The ‘Yaran’ meet their families
Bahai World News Service, Persian, 31 March
All of the Yaran were permitted to meet their families, on 25 March 2010. The date for their next hearing (10 April) is approaching.
Source (in Persian)
List of HRAI members arrested recently
HRANA, 26 March
The Human Rights Activists in Iran Organization (HRAI) has published the names of its detained members and associates who have been arrested over the past several months.
Full press release
Two Bahais arrested in Yazd region
HRANA, 31 March
Two brothers, Suhail and Behnam Ruhani-fard ( سهيل روحاني فرد و بهنام روحاني فرد ), are reported to have been arrested on 29 March. They had been released from prison in January, having been convicted of propaganda against the regime.
Source, in Persian
Khabar Navard adds the the charges include having satellite equipment and singing Bahai songs. [sic: “خواندن سرودهایی مربوط به بهاییان” ]. The sentences are 9 months for Behnam and 18 months for Suheil.
Persian2English now has a translation. I think their interpretation is incorrect: the two are not arrested on new charges, but have been detained following the spring break in order to begin serving their sentences.
Concerns about Payam Vali
Iran Press News, 31 March
Payam Vali ( پیام ولی ) was arrested in Karaj on February 1st (see below) because of his Bahai beliefs. Three months later he is still in prison in Karaj, and there are disturbing reports of the physical and psychological pressures used to force a confession. He was first transferred to a wing of the prison where there is serious over-crowding (the prisoners sleep on the ground, packed together “like a book”) and then moved to solitary confinement for a new round of interrogations.
Source (in Persian)
Payam Fana’yan sentenced
HRANA 30 March
Payam Fana’yan ( پیام فنائیان ), one of the Bahais arrested following the Ashura protests in January 2010, has been sentenced to six years imprisonment.
50 Young Baha’is banned from foreign travel
RAHANA, 28 March
The names of 50 young Shiraz Baha’is have been added to the no-foreign-travel list making it impossible for them to leave the country. On May 19, 2006 they were arrested for doing social work in impoverished villages around Shiraz. Following the arrest, they were forced by the Intelligence Ministry to participate in Islamic Propaganda courses for a period of 3 years.
Summary for March
Bahai World News Service, 28 March
This summary (in English) reports 14 new arrests in March, bringing the total for 2010 to 50 arrests. It reports 45 Bahai currently in prison in Iran for their beliefs. Note that this source is likely to be more complete than the summary from Khabar Navard posted below, which has somewhat lower figures.
Moshfegh Samandari’s sentence confirmed
Iran Human Rights, 21 March
An Appeals Court has upheld the 6-month sentence of Moshfegh Samandari, on charges of “propagating the Bahai faith.” An earlier report said that the reason for his arrest was the supposed legal complaint of the family of a person whose son was in contact with Mr. Samandary and was studying the Baha’i Faith. He had previously served 80 days in solitary confinement in the Ministry of Information’s Sari detention center. During his detention, Samandari suffered heart problems: he is currently under medical treatment.
Continued detention of a Christian pastor
Christian Telegraph, 23 March
Pastor Vahik Abrahamian, an Armenian Christian with dual Dutch/Iranian citizenship was arrested in Tehran by plainclothes security officers on 20 February, and is being held in Evin prison in Tehran. Several points about this arrest are unusual, among them, that one of the arresting agents filmed the episode with a handheld camera. Over a month after his arrest, there is still complete silence by Iranian Legal and juridical authorities and he has not been allowed to meet a lawyer or family. The report ends:
“… we would like to beseech all Christian community in Iran and overseas to fast and pray for his release and also pray for other Christians arrested in the last days and weeks in various cities in Iran.”
Summary of Bahais imprisoned in Iran
Khabar Navard blog, 24 March
Khabar Navard has a list of the Bahais currently behind bars in Iran. Fifteen are held in Tehran (the seven Yaran included), eight in Shiraz, one in Yazd, two in Hamadan, four in Yasuj, two in Semnan, two in Mashhad, two in Karaj, for a total of 36, and two Bahais are in internal exile.
Bahai prisoners contact their families
SCHRR, 22 March
In the last days before Naw Ruz, Dorsa Sobhani and Iqan Shahidi ( درسا سبحانی و ایقان شهیدی ) have been allowed a 45-minute visit from their families, and Navid Khanjani ( نوید خانجانی ) and Sama Noorani ( سما نورانی, on 21 March ) have been allowed to contact their families briefly. Dorsa is being held in solitary confinement. Sama Nurani and Iqan Shahidi are sharing a cell in Evin Prison.
Source (in Persian)
Meanwhile, Persian2English is reporting that Navid Khanjani’s family has submitted an appeal to the office of Sadegh Larijani, Head of the Iranian judiciary, but this has been rejected on the grounds that Bahais have no right to make appeals.
Summary for 1 to 19 March
Bahai World News Service, 19 March
A summary shows that 14 Baha’is have been arrested or detained so far in March, five in Marvdasht, four in Mashhad, and the others in Semnan, Isfahan, Shiraz, Kermanshah, and Sari. This brings to 50 the number arrested since the beginning of 2010. About 45 Iranian Baha’is are currently in prison because of their religion. The number varies as new people are arrested but others released after posting cash, property deeds, or business licenses as collateral.
The deposits required for temporary release in several recent cases in Mashhad, Semnan, and Shiraz have been as high as US$150,000.
As of 14 March, the cases of at least 266 Baha’is were still active with authorities. These include individuals in prison, those who have been released pending trial, those who have appealed their verdicts, those awaiting notification to begin serving prison sentences, and a few who are serving periods of internal exile. Thousands more have been questioned, threatened, or deprived of pensions, livelihood, or education.
Excluded Bahai students protest
SCHRR 20 March
The association of excluded Bahai students has addressed a letter to the Iranian nation, protesting their love of Iran and against the lies and distortions presented in the media.
Letter (in Persian)
Artayan Ghodnafri to block 350
RAHANA, 18 March
RAHANA reports that Artayan Ghodnafri ( آرتین غضنفری ) has been transferred to block 350 of Evin prison, where political prisoners are held. This is odd, since the request for release on bail was signed more than two weeks ago, but it has not been implemented. He is the husband of Jinoos Sobhani (see below), and was arrested on 3 January.
Five Bahais released
Various sources, 18 March
The Committee of Human Rights Reporters reports that Niki (Alaeddin) Khanjani and Mehran (Ahmad) Rouhani ( لاءالدین خانجانی و مهران روحانی ) have been freed from Evin prison. They were arrested on 10 February and 3 January 2010, respectively. The Bahai News Service states that Mehran Rouhani and Niki Khanjani were both released on a substantial bail. The latter is the son of Jalaluldin Khanjani, one of the imprisoned Yaran.
The Bahai News Service in Persian reports that Babak Mubashir was released on bail on March 13th, and Mr Ashkan Bassari ( اشکان بصّاری ) and Romina Dhabihian ( رومینا ذبیحیان) were released on 10 March.
Four Bahais arrested in Mashhad
RHANA, 16 March
RHANA and Khabarnavard are reporting that at 7.30 in the morning on March 15th, the security forces entered the home of Shahaab Ta’efi and Rezayati Waseqi ( شهاب طائفی و رزیتا واثقی ) in Mashhad, confiscated computer apparatus and Bahai books, and arrested the two. Two hours later agents of the security forces entered the home of Afshin Nik-a’in and Nahid Qadiri ( ناهید قدیری و افشین نیک آیین ), confiscated computer equipment and religious books, and arrested the two. Rezayati Waseq and Nahid Qadiri had previously been summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence in Mashhad. There is no news of the whereabouts of the four arrested Bahais.
Egypt’s Baha’is still having ID problems
Bikya Misr, 15 March
Rauf el-Hendi, spokesman for the Baha’i community in Egypt, said last week that the crisis of social status on the country’s national identity cards for hundreds of the married, divorced and widowed Baha’is is still a growing concern, despite continuous promises by government officials to consider this issue as a “prelude to finding solutions.” pointing out that the absence of a real breakthrough to the crisis is caused by the “purposeful disruption by several government departments for the families of Baha’is.”
He added that the community is “facing serious difficulties in banking transactions, and in the issuance or renewal of driving licenses, and all government departments are completely immobilized.” Married, divorced or widowed Baha’is are not permitted to have new ID cards with the religion status blank.
Two More Baha’i Students Banned
Persian2English, 13 March
Parham Fazlali, a computer science student in his eighth [and final] term at Tarbiat-Moalem University of Hesarak in Karaj, and Parisa Emadi, a Persian literature student at the same university in her eighth [and final] term, have been banned from entering the university grounds since March 5, 2010.
They were told on February 19, 2010 that they were suspended, but no reason was given. Because an official written notice did not state clear reasons, they continued to attend university until March 8th when the university security forces did not allow them to enter [the campus].
According to a RAHANA reporter, the two students went to the investigations office and asked Mr. Nourbakhsh for the reasons of the ban. Mr. Nourbakhsh told them it is because of their Baha’i faith.
Recently, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of the Iranian delegation for human rights council in Geneva, has said that no one is banned from entering a university because of their Baha’i faith.
President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships reports
Pew Forum, 9 March
…The 25 members of the council, which included representatives of national faith-based and secular charities, finished their one-year term with a 164-page report that included more than 60 specific recommendations…. in six different areas, including reform of the renamed White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. They suggest increased guidance so religious organizations use federal funds while respecting the separation of church and state.
In other areas, recommendations include vastly increasing the scope of interfaith service projects in cities and on college campuses; involving faith-based organizations more in addressing poverty; promoting fatherhood in the military and in prison programs; limiting the Pentagon’s role in development work; and helping nonprofit groups “green” their buildings.
Semnan Bahai transferred to Evin prison
HRANA, 11 March
Ms Monizheh Manzuyan ( منیژه منزویان ) of Semnan was sentenced in Tehran to three years’ imprisonment on charges of propaganda against the regime and membership of illegal organisations. She was transferred to Semnan, but in recent days has been transferred to Evin, without her family being informed.
Source (in Persian)
Babak Mobasher in Rajai Shahr Prison
Persian2Engish, 10 March
Babak Mobasher ( بابک مبشر ), who was arrested on January 3 this year, has been held incommunicado. His family had thought he was in Evin prison in Tehran, but it now appears that he is in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj, some 45 km from Tehran. Because of the intimidation of lawyers who dare to defend Bahais, the family has not been able to obtain legal support.
Several Bahais freed on bail
RAHANA, 9 March
Hutan Sistani, Bashir Ehsani and his mother Marya Jafrai ( هوتن سیستانی، بشیر احسانی و ماریا جعفری ) were arrested by security forces in February, and have been freed on bail. The report does not indicate when or where this occurred.
Source (in Persian)
Two Bahais of Qaemshahr sentenced
Iran Press News, 10 March
Saman Sabiti and Mas`ud `Ata’yan ( سامان ثابیتی و مسعود عطائیان ), two Bahais in the Qaemshahr region, have been sentenced to prison. Saman Sabiti was sentenced in Sari last spring to six months imprisonment for teaching the Bahai Faith and propaganda against the regime. His sentence has been confirmed by the Mazandaran appeals court. Mas`ud `Ata’yan, another Bahai of Qaemshahr, has been in solitary confinement for the past three months has been sentenced to 10 months imprisonment by the court in Sari.
Gudarz Baydaghi arrested in Sangsar
Gudarz Baydaghi, aged 60, was arrested and taken to Semnan Prison on March 1 by 4 male and 1 femal intelligence agents who raided his house in Sangsar near Semnan. According to a RAHANA reporter, the agents also conducted a house search and seized Baydaghi’s books, computer, photos related to his Baha’i faith as well as family albums. Not finding sufficient information in his home, after two hourse they went to Baydaghi’s shop in Semnan, 14 kilometres away, where they conducted a search. He has not been heard from since his arrest and his family remains extremely concerned over Baydaghi’s condition who suffers from diabetes.
English report from HRANA here
Sama Nourani arrested
Bahai News Service (Persian) 8 March
Sama Nourani ( سما نورانی ), an expelled student of Shiraz, is reported to have been arrested on the evening of 3 March by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence, who also confiscated some of his personal possessions. He was one of the 54 youth of Shiraz who were arrested in May, 2006, for giving lessons to underpriviledged youth.
Source (in Persian)
Larijani: Bahais may now attend universities and own big businesses
HRANA, 7 March
Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, is reported to have told the Netherlands’ Ambassador for Human Rights and spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, that Bahais in Iran are considered a religious minority and enjoy equal rights as citizens. He claimed: “Statistics show that a large number of them are now attending universities and even running big trading companies, and none of them suffer from hinderance in their activities and lives.” The HRANA report does not indicate when or where the meeting took place, and it has not yet been reported in the Dutch media.
Source (in Persian)
Dorsa Sobhani arrested, transferred to Evin
Bahai Rights, 7 March
Dorsa Sobhani, a member of the 1 Million Signature Campaign, was arrested this morning in Sari, northern Iran. The 1 Million Signature Campaign aims to collect a million signatures to a petition to repeal all the discriminatory laws against women in Iran, while raising awareness about this inequality.
Ms. Sobhani is a Baha’i who was denied her right to higher education because of her faith, and she has also campaigned for those rights. Many students – Baha’is and politically active – have been banned from attending universities in the past. The “Committee for the Right to Education”, which Dorsa is a member of, campaigned to lift these bans. Since the disputed June election in Iran, many members of the committee were arrested.
This arrest comes after a raid on Sobhani’s home on March 2th, when six security officials entered the home in the middle of the night, searched it and confiscated belongings. On March 4th, six officials returned to Sobhani’s home, and physically and verbally attacked her father. He was then arrested, blindfolded, bound and interrogated and threatened for hours. The security officials told him that unless he turns in Dorsa, he, his wife and young daughter will be arrested and their home will be taken away from them.
This morning Dorsa arrived at her home where she was met by 12 security agents who proceeded to arrest her.
Postscript 8 March: HRANA adds: “We would like to note that reports that Ms. Sobhani had been on the run are false. Ms. Sobhani had left for a trip to the holy city of Mashhad a few hours prior to the first raid for her arrest and returned home to Sari immediately upon hearing the news.”
9 March: HRANA reports (in Persian) that she has been transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran.
Darsa Sobhani’s father beaten in Sari
RAHANA, 4 March
Darsa Sobhani is a member of the 1 Million Signatures Campaign, who has been denied university entry because of her Baha’i faith and has been active in the movement for education rights. According to CHRR, the Sobhani family’s house was raided in the early hours of March 3 by intelligence agents in an attempt to arrest Darsa who was not home at the time. Now RAHANA reports Darsa Sbhani’s father was attacked by 6 intelligence agents as he was leaving the family’s house in Sari. Mr. Sobhani was severely beaten and taken away in handcuffs and blindfold and was interrogated for 4 hours. He was told by the agents unless he turns over Darsa by Saturday, he will arrested along with his wife and his other daughter and their house will be confiscated.
Behfar Khanjani released on bail
Bahai News Service (Persian), 3 March
Mr. Behfar Khanjani, a Bahai resident of Semnan who was arrested on 5 January 2010, is reported to have been released on bail. The News Service also reports (here) that Mrs. Leva Khanjani ( لوا خانجانی ), arrested on 3 January, was released on bail in Tehran on 1 March.
Five Bahais arrested in Marvdasht, one in Kermanshah, one in Shiraz
RAHANA, 3 March
On March 1, intelligence agents raided the houses of 5 Baha’i families in Marvdasht, a small city near Shiraz, and arrested Farahnaz Ashnayi, Tayebeh Fallah, Jahanbakhsh Bazrafkan, Hasan Bazrafkan and Nozar Fallah. Iqan Shahidi, who has been denied university admission for being Baha’i, was arrested on 2 March in Kermanshah. Sama Nourani, who had been expelled from Sahand University, was arrested in Shiraz on 3 March. Both had been trying to get their expulsions from university reversed.
Full RAHANA report
CHRR Member Navid Khanjani Arrested
Iran Press Watch, 3 March
Student and civil activist Navid Khanjani was arrested at his home in Isfahan on March 2, 2010, persuant to an earlier sentence. Navid Khanjani is a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters and founder of The Association to Combat Educational Discrimination. He was barred from further education himself, because of his belief in the Baha’i faith.
Iran Press Watch full translation
8 March: he has since been able to contact his family by telephone. He is being held in Evin prison. See Persian2English (which is a useful site to track) and (in Persian) HRANA
Bahai home in Isfahan raided, arrests fail
HRANA reports that security forces raided the home of Hesam Mithaqi and Sepehr `Aatafi ( حسام میثاقی و سپهر عاطفی ) in Isfahan on the morning of 3 March, but were not able to arrest the two since they were not home. The two are described as civil-society activists. They are accused of associating with hypocrites and warring against God. CDs and computers were confiscated.
HRANA report (in Persian)
Full translation by IHRV, 6 March
March 7: The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has an interview with Hesam Misaghi (text, in Persian)
March 10: this interview has now been translated by the Muslim Network for Bahai Rights
Students’ Association demands Bahais be released?
Tarana News, 1 March
Tarana News is reporting that a Tehran Bahai Student’s Association has sought the release of Bahais arrested following the Ashura riots. The ‘Bahais’ named come from Tehran and Semnan. The report is likely to be black propaganda: Bahais are not allowed to attend tertiary education in Iran, let alone form a Students’ Association!
Five Bahais of Shiraz sentenced to 10 months imprisonment
HRA-news, 1 March
HRA-news reports that five Bahais of Shiraz have been tried on charges of propaganda against the regime, and sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment. Their names are given as Haaleh Huushmandi, Keyvaan Kerami, Frahami Ma`sumi and Wahdat Dana ( هاله هوشمندی ، کيوان کرمی ، فرهام (هادی) معصومی، افشين احسنيان و وحدت دانا ). The first four were arrested last winter, while Wahdat Dana was arrested on 25 April 2009.
Seven Bahais to be released
SCHRR, 28 February
SCHRR is reporting the release of one Bahai, and the setting of bail for six others, on 27 February. They were arrested on 3 January in connection with the Ashura riots. The six are Lawa’ Khanjani and Jinoos Sobhani, who had been the cause of concern because their families had had no news of them, Aartayn Ghodnafri, Mona Mithaqi, Farid Ruhani and Zavesh Shaadmehr
(لوا خانجانی، ژینوس سبحانی، آرتین غضنفری، منا میثاقی، فرید روحانی و زاوش شادمهر). There is still no news of three other Bahais arrested on 3 January: Payam Fana’yan, Babak Mobashr and Mehraan Ruhani ( پیام فنائیان، بابک مبشر و مهران روحانی )
Story in Persian
Anti-Bahaism in Semnan
RAHANA, 28 February
Semnan is a small city, but a fertile breeding ground for anti-Baha’ism. The Bahais are not protected by the anonymity they enjoy in larger cities. RAHANA has a brief account of the persecution suffered by Mr. Yahya Hedayati (mentioned below) during the course of his life.
1 March: Iran Press News reports the arrest of a Bahai in Semnan here. Muniizeh Manzuyan ( منیزه منزویان ) had just served a three-year sentence for propaganda against the regime and participating in illegal Bahai activities.
Continuing harassment of Bahais in Semnan
Bahai News Service (Persian), 25 February
On February 16 the home of Mr. Yahya Hedayati, and a shop linked to Mr. Akbar Pour-Husseini in Semnan were subject to an arson attack and suffered damage. This follows an earlier incident on June 14, 2009, and the breaking of windows in the shop in December.
Full report (in Persian)
Too long a list
HRANA, 26 February
HRANA has released its monthly summary of the abuses of the human rights of Bahais in Iran over the past month. Unfortunately it is too long a list for me to translate, and doesn’t lend itself to a summary. If someone would like to translate it I would be happy to post it here.
Another long list of recent abuses, based on the Bahai News Service in Persian, is given here.
Qanuni sisters released on bail
RAHANA, 25 February
Taraneh and Naghmeh Ghanooni who were arrested at their home on February 10 by agents from the Intelligence Ministry, have been released on bail. According to a RAHANA reporter, the two Baha’i women are the daughters of the author and philosopher, Noah Ghanooni (Qanuni).
The two sisters were tried during a court hearing that lasted 10 minutes. The judge attempted to question the sisters over their religious beliefs but was faced with their firm response regarding their Baha’i faith.
Human Rights Watch calls for an end to persecution
BBC Persian 24 February
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Human Rights Watch called for an end to the systematic persecution of the Bahais in Iran, and listed recent incidents and victims.
Full report (in Persian)
Two Bahais tried
RAHANA, 23 February
Taraneh and Naghmeh Qanuni, who were accused of participating in the Ashura riots this year, have been tried and await sentencing. The trial lasted some 10 minutes, since the defendants were only asked whether they were Bahais.
Full report (in Persian)
Contradictions in Iran
Sen’s daily, 23 February
According to the IRIB News Agency, Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, has said that “Bahaism is not a official religion in Iran however Bahai people enjoy their civil rights however if someone plots against the country’s national security there is no difference between Bahai or Shii in judicial affairs.” Previously he had claimed that “there is religious freedom in Iran and no Baha’i is persecuted for his beliefs….” (Bahai World News Service)
Also today, the Human Rights Activists News Agency has produced a summary of the various phases in the exclusion of Bahais from tertiary education in Iran, as part of a systematic policy to deny Bahais their civil rights which the Iranian regime has pursued since 1979. The report estimates that tens of thousands of Iranian Bahais have suffered under this policy.
Next hearing for Yaran 10 April
BWNS 22 February
The third court session for seven Baha’i leaders imprisoned in Iran is scheduled for 10 April, a day earlier than originally announced.
Diane Ala’i, representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva, said attorneys in Iran have now received written notice of the court date, confirming it as 10 April, a Saturday. The earlier notification was oral.
The seven defendants have been imprisoned since 2008 and only last month were presented with formal charges – including espionage and “corruption on earth” – which they categorically deny.
Three recently arrested Bahais released
RAHANA, 19 February
Bahman Yazdani, Vesal Mohammadi and Riaz Firoozmandi, 3 Baha’i men who were arrested in recent weeks, have been released from prison.
Bahman Yazadani and Vesal Mohammadi, who were arrested in January 25th in their homes in Mashad, were released on $50,000 bails. The homes and workplaces of both men had been searched during the arrest. Also released on bail is Riaz Firoozmandi, who was arrested in Tehran on February 10th along with 12 other Baha’is. There is still no word on the fates of the other 12.
Third hearing for Yaran scheduled
RAHANA, 19 February
The lawyers of the 7 Baha’i leaders have been notified that April 11th will be the date for their clients’ next court hearing. The news of the next court hearing comes as the 7 Baha’i leaders have now been detained for over 600 days. The last court hearing was held on February 7th, 2010, and like the first court session, it was entirely spent on reading out the lengthy indictment.
According to CHRR, Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaleddin Khanjani, Afif Na’imi, Saeed Rezaee, Behrooz Tavakoli and Vahid Tizfahm were all arrested on May 14th, 2008 when their houses were raided. The 7th member of the group, Mahvash Sabet had been arrested earlier on March 5th, 2008 in Mashad.
From the long intervals between the scheduled court hearings, it appears that the authorities are attempting to extend the detention time of the defendants by holding multiple and lengthy court hearings.
Amnesty International criticizes Iran
Amnesty International, 17 February
Amnesty International today criticised Iran for rejecting important recommendations by the United Nations to improve human rights in the country.
The recommendations rejected by Iran include: ending the execution of juvenile offenders; upholding fair trial guarantees, investigating torture allegations, including rape and releasing people detained for peacefully exercising their human rights.
While accepting a recommendation to cooperate with UN’s human rights experts, Iran rejected several others to allow the Council’s Special Rapporteur on torture to visit the country.
The delegation accepted the recommendation to respect freedom of religion but rejected a recommendation to end discrimination against the Bahai’s. ….
Bahais accused of insulting Islam
The Iranian websphere today is full of a story that Bahais have begun producing films and books insulting Islam, and certain Bahais have produced a film about the relations between men and women in Islam. No concrete example of an insult to Islam by any Bahai, even an off-hand remark in the street, is given. Bahais regard Muhammad as a Messenger of God and count his religion as a true religion. In the West, Bahais (such as myself) who have studied Islam are frequently engaged in correcting misunderstandings of Islam and fighting anti-Islamic prejudice.
Despite the lack of evidence, the story about Bahais insulting Islam has been carried widely. A google search on “بهائیت و توهین علنی به اسلام” and limited to the last 24 hours, produces 24 hits, including several substantial news channels.
Meanwhile, a television network connected with the Iranian government has been showing a historical ‘documentary’ containing offensive images of Baha’u’llah and the Bab, the founders of the Babi and Baha’i Faiths. The series revolves around the baseless and threadbare accusation that these Faiths (whose members contributed to the short-lived flowering of modernity and democracy in Iran around 1900-1920) are a creation of British imperialistic politics in order to combat Islam. Iran Press Watch carries a more detailed report. Zoroastrians are also upset at the portrayal of Manikji (or Manikchi) Sahib, an Indian Parsi (Zoroastrian) who laboured to persuade the Shah to reduce the oppression of Iranian Zoroastrians, and to introduce modern education for Zoroastrian children. In the ‘documentary’ he becomes a British agent!
Summary of abuses of Bahai Rights, Feb. 1 – 10
RAHANA Religious Minorities – The following reports contains some of the cases pertaining to Baha’i rights abuses in the first ten days of February 2010.
1- Farideh Reazee was released on bail. She had been arrested on January 16th, 2010.
2- The arrest of 2 Baha’i residents of Mashad was confirmed. Vesal Mohammadi was arrested on January 6th, 2010 at his workplace in Mashad. Bahman Yazdani was arrested the same day after his home was raided. Both men were arrested by agents from the intelligence Ministry for their religious beliefs.
3- Ali-Askar Ravanbakhsh and his wife Zoleikh were respectively granted 5days and 10 day prison leaves. Rouhiyah Yazdani(Baghaee) was also granted 5 day prison leave. All 3 were arrested on October 26th, 2008 in Yasuj and are currently serving 2-year jail terms which will be followed by 5 years of suspended term. They had been initially sentenced to 3 years for undertaking propaganda activities against the regime and one year for membership in banned groups.
4- Shahram Afshar and Payman Nakhli, 2 business owners in the southern city of Mahshahr were told by city’s municipal authorities to close down their businesses where they sold food and cosmetics.
5- On February 1st, 2010, the residence of Payam Vali was raided in Nazarabad Karaj by agents from the Intelligence Ministry. The agents, who were in possession of a warrant, seized material related to Baha’I faith after searching the house. Vali, who was not at home during the house search, was summoned the Intelligence Ministry’s local office the next day. He was arrested upon appearing.
[February 4: the sentencing of a Bahai in Semnan (reported below) is omitted in the Planet-Iran list.]
1- On January 29th, 2010, Shahram Safajoo, a Karaj resident, was served with a notice of appearance (issued on January 17th) before the 28th branch of the Revolutionary Court, the same day the 7 Baha’I leaders were scheduled to appear before the court. Safajoo had been arrested once, back on April 26th, 2009 but was released on bail on May 18th, 2009.
2- The 7 Baha’I leaders, who remain in arbitrary detention for almost 2 years, appeared before a closed door court hearing. The families were not allowed to attend the hearing and there is no word on when the next hearing will take place.
1- The legal situation of the Baha’is arrested after the Ashura protests remains under a cloud of uncertainty. Meanwhile many people fear the worst for them after the state television aired a program of their forced confessions.
The fact that Baha’I faith prohibits its followers from involvement in political activities is an irrefutable proof of their innocence and shows their detention was only done to score political points by the Islamic Republic.
2- Vahid Esmailzadeh a Baha’i resident of the northern city of Sari was released on bail. He had been arrested on November 21st, 2009.
Behnam Rohanifard and his brother Sohail were sentenced to 9 months in prison each. It is not clear when their trials took place. The time already spent in prison will be counted in their jail terms. The 2 bothers were arrested in October 2009. Their lawyer was verbally notified of the court’s decision.
Sohail Rohanifar was arrested on October 9th, 2009; one week after his house had been searched by agents from the Intelligence Ministry.
Behnam Rohanifar’s house was searched by 3 agents from the Intelligence Ministry back on March 30th, 2009. The 3 agents were in possession of a search warrant as well as a previous court ruling which had sentenced Rohanifar to 4 years suspended jail term.
1- At 2:30 am, agents from the Intelligence Ministry raided the home of Allaeddin Khanjani and arrested him after searching the house. Khanjani’s father, Jamaleddin, is one of the 7 Baha’i leaders who have been detained since 2 years ago. Khanjani’s daughter, Lava was arrested on January 3rd, 2010, along with 12 other Baha’is.
Immediately after Khanjani’s arrest the following people were arrested during midnight raids:
1- Ashkan Basri
2- Maria Jafari (Ehsani)
3- Bashir Ehsani
4- Roumina Zabihian
5- Houtan Sistani
All 6 were arrested for their alleged roles in the recent riots.
2- The state television broadcast a program called the Constitutional Monarchy Years, dedicated to insulting the Baha’i faith and tampering with its history. In the past 31 years, the state media has never stopped its propaganda campaign against the Baha’i faith.
Short link: http://wp.me/PNMoJ-9E