الهام امیری), Ehsaan Makaari (احسان مکاری) and Bahaador Mota’aarafi (بهادر متعارفی); in Kerman, the home of Naaser Nabili (ناصر نبیلی); in Mashhad, the home of Peymaaneh Naamdaar (پیمانه نامدار). The report does not specify the location of the homes of the following Bahais who were targetted in the raid: Daariush Diaani ( داریوش دیانی), Parvin Naamdaar (پروین نامدار), Faribar Behin-aa’in (فریبر بهین آیین) and Naaser Dalili (ناصر دلیلی). The workplace of Anis Safaajou ( انیس صفاجو), in Mehrshahr, a suburb of Karaj, was also raided.

The reports have been collected in an adhoc way, and may be revised. Initially, individual reports were noted by the human rights activist Mehdi Mahmoudian (مهدی محمودیان), who published them on Twitter, leading to more reports being forwarded to him. HRANA, an organisation with the experience and connections to verify the reports, has not completed its work.

The picture of a chaotic room that is used by HRANA in its report is a stock image predating the recent raids.
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Bahai university applicants summoned to sign pledge

Iranwire, November 19, 2020. –

On Wednesday, November 11, a number of Bahais who passed this year’s national university entrance exams were summoned by telephone to the Karaj branch of ‘Sanjesh,’ the body responsible for organizing and overseeing the annual tests. Several said that on arrival, they were taken into a private room and their mobile phones were confiscated. They were then questioned about their belief in the Bahai Faith, and made to fill out questionnaires on their family members, personal relations and social media activities.

In the end, candidates were told that they would be allowed to enroll and study at Iranian universities on the condition that they sign a letter of commitment in which they would undertake to obey the laws of the Islamic Republic and refrain from “propagating” the Bahai Faith. They were also asked to agree not to associate with Bahai organizations and to disregard the rulings of the Universal House of Justice, the elected governing body for the global Bahai community.

Not one of the candidates reportedly signed. This means, in effect, that they are barred from entering higher education in Iran.

It comes after a welter of complaints from Bahai students following the 2020 entrance exam in late summer. After the results were announced, Bahai candidates said, they logged in only to see an error message that read “incomplete file.”

[Bahai teachings require obedience to the government and laws of the land in which one lives, there are no Bahai organizations in Iran with which the students could associate, and Bahai students in Iran, at all levels of education, already follow a policy of not propagating their Faith in institutions that make this a requirement. The point of the pledge lies in the fourth point, requiring the students to disregard the edicts of the Universal House of Justice. This refers to claims in the state-sponsored Iranian media that Bahais obey the instructions of the House of Justice rather than those of the government in Iran, and calling the Bahai community “a state within the State.” This is analogous to the claim, in anti-Catholic rhetoric in the United States, that a Roman Catholic President would be bound to obey the Pope. It is ridiculous in both cases: the Pope and the Universal House of Justice make rulings only on religious matters, affecting only their own communities. The Bahai teachings specify that the Bahais “in whatever country they reside, … will, unhesitatingly, subordinate the operation of [Bahai] laws and the application of [Bahai] principles to the requirements and legal enactments of their respective governments. Theirs is not the purpose, … to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country’s constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their administration to supersede the government of their respective countries.” (Source). Far from aiming to be a state within the State, the Bahais are fully committed to the separation of the institutions of religion from politics. The Iranian authorities know this: it is one reason for their persecution of the Bahais. ~ Sen]
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Security forces confiscate Bahai agricultural land at Roshankuh

Iran Press Watch, November 9, 2020. –

Recently, the Natural Resources Department of Mazandaran Province confiscated land owned by the mostly Bahai residents of Roshankooh village, near the city of Sari, under the pretense of protecting natural resources. These lands, which have been owned by the villagers for nearly a hundred years and have title deeds, have been occupied by a Special Security Forces Unit.

On October 25th of this year, the head of Forestry of the region, the head of the Sari Protection of Natural Resources Unit, and more than 15 members of the Special Security Forces Unit and the police force, demolished the existing fences and erected a new one without prior notice or presenting a court order.

These farmlands, on which villagers lived, have belonged to them for more than a century. Also, the landowners have deeds showing the ownership of the land since the time of the Land Reform Law enacted in 1963. On top of that, there are other ownership documents that have been issued during the time of the Islamic Republic.

Roshankooh village has about 160 families, most of whom are Baha’is. These people have owned and worked on their farmlands around the village for several generations.

Previously, several court sittings were held on this matter on February 7, 10, 12, and 17, 2016, with a complaint from the Department of Natural Resources in Branch 1 of the General Court of Kiya-Sar city.

HRANA writes: “The Bahais of Roshankooh village petitioned that a look at the map and aerial images will show that not only have they not encroached on natural resources, but that tens of thousands of square meters of their farmland has been occupied by the Department of Natural Resources in recent decades. According to this report, based on the Recognition Advertisement No. 8752-31 / 2/54, Roshankooh village is one of the exemptions from being part of the natural resources. However, the Department of Natural Resources avoids providing a map that is appended to that advertisement.”

Bahais in the village of Roshankooh intend to appeal the decision.
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Iran Wire, November 2, 2020. –

On Friday, October 30, Ebrahim Khodaei, head of the Iran’s National Organization of Educational Testing, announced that this year’s results of 2020 had been posted on the organization’s website. Participants, he said, could visit the site, enter their registration number and other personal information, and then view their personal results.

As in previous years, when Baha’i students logged on this year, they found that their records were flagged with the words “incomplete dossier”: a catch-all term the testing organization has been using for more than a decade now to stop students known to belong to the Baha’i community from progressing to the next stage in their education.

At the time of writing, IranWire had received the names of 14 Baha’i participants who have been locked out of the grading system because of an “incomplete dossier”. They were Parsa Seyed Ahmad, Shahrad Mohammad-Zadeh (who ranked 653rd in the nationwide entrance exams), Kimia Manouchehri, Setareh Izadi, Kian Laghaee, Aria Sheikh Zavareh, Marjan Abbas-Pouli, Faran Ghodratyan, Vahid Sadeghi, Mobina Hooshmandi, Arshia Eshraghi, Shamim Idelkhani (who ranked 686th), Aryan Dehghani (2000th) and Sayena Shafizadeh. The “Iran” news site reports 17 Bahai students have been excluded, without naming them.
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Five Bahais of Mashhad given one-year sentences

HRANA, October 22, 2020. –

A Revolutionary Court in Mashhad has sentenced five Bahai women to one year in prison. They are Nika Paakzaadaan (نیکا پاکزادان), Faraaneh Daaneshgari (فرانه دانشگری), Saanaaz Eshaaqi (ساناز اسحاقی), Nakisa Hajipour (نکیسا حاجی پور) and Noghmeh Dhabihayan (نغمه ذبیحیان). They were arrested on November 13, 2015, at the same time as agents from the Ministry of Intelligence also arrested 15 other Bahais in Tehran and Isfahan, and Bahai-run businesses were closed down in Mazandaran Province. Nakisa Hajipour was arrested at the Mashhad railway station, and the other four at their homes. They were charged with propaganda against the regime through teaching the Bahai Faith. The trial was held on 28 September, 2019, but the sentences have only now been announced.

Noghmeh Dhabihayan-Esami was previously arrested in connection with a handcrafts exhibition in Mashhad. This HRANA report states that she was sentenced to 6 months in prison, but my own records from the time show she was acquitted.
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Farhaad Fahandezh recovers, released from solitary

HRANA, October 13, 2020. –

Farhaad Fahandezh (فرهاد فهندژ), a 61-year old Bahai serving a 10-year sentence in Rajai Shahr prison, was returned to the ‘general’ or ‘common’ section of the prison on October 13. He had previously tested positive for the Covid-19 virus and was moved to a solitary confinement cell in the high-security block, where he remained for 13 days. Rajai Shahr prison holds many prisoners of conscience. A recent report said that 119 of them had the Corona virus.
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Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani granted early release

HRANA, October 14, 2020. –

Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani (مهرداد موسوی خولنجانی), a Bahai from Shahin Shahr, was granted early release from Dastgerd Prison, near Isfahan, as of October 12. In September he was granted a one-month furlough, beginning on September 9. He reported back on October 10. Two days later, he was released with an apology and told there had been a mistake in handling his file. On July 9 this year, he begin a six-month sentence on what are apparently ideological charges : “propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith.” His case has been an extraordinary tale of confusion as competing security forces, Ministeries and courts have alternately imprisoned and released him, and charged him alternately with ideological and criminal charges. Although on this occasion he has served just over two months of a 6-month sentence, he has not recovered the belongings that were seized from him, despite one court ordering that they should be returned, and it appears that his business is still sealed by other authorities.
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Three Bahai homes searched in Yazd

HRANA, October 2020. –

On October 6, security forces in Yazd raided the homes of Kataayun Shahryaari (کتایون شهریاری), Peymaan Ruhi ( پیمان روحی), and Eymaan Rashidi (ایمان رشیدی) and his wife Shabnam Mottahed (شبنم متحد). In one case, they broke the lock to enter and refused to show a warrant. They also searched the home of a neighbour of one of these Bahais, and seized the CCTV camera of another neighbour, without a warrant. After searching the three homes, they seized mobile telephones, laptops, personal computers, bank cards, and photographs and books related to the Bahai Faith, and departed. The children of these families need the electronic devices for their school studies during the pandemic period.

Mr. Eyman Rashidi and his wife have served prison terms for their Bahai beliefs in the past. They were among a large number of Bahais who were arrested on July 31, 2012, as part of a wave of arrests in Isfahan, Shahin Shahr (a city in Isfahan province), Vila Shahr (on the outskirts of Najafabad, also in Isfahan province) and in Yazd. They were released on bail on August 27 that year and tried in Yazd on August 24, 2013. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and acting against national security
through the establishment and membership of the secret organization (the Bahai community). Mr. Rashidi was sentenced to three years in prison and a one year suspended sentence, while his wife received a sentence of two years and one year suspended. These sentences were confirmed in late April, 2014. Both entered prison on March 18, 2015. Mrs. Motahed completed her sentence on January 24, 2017, and Mr. Rashidi was released on February 2, 2018.
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Arzu Mohammadi and Banafsheh Mokhtaari begin their sentences

HRANA, October 13, 2020. –

On October 12, Arzu Mohammadi (آرزو محمدی) and Banafsheh Mokhtaari (بنفشه مختاری) reported to Birjand prison to begin serving their sentences. Both were sentenced to two years in prison by a revolutionary court. This was reduced to 18 and 15 months, respectively, by the Review Court for Khorasan Province, headed by Judge Ibrahim Ramezani ( قاضی ابراهیم رمضانی), with Counsellor Hamid Arabzaadeh (مستشاری حمید عرب زاده). See the previous report here.
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Farid Ziragi-Moqadam summoned to begin sentence

HRANA, October 8, 2020. –

Farid Ziragi-Moqadam (زیرگی مقدم), a Bahai from Birjand, has been summoned to begin serving his 5-year prison sentence. He must report within ten days. The Provincial Review Court confirmed his sentence on September 20.
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Farhaad Fahandezh tests positive, moved to isolation cell

HRANA, October 1, 2020. – 

Farhaad Fahandezh (فرهاد فهندژ), a 61-year old Bahai serving a 10-year sentence in Rajai Shahr prison, has been moved to a solitary confinement cell in the high-security block after testing positive for the Covid-19 virus. He is now in the eighth year of his sentence.  He suffers from a gastro-intestinal disorder and heart disease. Mr. Fahandezh was born in Torbat-e Heydarieh, and was arrested in his home Gorgan on October 17, 2012.  He was held incommunicado for seven months, before being tried in the Revolutionary Court of Tehran by the notorious judge Moqayeseh ( قاضی محمد مقیسه ), also responsible for the sentencing of the seven ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran).  He was charged with teaching the Bahai Faith and administering the Bahai organisation. This is the second time he has been imprisoned for his religious beliefs. In 1983, when he was 24 years old, he was sentenced to six years in prison. The conditions he endured during this sentence left him with a gastro-intestinal disorder.
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Eight Bahais begin prison sentences in Birjand

HRANA, September 28, 2020. –

Eight Bahais from Birjand have been given ten days to report to prison to begin serving their sentences. They are Atieh Saalehi (عطیه صالحی), Nasrin Qadiri (نسرین قدیری), Banafsheh Mokhtaari (بنفشه مختاری), Farzaaneh Dimi (فرزانه دیمی), Arzu Mohammadi (آرزو محمدی), `Ataa’ollah Maaleki (عطاالله ملاکی), Sa’id Maaleki (سعید ملاکی) and Ru’ya Maaleki (رویا ملاکی).

On September 7, 2020, the Review Court for Khorasan Province, headed by Judge Ibrahim Ramezani ( قاضی ابراهیم رمضانی), with Counsellor Hamid Arabzaadeh (مستشاری حمید عرب زاده), sentenced Mrs. Nasrin Qadiri, Farzaaneh Dimi and Banafsheh Mokhtaari to 15 months in prison for “membership in the illegal organization — which undermines security — of the deviant Bahai sect.” Mrs. Arzu Mohammadi, Ru`ya Maaleki and Atieh Saalehi, and Mr. Ataa’ollah Maaleki and Sa’id Maaleki were given 18-month sentences on the same charge. The same court acquitted Rahmat’ollah Dimi (رحمت الله دیمی) of this charge. The Review Court also handed down one-year concurrent sentences for “propaganda in favor of the Baha’i organization, that being a group and organization opposed to the holy order of the Islamic Republic.” There is in fact no Bahai organisation in Iran, as it was disbanded after the 1979 Revolution, but the Islamic Republic is a theocratic state, while the Bahai teachings endorse the principle of “render unto Caesar.” Nevertheless, the Bahais in Iran do not engage in political or subversive activities against the theocratic order.

These nine Bahais are among those whose homes were raided in October 2017 in connection with the birth of Baha’u’llah 200 years previously. From the large number of homes in Birjand that were raided at that time, it appears that the Bahais had not gathered to celebrate the day, but were remembering the occasion separately in their homes. They were summoned for interrogation twice in 2019-2020 (سال ۹۸), and tried on April 20 this year.

Mrs. Nasrin Qadiri is not formally a resident of Birjand. She is 60 years old and lives in Mashhad. However from 2014 to early 2018 she often stayed in Birjand to care for her father, who was ill. When the Bahai homes in Birjand were searched in October 2017, she was in Mashhad, but the security agents seized some of her belongings when they searched her father’s house. She was previously imprisoned in 1983 and 2010. In the latter case, she was sentenced to two years in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime, endangering national security, membership and activity in the Bahai Faith, advocating contact with foreigners after traveling outside the country, participating in illegal organisations, and producing and distributing Bahai CDs and books.
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Judge Mahmud Saadaati of Shiraz sanctioned for human rights abuses

Al-Arabiyya, September24, 2020. –

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that the United States has imposed sanctions on Judge Seyyed Mahmoud Sadati, Judge Mohammad Soltani, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, and on Adel Abad, Orumiyeh, and Vakilabad Prisons.

The notorious human rights abuser Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (سید محمود ساداتی), who heads a bench of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, has specialized in sentencing Bahais to prison and internal exile for their Bahai beliefs, usually under the guise of “propaganda against the regime,” “membership of an illegal organisation,” “collusion” or “undermining state security.” The evidence in every case is the possession of Bahai religious materials such as books, images, and computer files. Sittings under Judge Saadaati are often closed. In September 2018 he sentenced five Bahais to prison in closed court, without informing the defendants or their lawyers of the trial. A sampling of this Judge’s persecution of the Bahai community in Shiraz over recent years can be found with a search of Sen’s Daily.

Judge Soltaani ( قاضی سلطانی) heads a Revolutionary Court in Mashhad. The only recent case I have recorded is the sentencing of five Bahais. However Soltaani is a common name, and Iran has many judges who abuse human rights. Watch this space as more details of the sanctions are announced.

The Revolutionary Courts in Iran are responsible for charges such as blasphemy, espionage, terrorism and seeking to overthrow the government. The trials are not public, there is no jury, and a single judge decides the case. Sentences are however reviewed by the Provincial Review Court.
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Kimia Mostafavi and Kiaana Rezvaani released

HRANA, September 20, 2020. –

Kimia Mostafavi ( کیمیا مصطفوی) and Kiaana Rezvaani ( کیانا رضوانی), Bahais from Kerman, were released from prison in the past week. In September 2019, the Revolutionary Court in Kerman sentenced them to five years in jail for membership in the Bahai organisation, with a one year concurrent sentence for “propaganda against the regime and in favour of opposition groups.” The Review Court reduced this to six months supervised probation with electronic monitoring, on a charge of “propaganda against the regime.” They served just over two months of this electronic supervision.

They were arrested in Kerman on January 19, 2019, and released on bail five days later. Kiaana Rezvaani is a student excluded from tertiary education because of her religious beliefs.
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Farid Moqadam-Ziragi’s 5-year sentence confirmed

HRANA, September 20, 2020. –

The review court for South Khorosan Province has confirmed the 5-year sentence of Farid Ziragi-Moqadam (زیرگی مقدم), a Bahai from Birjand. The presiding judge was Ibrahim Ramezaani (قاضی ابراهیم رمضانی), with Counsellor Hamid `Arab-zadeh (مستشاری حمید عرب زاده ). A Revolutionary Court has already sentenced him to five years in prison on a charge of “membership of the illegal Bahai organisation”, with a one-year concurrent sentence for “propaganda against the regime of the Islamic Republic.” The review court acquitted him of the latter charge. The Court of Review based its sentence on his acting as moderator in a Telegram channel.

However a criminal court in Birjand has also sentenced him to one year in prison for “insulting the sanctities of Islam,” apparently for internet postings included Bahai interpretations of the Quran, the coming of the Mahdi, the “seal of the prophets” and other theological points. The review court has not yet spoken on that sentence.

Mr. Moqadam-Ziragi, whose name was initially reported as Farid Moqadam-Ziraki (فرید مقدم زیرکی), was arrested on August 3 by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, who searched his home and seized his personal effects. At the time of his arrest, the accusation was “aggravating the economic sanctions against Iran” and “undermining national security.” These accusations were widely reported in the state-sponsored media. He was interrogated by the Ministry of Intelligence for 26 days before being transferred to Birjand’s Prison. The Ministry evidently failed to find evidence to support the economic and security charges. On September 7 he was released after posting bail of 150 million tumans (32,000 euros ; $US 35,000).
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Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani granted prison furlough

HRANA, September 11, 2020. –

Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani (مهرداد موسوی خولنجانی), a Bahai from Shahin Shahr, has been granted a furlough from Dastgerd Prison, near Isfahan. He began a six-month prison term on July 9, 2020. He was charged with “propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith.” He was initially told that he would have to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, but when he objected he was released without the tracing device. If the supervising judge approves, he will not have to return to prison; otherwise he will have to return “next month” (about September 22). However it appears that another case on the same charges is also being prepared against him, by a different arm of the security apparatus.
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Mitra Bandi-Amirabaadi and Heyva Yazdaan-Mahdiabaadi bailed in Yazd

HRANA, September 1, 2020. –

Mitra Bandi-Amirabaadi-Baaghi (میترا بندی امیرآبادی) and Heyva Yazdaan-Mahdiabaadi-Bahifar (هیوا یزدان مهدی آبادی) were released on bail on September 1 after three months of detention. They were arrested on May 30, and detained by the Ministry of Intelligence in Yazd. Their release on bail was delayed by opposition from the investigating judge.

In late November, 2017, Heyva Yazdan-Mahdiabadi was arrested for teaching music to children. She was at first held incommunicado by the Ministry of Intelligence, and then transferred to the central prison in Yazd. She was released on bail on December 25, 2017. The report says that both were previously given suspended sentences, which have expired, but does not indicate when this occured.
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Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan returns to prison, three days after his wedding

Iran Wire (with video), August 26, 2020. –

Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan (اردشیر فناییان), a 32-year-old Bahai from Semnan who is serving a six year sentence for his beliefs, was granted a short prison furlough recently. During the furlough, he married Golrokh Firuzeyan (گلرخ فیروزیان), also from Semnan, who has also served two prison terms for her beliefs. He requested an extension to his furlough, but this was denied by the Ministry of ‘Intelligence.’

Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan was born in Semnan Prison. His parents were both imprisoned in 1983, for adhering to the Bahai Faith, and Ardeshir was born in the prison in 1988. He was arrested early in 2013 and sentenced to 8 months in prison. Golrokh Firuzeyan was among the young Bahais arrested and sentenced at that time, and was sentenced to 6 months in prison. They were charged with various offenses, but eventually sentenced for “propaganda against the regime.” Both began their sentences on January 10, 2014. When Ardeshir had completed his sentence, he was sent to do military service. Golrokh’s sisters, Yalda Firouzeyaan (یلدا فیروزیان) and Shidrokh Firuzeyan (شیدرخ) have also served six-month prison sentences. Yalda currently faces another sentence, of two years and six months. Their father, Hadjbar Firuzeyaan (هژبر فیروزیان), served a 40-day sentence in 2014, charged with libel against an agent of the Ministry of Intelligence. He had complained to the judicial authorities that one of his daughters was beaten in prison. When they took no action, he wrote to the President of the Islamic Republic, describing the beating. He was charged with libel and fined, but refused to pay the fine and was sent to prison instead.
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Two arrests in Vilashahr, Isfahan Province

HRANA, August 24, 2020. –

On August 23, Mazhdeh Eqtaraafi (مژده اقترافی) and her husband Houshmand Taalebi (هوشمند طالبی) were summoned and arrested in Vilashahr. After their arrest, officers went to the Bahai couple’s home and searched it, confiscating laptops, cell phones, books, and an acoustic keyboard designed for the Persian Dastgah modal system. Two cars and a truck belonging to the family have been confiscated.
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Liza Tebyanian arrested again in Karaj

Iran Press Watch, August 17, 2020. –

HRANA reports that Liza Tebyanian, a Bahai living in Karaj, was arrested by security forces on the evening of Saturday, August 16, and taken to an unknown location. The grounds for her arrest and the charges against her remain unknown.

She was previously detained on March 16, 2017, and was released on bail from Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj on April 26. In August 2017, she was sentenced to 7 months in prison by Branch 4 of the Karaj Revolutionary Court on charges of “propaganda activities against the regime.”

Branch 12 of the Alborz Court of Appeals acquitted Ms. Tebyanian of the charges against her, arguing that teaching the Bahai faith was not propaganda against the regime.
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https://sensday.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php?post_type=post

HRANA, August 19, 2020. –

A criminal court in Birjand has sentenced Farid Moqadam-Ziraki (فرید مقدم زیرکی), whose name is reported in this case as Farid Ziragi-Moqadam (زیرگی مقدم), to one year in prison. He was charged with “insulting the sanctities of Islam.” The judge was Mehdi Shiri Abbaasabaad (قاضی مهدی شیری عباس آباد). His judgement referenced internet postings, apparently referring to Telegram repostings that included Bahai interpretations of the Quran, the coming of the Mahdi, the “seal of the prophets” and other theological points.

Mr. Ziragi was notified of the new sentence on August 19. A Revolutionary Court has already sentenced him to five years in prison on a charge of “membership of the illegal Bahai organisation”, with a one-year concurrent sentence for “propaganda against the regime of the Islamic Republic.”
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Nine Bahais from Karaj receive one-year sentences

HRANA, August 6, 2020. –

The Revolutionary Court in Shahriar, which lies between Karaj and Eslamshahr on the Western fringe of Tehran, has sentenced nine Bahais to one year in prison for ‘propaganda against the regime.’ They are Mr. Keyaanush Salmaanzaadeh (کیانوش سلمانزاده), Mrs. Jamileh Paakrou (جمیله پاکرو), Mr. Paymaan Ma’navi (پیمان معنوی), Mr. Payaam Sha’baani (پیام شعبانی ), Mr. Parvan Ma`navi (پروان معنوی), Mrs. Ilham Salmanzadeh (الهام سلمانزاده), Mr. Houman Khoushnam (هومن خوشنام), Mrs. Neda Shabaani (ندا شبانی (بیوک آقایی)) and Mr. Soroush Agaahi (سروش آگاهی). They were arrested in September and November, 2018, and are at present free on bail. The trial was held on July 27, and sentences were announced on August 6. The trial judge was Judge Panahi (قاضی پناهی).

At the time of their arrest, agents searched the homes of some of these detainees and seized personal belongings, including books, computers, laptops and mobile phones. The business premises of some of them were also sealed after their arrest.
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Volunteer firefighter barred in Shiraz, for Bahai beliefs

HRANA, July 31, 2020. –

Kiarash Mo`ini (کیارش معینی), a 19-year-old Bahai from Shiraz, has been expelled from the volunteer firefighters because of his Bahai beliefs. The head of his team in the fire department informed him of this in a meeting on July 25, and told him to return his firefighting uniform. The team leader said he was acting under pressure from the Security Department [This is not a department of the fire service, but rather the Ministry of Intelligence presence within the fire service, analogous to the Political Commissars in the Soviet Union.] Mr. Mo`ini has been a volunteer for about two years, and has gained proficiency certificates in training courses. The voluntary firefighters are an auxiliary, used in emergencies or to fight exceptionally large fires.
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Yemeni Houthis free 6 Bahai prisoners

Associated Press, July 30, 2020. –

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Thursday freed six prominent members of the Bahai religious minority whose years-long incarceration on charges of espionage and heresy had drawn worldwide condemnation, their lawyer said. The release of the six came four months after the Shiite Houthis, who control most of northern Yemen and the capital, Sanaa, announced they had commuted the death sentence of Bahai leader Hamed bin Haydara and ordered his release, as well as that of the other five detainees. The six men were flown out of Yemen to Ethiopia late on Thursday, said bin Haydara’s wife, Alham.

“Today we feel joy after so much suffering,” she told The Associated Press over the phone, adding that she and her daughters were threatened and harassed by anonymous callers over the years of her husband’s detention. She now lives in Luxembourg with the children. “The sentence was unjust and the charges baseless,” she added.

Houthi judicial officials said the Bahais were required to leave Yemen as a condition of their release. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Bin Haydara was arrested in 2013 by the government of President Mansour Abed Rabbo Hadi, before the Iran-backed Houthis came to power. After the Houthis overran Sanaa, forcing President Hadi to flee and igniting a civil war with a Saudi-led military coalition, bin Haydara was transferred to a Houthi prison where he languished until Thursday.

A Houthi court sentenced him to death in 2018, prompting sharp criticism from human rights groups that decried the verdict as a sign of the Iran-backed Houthis’ systematic repression of religious minorities.

The Bahais have been particularly vulnerable to persecution and pressure to convert to Islam by the Houthis who consider Bahaism a heresy for its belief in a 19th-century Persian prophet and his revelation that departs from traditional teachings of Shiite Islam.

The other five Bahai members were arrested in 2017. Throughout their years in prison, all were tortured, barred from seeing their lawyers, denied access to medical care and placed in solitary confinement, according to the Bahi International Community. Bin Haydara was blindfolded, beaten, electrocuted and forced to confess to being a “destroyer of Islam” and spy for Israel, the community reported. He was sentenced to a public execution for his religious beliefs.

Their release followed months of international pressure this spring from the United Nations and rights groups, as the coronavirus pandemic surged across war-torn Yemen, raising fears of unchecked contagion in crowded Houthi prisons.

“We welcome the releases today yet remain gravely concerned,” said Diane Ala’i, a representative of the Baha’i International Community. “Bahais must be able — like all Yemenis — to practice their faith safely and freely.”
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‘A moment of historic portent’ : the House of Justice writes to the Bahais of the United States

Editorial, July 23, 2022. –
The Universal House of Justice has address a six–paragraph letter to the Bahais of the United States, in relation to the effects of racial prejudice and the present possibilities for reform of the social order. It speaks of promoting race unity in the contexts of community building, social action, and involvement in the discourses of society, and of the profound immorality of racism. “Ultimately, the power to transform the world is effected by love,…

The full text is available in the documents archive of my Bahai Studies blog.
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Yemen’s Houthis “stalling” on release of Bahais

Al-Mashareq, July 21, 2020. –

On March 25th, head of the Houthis’ Supreme Political Council, Mahdi al-Mashat, announced they would pardon and release the Bahai prisoners. The pardon came just days after the Houthi-run Court of Appeals in Sanaa upheld a death sentence handed down against one Bahai, Hamid bin Haydara, in January 2018. Abdullah al-Olafi, spokesman for the Bahai community in Yemen, said it is not clear why the detained Bahais have not been released. “The Houthis are stalling and promising to release them without taking real steps,” he told Al-Mashareq. “There are efforts being made by international organisations and appeals issued by a number of European foreign ministers calling on the Houthis to do what they announced they would do.”
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Review court cuts sentences for 11 Bahais in Fars Province

HRANA, July 20, 2020. –

The Review Court for Fars Province (Shiraz) has sentenced Nilufar Hakimi (نیلوفر حکیمی) to five years and nine months in prison. In May, Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی سید محمود ساداتی), sitting in the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, had sentenced her to eight years in prison. Navid Bazmaandegaan (نوید بازماندگان) and his wife Bahreh Qaderi (بهاره قادری), Sudabeh Haqiqat (سودابه حقیقت), Elaheh Sami`zaadeh (الهه سمیع زاده) and Noraa Pourmoraadian (نورا پورمرادیان) were sentenced to six years by Judge Saadaati: this has been reduced to two years and nine months. Ehsanollah Mahbub-Rahwafa (احسان الله محبوب راه وفا) was given a one-year sentence by Judge Saadaati, which the Review Court has changed to a fine of one million tumans (200 euros ; $US 240). All were charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of groups opposed to the regime.

Mrs. Sami`zaadeh has also been sentenced — in a criminal court — to one year in prison by Judge Fakhaarzaadeh (قاضی فخارزاده) on a charge of “misuse of scientific titles,” which refers to her studies at the Bahai Institute of Higher Education. In addition to the prison sentence, he added a 2-year suspension from holding all governmental and public jobs. This seems to be a bit of black humour on the part of the Judge: all Bahais in Iran are permanently barred from governmental and public jobs, and also from work in many economic sectors, and from tertiary education. According to this report, Nilufar Hakimi has also been sentenced to five years in prison by a criminal court, but the report does not give further details. The only additional charge against Mrs Hakimi that I know of, is one count of blasphemy.

In a separate story, HRANA reports that the Court of Review has given two-year sentences to Farhaam Saabet (فرهام ثابت), Farzaan Ma`sumi (فرزان معصومی), Shahnaaz Saabet (شهناز ثابت) and Soheila Haqiqat (سهیلا حقیقت). Mr Saabet and Ma`sumi were previously sentenced to five years in prison (with an additional one-year concurrent sentence), while Mrs Saabet and Haqiqat were sentenced to six years in prison, by Judge Saadaati. They were charged with “propaganda against the regime and membership in anti-regime groups. The report also says that Soheila Haqiqat faces additional charges, but that no details are available.

The same Review Court recently confirmed Judge Saadaati’s 5-year sentence for Shahryaar `Ataareyaan (شهریار عطریان).
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Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani begins 6-month sentence

HRANA, July 9, 2020. –

Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani (مهرداد موسوی خولنجانی), a Bahai from Shahin Shahr, was arrested in that city on July 9 after being summoned by telephone to the office responsible for the implementation of criminal (i.e., not ideological) crimes. He was taken the central prison in Dastgerd to begin a six-month sentence on what are apparently ideological charges : “propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith.” Shahin Shahr and Dastgerd are both towns just north of Isfahan City.

On June 10, the Provincial Review Court for Isfahan Province, headed by Judge Seyyed-Javaad Mansouri ( قاضی سیدجواد منصوری)and Counsellor Mohammad Mohammadi Kalaal-Abaadi (مستشاری محمد محمدی کمال آبادی), confirmed his prison sentence.

Following a house raid and the seizure of personal effects in August/September 2018, he was summoned on November 27, 2018, arrested and taken to Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan. Some time later he was released on bail. He was acquitted [by the Review Court?] and the court ordered the return of confiscated items except those relating to the Bahai Faith.

However the Ministry of Intelligence then intervened to obtain a warrant sealing his place of business for “propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith.” On March 18, 2019, he was summoned, supposedly in relation to the return of confiscated items, and was again arrested — thanks to the intervention of the Ministry — on the charge. His case was then reopened.
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Negin Qadamiaan granted early release

HRANA, July 5, 2020. –

Negin Qadamiaan (نگین قدمیان), a Bahai prisoner who began a furlough from Evin Prison in Tehran on June 9, has been informed by telephone that she has been granted early release and will not need to return to prison. She began serving her 5-year sentence for educational crimes in relation to the Bahai Open University (BIHE) on December 16, 2017, and was granted a medical furlough April 22 to April 27, 2019. She was arrested, along with many others associated with the Open University, in May, 2011. On March 12, 2013, she and nine other Bahais associated with the Open University were tried, in absentia in a closed court, by Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه), a notorious abuser of human rights, and of judicial procedures, who was responsible for the imprisonment of the seven “Yaran.”
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Amin Dhulfaqaari free on bail in Yazd

HRANA, June 23, 2020. –

On June 23, Amin Dhulfaqaari (امین ذوالفقاری), a Bahai from Yazd, was released on bail pending his trial. He was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on May 21. He is expected to be charged with teaching the Bahai Faith.
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In Birjand, Farid Moqadam-Ziraki sentenced to five years in prison

HRANA, June 21, 2020. –

A Revolutionary Court has sentenced Farid Moqadam-Ziraki (فرید مقدم زیرکی), whose name is also reported as Farid Ziragi-Moqadam (زیرگی مقدم), to five years in prison on a charge of “membership of the illegal Bahai organisation”, with a one-year concurrent sentence for “propaganda against the regime of the Islamic Republic.” (see Deutsche Welle for the breakdown of the six-year total sentence, omitted in the HRANA report). The court was headed by Judge Ja’far Islaam-Khwaah ( قاضی جعفر اسلام خواه). The defendant and his lawyer were barred from speaking or presenting a defence.

Mr. Moqadam-Ziraki was arrested on August 3 by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, who searched his home and seized his personal effects. At the time of his arrest, the accusation was “aggravating the economic sanctions against Iran” and “undermining national security.” He was interrogated by the Ministry of Intelligence for 26 days before being transferred to Birjand’s Prison. The Ministry evidently failed to find evidence to support the economic and security charges. On September 7 he was released after posting bail of 150 million tumans (32,000 euros ; $US 35,000).
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Fariba Ashtari sentenced in Yazd to five years in prison

HRANA, June 21, 2020. –

The Revolutionary Court in Yazd has sentenced Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری) to five years in prison on a charge of “membership of groups opposed to the regime of the Islamic Republic,” with a concurrent sentence of one year for “propaganda against the regime and in favour of groups opposing the regime.” The court was headed by Counsellor Muhammad-Reza Dashtipour (مستشار محمدرضا دشتی پور). The ruling was dated June 20 and communicated to Mrs. Ashtari on June 21. This lengthy text says that the organisation of the deviant Bahai sect is not recognized in the Constitution and any Bahai activity at all constitutes a repudiation of the twelver Shiah school of Islam, of the Islamic Republic, and of the coming return of the 12th Imam … (paraphrased). In short, it draws on all the prejudices used to mark the Bahais as the “enemy within,” simply because of their beliefs.

Mrs. Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), an active Bahai and a psychologist, has already served a two-year sentence for her faith, from February 21, 2015 to January 13, 2017. She was arrested again in her home in Yazd on December 2, 2019, and bailed about two month later. During her arrest the agents seized a number of Bahai books, as well as computers and mobile phones. She suffers from a heart condition and had surgery twice in the year before her arrest.

Her husband Nasser Baqeri (ناصر باقری) and her son Fa’iz Baqeri (فایز باقری) have also been imprisoned for their faith in Yazd.
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Review Court confirms 10-year sentence for Farouq Izadinia

HRANA, June 19, 2020. –

The Review court of Tehran Province, headed by Judge Ahmad Zargar (قاضی احمد زرگر), has confirmed the 10-year sentence Faruq Izadinia (فاروق ایزدی نیا ). The Review Court made its ruling on May 19, but it was not announced until June 19.

Mr. Izadinia is a Bahai scholar and translator. Using the transliteration system I have adopted here to indicate long vowels without any special symbols, his name is Faarouq Izaadinia (فاروق ایزدی نیا), but since his works are also published in the Latin script, he has his own preferred spelling.

Mr. Izaadinia was arrested when his home was raided at 10.30 a.m. on February 12, 2017. The agents confiscated some 1300 books, and some of his personal effects. He was released on bail about two weeks later. His trial in a Revolutionary Court was not held until mid-February, 2019. Mr. Izaadinia later described the process of his prosecution in an open letter which Iran Press Watch has translated. The judge was Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای), a notorious abuser of human rights, and of judicial procedures, who was responsible for the imprisonment of the seven “Yaran.” Mr. Izadinia was charged with undermining national security by administering Bahai activities. The verdict stated that he had been and is one of the people influential and effective in organising Bahai activities, and mentions his work for the BIHE, the informal university that gives courses to some of the Bahai students who are excluded from tertiary education.

He has also been arrested previously for his religious beliefs, and served three prison terms, including being among those sentenced to death in the 1980’s, but this sentence was reversed and he was released after a five-year prison term. He has worked as a translator, and is know for his Persian translation of Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudun, William Sear’s Thief in the Night, Moojan Momen’s a Short Introduction to the Bahai Faith and Madeleine Hellaby’s Death, Messenger of Joy. In his research work, he has contributed to locating the sources of the selections from Baha’u’llah’s works that Shoghi Effendi translated and published in Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah.
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Five year sentence for Shahryaar `Ataareyaan confirmed in Shiraz

HRANA, June 19, 2020.

The Review Court for Fars Province has confirmed the five-year prison sentence of Shahryaar `Ataareyaan (شهریار عطریان), a Bahai from Shiraz. Mr. `Ataareyaan and his lawyer were not informed of the trial.

On October 29, 2019, agents from the Fajr Corps Intelligence Service arrested him and Poulaad Karami (پولاد کرمی) in Shiraz. A number of agents went to a home where Bahais were commemorating the birth of the Bab, and questioned and photographed those attending. They confiscated computers and mobile phones and numerous books and pamphlets, prayer books, and signs and pictures relating to the Bahai Faith. The Fajr Corps Intelligence Service announced the arrests publicly, explaining that it was in relation to the birth of one of the Bahai “leaders.” A Shia news service adds that it was a “secret ceremony,” which was raided to “counter the Israeli-backed sect and prevent them from realizing the ominous interests of foreign countries and reconstructing their espionage pyramid.” Which is to say, these Bahais had said prayers together. Mr. `Ataareyaan was one of eight young Bahais tried in a Revolutionary Court on May 10, 2020, on charges of propaganda against the regime and membership of groups opposed to the regime. The Judge, Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی سید محمود ساداتی), gave him concurrent one-year and five-year sentences on the two charges.
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Bahiyyeh Yalda’i’s sentence squashed in Shiraz

HRANA, June 17, 2020. –

Bhaiyyeh Yalda’i (باهیه یلدائی), a Bahai from Shiraz whose arrest, sentencing and imprisonment was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily, has been informed in the past week that she will not be required to complete her sentence. She was arrested in Shiraz around July/August 2018, by the cyber police unit, and was bailed some time later. She went through two trials: one in the criminal court, on in the criminal court which is normally closed to Bahais, and one in the ideological court, the Revolutionary Court. In the latter, the notorious Judge Saadaati ( قاضی سید محمود ساداتی) sentenced her to 5 years on the charge of “insulting holy things through internet activities,” with a [concurrent] one-year sentence for “propaganda against the regime.” The Provincial Review court acquitted her on the first charge, but confirmed her one-year sentence for propaganda against the regime. She began her sentence in January or February 2020, and was granted a furlough in March, in relation to the onset of the Corona pandemic.
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Four detainees released on bail

HRANA, June 16, 2020. –

Naahid Na’imi (ناهید نعیمی), Didaar Ahmadi (دیدار احمدی) and Boshra Mostafavi (بشری مصطفوی), arrested in Rafsanjan on June 7, were freed on bail on June 16. Mahbubeh Mithaqiyaan-Dehqaan (محبوبه میثاقیان دهقان), a Bahai from Yazd who was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on June 1, was also bailed on June 16.
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Sentence of Sahba Farnoush reduced to six years

Iran Wire, June 15, 2020. –

The Review Court for Tehran has reduced the sentence of Sahba Farnoush (صهبا فرنوش) from 16 years to six years. In January this year, Judge Emaan Afshaari (قاضی ایمان افشاری), in the Revolutionary Court, sentenced him to 16 years on the charge of establishment and membership of Bahai religious organisations, and propaganda against the regime.

Mr. Farnoush was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on November 15, 2015, and was freed on bail from Evin Prison in late December that year. Mr. Farnoush is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on that day. Agents from the Ministry of Intelligence also closed down Bahai-run businesses in the Province of Mazandaran. The Ministry of Intelligence actions apparently related to Bahais commemorating the birth of Baha’u’llah.
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In Shiraz, the trial of 26 Bahais begins and is adjourned

HRANA, June 15, 2020. –

On June 15, the trial of 26 Bahais in the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz began, but was adjourned after three hours after the defence lawyer pointed to problems in the files supported the charges. According to the summons, issued on June 8, these Bahais were charged with “propaganda against the regime and in favor of groups opposing the regime, running groups opposing the regime, membership in these groups, propaganda activities for, and cooperation with, hostile states; links to states hostile to the Islamic Republic and [supporting] global arrogance, and implementing their plans, [all the above taking] the form of the Bahai organization in Iran.” In short, by being Bahais they are supposed to be guilty of all these things. Judge Sayyed-Mohammad Saadaati (قاضی سیدمحمود ساداتی) referred the case back to the Prosecutor’s Office for further and better investigations. The cases are already several years old. It appears that a Prosecutor who has declared his intention to “uproot” the Bahai community in Shiraz has been reviving prosecutions that had previously been dropped.

Those accused are :
Parisa Rouhi-zaadegaan (پریسا روحی زادگان), arrested September 28, 2016.
Esma`il Rusta (اسماعیل روستا), arrested July 16 or 17, in connection with environmental activism.
Bahareh Nowruzi (بهاره نوروزی), arrested September 28, 2016 or soon after.
Bhenam Azizpour (بهنام عزیزپور), previously reported as Behnam Azirpour (بهنام عزیرپور), arrested September 29, 2016.
Thamareh Ashnaa’i(ثمره آشنایی), previously reported as Thamar Ashnaa’i (ثمر آشنایی), arrested November 22, 2016.
Ramin Shirvani (رامین شیروانی), arrested on July 16, 2016.
Rezvan Yazdani (رضوان یزدانی) arrested November 22, 2016.
Soroush Eqaani (سروش ایقانی), arrested September 28, 2016. In this report he is named Soroush Eqaani-Soghaadi (سروش ایقانی صغادی).
Sa`id Hosna (سعید حسنی), arrested July 16, 2016.
Shaadi Saadeq-Eqdam (شادی صادق اقدم), arrested September 28, 2016.
Shamim Ekhlaqi (شمیم اخلاقی), arrested September 28, 2016.
Sahba Farahbakhsh (صهبا فرحبخش), arrested September 28, 2016.
Sahba Maslahi (صهبا مصلحی), arrested September 28, 2016.
Ahdiyyeh Enayati (عهدیه عنایتی), arrested September 28, 2016.
Farbod Shaadmaan (فربد شادمان), previously named as Farid Shaadmaan (فرید شادمان), arrested September 28, 2016.
Farzad Shaadmaan (فرزاد شادمان), arrested September 28, 2016.
Lala Salehi (لالا صالحی), arrested November 22, 2016.
Mazhgaan Gholaampour-Sa’adi (مژگان غلام پور سعدی), whose name has previously been reported as Mazhgah (مژگاه), arrested September 28, 2016.
Marjaan Glomaampour (مرجان غلام پور), arrested September 28, 2016.
Maryam Eslaami-Mahdiaabaadi (مریم اسلامی مهدی آبادی), arrested September 28, 2016.
Mahyar Safidi Miandoab [=Miaandou-aab] (مهیار سفیدی میاندوآب), arrested September 28, 2016.
Nabil Tahdhib (نبیل تهذیب), arrested July 16 or 17, in connection with environmental activism.
Nasim Kaashaani-nezhaad (نسیم کاشانی نژاد), arrested November 22, 2016.
Noushin Zanhaari (نوشین زنهاری), arrested July 16, 2016.
Varqa Kaaviaani (ورقا کاویانی), arrested September 28, 2016.
Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi (یکتا فهندژ سعدی), arrested 2010, again on February 3, 2012 (sentenced, but then acquitted by the Review Court), again on March 16, 2014 (sentenced June 16, 2016 by Judge Doctor Sadati (دکتر ساداتی) to five years in prison), again on March 16, 2014 (sentenced in December 2018 to ten years in prison by Judge Mohammad Mojtaba Rudijaani (قاضی محمد مجتبی رودیجانی)).

In March, 2020, they were informed of the pending trial and summoned to present their final defence.
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Six month sentence for Mehrdaad Mousavi in Shahin Shahr

HRANA, June 2020. –

On June 10, the Provincial Review Court for Isfahan Province confirmed a six-month prison sentence for Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani (مهرداد موسوی خولنجانی), a Bahai from Shahin Shahr. His arrest, trial and sentencing by the Revolutionary Court in Shahin Shahr were not previously reported on Sen’s Daily. He was charged with propaganda against the regime. The Review Court was headed by Judge Seyyed-Javaad Mansouri ( قاضی سیدجواد منصوری)and Counsellor Mohammad Mohammadi Kalaal-Abaadi (مستشاری محمد محمدی کمال آبادی).

An informed source told HRANA that, following a house raid and the seizure of personal effects in August/September 2018, he was summoned on November 27, 2018, arrested and taken to Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan. Some time later he was released on bail. He was acquitted and the court ordered the return of confiscated items except those relating to the Bahai Faith.

However the Ministry of Intelligence then intervened to obtain a warrant sealing his place of business. On March 18, 2019, he was summoned, supposedly in relation to the return of confiscated items, and was again arrested — thanks to the intervention of the Ministry — on the charge of “propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith.” His case was then reopened. The source told HRANA that the agent from the Ministry of Intelligence who was in the court [in Shahin Shahr] acted aggressively towards him, and accused him of teaching the Bahai Faith to a court employee. On March 19, 2019, he was taken to the court to be charged and — the court being closed and the New Year holiday about to begin — he was transferred to prison in Isfahan. He remained there in solitary confinement until March 25 and then moved to the Quarantine facility, and finally to the prison’s “health block.” [Healthy prisoners? ~ Sen] On April 6, 2019. he was released on bail of 20 million tumans (4,200 euros ; $US 4,700). He was tried in Shahin Shahr and sentenced to one year in prison. This report then says that the Review Court acquitted him of the charge — but this must refer to the first charge against him because it also says that, on June 10 this year, the Review Court sentenced him to six months in prison.

His home was again searched, on March 19, 2020, by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, and more of his personal effects were seized, as well as his daughter’s university diplomas from Iranian institutions [ which is remarkable ! ] and Standford University.
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Six furloughed prisoners return to prison in Birjand, three granted extensions

HRANA, June 10, 2020. –

Sohrab Maaleki (سهراب ملاکی), Khalil Maaleki (خلیل ملاکی), Maryam Mokhtari (مریم مختاری), Saagher Mohammadi (ساغر محمدی), Simim Mohammadi (سیمین محمدی) and Shaida `Aabadi (شیدا عابدی) have returned to prison in Birjand at the end of a furlough that began in late March or early April. Three others, Behman Saalehi (بهمن صالحی), Firouz Ahmadi (فیروز احمدی) and Bijan Ahmadi ( بیژن احمدی) have been granted another 15 days of furlough for health reasons. These nine Bahais were initially sentenced to five years on the charge of membership of the illegal and subversive Bahai organisation, by a Revolutionary Court. The sentences were reduced by the Provincial Review Court to four years for Behman Saalahi, Khalil Malaaki, Bizhan Ahmadi, and Saagher Mohammadi; three years for Shayda Abedi, two years for Firuz Ahmadi, Simin Mohammadi and Maryam Mokhtaari, and three and a half years for Sohrab Maaleki.
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Touraj Amini sentenced to 1 year in prison and exile

HRANA, June 8, 2020. –

Bahai researcher and author Touraj Amini ( تورج امینی) has been sentenced by the Revolutionary Court in Karaj to one year in prison and two years of exile from the city. He was charged with “propaganda against the regime,” although his books were cited as evidence, and they relate to the Qajar and Pahlavi periods, not the present regime. On August 4, 2019, security forces searched his home, seizing books and notes and a laptop. Mr. Amini was previously detained for a short time, in March 2008. His books include one on the role of religious minorities in the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911, “The Hidden Awakening” (رستاخیز پنهان), on the relationship between Iranians intellectuals and the Babi and Bahai Faiths, and a five-volume collection of source documents relating to the Bahais in Iran.
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Three new arrests in Rafsanjan

HRANA, June 7, 2020. –

Naahid Na’imi (ناهید نعیمی), Didaar Ahmadi (دیدار احمدی) and Boshra Mostafavi (بشری مصطفوی) were arrested on June7, following raids on their homes in Rafsanjan. The security agents seized some personal effects including books, computers and mobile telephones. It is not known where they are being detained.
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New arrest in Yazd: Mahbubeh Mithaqiyaan

HRANA, June 3, 2020. –

Mahbubeh Mithaqiyaan-Dehqaan (محبوبه میثاقیان دهقان), a Bahai from Yazd, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on June 1. The agents searched her home and seized some of her belongings. It is not known where she is being detained.
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Parvaneh Hosseini released in Yazd

HRANA, June 2, 2020. –

Parvaneh Hosseini (پروانه حسینی) was released from detention on May 31, one day after her arrest, reported with further details here.
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Vida Haqiqi begins her sentence in Isfahan

HRANA, June 2, 2020. –

Vida Haqiqi-Najaf-Abaadi (ویدا حقیقی نجف آبادی), a Bahai from Najafabad, was arrested on June 1 and taken to Dowlatabad Prison in Isfahan to start her sentence. Mrs Haqiqi was one of 20 Bahais sentenced to long terms in prison in 2012, whose sentences were only confirmed by the Review Court in late April, 2014. The other 19 Bahais in this group have all served their sentences. According to this report, her sentence is on year in prison and one year’s probation, although a 2014 report said it was three years in prison and one year’s probation.
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Two arrests in Yazd

HRANA, May 31, 2020. –

On May 28, security agents searched the home of Mitra Bandi-Amirabaadi-Baaghi (میترا بندی امیرآبادی) in Yazd, and seized some personal effects.

On May 30, they searched the home of Mrs. Heyva Yazdaan-Mahdiabaadi-Bahifar (هیوا یزدان مهدی آبادی) and the home of her father-in-law, in Taft County on the outskirts of the city of Yazd, and seized some personal effects. They arrested her, and also Mrs Bandi-Amirabaadi. It is not known where they are being detained.

In late November, 2017, Heyva Yazdan-Mahdiabadi was arrested for teaching music to children. She was at first held incommunicado by the Ministry of Intelligence, and then transferred to the central prison in Yazd. She was released on December 25, 2017. I have no record that Mitra Bandi-Amirabadi was previously arrested, but this report says that she was, and that both Mrs. Madhiabaadi and Amirabaadi were given suspended sentences which have since expired.

Other members of the Amirabaadi and Mahdiabaadi families have also been arrested and imprisoned in recent years. Among others, Mehraan Bandi Amirabaadi (مهران بندی امیرآبادی) and Mehran Eslami Amirabaadi (مهران اسلامی امیرآبادی) were released in an amnesty for prisoners of conscience to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 revolution. They were initially sentenced to 18 months in prison and one year of internal exile, reduced to 12 months in prison by the Review Court for Yazd Province.
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Isfahan: two bailed, one arrested

HRANA, May 31, 2020. –

On May 30, Mr. Shahzaad Hosseini (شه زاد حسینی) and his son Shaayaan Hosseini (شایان حسین) were released — apparently without bail — in the city of Khomeini Shahr, in Isfahan Province. The agents took them in a car to the Chamran Bridge and let them go, at about 4 pm. They hailed a taxi and went to Mr. Hosseini’s home, and later went to Shaayaan Hosseini’s house. At 6.60pm, security agents went to the home of Shahzaad Hosseini where his wife Parvaneh Hosseini (پروانه حسینی) was alone, and not feeling well. They searched it again (it had not been raided since May 3, when Mr. Hosseini was arrested). They seized some personal effects they had previously missed, including a mobile telephone. They had a search warrant for Mrs. Hosseini, and said that the reason was that she had set up an illegal study class for gardening. Mrs Hosseni telephoned her family and asked them to return. Shaayaan Hosseni came, and found a man and a woman [security agent] with his mother. Soon after, she was taken to the Accident and Emergency department at Al-Zahra Hospital, and at 8 pm the agents took her to the interrogation centre operated by the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (the ‘pasdaran’).

See here for the report of the previous raids on this family, on May 5.
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More from Shiraz: Farzaan Ma`sumi and Farhaam Sabet sentenced

HRANA, May 26, 2020. –

Farzaan Ma`sumi (فرزان معصومی) and Farhaam Sabet (فرهام ثابت) are the latest Bahais in Shiraz to be sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی سید محمود ساداتی), with an additional but concurrent one-year sentence. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of groups opposed to the regime.

They were arrested on the morning of February 12, 2017, when their homes were searched and religious and non-religous books, mobile phones and computers were seized, along with family photos and religious images. They were held at the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Detention Center (Detention Facility 100) in Shiraz, and were freed on bail on the morning of February 22. Bail was set at 200 million tumans each (59,000 euros ; $US 62,000). Farzaan Ma`sumi was again arrest on October 21, 2019, along with Kiaana Sho`aari (کیانا شعاعی) and Soroush Abaadi (سروش آبادی). It was later claimed that they were holding a religious ceremony that would eclipse the Arba’een Pilgrimage in Karbala.
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Amin Dhulfaqaari arrested in Yazd

HRANA, May 26, 2020. –

Amin Dhulfaqaari (امین ذوالفقاری), a Bahai from Yazd, was arrested on May 21 and taken to the city’s prison. It is reported that the detention order specified that he would be held for one month, He is expected to be charged with teaching the Bahai Faith.
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Elaheh Sami`zaadeh sentenced to an additional year

HRANA (ENG), May 25, 2020. –

As previously reported, Elaheh Sami`zaadeh (الهه سمیع زاده) was sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی سید محمود ساداتی), on charges of “propaganda against the regime and membership in opposition groups” (plus a one-year concurrent sentence), for her work as an instructor at “mother-child innovation courses” using her valid college degree obtained from official institutions. Another charge of “forging a university degree” was brought up against her in July 2019 and caused her bail to be increased by 60 million tumans. This case was heard by Judge Fakhaarzaadeh (قاضی فخارزاده), the charge being “misuse of scientific titles,” which refers to her studies at the Bahai Institute of Higher Education. He sentenced her to one year in prison and 2 years suspension from holding all governmental and public jobs. All Bahais in Iran are permanently barred from governmental and public jobs, and also from work in many economic sectors.
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In Shiraz, two more Bahai women sentenced to six years

HRANA, May 17, 2020. –

Shahnaaz Saabet (شهناز ثابت) and Soheila Haqiqat (سهیلا حقیقت) have been sentenced to six years in prison. They were charged with “propaganda against the regime and membership in anti-regime groups.” The trial was held on May 10. The same judge, Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی سید محمود ساداتی), has recently sentenced eight other Bahais. In two of these cases, Elaheh Sami`zaadeh (الهه سمیع زاده) and Sudabeh Haqiqat (سودابه حقیقت) were sentenced to six years, which was specified as five years on one charge plus an one-year concurrent sentence. It may be that the 6-year sentences in today’s report also include a one-year concurrent sentence.

Mrs Haqiqat was arrested in her home in Shiraz on August 10, 2019, and Mrs. Saabet was arrested in her home in Shiraz on September 1, 2019. They were freed on bail after their arrest.
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Another six young Bahais sentenced in Shiraz

HRANA, May 14, 2020. –

Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی سید محمود ساداتی), who sentenced Elaheh Sami`zaadeh (الهه سمیع زاده) and Sudabeh Haqiqat (سودابه حقیقت) to five years in prison (plus an one-year concurrent sentence) has announced sentences for Shahryaar `Ataareyaan (شهریار عطریان), six years, Navid Bazmaandegaan (نوید بازماندگان) and his wife Bahreh Qaderi (بهاره قادری), both six years, Nilufar Hakimi (نیلوفر حکیمی), eight years, Noraa Pourmoraadian (نورا پورمرادیان), six years, and Ehsanollah Mahbub-Rahwafa (احسان الله محبوب راه وفا = ) (احسان محبوب راه‌وفا), one year. They were tried on May 10, charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of groups opposed to the regime. All eight young Bahais were arrested in September, 2018. The common factor in their cases is that they were attending or teaching adult education classes, while Elaheh Sami`zaadeh and Nilufar Hakimi were also teaching music to children. Their arrests drew national attention because a Shiraz city Counselor, Mehdi Haajati (مهدی حاجتی) made efforts for the release of Navid Bazmaandegaan and Bahaareh Qaaderi, and was himself arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence and accused of defending the “false Bahai Faith,” an offence for which he served a jail sentence.

This report does not mention any concurrency in the sentences, but given the examples of Elaheh Sami`zaadeh and Sudabeh Haqiqat, it is likely that the sentences of six and eight years will in fact be five and seven years. All sentences are from a Revolutionary Court, and must be reviewed by the Provincial Review Court, which very often cuts sentences that are obviously ideologically motivated, yet seldom acquits the accused.
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Elaheh Sami`zaadeh and Sudabeh Haqiqat given 5-year sentences in Shiraz

HRANA,May 13, 2020. –

Elaheh Sami`zaadeh (الهه سمیع زاده) and Sudabeh Haqiqat (سودابه حقیقت) have been sentenced to five years in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, on the charge of membership of anti-regime groups, as well as a one-year concurrent sentence on the charge of propaganda against the regime. They were tried on May 10. Their lawyer was present, but they were excluded from the court by the sentencing judge, Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی سید محمود ساداتی). They are also awaiting trial in another court – a criminal court. This presumably relates to the charge of “forging a document,” because they are graduates from the Bahai Institute of Higher Education.

They are both residents of Shiraz, and were arrested there on September 15 and 16. They were released on bail 25 days later.
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Ruhollah Zibaa’i summoned again

HRANA, May 11, 2020. –

Ruhollah Zibaa’i (روح‌الله زیبایی) has been summoned to a Revolutionary Court in Karaj, although he has already been tried and sentenced by another Revolutionary Court judge in Karaj. This report does not indicate when he is to appear at the court. He was arrested in Karaj on August 3, 2019, and released on bail on September 2. At the time, government-sponsored media claimed that Mr. Zibaa’i’s arrest was in relation to a scheme to tighten the economic sanctions against Iran. He requires constant medical supervision because of wounds suffered in the Iran-Iraq war, requiring the amputation of one foot and the loss of one kidney and part of his liver, and various other injuries and ailments. Because he is a Bahai, he is excluded from the support given to war veterans. He was given a one-year sentence by Judge `Assef Al-Husseini (قاضی عاصف الحسینی), on a charge of propaganda against the regime and in favour of the Bahai Faith. The provincial review court has confirmed that sentence, so it is possible that his summons is the beginning of his imprisonment.
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Four raids, summons and one arrest in Isfahan

HRANA, May 5, 2020. –

On May 3, agents from the Intelligence Arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IGRC) raided three Bahai homes in Isfahan in a coordinated operation. At the same time they raided and sealed the business premises of Mr. Shahzaad Hosseini (شه زاد حسینی), one of those whose homes were raided. He was summoned to appear at IGRC office on May 6. On May 4, his son Shaayaan Hosseini (شایان حسینی) was arrested. It is not known where he is being held. The third home that was searched belonged to Mrs. Hosseini, the elderly mother of Shahzaad Hosseni.

In the raids, the agents first pretended to be Corona virus officers, but then broke doors and windows in the houses. They seized some personal effects. When Shahzaad Hosseini heard by telephone that the home of his mother had been raided, went there and found that the agents had broken a window and the security mesh on the window and entered her house in a brutal way. Mrs Hosseini was in shock and was unconscious for a time. When the agents had completed their search, they summoned Mr. Hosseini to come to their offices on May 6. Meanwhile, unidentified persons broke into Shahzaad Hosseini’s carpentry workshop, breaking all the locks and doors, stealing all his carpentry tools and his stock of timber. He and his neighbour there have reported the theft to police. When his son Shaayaan went to the workshop to lock it, he was set on by agents from the Isfahan IRGC, in the workshop itself. The agents took away the remaining contents of the workshop and sealed it, and arrested him, as well as taking his mobile phone and his car.
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Vaahed Khalousi released from Evin Prison

HRANA, April 28, 2020.

Vaahed Khalousi Derakshaan (واحد خلوصی درخشان), who was given leave from Evin prison on March 12 this year, was told by the prison Prosecutor on April 28 that he could consider himself released. He began his five-year sentence in September, 2015. 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. In June, 2011, he was tried by Judge Muhammad Moqiseh (قاضی محمد مقیسه), a notorious abuser of human rights and judicial procedures, who was responsible for the imprisonment of the seven “Yaran.” He was found guilty of “assembling and colluding against national security,” “membership and active participation in the Bahai community and extensive propaganda for it” and “propaganda activities against the regime by means of active participation in organisations defending the right to tertiary education.” Judge Moqiseh’s five-year sentence was later confirmed by the Review Court for Tehran Province. Mr. Khalousi sat the University Entrance examination while in prison, but was excluded from tertiary education because of his Bahai beliefs.

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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One-year sentences confirmed for 4 Bahais in Karaj

HRANA, April 29, 2020. –

The Review Court for Alborz Province has confirmed the one-year sentences previously handed down by Judge `Assef Al-Husseini (قاضی عاصف الحسینی) in a Revolutionary Court in Karaj for Abu Al-Fadl Ansaari (ابوالفضل انصاری), Ruhollah Zibaa’i (روح‌الله زیبایی), Ru’in Kohansaal (روئین کهنسال) and Muhammad-Sadeq Reza’i (محمدصادق رضایی). They were informed of the decision on April 28. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and in favour of the Bahai Faith. The court rejected the defence that teaching the Bahai Faith is a religious matter. This arises from the previous finding of the Review Court for Alborz Province, in the case of Liza Tebyanian Enayati (لیزا تبیانیان ( عنایتی), that teaching the Bahai Faith is not equivalent to “propaganda against the regime” and is not a crime. It appears that it is again a crime, at least in Alborz Province.

Ruhollah Zibaa’i and Ru’in Kohansaal were arrested in Karaj in 2019, on August 3 and 4, respectively, and released on bail on September 2. At the time, government-sponsored media claimed that Mr. Zibaa’i’s arrest was in relation to a scheme to tighten the economic sanctions against Iran. He requires constant medical supervision because of wounds suffered in the Iran-Iraq war, requiring the amputation of one foot and the loss of one kidney and part of his liver, and various other injuries and ailments. Because he is a Bahai, he is excluded from the support given to war veterans.

Abu-Fadl Ansaari was arrested at his home in Karaj on August 3, 2019, and held in Raja’i Shahr prison. He was released on bail in Karaj on September 8. He has a heart condition and relies on a pacemaker.
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Another nine Bahais sentenced in Birjand

HRANA, April 23, 2020. –

Nine Bahais whose homes were raided in October 2017 in connection with the birth of Baha’u’llah 200 years previously have been given long sentences by Judge Hojjat Nabavi (قاضی حجت نبوی), in a Revolutionary Court in Birjand. Atieh Saalehi (عطیه صالحی), `Ataa’ollah Maaleki (عطاالله ملاکی), Farzaaneh Dimi (فرزانه دیمی), Nasrin Qadiri (نسرین قدیری), Banafsheh Mokhtaari (بنفشه مختاری), Arzo Mohammadi (آرزو محمدی), Sa’id Maaleki (سعید ملاکی) and Ru’ya Maaleki (رویا ملاکی) were sentenced to six years in prison, while Rahmat’ollah Dimi (رحمت الله دیمی), in view of his advanced age, was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison. The charges were “membership of the misguided Bahai sect, which is an illegal organisation undermining national security,” as well as “propaganda on behalf of the Bahai organisation, a group and enterprise opposed to the sanctified regime of the Islamic Republic.”

Around the time of the bicentennial of the birth of Baha’u’llah, Bahais were arrested and Bahai-run businesses were sealed in many places across Iran. The houses of these Bahais in Birjand were searched and some of their belongings were seized, but they were not arrested, and their names were therefore not previously reported on Sen’s Daily. They were summoned for interrogation twice in 2019-2020 (سال ۹۸), and tried on April 20. They were informed of their sentences next day, and the information was published on a web site on April 22.

Mrs. Nasrin Qadiri is not a resident of Birjand. She is 60 years old and lives in Mashhad. However from 2014 to early 2018 she often stayed in Birjand to care for her father, who was ill. When the Bahai homes in Birjand were searched in October 2017, she was in Mashhad, but the security agents seized some of her belongings when they searched her father’s house. She was previously imprisoned in 1983 and 2010. In the latter case, she was sentenced to two years in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime, endangering national security, membership and activity in the Bahai Faith, advocating contact with foreigners after traveling outside the country, participating in illegal organisations, and producing and distributing Bahai CDs and books.

A report on the previous group of nine Bahais sentenced in Birjand is on Sen’s Daily here.
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Iranian news agency accuses ٍBahais of genetic warfare research, links to Covid-19

Editorial, March 29, 2020. –

State-sponsored media in Iran have been repeating a story that appears to have been invented by the Islamic Republic News Agency, TNews and popularized by the Young Journalists Club
a government agency affiliated with the state broadcaster. Their report is dated March 26, 2020. It was repeated the following day by Enqelaab News, Ghatreh News, Khabar Farsi, Mosalas Online, Mashreq News and others.

The story is a bit of a hodge-podge, which I will paraphrase. In the first place, Bahais at Stanford are supposed to be preparing biological weapons. This follows a story on March 23 (in English), citing the coordinator of the fight against Covid-19, General Nasrollah Fathian: “There is even speculation that this virus has been created to specifically target the Iranian population given their genetic traits. But for now, these theories are all being examined.”

Another story from the same government agency (YJC) a few days earlier, claiming that the Corona virus was probably an American weapon, linking this to an ‘Iranian Genome Project’ at Stanford University. The project actually exists and is studying the genomes of Iranian-Americans in the United States.

Thus far, we have a bit of absurd anti-American propaganda being repurposed by bringing in Bahais working at Stanford, “who are likely to be of Jewish origin” (احتمال اصالت یهودی‌شان بالاست) which “makes it likely that the Corona (Covid-19) pandemic is a biological attack.”

But what if there are no Bahais or Jews working in the Stanford project? The YJC authors have thought ahead, and insert here a long history of the crypto-Jews of medieval Europe and Iran, who were forced to convert to Christianity or Islam but retained their Jewish identities in secret. This is true, but how is it relevant? The implicit argument is that the lack of evidence to support the YJC story is because the Jews involved are hiding their identities. And being Jews they must be Bahais.

The next part of this rambling story refers to large-scale Jewish conversions to the Bahai Faith in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and claims that most Iranian Bahais are of Jewish origin. The latter claim is not true, and not new here: it is one of the links between anti-bahaism and anti-semitism. The JYC story quotes something from Khomeini about the dangers of “falling into the hands of a few Jews who have become Bahais.” (“ما را زیر دست یک مشت کلیمی که خود را به‌صورت بهایی درآورده‌اند پایمال ننماید”)

Then there’s a section on supposed Bahais in senior levels of the Pahlavi government (the Shah deposed by the 1979 Revolution). These often-recycled claims have been debunked thoroughly by Adib Masumian in ‘Debunking the Myths.’ But even without that historical knowledge, any reader is bound to ask, if Bahais were so prominent in the Shah’s government, why were Bahais so persecuted under the Shah’s government? Why were their schools closed, why were pogroms allowed? How could Bahais be at once so powerful and powerless in Iran?

One of these supposed Bahais was Parviz Sabeti, head of one of SAVAK’s divisions and the child of Bahai parents, who became a Muslim while in secondary school. SAVAK, the secret police, was one of the Shah’s tools in monitoring and suppressing the Bahais. Parviz Sabet left Iran at the time of the Revolution, and according to the JYC has a daughter, Pardis, who is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard. Pardis Christine Sabeti, daughter of the SAVAK official, is indeed a brilliant geneticist and one of the authors of ‘Outbreak Culture: The Ebola Crisis and the Next Epidemic.’

So now it all comes together: Stanford University has a project sequencing the genes of Iranian Americans. Harvard University has a geneticist whose grandparents on her father’s side were Bahais in Iran, so clearly, Iranian Bahais are preparing biological weapons to target themselves…. I mean, to target Iranians. Or Jews. Or they are Bahais but really Jews targeting Iranians, or something like that
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Thirty Bahais summoned in Shiraz

HRANA (English), March 17, 2020. –

On March 14, 2019, 30 Bahais were summoned to Branch 10 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz in relation to a case opened by the Intelligence Ministry in 2016. They were charged with “membership in an opposition group” and “propaganda against the state”. They were identified as Noushin Zanhari, Esmail Rousta, Behnam Azimpour, Saeed Hasani, Ramin Shirvani, Marjan Gholampour, Mojgan Gholampour, Farid Shademan, Farzad Shademan, Parisa Rouhizadegan, Shamim Akhlaghi, Sahba Farahbakhsh, Sahba Moslehi, Ahdyeh Enayati, Mahyar Sefidi, Shadi Sadegh Aghdam, Vargha Kaviani, Soroush Ighani, Maryam Eslami, Yekta Fahandaj Saadi, Nabil Tahzib, Samar Ashnaei, Rezvan Yazdani, Lala Salehi, Nasim Kashani, Bahareh Norouzi, Niloufar Hakimi, Farzan Masoumi, Shahnaz Sabet, and Farhad Sabet

Background

Marjan Gholampour, Mojgan Gholampour, Farid Shademan, Farzad Shademan, Parisa Rouhizadegan, Shamim Akhlaghi, Sahba Farahbakhsh, Sahba Moslehi, Ahdyeh Enayati, Mahyar Sefidi, Shadi Sadegh Aghdam, Vargha Kaviani, Soroush Ighani, and Maryam Eslami were arrested in 2016 and were transferred to Ministry of Intelligence Detention Center in Shiraz known as the No. 100 Detention Center.

On October 3, 2016, Bahareh Norouzi and her husband, Siamak Honarvar were arrested and after their house was searched and their belongings were confiscated. They were also transferred to the No.100 Detention Center.

On October 10, 2016, Vargha Kaviani, Shamim Akhlaghi, Farid Shademan, Soroush Ighaei, Farzad Shademan, and Mojgan Gholampour were released from Adel Abad Prison on 200 million Tomans bail.

On October 11, 2016, Marjan Gholampour, Maryam Eslami, and Parisa Rouhizadegan were released from prison on 200 million Tomans bail.

Moreover, Noushin Zanhari, Esmail Rousta, Behnam Azimpour, Saeed Hasani, and Ramin Shirvani were arrested along with several other Bahais in June 2016. They were released on 200 million Toman bail after a month.
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Elaheh Sami`zaadeh faces new charge in Shiraz

HRANA, March 16, 2020. –

Elaheh Sami`zaadeh (الهه سمیع زاده) was summoned last week, and charged with “membership of the Bahai organisation.” One charge is “forging a document,” because she holds a degree from the Bahai Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). The others are “propaganda against the regime,” and “contact with unrepentant groups.” Her original arrest also related to education. She was arrested on September 15, 2018 and released on bail on October 12. On July 11, 2019, she was summoned again in relation to her BIHE degree, and after questioning her bail was increased.
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Samin Maqsudi free on furlough

HRANA, March 15, 2020. –

Samin Maqsudi (ثمین مقصودی), a Bahai from Tehran, was released on furlough from Evin Prison on March 15. Her furlough is to last [at least] until April 3. She began her sentence on November 9, 2019. She was charged with participating in Bahai activities. The charges relate to her commemoration, in her own home, of the bicentennial of the birth of Baha’u’llah, on October 21, 2017. She was initially sentenced on May 21, 2018, by Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای), a notorious abuser of human rights and judicial procedures, who was responsible for the imprisonment of the seven “Yaran.” The Review Court for Tehran Province, headed by Judge Zargar (قاضی زرگر), confirmed the 5-year sentence in September 2019.
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Peyman Kushkebaaghi free for furlough

HRANA, March 17, 2020. –

Peyman Kushkebaaghi ( پیمان کوشک باغی ) was released from Evin Prison on furlough on March 17. He is serving a five-year sentence for his work for the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE). He began his sentence on February 29, 2016, when he was arrested just outside Evin Prison, where he was visiting his wife Azita Rafizadeh (آزیتا رفیع‌زاده), who is serving a four-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison for her own work in educating Bahai youth. The couple have a son, who was with his father and was six years old at the time of his arrest.

Azita Rafizadeh was tried by Judge Moqisseh (قاضی مقیسه ) of Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court in June 2014, and Peyman Koushk-Baghi was separately tried by the same judge 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. Azita Rafizaadeh was released from Evin Prison at the end of her sentence on October 9, 2019.
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Farhaad Fahandezh on furlough from Rajai Shahr prison

HRANA, March 16, 2020. –

Farhaad Fahandezh, a Bahai from Gorgan who is serving a ten-year sentence for his religious beliefs, has been granted furlough for the first time. He was released on March 16. He has been in prison, initially in Gorgan and Evin, and since then in Rajai Shahr, for about seven and a half years. He was one of about 20 Bahais who were detained in a wave of arrests about October 17, 2012. The charges against the group were “organising and running an illegal organisation, membership of an illegal organisation, and propaganda against the regime.” The judge was the notorious Judge Muhammad Maqiseh (قاضی محمد مقیسه).

He is now 60 years old. He was first arrested in 1983, when he was 24 years old. On that occasion he served six years in prison, which left him with digestive disorders.

It appears that his furlough may be connected to a measure announced to reduce the prison population during the Covid-19 epidemic, although that has led to release mainly for those convicted of economic crimes and serving sentences of five years or less. If this furlough is connected to the Covid-19 epidemic, it is a sign of hope for prisoners of conscience in Iran, who have not been released under that measure.
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Mitra Badrnezhad released in Ahvaz

HRANA, March 5, 2020. –

Mrs. Mitra Badrnezhad-Zahdi (میترا بدرنژاد زهدی) was released from from Sepidar prison in Ahvaz on March 5, at the end of her one-year sentence. She was charged with membership of the Bahai organisation. Initially sentenced to five years in prison by a Revolutionary Court, her sentence was reduced to one year by the Review Court for Khuzestan Province. She began her sentence at the Sepidah Prison in Ahvaz on September 21, 2019, and was granted one 10-day furlough ending on January 2 this year. The circumstances of her arrest and interrogation are outlined here.
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Covid-19 & the missing masks of Iran

Editorial, February 26, 2020. –

I won’t try to cover the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Iran: it needs a daily review and there are other media doing that. However I note that the BBC has reported a shortage of masks in Iran. Face masks are not effective in protecting the wearer, but that’s not the point. Masks are what people want, and if there are not enough to go round, what will the regime do?

They will blame the Bahais. Government-sponsored media (in Persian) are relaying a story that ring of Bahai mask-hoarders has been uncovered and broken up. See the story here, and here and here.

The problem for the regime is: now they have reported the seizure of all the masks that Bahais were hoarding, how will they explain that there are still no masks to be had? Those Iranians who believe the story of Bahai mask hoards in the first place will have to conclude that now the security forces are hoarding the seized hoards …

It’s a tough life, being a totalitarian regime and thick as two bricks at the same time.

The actual causes of the shortage include lack of foresight — but then, who saw Covid-19 coming? — and sanctions which do not stop medical imports but do limit the funds available and the means of transferring money, and the general evils of a centrally-planned economy run by the least capable.
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One arrest in Mazandaran Province

HRANA, February 4, 2020. –

On January 25, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Firouzeh Shafi’zaadeh (فیروزه شفیع زاده), in her home in Khotbeh Sara, a village near Talesh, in Mazandaran Province. The agents searched her home and seized some personal effects, including books and photographs, a mobile phone and laptop. She has been denied access to her lawyer, and it is reported that her lawyer has been threatened by security forces. It is not known where she is being held, or why. She is a former student of the Bahai institute of higher education (BIHE), a virtual university for students excluded from tertiary education in Iran because of their religious beliefs. She went on to do a seven-year course in Pharmacy in India, and then returned to Iran.
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Four Bahais begin 3-year sentences in Bushehr

HRANA, January 26, 2020. –

HRANA, January 26, 2020. –

On January 25, Mrs. Minou Reyaazati (مینو ریاضتی), Mrs. Ehteraam Shakhi(احترام شخی), Asadollah Jaaberi (اسدالله جابری) and Mrs. Farideh Jaaberi (فریده جابری) began their sentences in Bushehr prison. They were among seven Bahais sentenced to three years in prison and a two-year ban on leaving the country by a Revolutionary Court in May 2019. Farideh Jaaberi was not named in earlier reports for that group of arrests. Earlier reports also omitted the two-year ban on leaving Iran. All seven were arrested in raids on Bahai homes in Bushehr on February 13, 2018 (or February 15, in other reports). Their homes were thoroughly searched, and personal effects such as laptops, books, flash drives, external hard drives, and family photograph albums were seized. They were released on bail six weeks later, and the Revolutionary Court confirmed their sentences in November, 2019. They were charged with “membership in the Bahai group and sect with the intent of disrupting national security.”
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Four Bahais in Karaj sentenced to one year in prison

HRANA, January 26, 2020. –

Abu-Fadl Ansaari (ابوالفضل انصاری), Ruhollah Zibaa’i (روح‌الله زیبایی), u’in Kohansaal (روئین کهنسال) and Muhammad-Sadeq Reza’i (محمدصادق رضایی) have been sentenced to one year in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Karaj. Mr. Reza’i’s arrest was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and supporting the Bahai Faith. The sentence was announced to them by text message on January 26. They went to the court office to see the text of the court ruling, which they were allowed to transcribe. The trial was conducted on January 18, without the presence of a defence lawyer, and the defendants, in protest, did not speak. The Revolutionary Court’s verdict refers to the claim that “Bahai propaganda” is a religious matter [not a crime]. This arises from the finding of the Review Court for Alborz Province, in the case of Liza Tebyanian Enayati (لیزا تبیانیان ( عنایتی), that teaching the Bahai Faith is not equivalent to “propaganda against the regime” and is not a crime. The Revolutionary Court in Karaj takes note of the views of these “colleagues” (more senior judges) “who were not familiar with security issues, or were ignorant of religious and doctrinal matters, or knew nothing of the Israel-based House of Justice, the English-born bastard of this old fox [England],” but finds the facts in the file sufficient to convict the four men under “article 500” of the Penal Code (i.e., propaganda against the regime).

Ruhollah Zibaa’i and Ru’in Kohansaal were arrested in Karaj, on August 3 and 4, respectively, and released on bail on September 2. At the time, government-sponsored media claimed that Mr. Zibaa’i’s arrest was in relation to a scheme to tighten the economic sanctions against Iran. He requires constant medical supervision because of wounds suffered in the Iran-Iraq war, requiring the amputation of one foot and the loss of one kidney and part of his liver, and various other injuries and ailments (I cannot make out which are war injuries ~Sen).

Abu-Fadl Ansaari was arrested at his home in Karaj on August 3, 2019, and held in Raja’i Shahr prison. He was released on bail in Karaj on September 8. He has a heart condition and relies on a pacemaker.
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Two arrests in Qaemshahr

Iran Wire and HRANA, 26 Janury, 2020. –

Faraaneh Mansouri ( فرانه منصوری) and her husband Saamaan Shirvaani (سامان شیروانی), two Bahais from Qaemshahr, were arrested on January 23 while visiting the home of an old friend in the same city. The arrest was made by agents from the Intelligence Arm of the Revolutionary Guards. The agents came unnanounced over the wall of their friend’s house and forced their way inside. They showed an arrest warrant, and filmed the whole process. The agents searched the house and seized some belongings including a laptop computer, hard drive and mobile telephone, and arrested both the couple and the friend they were visiting. The friend was released a few hours later. The agents took Mr. Shirvaani with them to the couple’s home, which they also searched, but it is not known whether they seized any belongings since only Mr. Shirvani was with them, and he is being held incommunicado.

It is not known why this couple were arrested, or where they are being held. Their families have not been successful in obtaining further information. [Reading between the lines of these reports, it is possible that they were visiting a Muslim friend, and the security forces took action because they seek to minimize contacts between Bahais and Muslims. Some years ago, a Bahai named Faraaneh Mansuri was expelled from university in Tabriz because of her Bahai beliefs. I do not know whether it is the same person. ~ Sen]
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Shiraz city Councillor, Mehdi Haajati, released with a surety

HRANA, January 23, 2020. –

Mehdi Haajati (مهدی حاجتی), a member of Shiraz City Council in Iran who was imprisoned for trying to help Bahai constituents, has been released from Shiraz Prison after posting a surety. It is not clear from the report whether this ends his prison term. He began serving a one-year sentence on June 2, 2019, so he has served nine months, but a surety is not required if a prisoner is released before serving his full term.

His legal trouble started in September 2018, when, as he tweeted, “In the past ten days I have knocked on many doors to get two Bahai friends released from detention, without success. As long as we face foreign enemies, our generation has a duty to reform the judicial and other procedures that endanger social justice”. He was charged with assisting Bahais, and sentenced to one year in prison and two years in exile in Tabas, a small city 800 km North-East of Shiraz.
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Review court in Kerman cuts sentences of four Bahais

HRANA, January 22, 2020. –

Over two years ago, a Revolutionary Court in Kerman sentenced Amrullah Khaalqiyaan (امرالله خالقیان), Ehasaanullah Amiri-niya (احسان الله امیری نیا), Nima Rajab-zaadeh (نیما رجب زاده) and Armaan Bandi (آرمان بندی) to five years in prison. The provincial Review Court has reduced that to four months in prison, on a charge of undermining internal security by teaching the Bahai Faith. The Review Court’s decision was signed by Muhammad Mohaqqeq (محمد محقق) and (Majid Zaynaldini-Neya جید زین الدینی نیا). It appears that the hearing of the Review Court was held on April 28, 2019, but the finding has only just been announced.
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Nine Bahais begin prison terms in Birjand

HRANA, Janury 16, 2020. –

On January 15, nine Bahais whose arrest and sentencing was reported previously began their sentences, ranging from two to four years, in Birjand Prison.
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Wahda Silaani bailed in Kerman

HRANA, January 15, 2020. –

Wahda Silaani (وحدا سیلانی) was freed on bail from Kerman Prison on January 15. Her bail was 100 million tumans (21,000 euros ; $US 24,000). She was arrested in her home in Kerman by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on December 29. The agents also seized some of her belongings. The charges against her are not yet known.
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`Ali Ahmadi’s 11-year sentence confirmed

HRANA, January 14, 2020. –

The Review Court for Mazandaran Province has upheld the 11-year sentence for Mr. `Ali Ahmadi (علی احمدی), a Bahai from Qaemshahr. Mr. Ahmadi was charged with propaganda against the regime and administering Bahai activities, and sentenced by the Revolutionary Court of Qaemshahr. He was informed of his sentence on December 2, 2019, The Review Court confirmed the sentence two weeks later, without holding a sitting, based on the file provided by the Revolutionary Court. Earlier reports said that the Revolutionary Court considered the possession of Bahai religious texts as sufficient to justify the sentence.

Mr. Ahmadi was arrested on November 20, 2018, by agents who insulting his religious beliefs and calling him “unclean” and “Bahai dog.” They also seized some religious books mobile phone and computer. He was held in solitary confinement at the Kachou’i Detention Centre in Sari. He was freed on bail on January 2, 2019, after posting bail of 150 million tumans (31,000 euros ; $US 35,000).

This is the fifth time he has been arrested in the past ten years: On the first occasion he was sentenced to 10 months in prison, and on the second occasion he was acquitted. In 2011 he was arrested with two others and charged with participation in Bahai activities. A previous report said that he is also known as Cheragh-`Ali (چراغعلی) Ahmadi. Another states that he is 60 years old, and works as a rice trader.
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Sahba Farnoush sentenced to 16 years in prison

HRANA, January 11, 2020. –

A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced Sahba Farnoush (صهبا فرنوش) to 16 years in prison. The verdict, from Judge Emaan Afshaari (قاضی ایمان افشاری), was announced to him in recent days. Mr. Farnoush, a Bahai from Tehran, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on November 15, 2015, and was freed on bail from Evin Prison in late December that year. 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 that day. Agents from the Ministry of Intelligence also closed down Bahai-run businesses in the Province of Mazandaran. The Ministry of Intelligence actions apparently related to Bahais commemorating the birth of Baha’u’llah, but the charges are not stated, and it is not clear why the court decided to issue a judgement on the case four years after Mr. Farnoush was bailed. He is now about 45 years old. His father was arrested and executed following the 1979 Revolution in Iran, and his property was confiscated. At that time, Sahba was five years old.
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Bahais in Iran denied new ID cards

Iran Wire, January 8, 2002. –

Since 2015, Iran has been progressively introducing a ‘smart’ form of the national ID card, with biometric data and a holographic photograph. At some point — apparently a few months ago — the application form for this card was changed, to remove the ‘other religion’ option, and anecdotal reports appeared of individual Bahais being denied a card unless they called themselves Muslims, Christians, Jews or Zoroastrians. Iranian ID cards are valid for seven years, but individuals with pre-2015 cards may need to apply for a smart ID to open a bank account or other specific transaction. I have not reported these individual stories because, as the Iran Wire report says:

It is unclear when or why the change came into effect or the reason – though at least one Iranian politician has taken credit for the development.

The Member of Parliament for Khomeini Shahr, Mohammad Javad Abtahi, said in January last year that he had called on the Interior Ministry to remove the option to list “Other Religions” on the national smart ID application form. Abtahi claimed that including “Other Religions” allowed “stray sects” to be treated as official.

The Iran Wire report gives examples of Bahais being denied ID cards, one of which says:

A Baha’i citizen from Shiraz told IranWire: “I went to a government service counter to register [for an ID card]. The cashier asked me for personal information such as name, surname, date of birth, name of father, mother, and so on, and filled out my registration form in the computer. Then he printed it out and gave it to me to sign. In the personal information column in the Religion section it was written: Islam. When I told him that I was not a Muslim, and to please state ‘Other Religions’ in my registration form instead of Islam, he replied the only religions in the form are Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. He said he was allowed to choose only one of these four.”

When the Baha’i citizen protested, the official said: “It’s not a problem; this is just for registering, it’s just a formality. No one will notice that you wrote Islam! … The new guidelines state that if the applicant does not choose one of these options, his or her registration will not be accepted.”

This change excludes non-religious persons, Bahais, and Iranian residents of Buddhist, Hindu and other backgrounds from opening bank accounts, and perhaps from obtaining a passport, and obtaining documents for the military draft. There are conflicting reports as to whether the matter may be corrected when new software is installed in a few months, or is deliberate policy change by the National Registration Office. The full Iran Wire report is here in English and here in Persian.
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Mitra Badrnezhad granted prison furlough in Ahwaz

HRANA, January 2, 2020. –

Mrs. Mitra Badrnezhad-Zahdi (میترا بدرنژاد زهدی), a Bahai serving a one-year sentence in Ahwaz, returned to prison on January 2 after a 10-day furlough. She began her sentence at the Sepidah Prison in Ahvaz on September 21, 2019. She was charged with membership of the Bahai organisation. Initially sentenced to five years in prison by a Revolutionary Court, her sentence was reduced to one year by the Review Court for Khuzestan Province. The circumstances of her arrest and interrogation are reported here.

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