Sen's daily

May 30, 2016

Afif Na`imi transferred from prison to hospital


Bahai News (Persian), May 29, 2016.

Afif Na`imi (عفیف نعیمی), one of the seven imprisoned ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), was transferred from Raja’i Shahr prison to a hospital in Tehran on Saturday. He suffers from blod clots and recurrent fainting (apparently due to the effects of blood thinning drugs to reduce the risk of brain hemorrhage). On several occasions, he has been taken from prison to a heart disease hospital in Tehran for treatment, only to be returned to prison with the treatment incomplete. The most recent occasion (that I am aware of) was on January 24, 2016. He has been imprisoned for 8 years without any prison furlough. His health problems are described as “severe,” and the prison’s Medical Examiner has determined that he is not fit for prison because of his failing health. His case has gone three times to medical boards supervised by the Medical Examiner and the Public Prosecutor, and these have found him unfit for prison. In view of his chronic bad health, the Public Prosecutor’s office has given the prison authorities permission to take Mr. Na`imi to hospital when necessary, without prior permission from the Public Prosecutor.

On 5 March 2008, one of the Yaran, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet (مهوش ثابت) – a schoolteacher and mother of two – was arrested having been summoned to the Iranian city of Mashhad to discuss some matters regarding a Bahai burial. Two months later, on 14 May, the other six Yaran were arrested in raids of their homes. After twenty months in prison without charge, a trial began on January 12, 2010, under Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای). Throughout their long wait for justice, the seven had received barely one hour’s access to their legal counsel, and suffered appalling treatment and deprivations, including psychological and physical hardship. They were charged with spying for Israel, propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and the establishment of an illegal administration – charges that were all rejected completely and categorically by the defendants. According to the defence lawyer, the charge of spying for Israel was based only on the fact that the Bahai properties in Israel are tax exempt. However Bahai properties are tax exempt in almost every country, and Islamic holy sites in Israel are also tax exempt! The trial of the seven accused ended on 14 June 2010 after six brief sessions, characterized by their lack of due legal process.

The initial sentence of 20 years imprisonment for each of the defendants, met with outrage and condemnation throughout the world. One month later, the appeal court revoked three of the charges, including that of spying for Israel, and reduced their sentence to 10-year jail terms. In March 2011, the prisoners were informed that their original 20-year sentences were reinstated. In November, 2015, the 20-year sentences were again reduced to ten years. Despite repeated requests, neither the prisoners nor their attorneys have ever received official copies of the original verdict or the ruling on appeal.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

May 29, 2016

Nateq Na’imi begins 10-day prison leave


Bahai News (Facebook, Persian), May 28, 2016.

Mrs. Nateq Na’imi (ناطقه نعیمی), a Bahai held in Yazd Prison, has been granted a 10-day prison furlough. She was one of 20 Bahais arrested in Yazd, Isfahan, Kerman and Arak in August 2011, and sentenced to a total of 78 years in prison. Her sentence is two years in prison and one year’s suspended sentence, while her husband Mr. Faribourz Baghi (فریبرز باغی ) is also serving a 2-year term, on charges of acting against national security and propaganda against the regime. Mrs. Na’imi began serving her sentence, along with Mrs. Azam Motahari (اعظم مطهری), on October 6, 2015. Her name was previously reported on Sen’s Daily as Nateq Na’imi (ناطق نعیمی).

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

May 25, 2016

House of Justice letter on pioneering

Editorial, May 25, 2016.

The Universal House of Justice has released a letter on the role of international and home-front pioneering in the 5-year Plan that has just begun. It begins by saying, “it is our hope that the friends will continue to consider entering the international arena, whenever their circumstances allow.” In the coming five years, the International Teaching Centre will identify areas that would benefit from international pioneers, “with the expectation that … by the end of the Plan there will be at least one well-advanced intensive programme of growth in every country in the world where external conditions allow …”

As regards home-front pioneers, the House of Justice writes, “Whatever assistance they are able to provide to further the work of the Plan is, of course, most welcome; nevertheless, their efforts will have an even greater effect if, guided by the institutions, their capabilities are directed towards specific needs in clusters where the friends are labouring to intensify the growth process.” Thus, in contrast to pioneering to establish a Baha’i presence, however small, in every town and area across the globe, the emphasis now is on pioneers as assistants to growth programmes in established communities. This also means that those who can stay in an area for only a short period, even “as little as three months” are considered valuable pioneers. “Such friends can kindle a spirit of selfless service and transmit valuable experience from stronger clusters to emerging ones. In time, they return to their communities much inspired and enriched…”

I have placed a plain text version of the message, with paragraph numbers added, in the documents archive of my Bahai Studies blog.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

May 24, 2016

38 Bahai businesses closed down in Urumiyyeh

Bahai News (Persian), May 24, 2016.

Agents from the Bureau of Public Places in Urumiyyeh (aka Urmia or Orumiyeh) have closed down at least 38 Bahai-run businesses. Ten days ago, the Bahais were told they had 10 days to shut down their businesses. The Bahais pursued the matter but were not able to learn any reason for the closures, having enquired with the local Burea of Public Places and the provincial government and Ministry of Intelligence in Urumiyyeh, although the Bureau of Public Places had originally said that the Ministry of Intelligence had ordered the closures. The Bahais have heard unofficially that it relates to the Bahai Holy Days, when the Bahai-run businesses shut.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

Bahai businesses in Qaem Shahr re-opened, then re-closed

Bahai News, Persian, reports dated May 4 and May 23, 2016.

On April 20, 2016, a number of Bahai-run businesses in Qaem Shahr and other cities on the coastal plain of the Caspian Sea were closed by the authorities. On May 4, 22 businesses in Qaem Shahr and Fereydounkenar were allowed to reopen. There is a slight discrepancy here with our previous report that 16 Bahai businesses in Qaem Shahr and five in Fereydunkenar had been closed down. Now the Bahai businesses in Qaem Shahr have again been closed down, as local authorities sealed the shutters on their premises on May 23 (a Bahai Holy Day). The names of the owners are included in the Persian report of May 23, linked above.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

May 23, 2016

Iranian media publish list of Bahai businesses for boycotting and closure

Oweis, May 18, 2016.

Government-sponsored media in Iran have published a list of Bahai-run businesses in Zahedan, along with a compilation of fatwas from Shia and Sunni divines, requiring Muslims to have no dealings with Bahais. Zahedan is a city of half a million, in the South of Iran, near to the border with Pakistan. It is an important centre for the Sunni population in Iran (70% of the population are Sunni). The Oweis report begins with an ugly “Rasputin” image, one of the stock images used in the anti-Bahai literature to represent the Bahai Faith. (See “Images of Hate” for a catalogue of these images: the content is offensive.) The list contains the names of 40 businesses, which suggests a Bahai population of some thousands in Zahedan. From the names, it appears that 12 of the businesses relate to optician’s work, four to photography, six to computers and electricity, and the remainder to an assortment of retail, services and consultancy work. The report promises to publish lists of Bahai businesses in other cities ‘soon.’

According to the report, in recent days the hearts of many of the faithful [Muslims] have been wounded by a visit from a well-born lady [Faezeh Rafsanjani] to the leaders of the Bahai Faith, which took place in Tehran. Oweis is therefore republishing the fatwas and a list of Bahai businesses in Zahedan, first published in August 2015 (as previously reported on Sen’s Daily). It says with regret that the government has not taken any action against these businesses.

The story, originally published in Oweis, has been republished in other government-sponsored media, such as Shahid News, and Qatreh News.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

May 22, 2016

Anti-Bahai demonstration in Qom ; coming of 12th Imam postponed

Gold News (Persian), May 21, 2016.

An anti-Bahai — and anti-Rafsanjani — demonstration was held in Qom after the noon prayers on Friday, May 20. The protest was a reaction to Faezeh Rafsanjani’s taboo-breaking meeting with Fariba Kamalabadi, one of the Bahai “Yaran,” who had been released on prison furlough. The crowd was demanding legal action against Ms. Rafsjaneh for socializing with a Bahai. They were equipped with slogans such as “Death to the traitor, death to the troublemaker,” “What price for defending Bahaism?” “We follow [Imam] Husayn, we will not be silent” and “Down with the monarchist troublemaker.” The report states that another slogan was “Hashemi, may your Bahai link be blessed,” but the photograph shows the slogan “Troublemaker, may your Bahai link be blessed.” “Troublemakers” is the term used in government media for those who questioned the outcome of the 2009 elections. In this context it is a reference to both Faezeh Rafsanjani and her pragmatic-conservative father, who campaigned against the populist incumbent, President Ahmadinejad.

Another report, on the Bahai site “Equality of men and women” states that Hojjat al-Islam Nekounam (حجت‌الاسلام نکونام), the representative of the Supreme Leader (Khamane’i) in the Province of Chaharmaqal and Bakhtiari, has said that the promotion and publicising of the Bahai Faith, for example when the Bahais meet with opposition figures, on flimsy excuses such as Bahais being ‘oppressed’ or in the defence of ‘human rights,’ will delay the coming of the Twelfth Imam. [In actual fact, the publicising of the Bahai Faith in Iran occurs almost entirely through the anti-Bahai propaganda of the government-sponsored media. ~ Sen]

However a very detailed report of what appears to be the same speech, on the government-controlled site Qatreh, abbreviates this part of the speech, saying that the delayed coming of the Twelfth Imam is due to the existence of “deviant thinking (تفکر انحرافی),” without mentioning the Bahai Faith. The report on “Equality of men and women” does not name its source.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

May 21, 2016

Summary of Iranian media reactions to Faezeh Rafsanjani’s meeting with Fariba Kamalabadi

Iran Human Rights (English), May 20, 2016.

[Editorial] The Persian-language media and social networks have been buzzing with reactions to a home visit by Faezeh Rafsanjani, daughter of a prominent Iranian politician, to visit Fariba Kamalabadi during the latter’s 5-day prison furlough. Mrs. Rafsanjani was imprisoned with Mrs. Kamalabadi for six months. The visit broke social taboos and the propaganda stance of the government, according to which Bahais are ‘unclean’ and Muslims should not have social contact or business dealings with them. Mrs. Rafsanjani is not the first prominent Iranian intellectual to make such a gesture in recent years, but her visit with the Bahais has hit the headlines in government-sponsored media because it gives the enemies of her father a chance to undermine his position. The IHR report gives a compact overview of the flood of reactions, and also explains why, in Iran, a person can be punished by the courts for doing something that is not against the law.
~~~~~~~~~~ Full Report ~~~~~~~~

A high-ranking member of the Iranian Judiciary has said that action will be taken against Faezeh Hashemi, the outspoken daughter of prominent former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, following her meeting with Baha’i leader Fariba Kamalabadi and other well-known civil rights activists in Tehran last week.

Faezeh Hashemi previously shared a prison cell with Kamalabadi.

“This was a very ugly and obscene act,” said the Judiciary’s ultra-conservative spokesman, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, at a press conference on May 18, 2016. “So far as I have gathered, many people, grand ayatollahs, religious scholars, and even her own father have condemned this act.”

“Uglier than this act is that after all these condemnations and the fact that her father told her to remedy her act, she did not apologize, and this is truly regrettable,” he said. “The Judiciary pursues any crimes that have taken place accordingly, and as with all cases this case will be dealt with as required, according to law, and the way the law has stipulated.”

Ejei’s statement comes on the heels of calls from other hardliners for Faezeh Hashemi to be arrested for meeting with Fariba Kamalabadi, an imprisoned leader of the Baha’i community who was home on a five-day furlough, on May 13, 2016.

Simin Fahandej, the faith’s spokesperson at the United Nations in Geneva, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that these calls are aimed at further isolating the Baha’i community, which is one of the most severely persecuted religious minorities in Iran.

“Faezeh Hashemi’s action is a humanitarian gesture to show respect for the beliefs of others, which shows her social maturity,” said Fahandej.

“For 37 years the Islamic Republic has tried to create divisions among various groups of people, but the opposite has happened,” she said. “Today we see a significant change not only in the views of human rights activists [towards Baha’is] but also the general public’s views.”

Fahandej added that the Islamic Republic “should realize that demanding freedom and human rights for others is not the same as following their beliefs. There’s a big difference.”

Bad Timing for Hashemi Rafsanjani

Faezeh Hashemi’s meeting occurred at a particularly sensitive time for her father, whose recent election to the Assembly of Experts—which will choose Iran’s next supreme leader—has been seen as a political comeback for the previously sidelined cleric.

Hashemi Rafsanjani had previously avoided publicly criticizing his daughter—whose activism for civil rights issues, especially women’s rights, is situated to the left of Iran’s reformists on the political spectrum—but he was quick to denounce his daughter’s latest move.

“Faezeh has made a bad mistake and she must correct and redeem herself,” Hashemi Rafsanjani told a group of journalists from the hardline Jomhouri Eslami newspaper on May 15, 2016.

He also described Baha’is as a “deviant sect created by colonialists,” adding, “We always have and always will renounce this sect.”

Hashemi Rafsanjani, a leading founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, began to fall out of favor with hardliners in 2009 when he criticized Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for the government’s violent reaction to the mass peaceful protests that followed the widely disputed election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president who lost his presidential bid to Ahmadinejad in 2005, subsequently came under various attacks designed to politically marginalize him.

His support was a crucial element of President Hassan Rouhani’s election to office in 2013. Substantial wins by backers of the Rouhani government in Iran’s recent 2016 elections, including by Rafsanjani, have consequently put hardliners on the defensive.

Fariba Kamalabadi and six other leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran were arrested in 2008 and sentenced to 20 years in prison each in 2010 for “espionage,” “propaganda against the state,” and “organizing and expanding an illegal group.” She was on her first furlough after eight years in prison when Faezeh Hashemi visited Kamalabadi at her home. Kamalabadi has since been returned to Evin Prison.

Iranian officials have repeatedly denied prosecuting Baha’is for their religious beliefs, but have routinely accused members of the religious minority of crimes against national security, including espionage, on thin or non-existent evidence. More than 80 Baha’is are currently held in Iranian prisons, according to Fahandej.

Discrimination Campaign

Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has declared Baha’is “unclean” and forbidden Muslims from having any contact with them. But the faith’s spokesperson at the UN said Baha’is remain determined to gain full citizenship rights.

“One of the methods used by the Islamic Republic to divide Baha’is and other Iranians is the use of false accusations and baseless information in the mass media,” Fahandej told the Campaign.

“Whenever someone stands to defend the Baha’i community, state media launches an attack and condemns the action as anti-state or anti-Islamic,” she said. “But it is important to point out that all the barriers the Islamic Republic has tried to create between Baha’is and other Iranians have often been broken within the Islamic Republic’s own prisons.”

“In prison, terms such as ‘us’ and ‘them’ and ‘unclean’ and ‘pure’ lose their meaning,” she added. “Baha’is and other imprisoned citizens share the same injustice. That’s how a friendship developed in prison between Ms. Hashemi and Ms. Kamalabadi.”

Faezeh Hashemi spent six months in Evin Prison between September 2012 and March 2013 for the charge of “propaganda against the state.”

Flurry of Criticism

On May 16, 2016 Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi condemned Faezeh Hashemi and called on the Judiciary to take action. He described her meeting with Fariba Kamalabadi as “a crime aimed at strengthening the enemies of Islam” and advocated her prosecution.

“I waited to see if there were any protests [against Hashemi] but I didn’t hear anything until her father, thankfully, made a mild protest,” said Makarem Shirazi. “But the question we should ask is, why have others remained silent?”

The Judiciary’s top official, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, reacted to Faezeh Hashemi’s meeting by describing Baha’is as “a false group created by foreigners and colonialists” whose leaders “receive orders” from foreign intelligence agencies, on May 16, 2016.

Without mentioning Faezeh Hashemi by name, Amoli Larijani said any support for Baha’is amounted to breaking societal norms.

“Relatives of officials of the Islamic Republic who carry out such actions should be ashamed because they are supporting an anti-religious group,” said the chief of the Judiciary, adding, “If they break taboos to the point of committing a crime, we at the Judiciary will take firm action.”

Mohammad Reza Naghdi, the commander of the Basij militia force, meanwhile said the government must not take the meeting between a high-profile Muslim and a Baha’i lightly.

“We must firmly confront these kinds of threats and deviations,” said Naghdi on May 16, 2016. “Anyone who befriends Baha’is is himself a Baha’i.”

A group of conservative merchants from Tehran’s bazaar also issued a statement on May 16 criticizing Faezeh Hashemi’s meeting and called on Tehran’s prosecutor to investigate.

In the holy city of Qom, a member of the conservative Combatant Clergy Association said they would meet to discuss “this ugly action by the daughter of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani.”

A spokesman for the clerical faction of MPs meanwhile publicly scorned Faezeh Hashemi and joined other hardliners in calling on the Judiciary to punish her.

Faezeh Hashemi has also been criticized by the Rouhani administration.

“I wish those who carry a prominent family name… would think about the consequences of their actions… and realize that their action has neither helped their host nor removed any burden from the country’s shoulders,” said Rouhani’s Cultural Affairs Adviser Hesamoddin Ashena on his Facebook page.

Rouhani has been facing growing criticism from civil rights activists for failing to deliver on his presidential election campaign promises to open up Iranian society and investigate human rights violations.

No Regrets

Despite the torrent of criticism, Faezeh Hashemi has offered no apologies.

“I paid a visit to Ms. Kamalabadi because she was my cellmate. We lived together for six months,” she said in an interview with Euronews’ Persian service on May 15, 2016. “Meeting her when she was released on furlough for five days after eight years of imprisonment was a very ordinary thing. We aren’t animals who ignore moral and humanitarian obligations that are put on our shoulders at certain periods of our life.”

Faezeh Hashemi also described her time in prison as a “very valuable learning experience” adding, “We in Iran are committing injustice not only against [Baha’is] but against many others as well. But the level [of injustice] against [Baha’is] is worse than all others. This should not be happening. We must change our behavior.”

Legal Loophole

Iranian laws do not specifically prohibit contact or communication with Baha’is, therefore meeting with Baha’is is not technically illegal. However, the Iranian Constitution includes a loophole that could be used to punish minorities above and beyond the law.

Article 167 of the Constitution states: “The judge is bound to endeavor to judge each case on the basis of the codified law. In case of the absence of any such law, he has to deliver his judgment on the basis of authoritative Islamic sources and authentic Fatwas [religious decrees]. He, on the pretext of the silence of or deficiency of law in the matter, or its brevity or contradictory nature, cannot refrain from admitting and examining cases and delivering his judgment.”

Faezeh Hashemi’s critics are now referring to religious decrees (fatwas) against Baha’is, including those issued by the supreme leader, to build a case against her.

In his 2016 report on Iran’s human rights situation, UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed expressed “serious concern at the continuing systematic discrimination, harassment, and targeting that adherents of the Baha’i Faith continue to face in the country.”

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

May 20, 2016

Two Bahai students expelled and two businesses closed in Kashan

Bahai News (Persian), May 18, 2016.

Mahsa Elahian (مهسا الهیان), a Bahai student in the third semester of a degree in English language and literature, has been expelled from the Payem-e Nour University in Kashan. University officials asked her why she had listed her religion as “other” in the application forms, to which she replied that her religion was not one of those mentioned in the form. She was then expelled.

On April 25, another Bahai student, Laden Foroughi (لادن فروغی) was also expelled because of his religious beliefs. He was expelled from the Payam-e Nour campus at Natanz, about an hour south of Kashan, where he was studying Accounting.

On May 10, the optician’s shop of Behman Elahian (بهمن الهیان) in Kashan was closed by local authorities, because he had no business licence and was a Bahai. The optician’s shop of Arash Dhabiheyan (آرش ذبیحیان) was closed for the same reasons on May 17.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

May 18, 2016

Imprisoned Bahais in Yazd denied furlough

HRANA, May 18, 2016.

Bahais who are detained in Yazd Prison have been denied the prison furloughs for which they are eligible by law. Iranian law states that prisoners who have served more than half of their sentences may benefit from furlough. However the Public Prosecutor and prison officials in Yazd have denied their applications, without indicating a reason. It would appear to be discrimination based on prejudices. The policy has been in place for some time: in April 2015 Shamim Ettahadi (شمیم اتحادی), a Bahai imprisoned in Yazd, was denied furlough, although he met the conditions. He was imprisoned for his supposed responsibility for a 4-minute video documenting the destruction of the Bahai cemetery in Yazd, which was shown on the Persian-language television network Manoto. A policy of refusing furlough for Bahai prisoners applied in Mashhad, at least from 2013 to 2015 (but my records are incomplete ~ Sen). In Mashhad, the opposition to granting furlough to Bahai prisoners came from the Ministry of Intelligence.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

Obama appoints transgender woman, Sikh and Bahai to faith advisory council


Christian Today, May 17, 2016.

A transgender woman will join representatives from the Sikh and Baha’i communities as new advisers to President Obama on faith-based issues.

The White House announced the additions to the President’s third and final advisory council on faith-based and neighbourhood partnerships last week.
Barbara Satin is the assistant faith work director for the National LGBTQ Task Force and a member of the United Church of Christ (UCC). She was the first openly transgender member of the UCC’s executive council and has served on the board of a number of other LGBT community groups.

Of her appointment, Satin said: “Given the current political climate, I believe it’s important that a voice of faith representing the transgender and gender non-conforming community — as well as a person of my years, nearly 82 — be present and heard in these vital conversations.”

The other appointments included Naseem Kourosh, human rights officer at the US Baha’i office of public affairs and Manjit Singh, co-founder and chairman of the Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund.

Along with a number of other appointments, Obama said Satin, Kourosh and Singh were “fine public servants” and would bring “depth of experience and tremendous dedication” to their roles.

“I look forward to working with them,” he said.

The President’s advisory council is charged with making policy recommendations to the administration as well as suggesting improvements and best practices for services that relate to faith-based groups. The council currently has fifteen members, most of whom are Christian.

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May 17, 2016

Bahai-run business told to close in Urumiyyeh

Bahai News (Persian), May 17, 2016.

The Office of Public Places in Urumiyyeh (aka Urmia or Orumiyeh) has informed Farzin Aghsani (فرزين اغصاني), a Bahai who runs a refrigeration business, that he must close and vacate his business within 10 days. The report does not indicate a reason.

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May 14, 2016

Nine Bahai businesses allowed to reopen

Bahai News (Persian), May 11, 2016.

Nine Bahai-run businesses in Sari and Ramsar, which were sealed by local authorities on May 1, have been given permission to reopen. The Bahai businesses were shut down by the authorities because they had closed to allow the Bahais working there to observe Bahai holy days. But the authorities’ action was illegal, since the law allows all businesses in Iran, except for essential services, to close for up to 15 days per year.

The news that the businesses may reopen is surprising and gives hope that the authorities may begin to observe the law in their relations with Bahais. The 6 Bahai businesses in Kerman province that were closed down in April 2015 are still sealed, and another 7 have since been shut down. The picture is similar across Iran: Bahai businesses are frequently closed down but seldom allowed to reopen. However a number of international business leaders have recently been pressuring Iran to halt its economic discrimination against Bahais, “as an affront to the freedom to do business.”

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May 10, 2016

Fariba Kamalabadi begins five-day prison furlough


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), May 9, 2016.

Fariba Kamalabadi (فریبا کمال آبادی ) one of the seven “Yaran” (National facilitators for the Bahai community) who are serving ten-year prison sentences as prisoners of conscience, has been granted a five-day leave from prison following the birth of her grandchild. In November, 2014, she was denied leave to attend her daughter’s wedding. According to the normal prison rules (which do not necessarily apply for Bahai prisoners), she should be due for early release now, having served 8 years of a 10-year sentence.

Background
The seven ‘Yaran’ served as national facilitators assisting the Bahais of Iran in their dealings with government organs until their arrest and imprisonment. They were appointed following the disappearance and execution of the elected leadership of the Bahais in Iran in 1980, and again in 1981. The elected leaders in many cities were also executed at that time, notably in Tehran, Tabriz, Yazd and Hamadan, where a total of 33 members of the local Bahai “Assemblies” were executed, in addition to the 18 members of the two national “Assemblies” and two assistants. In August 1983, the government declared the elected assemblies illegal. In accordance with the principle of obedience to government, the Bahais then dissolved all elected bodies. Nevertheless, seven former members of the national Assembly were arrested and executed. (see this Wikipedia article).

National and local facilitators were later appointed, principally because government bodies needed to have a Bahai representative to discuss necessary matters and to transmit government instructions to the Bahais, which were not publicised in the media. One of the most important tasks of the facilitators was to arrange for Bahai burials, as Bahais are often barred from burial in public cemeteries, and Bahai practice requires a coffin, which is not allowed in many public cemeteries.

On 5 March 2008, one of the Yaran, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet (مهوش ثابت) – a schoolteacher and mother of two – was arrested having been summoned to the Iranian city of Mashhad to discuss some matters regarding a Bahai burial. Two months later, on 14 May, the other six Yaran were arrested in raids of their homes. Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi was one of these, the others being Jamaloddin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی), Afif Na`imi (عفیف نعیمی), Sa`id Reza’i (سعید رضایی), Behrouz Tavakkoli (بهروز توکلی), and Vahid Tizfahm (وحید تیزفهم).

After twenty months in prison without charge, a trial began on January 12, 2010, under Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای). Throughout their long wait for justice, the seven had received barely one hour’s access to their legal counsel, and suffered appalling treatment and deprivations, including psychological and physical hardship. They were charged with spying for Israel, propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and the establishment of an illegal administration – charges that were all rejected completely and categorically by the defendants. According to the defence lawyer, the charge of spying for Israel was based only on the fact that the Bahai properties in Israel are tax exempt. However Bahai properties are tax exempt in almost every country, and Islamic holy sites in Israel are tax exempt! The trial of the seven accused ended on 14 June 2010 after six brief sessions, characterized by their lack of due legal process.

The initial sentence of 20 years imprisonment for each of the defendants, met with outrage and condemnation throughout the world. One month later, the appeal court revoked three of the charges, including that of spying for Israel, and reduced their sentence to 10-year jail terms. In March 2011, the prisoners were informed that their original 20-year sentences were reinstated. In November, 2015, the 20-year sentences were again reduced to ten years. Despite repeated requests, neither the prisoners nor their attorneys have ever received official copies of the original verdict or the ruling on appeal.

Mrs. Kamalabadi was initially detained in Evin Prison in Tehran. On July 29, 2010, all the Yaran were transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison (Gohar Dasht prison), about 50 kilometers West of Tehran. On May 6, 2011, when the women’s block at Raja’i Shahr was closed, she and Mahvash Sabet were transferred to Gharchak Varamin prison, 40km south of Tehran, where conditions are particularly inhumane. Two weeks later she was again transferred to Evin Prison, where she has remained.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

May 6, 2016

Bahai businesses closed down in Isfahan

Bahai Press (Facebook, Persian), May 3, 2016.

On May 1, which was the 12th day of the Ridvan festival for Bahais, local authorities in Iran closed down a number of Bahai-run businesses in the Province of Isfahan. Six owners are named, but it is not clear from the report whether only six businesses were closed down.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

May 5, 2016

Six Bahai businesses closed in Ramsar and Sari; total now 39

Bahai Community News, May 2, 2016.

On May 1, local authorities closed down one Bahai-run business in Sari and five Bahai businesses in Ramsar. Both these centres lie in the province of Mazandaran, where 12 other Bahai-run businesses have been closed in the past week. This brings the total number of Bahai businesses closed in the past month, in Iran as a whole, to 39: 16 in Qaem Shahr, two in Babol, three in Tenakabon, five in Babolsar, two in Bahnamir, five in Fereydunkenar, and the six mentioned in this new report. All the closures appear to be related to the observance of Bahai festival days of Ridvan, and are contrary to Article 23 of the Constitution which forbids investigations of individuals’ religious beliefs, and also contrary to the regulations which allow businesses (except essential services) to close for 15 days per year without notifying the authorities.

According to a HRANA report, all the closures have been done in the absence of the owners, without written notice or informing the trades guild in advance. In Qaemshahr, authorities have told the Bahais that they cannot be accepted as residents and their businesses would be shut down, because they are Bahais and therefore have security files. One interesting aspect is that the Office of Public Places in Babolsar had told the Bahai businesses there that they would not be closed if they left their lights burning or the shop shutters raised during the Bahai Holy Days. It is not clear whether they complied (there is no reason why they should not) and were shut down anyway, or if they failed to comply. However this does suggest that the issue for the local authorities in Babolsar is that, on Bahai Holy Days, there should be no obvious sign in the commercial district of the number of Bahai-run businesses in the town. In other towns however, the closures are part of a general pattern of persecuting the Bahais at any opportunity. In 1934, when the Shah wished to close down the Bahai schools in Iran, he used the observance of Bahai Holy Days as an excuse.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

Summary of new businesses closures in Mazandaran province

Bahai News (Persian), May 2, 2016.

Five Bahai-run businesses in the city of Babolsar, on the Caspian coast in Iran’s Mazandaran Province, were shut down by the local authorities on May 1. Seven other Bahai-run businesses in neighbouring areas were also closed. In Babolsar the Office of Public Places closed five Bahai businesses: an optician’s workshop belonging to Farshid Hekmat Sho`ar (فرشيد حكمت شعار), a computer workshop run by Karen Momtazeyan (كارن ممتازيان), a tailor’s shop run by `Erfan Ma`sumeyan (عرفان معصوميان), a tailor’s shop run by Afshin Azadi (افشين آزادي), and a photography studio run by Shahin Sana`i (شاهين سنائي). In the district of Bahnamir, a little inland of Babolsar, they closed another two businesses: a bicycle assembly shop belonging to Faizullah Nikunejad (فيض الله نيكونژاد) and a household appliance workshop run by Ahmad Nikunejad (احمد نيكونژاد). In Fereydunkenar, a coastal place near Babolsar, they closed an optician’s workshop belonging to Babak Wada`i (بابك وداعي). None of these closures have been previously reported on Sen’s Daily.

In Tonekabon, another coastal city 3 hours West of Babolsar, authorities closed five Bahai-run businesses: a security alarm system run by Omid Qaderi (امید قادری), a home appliances shop run by Armin Esma`ilpour (آرمین اسماعیل پور), an airconditioning service shop run by Ruhollah Eqani (روح الله ایقانی) and a refrigerator shop run by Michelle Esma`ilpour (میشل اسماعیل پو). The recent closure of two other Bahai-run businesses in Tonekabon, both home appliance shops, run by Mr. Mehryar Lotfi (مهریار لطفی) and Mr. Soroush Garshasbi (سروش گرشاسبی), has already been reported here.

In Babol, which lies half an hour inland of Babolsar, authorities closed two Bahai-run businesses: a staionary shop run by Baha’addin Samimi (بهاءالدین صمیمی) and a security alarm business run by Arash Keyan (آرش کیان). They were given a few days to close their businesses.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

May 4, 2016

Another Bahai business closed down in Bandar Abbas

Bahai News (Persian), May 3, 2016.

On April 27, the Supervisors of Public Places in Bandar Abbas went to all the Bahai-run businesses still operating in the city and told them they must not close on the coming Holy Days for the Bahai festival of Ridvan. On the same day they told Mr. [?] Gamrun (گامرون), who runs an optician’s shop, that the shop would be closed. Three other Bahai-run optician shops in Bandar Abbas have been closed in recent months.

The shutting of Bahai optician’s shops probably relates to a common superstition in Iran, that Bahais are “unclean,” and must therefore be excluded from providing personal services. However authorities in Bandar Abbas have also shut down some elevator installation and service companies belonging to Bahais.

Reports indicate that most of the anti-Bahai activity in Bandar Abbas is initiated by a Captain Hassan Zand (سروان حسن زند) who heads the Office of Public Places, with the support of the Ministry of Intelligence. Beginning some years ago, he has been investigating the religious beliefs and personal lives of the Bahais, with the purpose of persuading them to leave Iran. He was one of those who, in past years, focussed on the business activities of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), who was martyred in Bandar Abbas two years ago. On several occasions he threatened to close Mr. Rezvani’s business and inhibit his business activities, and did indeed stop the family’s business activities for a period after the killing. One of the optician’s shops that has been closed down was run by Mr. Reavani’s son.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

April 30, 2016

Two Bahai businesses closed in Tonekabon

Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, April 30, 2016.

On April 28, local authorities in Tonekabon acting on a court order closed two Baha-run businesses because they had not opened for business on the Bahai Holy Day. The two shops, both selling home appliances, were run by Mr. Mehryar Lotfi (مهریار لطفی) and Mr. Soroush Garshasbi (سروش گرشاسبی).

April 26, 2016

Trial of Hamed bin Haydara in Yemen suspended for two months


Bazdasht, April 25, 2016.

At the initial hearing of the case against Hamed Kamal Muhammad bin Haydara, a Yemeni Bahai of Persian background, the Prosecutor asked for another two months to prepare the case, which was granted. Mr. bin Haydara has returned to prison in Sanaa. Although his health is deteriorating, bail was denied, and the Judge said the limited medical facilities within the prison would suffice. He has been charged with collaborating with Israel by working for the Universal House of Justice, the Bahai supreme governing institution, which is based in Haifa, Israel. They also allege that he lured potential Muslim converts to the Bahai faith through charitable giving and tried to establish a homeland for the followers of the Bahai faith in Yemen. He has been detained since December 3, 2013. A previous report on this blog contains further details.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

April 25, 2016

Kamran Morteza’i released from prison


Bahai News (Persian), April 24, 2016.

Kamran Morteza’i-Farid (کامران مرتضایی فرید), a former teacher at the Bahai Open University in Iran, has was released at the end of a five-year sentence for his educational activies on April 24. He has served an entire five-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison without a day of prison furlough. Mr. Morteza’i, now 63 years old, was one of the Bahais in Tehran, Zahedan, Sari, Isfahan and Shiraz who were arrested en masse in May, 2011. Those arrested were academic staff and support staff of the Bahai Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), a Bahai-run distance learning university that provides internationally accredited university education to Iranian Bahais, who are excluded from tertiary education in Iran. He was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in educating the Bahais by Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای).

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

April 22, 2016

Two Bahai-run businesses closed in Babol

Human Rights in Iran, April 22, 2016.

Two Bahai-run businesses in Babol were closed by the authorities on April 20. And in Qaem-Shahr, the number of Bahai-run businesses closed by authorities on the same day, previously reported at 15, has been corrected to 16. The closures apparently relate to the observance of a Bahai Holy day on April 20.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

April 20, 2016

Fifteen Bahai businesses closed in Qa’em Shahr

Bahai News, April 20, 2016.

Fifteen Bahai-run businesses in Qaem Shahr have been shut down by the authorities because they were closed for the Bahai holy day of the first day of Ridvan. In recent years the local departments of public places in Iran have closed down many of the small workshops and shops on which Bahais must rely for their income, since they are barred from employment in the civil service and in many economic sectors. Bahais are also barred from running businesses in sectors that involve contact with food or personal services, in line with a commonly held superstition in Iran, that Bahais are “unclean.”

The owners of these shops are named as Shahin Senasi ( شاهین سنایی), Sohrab Leqa’i (سهراب لقایی), Changiz Derakshani (چنگیز درخشانیان), Bijan Now`khah  (بیژن نوع خواه), Nima Miri (نیما میری), Sahil Haqqdust (سهیل حق دوست), Baha’ul-din Samimi (بهاءالدین صمیمی), Behnam Mirza’i (بهنام میرزایی), Kurosh Ahmadzadegam (کورش احمدزادگام), Adel Atta’eyan (عادل عطائیان), Kurosh Reza’i (کورش رضایی), Fariborz Sana’i (فریبرز سنایی), Rezvan Golpour (رضوان گلپور), Shahin Akbari (شاهین اکبری) and Farzad Sabeti (فرزاد ثابتی).

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

 

April 19, 2016

Bahai student expelled from university in Kashan


Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, April 19, 2016.

Sara Shakib (سارا شکیب), a student of Statistics and Applications at the Kashan campus of Iran’s National University, has been expelled because of her Bahai beliefs. She said that initially the Student Welfare officer told her that University officials had realized that she was a Bahai. He said that the Chancellor’s office did not understand [what to do] and had not expelled her, but she should move from the student hostel, where fellow-students had reported to the administration that she was a Bahai. Given that she came from Isfahan, he suggested that she should transfer to the University there. But when she asked about it at the hostel, they offered to write a joint letter to the Administration on her behalf. She submitted an application to transfer to Isfahan. A few weeks later the University’s security office summoned her and asked her to write that she was a Bahai. She said she had no reason to, as she was at the university only for education. They asked her to write that she was a Muslim, and she again refused. Then the head of security came and told her that the Revolutionary Council had decided that Bahais did not have the right to tertiary education. She replied that there was nothing about that in the University’s registration form. He said, “But you are expelled anyway.” They took her student ID, and a few days later the gates of the university were closed to her, and she was told that the other branches of the University had been informed. Later the University sent a notification that she had been transferred to the Isfahan campus, but the security office there told her she had been barred from tertiary education because of her religious beliefs.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

April 15, 2016

BIHE teacher Faran Hesami released after 4-year sentence


Bahai News (video in Persian), April 15, 2016.

Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی ), one of the imprisoned teachers from the Bahai Open University (BIHE) was released from Evin Prison in Tehran today, at the end of a four-year sentence for educational activities.

Mrs. Hesami and her husband Kamran Rahimiyan (کامران رحیمیان) were arrested in September 2011. Both were charged with membership of the Bahai community and assembly and collusion to undermine national security in relation to their work for the Bahai Open University, which offered courses to Bahai students who had been excluded from Iranian tertiary institutions because of their Bahai beliefs. Both received four-year sentences, handed down by Judge Salvati (قاضی ابوالقاسم صلواتی). As Mr. Rahimiyan began his sentence earlier, he was released on August 17, 2015. In March 2015, Mrs. Hesami was awarded the Raha Südwind Award which honours individuals who have participated in the promotion and protection of human rights in Iran.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

April 12, 2016

Ramin Aidalkhani’s exile ends


Bahai News Today (Persian), April 11, 2016.

The internal exile of Ramin Aidalkhani ( رامین ایدلخانی ), a Bahai from the city of Parsabad in Ardabil province (the extreme northern tip of Iran, on the Azerbaijan border), ended on April 11. Mr Aidalkhani and his wife `Ahdieh Rashediyyehrad, ( عهدیه راشدی راد ) were arrested in Parsabad on May 11, 2010. Mrs. Rashediyyehrad was released on bail 10 days later, and was eventually tried and acquitted. Mr. Aidalkhani was sentenced in Ardabil on September 20, 2011, to two years in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime and insulting the Supreme Leader, to be followed by a 5-year exile from Ardabil province. He began his sentence on August 21, 2012. In June 2013 he was transferred unexpectedly from Parsabad prison to Meshginshahr prison, in a town some 200 kilometres south of Parsabad but still within Ardabil province. During his time in prison, his sentence was reduced to one year in prison. It would appear that his term of exile was also reduced, from 60 months to 32 months. When his prison term ended, security officers took him in a vehicle and left him on the side of the road, leaving him to make his own way to the city of Ahar in Eastern Azerbaijan. It is approximately 70 kilometers from Meshginshahr to Ahar, and the provincial boundary is about halfway along this road.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

April 10, 2016

Soroush Shadabi free on bail


Bahai News (Persian), April 10, 2016.

Soroush Shadabi (سروش شادابی), a Bahai from Karaj, near Tehran, has been released on bail. His arrest on March 11, and the closure of his business, is assumed to be related to the arrest on March 8 of three young Bahais who have been excluded from tertiary education. They were held in Evin Prison, and released on bail on March 15. The report does not indicate where Mr. Shadabi was detained: in the circumstances it is very likely to have been Evin Prison.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

April 8, 2016

Behzad Dhabihi summoned again


HRANA, April 6, 2016.

On April 4, Behzad Dhabihi (بهزاد ذبیحی), a Bahai from Sari, was summoned to the police station and interrogated in relation to a new accusation that is being developed against him. Mr. Dhabihi has been arrested four times in the past five years, and shops he ran have been shut down three times in the same period. This time, the case is said to have been initiated by a complaint from the electricity supply authority. His most recent arrest was on March 8, 2016, when he was held for 7 days before being released on bail. At the time of his arrest, he was charged with “propaganda against the regime” but at the court sitting the charges were presented as “propaganda against Islam and the Quran.” On February 22 this year, his shop in Sari was closed by the authorities, and remains closed despite efforts to reopen it.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

April 7, 2016

American NSA changes ruling on voting in primaries

Editorial, April 7, 2016.

A letter issued by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States on April 5 corrects its previous ruling of March 8, which stated, “nor should we, even as an ‘independent,’ vote in primaries — the purpose of which is to elect delegates to political conventions.” This ruling has now been rescinded in view of a letter from the Universal House of Justice which states that:

A Baha’i may not vote in a primary election if in order to do so he or she must declare membership or affiliation with, or support for, a particular political party. But if the ballot is secret, a Baha’i is free to vote in any political election provided that he does not, by doing so, identify himself with any political party and bears in mind that he is voting on the merits of the individual rather than because he belongs to one party or another.

The National Spiritual Assembly concludes that “Individual Baha’is … bear the responsibility of researching the election laws in their particular electoral district to determine whether or not the above-mentioned criteria have been met and may vote their consciences as they see fit.”

The complete letter in text format is available in the documents archive of my Bahais Studies blog. The pdf version is online here.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

April 5, 2016

Two students expelled from Urumiyyeh University for Bahai beliefs


Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, April 5, 2016.

Sara Penahi (سحر پناهی) and Navid Moqaddam ( نوید مقدم) have been expelled from the Payam-e Nour University’s campus in Urumiyyeh (aka Urmia or Orumiyeh). Miss Penahi was in the fifth term of a degree in Persian Literature, and Mr. Moqaddam was in the fifth term of a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Both are also banned from further tertiary study.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

March 27, 2016

Sarmad Shadabi, Tara Houshmand and Rouhiyyeh Safajou bailed


Bahai News (and on Facebook), March 15, 2016.

Sarmad Shadabi, Tara Houshmand and Rouhiyyeh Safajou (تارا هوشمند، سرمد شادابی و روحیه صفاجو) have been released on bail after 20 days in Evin Prison in Tehran. Mr. Sarmad Shadabi’s bail was set at 200 million tumans (600 Euros, $660 US) while bail for Ms. Houshmand and Safajou was 50 million tumans each. These three students, expelled from tertiary education for their religious beliefs, had all tried to pursue their supposed right to education using legal means. They were arrested in Tehran and the nearby city of Karaj on March 8. Soroush Shadabi (سروش شادابی), a Bahai from Karaj, was arrested on March 11, and his business was shut down. This appears to be related to the other three arrests. He remains in prison.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

March 16, 2016

Mehran Eslami released in Yazd


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), March 15, 2016.

Mehran Eslami (مهران اسلامی) has been released from prison in Yazd, having completed his one-year sentence. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman. He began his sentence on April 4, 2015, and was released on March 14, 2016.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

March 15, 2016

Behzad Dhabihi still in solitary, despite bail


Human Rights in Iran, March 14, 2016.

Behzad Dhabihi (بهزاد ذبیحی) is still being held in solitary confinement in the Ministry of Intelligence detention facility in Sari, although bail has been granted and paid. He was arrested on February 22, and detained by the Ministry in solitary confinement, although bail of 50 million tumans (31,000 euros, $41,000 US) has been posted, apparently because of administrative delays in registering the collateral. At the time of his arrest his home was searched and his place of business closed down, for the third time in recent years. On January 30, 2011, when agents from the Ministry of Intelligence searched his home and business, seized some personal effects and closed his business. He is also reported to have been arrested in March 2011 and April 2012, and released on bail after a period in detention. Because Bahais are barred from most professions and from regular employment in most economic sectors in Iran, a large portion run small businesses, which are subject to arbitrary closure by the authorities.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

March 14, 2016

Three Bahai students held in Evin prison to be tried


Bahai News, March 15, 2016.

Mr. Sarmad Shadabi (سرمد شادابی), one of three Bahai students arrested in Tehran and Karaj on March 8, and held in Evin Prison, has had telephone contact with his family. They report that he and the other two students, Tara Houshmand (تارا هوشمند) and Rouhiyyeh Safajou (روحیه صفاجو) have been told their interrogation is complete and they will be tried next Tuesday. [I assume this means March 15: at the time of writing it was March 14 in Iran, March 15 in New Zealand where I am ~ sen] These three students, expelled from tertiary education for their religious beliefs, had all tried to pursue their supposed right to education using legal means. The details are in a previous posting on this blog.

Update: Iran Wire has an excellent detailed report of the arrest of Rouhiyyeh Safajou and the situation of the Bahais in general.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

 

March 13, 2016

Shahram Eshraqi ill in prison in Isfahan


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), March 14, 2016.

Shahram Eshraqi (شهرام اشراقی), a Bahai who is serving a 3-year sentence in Block 3 of Isfahan Prison, has been denied medical treatment although he suffers from a serious respiratory illness. He is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, and served in the front lines. This is the fourth time he has gone to prison for his Bahai beliefs. He is one of 20 Bahais who were sentenced to a total of 78 years in prison by a court in Yazd in April, 2014, and began his sentence in Isfahan on October 11, 2015. He has had health problems because of prison conditions, and his health deteriorated after he was transferred to Block 3, where conditions are particularly bad. He began to suffer from fluid in the lungs and a constant fever. In addition to being refused treatment in prison, he has been denied leave for the Naw Ruz holiday, on the grounds that he was charged with a “security” offence.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

March 12, 2016

Another arrest in Karaj


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), March 11, 2016.

Soroush Shadabi (سروش شادابی), a Bahai from Karaj, near Tehran, was arrested on March 11, and his business was shut down. This follows the arrest of three young Bahais who have been excluded from tertiary education on March 8, in Tehran and Karaj, and the new arrest is assumed to be related. One of those arrested on March 8 was Mr. Sarmad Shadabi (سرمد شادابی). All three are being detained in Evin Prison in Tehran.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

March 11, 2016

Four more Bahais arrested in Iran


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), March 10, 2016.

On March 8, four more Bahais were arrested simultaneously in Tehran, Karaj and Sari. Their names are given as Tara Houshmand (تارا هوشمند), Rouhiyyeh Safajou (روحیه صفاجو) and Sarmad Shadabi (سرمد شادابی), in Tehran and the nearby city of Karaj, and Behzad Dhabihi (بهزاد ذبیحی) in Sari. It is not known where they are being detained.

Tara Houshmand (pictured top right) was arrested by security agents in her home in Tehran, which was searched. Her personal effects including a computer, a mobile phone and books were seized. She was one of a group of Bahais excluded from education who responded to a claim made in 2014, by Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Human Rights Council of the Judiciary, that Iranian authorities do not discriminate against Bahais, and challenging the Bahais excluded from education to send documentation. The Bahai students took their documentation to the authorities as requested, thus exposing Mr. Larijani’s lie. The story is detailed here.

Mr. Sarmad Shadabi (pictured top left) was arrested at the Roudehen campus of the Islamic Free University, near Tehran. He was a signatory of a letter about the breaches of Bahais’ civil rights, written to a Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights. An interview with him, about his expulsion from University, was cited on the BBC Persian service.

Rouhiyyeh Safajou (pictured bottom right) was arrested by 8 security agents posing as workers from the gas supply company. When she opened the door to them, they entered and searched her home, and took her away. She is also a student excluded from education. She was one of a group of Bahai students excluded from tertiary education who met with Ali Reza Mahjoub (علی‌رضا محجوب), a reformist Member of Parliament, to argue for the right of education. The meeting was reported on this blog in September 2014.

No details are available on the arrest of Behzad Dhabihi in Sari, but it appears to be unrelated to the arrest of the three students. Mr Dhabihi, who name was spelled Zabihi in a previous Iran Wire report, managed one of the three Bahai-run optometry businesses in Sari which were closed in November, 2015. At that time the Bureau of Public Places in the Province of Mazandaran shut down 23 businesses belonging to Bahais in the cities of Sari, Qa`em Shahr, Tenakbon and Babolsar.

Update, March 14: Human Rights in Iran reports that Rouhiyyeh Safajou is being held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison, and has had contact by telephone with her family, in which she said that she is well.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

 

February 28, 2016

Peyman Koushk-Baghi arrested in Tehran

Bahai News (Persian, facebook), February 29, 2016.

Peyman Koushk-Baghi (پیمان کوشکباغی), who has also been sentenced to five years in prison for cooperation with BIHE, has been arrested in Tehran. 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. He was arrested in front of the East gate to Evin prison, and his present whereabouts are unknown. Azita Rafizadeh began her sentence on October 19, 2015. The couple have a six-year-old son.

Azita Rafizadeh was tried by Judge Moghisseh of Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court in June 2014, and her husband Peyman Koushk-Baghi was separately tried by him in May 2015. Moghisseh sentenced them respectively to four and five years in prison for “membership in the illegal and misguided Baha’i group with the aim of acting against national security through illegal activities at the BIHE educational institute.” The Appeals Court upheld their prison sentences.

In an earlier interview, Azita Rafizadeh said, “I was one of the BIHE professors when the homes of professors of this online university were stormed in June of 2010. … The news was widely reported. They came to our house with a warrant to arrest me and my husband. They searched the house and interrogated us. They asked us to promise not to work for the BIHE. If we had agreed, the case would have been closed, as was the case for a few others. But my husband and I did not agree. So they only let us go temporarily on 50-million-tuman [approximately $16,700] bail.”

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

February 25, 2016

Farhnaz Mithaqian released in Yazd


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), February 26, 2016.

Farhnaz Mithaqian (فرحناز میثاقیان), a Bahai from Yazd, was released from prison in the city on February 25, at the end of a one-year sentence (with an additional one-year suspended sentence). She is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, and began her sentence on April 6, 2015.

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Another Bahai student expelled in Miandoab


Bahai News, February 24, 2016.

Arezu Iqani-Qajalu (آرزو ایقانی قجلو ), a Bahai student entering the last semester of a degree in Islamic Law and Jurisprudence at the Payam-e Nour University in Miandoab, has been expelled because of her Bahai beliefs. At the time when students select their courses for their graduation semester, they receive an overview of their status. In her case it read, “barred from tertiary education.” Arzu Iqani received a law degree from the Bahai Open University (BIHE) three years earlier.

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February 17, 2016

Seven Bahais in Isfahan ‘tried’ without their knowledge

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Human Rights in Iran, February 16, 2016.

Seven Bahais from Isfahan who were among those arrested in raids in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on November 15, 2015, have been “tried” in Isfahan, without their knowledge, without legal representation, and apparently without charges. evidence or defence. It would appear they have been found guilty. The lawyer acting for one of the Bahais went to the court, and was told that the trial had already been held and the sentences of the seven Bahais would be announced within the next few days.

Those arrested in Isfahan in November 2015 are Yeganeh Agahi (یگانه آگاهی), Adib Janamian (ادیب جانمیان), Keyvan Nik-A’in (کیوان نیک آیین), Parvin Nik-A’in(پروین نیک آیین), Vahid Karami (وحید کرمی), `Arsheya Rouhani (عرشیا روحانی) and Zarin Aqa-Baba’i (زرین آقابابایی). It is not certain that the present report relates to exactly the same seven persons.

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Sina Ravankard released from Yasouj prison


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), February 16, 2016.

Sina Ravankard (سینا روانکرد), a Bahai who has been serving a three-month sentence in Yasouj prison, was released on February 15 or 16. He was one of seven Bahais arrested in various cities of Iran on July 26, 2011. He began his sentence on January 13, 2016. His release after just over one month presumably takes account of the time he was held during interrogations, since he and the other seven Bahais arrested with him was at first sent to Evin Prison, where he was held for two months before being released on bail pending his trial. The other Bahais arrested with him were acquitted (an event almost unheard-of in Iran, before or after the Revolution), while Mr. Ravankard was sentenced to one year in prison, later reduced to three months, and fined approximately $300.

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February 16, 2016

Bahai-run optometry business closed in Isfahan

Bahai News (facebook, Persian), February 7, 2016.

An optometry business in Isfahan, run by two Bahais, was shut down by agents from the Ministry of the Interior on February 6 or 7. The business, run by Mehrdad Haqiqi (مهرداد حقیقی) and Kouroush Pirjamali (کوروش پیرجمالی), provided sales and service for lenses. The agents showed a warrant from the Isfahan Provincial Prosecutor, but did not provide a copy. The two Bahais had previously been interrogated twice by security agents, and their premises were searched and their personal property, books and pictures related to the Bahai community were seized.

In the past few days, the Vice President of the Iranian Optometry Association announced that Bahais are involved in manufacturing and importing glasses, and have an active presence in this industry. However there is no direct linkage between this announcement and the closing of the business in Isfahan. Under Iran’s apartheid policy, Bahais are banned from government jobs and numerous industries, but the list of sectors from which Bahais are banned is formally a secret, and the list changes from time to time. On May 19, 2015, Saham News published a copy of the previously secret list of sectors from which Bahais are banned (by that time the list was already five years old, and incomplete). It says that Bahais may not work in cultural, educational or financial institutions, and are not to be allowed to work in the sectors of periodicals, jewelry, watchmaking, print-making, tourist agencies, car rentals, publishing and bookshops, photography, film-making, internet gaming, computers, or internet cafes. They may not own printing works or hotels and other accommodation for travellers, or teach tailoring skills. The order refers to the widespread Iranian belief that Bahais are unclean, and requires the police bureaus to block them from restaurants, cafeterias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways (Iranian-style), cafes, butchers shops, supermarkets, the production and sale of ice-cream, fruit juice, soft drinks, pastry and sweets, and coffee. At some stage optometry was apparently added to the list, without distinguishing between import and manufacture on the one hand, and prescription and retail sales on the other hand. The latter involves personal contact and might logically be out of bounds for the “unclean” Bahais (according to this superstition), but from the description of this
business in Isfahan, it would appear the two Bahais were merely grinding lenses.

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February 13, 2016

Saba Golshan returned to Isfahan prison


Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, February 8, 2016.

Mr. Saba Golshan ( صبا گلشن ), a Bahai from Isfahan who is serving a 3-year sentence for his Bahai beliefs, has been taken from hospital to prison although his treatment was not complete. He has been granted a 2-month medical furlough for surgery and other treatment, and a request to extend this leave was refused.

On August 1, 2011, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided many Bahai homes in the cities of Yazd , Isfahan, Kerman and Arak, and arrested 17 Bahais. Two weeks later, three more Bahais were arrested in Yazd. These 20 Bahais have been given sentences totaling 58 years (or 78 years, of which 20 years are suspended sentences). Mr. Golshan’s sentence is 4 years, of which one year is suspended. He began his sentence on August 12, 2015. His name is reported by “Campaign” as Sahba Golshan (صهبا گلشن).

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January 31, 2016

Khosro Dehqani released early in Isfahan


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), February 1, 2016.

In the latest of a series of early releases of Bahai prisoners, Khosro Dehqani (خسرو دهقانی ) has been released in Isfahan, after serving less than a year of a three-year sentence. He began his sentence on March 3, 2015. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, and given sentences ranging from one to 4 years by the Revolutionary Court in Yazd. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai community activities. Two of this group, Shahram Falah (شهرام فلاح) and Navid Haqiqi Najafabadi (نوید حقیقی نجف آبادی) were released in January 2017, although they had served less than one year of their 3-year sentences.

It is not clear that the early releases indicate a change in policy regarding the oppression of the Bahais in Iran. It could also be due to overcrowding in the jail in Isfahan, or the need to empty prisons in preparation for the coming elections, or that the policy is to cap the number of imprisoned Bahais at about 150 nationwide, and the recent sentencing of 24 Bahais in Gorgan requires some early releases.

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January 28, 2016

Tahereh Reza’i released from prison


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), January 25, 2016.

Mrs. Tahereh Reza’i ( طاهره رضایی ) was freed from prison in Isfahan on January 25 under parole regulations. She is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran August 2012: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman. They received prison sentences ranging from one year to four years. Mrs. Reza’i began her sentence, of one year in prison plus a one-year suspended sentence, on October 19, 2015, when she was arrested in front of her home in Isfahan and taken to prison in Yazd. She was recently transferred from Yazd to Isfahan. It is not clear why the parole regulations would be invoked so early in her sentence.

In recent months some other Bahai prisoners have been released on parole quite early in their sentences: Navid Haqiqi Najafabadi (نوید حقیقی نجف آبادی) in Arak, and Mr. Sasan Haqiri (ساسان حقیری) in Isfahan are examples. It is tempting to see a change in policy on the length of prison terms Bahais should serve, either because of the damage the persecution of Bahais does to Iran’s image in the world, or because of the need to empty prisons in preparation for the coming elections. However the long prison terms recently given to the Bahais in Gorgan suggest there is no new policy at the national level. Public Prosecutors in the regions have varying priorities, some emphasizing criminal behaviour, others concentrating on ideological purity or the suppression of religious minorities.

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Another Bahai student expelled in Tehran


Campaign against the Harassment of Bahais, January 21, 2016.

Ma`ideh Khalili-Amiri (مائده خلیلی امیری) has been expelled from Tehran University because of her Bahai beliefs. She was enrolled at the University for four months. In conversation with the “Campaign” she said that one day in religion class she was told to report to the University’s central office. She did not do so, and was summoned by telephone to the University’s Office of Student Cultural Affairs. There she was told that she had been accused of propaganda (teaching the Bahai Faith) and would need to get a certificate from the office of student evaluations. When she went there, she was told she had been expelled from the beginning (of her enrollment). She asked why they had summoned her then, and they replied that they had no summoned her, she came herself. After following this up in the course of day, I said that I would not go anywhere until they gave me something in writing, and I sent to the official responsible for expelling students. He (or she) said, “You people always pretend not to understand. Anyway, the right to education only applies to secondary schools,” and so on. I said that the Constitution says that everyone has a right to education. He said, “there are other laws that contradict that.” I said, “How can another law be contrary to the Constitution?” He said, “You are living in a Muslim country, so it is possible.”

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January 27, 2016

Sina Ravankard begins 3-month prison sentence


Iran Press Watch, January 23, 2016.

According to Baha’i News (Persian) and sources close to Sina Ravankard (سینا روانکرد), the Revolutionary Court of Yasouj had summoned Mr. Ravankard on multiple occasions, over the past year. He was able to reduce his one-year sentence to three months. On January 13, 2016, he was transferred to Yasouj prison to begin his sentence. According to the sources, he has been fined approximately $300, as well. He was one of seven Bahais arrested in various cities of Iran on July 26, 2011. His arrest and trial was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily.

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Afif Na`imi again denied medical treatment, returned to prison


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), January 27, 2016.

Prison authorities have again refused to extend the medical treatment of Afif Na`imi (عفیف نعیمی), a Bahai prisoner of conscience held in Raja’i Shahr prison, and one of the seven Yaran (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran). On January 24 he was taken from the hospital in Tehran to prison, although his medical treatment is incomplete. On several occasions now, he has been taken from prison to a heart disease hospital in Tehran for treatment, only to be returned to prison with the treatment incomplete. His health problems are described as “severe,” and the prison’s Medical Examiner has determined that he is not fit for prison because of his failing health. His case has gone three times to medical boards supervised by the Medical Examiner and the Public Prosecutor, and these have found him unfit for prison. In view of his chronic bad health, the Public Prosecutor’s office has given the prison authorities permission to take Mr. Na`imi to hospital when necessary, without prior permission from the Public Prosecutor.

Mr. Na`imi was arrested in May 2008 together with six other “Yaran.” They were charged with “formation of the Baha’i sect” and “spying for Israel,” and given 20-year prison sentences, recently reduced to 10 years, although it is inherently improbable that the Israeli security services would recruit the seven most high-profile Bahais as spies (Bahais are under constant surveillance, and are excluded from work in the civil services, armed forces and many other sectors), and no evidence of this “spying” was produced.

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January 25, 2016

Bahai shop windows broken in Aq Qala city


Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, January 21, 2016.

In the early hours of January 21, unknown people broke the show windows of a Bahai-run shop selling wedding dress accessories in the town of Aq Qala, about 15 kilometers from Gorgan, in Golestan province. The shop has previously been closed by the local authorities several times because its owner, Neda `Abdeyan (ندا عبدیان) is a Bahai. Because Bahais are considered “unclean” they are bared from working in a variable list of economic sectors. Mrs `Abdeyan previously ran the same shop as a beauty salon, and when the local authorities decided that a Bahai could not work in that sector, she changed her line of business and re-opened the shop.

On May 19, 2015, Saham News published a copy of the previously secret list of sectors from which Bahais are banned (by that time the list was already five years old, and incomplete). It says that Bahais may not work in cultural, educational or financial institutions, and are not to be allowed to work in the sectors of periodicals, jewelry, watchmaking, print-making, tourist agencies, car rentals, publishing and bookshops, photography, film-making, internet gaming, computers, or internet cafes. They may not own printing works or hotels and other accommodation for travellers, or teach tailoring skills. The order refers to the widespread Iranian belief that Bahais are unclean, and requires the police bureaus to block them from restaurants, cafeterias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways (Iranian-style), cafes, butchers shops, supermarkets, the production and sale of ice-cream, fruit juice, soft drinks, pastry and sweets, and coffee.

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January 23, 2016

Bahai burial again impeded in Tabriz


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), January 18, 2016.

Officials at the public cemetery in Tabriz, the Wadi-ye Rahmat cemetery, have impeded the burial of Mrs. Afruz Bakhshi (افروز بخشی), who died on Friday, January 15. Siamak Shafi`i (سیامک شفیعی), the son of Mrs. Bakhshi, who is at present in Washington, told Bahai News that officials at the cemetery in Tabriz had been refusing to bury Bahais since 2012. In September 2015, a national policy was announced, that Bahais may only be buried in one designated cemetery in each province.

After the death of his mother, his father washed the body in his own home. Washing the body in a prescribed manner is part of both the Bahai and the Muslim burial rites, and is normally done in a separate washing facility on the cemetery land. Mr. Shafi`i said that he knew it was not appropriate to wash the body in the home, for psychological and health reasons, but his father and the family had no choice, as they did not wish her to be buried according to Islamic rites.

The body was then wrapped in a shroud and placed in a coffin, and the Bahai burial prayer was recited. The use of a coffin in addition to a shroud is part of the Bahai ritual, whereas in Islamic customs the coffin is used only to transport the body, which is buried in a shroud only. Next morning he went to the cemetery to bury her in the Bahai way — in a coffin — but officials at the cemetery said they could not allow a burial in a coffin,
or the performance of Bahai rituals, so the family should bury her according to Islamic rites, without the coffin. Alternatively, they could take the body to the Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh (aka Urmia or Orumiyeh). This isolated cemetery was vandalised in August, 2015, and it is two hour’s travel from Tabriz. The Bahai practice is to bury a body within one hour’s travel of the place of death. The officials also suggested taking the body to Miandoab, which is two and a half hours by car from Tabriz. The cemetery officials also offered to conduct the burial themselves (i.e., according to Islamic rites). The body was placed in the morgue. Mrs. Bakhshi’s husband approached various local authorities in Tabriz, but was told that the policy comes from “higher up.” When he returned empty-handed to the cemetery in Tabriz, the cemetery officials said that they would take the body to a cemetery site specifically for Bahais in Miandoab on Monday, January 18. Mr. Siamak Shafi`i said that the “Miandoab” cemetery is actually closer to Mahabad, which is three hours from Tabriz, and is a rocky place, so that a bulldozer is required to dig a grave, and the Bahais would have to travel more than two hours to take each body. The Bahais were allocated a separate cemetery so that Muslims would not be buried alongside Bahais [and also to remove the Bahai presence from a public space ~Sen]. Mr. Shafi`i said that when the bodies of deceased Bahais are taken to the “Miandoab” cemetery by city officials, their families are told they have been buried, and in some cases the Bahais know that the deceased were buried with Islamic rites. He said that officials had been doing this for more than four years now, and 47 Bahais have been buried in this way. Five years previously, his wife’s grandmother died, and become the Bahai to be excluded from the cemetery in Tabriz.

In past years [when the Bahai community in Iran was allowed to organise its affairs], his father was one of those responsible for washing and burying deceased Bahais. After the 1979 revolution in Iran, and especially in 1987, the family, who were then living in Ilkchi, suffered attacks by ‘extremist forces’ and their possessions, land and house were expropriated.

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January 21, 2016

Three more Bahai students expelled


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), reports from January 13, 17 and 22.

Bahai News in Persian has reported three further expulsions of Bahai students from tertiary institutions in Iran, because of their religious beliefs. The first relates the expulsion of Mahnush Shafi`ei-Mehr (مهنوش شفیعی مهر) from the University of Samangan campus in Amol County (Mazandaran Province). The University of Samangan or Samangan Institute is a private non-profit tertiary institution. Mrs Shafi`ei-Mehr had studied Business Administration for two years, and gained a “Foundation degree,” preparatory to a Bachelor’s degree. This degree was declared void because of her Bahai beliefs. [January 27: Iran Press Watch has a fuller report.]

A second report, dated January 17, relates the expulsion of Maqsud Anvari (مقصود انوری) from the University of Shahid Bahonar in Kerman because of his Bahai beliefs. When he enrolled at the University he listed his religion as “other” [because Bahai was not given as an option] but later he was required to fill in various forms by hand, and he wrote that he was a Bahai. He had completed one semester of studies in Information Technology when he was expelled.

The third report is of the expulsion of Mehrdad Dhehni-Miandoab (مهرداد ذهنی میاندوآب) from the Payam-Nur University in Miandoab, before he had actually begun lessons. He had enrolled for a course in Industrial Engineering.

January 27: Iran Press Watch also has a report of the expulsion of Mina Mohammadi (مینا محمدی), a resident of Birjand, South Khorasan province. She was expelled in November 2015. This expulsion was not reported on Sen’s Daily at the time.

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Shahram Falah released in Kerman


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), January 21, 2016.

Shahram Falah (شهرام فلاح) has been released from prison in Kerman, after serving one year of a 3-year sentence for his Bahai beliefs. He began his sentence on January 31, 2015, and was released on January 20, 2016. Navid Haqiqi Najafabadi (نوید حقیقی نجف آبادی), another Bahai prisoner who began a 3-year sentence on the same day, was released on (or about) January 10, 2016. They were among 20 Bahais were arrested in central Iran in August, 2012. Mr. Haqiqi and Mr. Falah were the first two of these 20 to begin their sentences.

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January 19, 2016

Puya Tabayaniyan in solitary confinement in Semnan


Bahai News, January 18, 2016.

Reports indicate that Mr. Puya Tabayaniyan (پویا تبیانیان), a Bahai who began as sentence of six and a half years in the Central Prison of Semnan on December 22, 2012, is being held in solitary confinement. The information apparently came to light after the release of Afshin Eqani (افشین ایقانی), another Bahai prisoner in Semnan, on December 25, 2015.

Mr. Tabayaniyan was arrested on March 8, 2009 and held in solitary confinement for two months, during which he was interrogated by Judge Dowlat-Khah (قاضی دولت خواه). He was sentenced to two years in prison (this report says, 2 years and 6 months), and was granted a conditional release on April 29, 2010. He was one of four Bahais who were arrested in Semnan on March 12, 2011. He released on bail on April 3, and re-arrested on June 11. This was apparently for further interrogation, as reports from that time indicate that he released ten days later, on June 21, 2011. He was charged with undermining national security and propaganda against the regime, and sentenced to six and a half years in prison by Judge `Eyn al-Kamaal (قاضی عین الکمال).

The report does not indicate why he would be held in solitary confinement, or when this began.

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January 12, 2016

Another Bahai student expelled in Tehran


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), January 13, 2016.

Elham Pakru Miandavab (الهام پاکرو میاندوآب) has been expelled from the Mallard Campus of the Azad University in Tehran because of her Bahai beliefs. She had begun a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering. She was summoned to the University’s security office and told she had no right to tertiary education, because she is a Bahai. She was also excluded from a private educational initiative known as “The network era” because of her religious beliefs.

Reports coming to Bahai News indicate that a number of Bahai students have been allowed to register at a university [and pay the first installment of the fees ~Sen], only to be expelled once they have been identified.

January 26: Iran Press Watch has a fuller report of this expulsion.

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Four Bahai students expelled from Iran’s universities


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), January 11 – 12, 2016.

Bahai News reports that Shamis Pourshah-Reza’i (شمیس پورشاه رضایی) has been expelled from the Tehran Central campus of the Azad University, because she adheres to the Bahai Faith. She had filled in the word “other” in the religion column of her personal details, and entered the first term of a study of Video and Direction. When the University’s security officers enquired, she said she was a Bahai and was expelled. In the University Entrance examinations, she was ranked 138th in the entire country.


Another report recounts the expulsion of Sahba Avaz-Pour (صهبا عوض پور) and Rabi` Khalili (ربیع خلیلی) from the University of Applied Sciences in Kermanshah, because of their Bahai beliefs. Both were in the first semester of their studies. [Janaury 27: Iran Press Watch has a fuller report.]

A third report from Bahai News is of the expulsion of Irsalan Mirza’i (ارسلان میرزایی), who was in the third semester of a study of Material Engineering at the Shahid Chamran University in Ahvaz.

Shamim Ruhani begins his prison sentence


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), January 11, 2015.

Shamim Ruhani ( شمیم روحانی ), a Bahai from Ahvaz (a city in Khuzestan Province, in the Iranian part of the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates), has been taken to prison to begin his sentence. He was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on November 5, 2013, along with a number of Bahais who were present in his home. The agents seized his religious books, documents, personal effects, mobile telephone and computer. All the detainees except for Mr. Ruhani were released three days later. Mr. Ruhani was held for several months before being released on bail. He was charged with propaganda against the regime and membership in Bahai organisations, and sentenced to one year in prison followed by banishment from the Province of Khuzestan for two years.

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Navid Haqiqi Najafabadi released early


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), January 11, 2016.

Navid Haqiqi Najafabadi (نوید حقیقی نجف آبادی), a Bahai who has served almost one year of a 3-year sentence in Arak prison, has been released on parole. He began his sentence on January 31, 2015. The report gives no reason for his early release, but he was granted an unusually long 10-day leave from prison, which began on October 31, 2015. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, and who have been given sentences ranging from one year to three years plus a one year suspended sentence. His father, Majid Enayatu’lah Najafabadi (مجید عنایت الله نجف آبادی) was martyred for his Bahai beliefs.

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January 8, 2016

Nakisa Hajipour released


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), January 8, 2015.

Nakisa Hajipour (نکیسا حاجی پور), a Bahai from Mashhad, was released from Vakil Abad prison on January 7. Mrs. Hajipour was one of 20 Bahais arrested in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on November 15, 2015. It appears she has been released on bail pending her trial.

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January 7, 2016

Tahereh Reza’i transferred to prison in Isfahan


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), January 8, 2016.

Mrs. Tahereh Reza’i ( طاهره رضایی ), a Bahai from Isfahan, has been transferred from Yazd prison to Dowlat Abad prison in Yazd. She is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran August 2012: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman. They received prison sentences ranging from one year to four years. Mrs. Reza’i began her sentence, of one year in prison plus a one-year suspended sentence, on October 19, 2015, when she was arrested in front of her home in Isfahan and taken to prison in Yazd. It would appear that the authorities in Isfahan arrested her at the request of the Provincial authorities in Yazd.

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January 4, 2016

Final trial of the Gorgan Bahais

HRANA, January 3, 2016.

On December 27, 2015, the Revolutionary Court in Gorgan, in Iran’s Golestan Province, held the eighth and last in a series of trials of the Bahais who were arrested in the Province in October, 2012, and later released on bail. The trials are being conducted by Judge Qanbari (قاضی قنبری). On this ocassion the Bahais on trial were Puna Sana’i ( پونه ثنایی), Sheyda Qadusi (شیدا قدوسی) and Hana Kushkabaghi ( هنا کوشکباغی ). As in the seventh trial, on November 18, 2015, the defendants were not summoned and were not present at the closed trial, but they and their lawyers had been given an opportunity to present a defence [in writing]. In the seventh trial, which was not reported on Sen’s Daily, the accused were Meriam Dehqan (مریم دهقان), Houshmand Dehqan (هوشمند دهقان) and Kamelia Bideli (کاملیا بیدلی). In the past year about 20 Bahais from Gorgan have been tried, two or three at a time, on charges such as propaganda against the regime, undermining national security, and membership and participation in Bahai religious activities. The sentences have not been announced [a ‘guilty’ verdict may be assumed, as Bahais are never “not guilty” in Iranian courts].

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January 2, 2016

Gudarz Bidaqi completes his third prison term


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), January 2, 2016.

Gudarz Bidaqi (گودرز بیدقی), a Bahai from Mehdishahr in Iran’s Semnan Province, was released from the Central Prison in Semnan on January 1, at the end of a four-month sentence. His imprisonment was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily. This is the third prison sentence he has served because of his Bahai beliefs. From July 2012 to May 2013, he and his daughter Roufiya Bidaqi ( روفیا بیدقی ) were imprisoned in Semnan on charges of propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai activities. The family’s business was closed by the authorities in March 2011. Mr. Bidaqi’s first imprisonment followed the 1979 revolution. He is now over 64 years old.

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December 31, 2015

Parvaneh Rahmani free on bail


Bahai News(Persian, facebook), January 1, 2016.

Parvaneh Rahmani-Ra’ufi (پروانه رحمانی رئوفی), a Bahai from Sanandaj, has been released on bail. She was arrested in her home on December 19, 2015, when her home was also searched.

On September 8, 2015, her husband Dhabihullah Ra’ufi ( ذبیح الله رئوفی ) was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, and their home was searched. He is also free on bail, but after his release some of his non-Bahai contacts were detained and lodged personal complaints against him. One of these contacts said that while he was detained at the Ministry of Intelligence office he was threatened with charges of apostasy, which carries the death sentence, but promised freedom if he lodged a complaint against the Bahais (full report here).

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Fu’ad Moqaddam transferred to hospital


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 31, 2015.

Dr. Fu’ad Moqaddam (فواد مقدم) a 63-year-old physician and one of the former administrators of the Bahai online university (BIHE) in Isfahan, was again taken from prison to hospital, about two weeks ago, and is still in hospital. In July this year he was taken to hospital for treatment for heart disease, but it would appear he was later returned to prison, since the latest report states that he has been hospitalized again. He was arrested in May, 2011, and sentenced to five years in prison for his educational activities. He is serving his term at Raja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj, near Tehran.

The BIHE is a distance-learning institute which serves students who are excluded from tertiary study in Iran, because they are Bahais.

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Elham Faramani spends her 7-day furlough visiting prison


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 31, 2015.

Mrs. Elham Faramani (الهام فراهانی) has returned to Evin Prison in Tehran, after a seven-day furlough which she spent in visiting Raja’i Shahr prison, about 50 kilometers west of Evin Prison. Her husband `Adel Na`imi (عادل نعیمی) is serving a 10-year sentence there, and her son Shamim Na’imi ( شمیم نعیمی) is serving a 3-year sentence. She was able to meet both of them in a room reserved for face-to-face meetings. Elham Faramani and her son began their sentences on May 11, 2014, while `Adel Na`imi appears to have been held continuously since his first arrest (along with his wife) during wide-spread raids on July 10, 2012. His younger brother `Afif ( نعیمی ), one of the seven Bahai ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators), is serving a 10-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison.

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December 29, 2015

Shahram Najaf-Tumara’i free on bail


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), December 29, 2015.

Shahram Najaf-Tumara’i (شهرام نجف تومرائي) has been released on bail in Tehran. Mr. Najaf-Tumara’i previously served as one of the Khademin (area facilitators) for the Bahais in District 7 in Tehran. He was arrested by the security forces on November 27 and taken to Evin Prison. Web sites linked to the Iranian regime have accused him of espionage. The charge is patently ridiculous: Bahais in Iran are subject to close surveillance, and their homes are frequently searched and their computers seized. This is especially true of prominent Bahais such as Mr. Najaf-Tumara’i. They are also banned from the military, civil service, universities and sensitive economic sectors such as ice-cream manufacture. Therefore no spy in Iran would pose as a Bahai, no Bahai would chose espionage as a career, and no secret service recruiting spies in Iran would consider a known Bahai.

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December 28, 2015

‘Baha’u’llah and the New Era’ banned in Malaysia

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 20:44
Tags: , , , ,

The image links to the Kindle and paperback editions available on Amazon


The Malaysian Insider, December 28, 2015.

The Ministry of Home Affairs in Malaysia has banned Baha’ullah and the New Era: an introduction to the Bahai Faith with effect from December 28. Four Islamic publications were also banned: The Teachings of the Quran (possibly referring to the widely used school texts by the renowned scholar Abidullah Ghazi), and three Islamic works in Malay. The authors and publishers are not named in this report. The ban was gazetted on November 26.

Hashimah said The Teachings of the Quran contained “deviationist interpretations,” and that the other banned publications “could damage public peace and alarm the people as they contained elements which could confuse the Muslims and damage their faith.” Anyone printing, importing, selling or possessing the banned materials can be jailed for up to three years and/or fined up to RM20,000 ($US 4,600).

Baha’ullah and the New Era is an introductory book about the Bahai Faith, originally written by J.E. Esslemont and published in 1923. It has been revised and updated several times since then, and is published electronically on the Bahai Reference Library (free to read or download).

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Hamid Azizi released


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 28, 2015.

Hamid Azizi (حمید عزیزی), a Bahai from Hamadan, was released from the city’s prison on December 27. He has served almost 7 months of a 1-year sentence. Mr. Azizi was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence who came to his home on October 21, 2014. They searched his home for several hours and seized a computer, a laptop computer, and Bahai books and pamphlets. He was released pending his trial, and was charged with propaganda against the regime in the form of supporting opposition groups. He began his sentence on June 11 this year.

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December 27, 2015

Navid Aqdasi released


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 28, 2015.

Navid Aqdasi has been released on bail from Evin prison in Tehran. Bail was set at one billion rials (30,000 euros, $US 33,000). He was arrested on November 15, and held in solitary confinement for five weeks.

Mr. Aqdasi is a cousin of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), who was murdered two years ago in the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas. He has actively pursued his cousin’s case and has been threatened by the security forces a number of times. On two occasions, graffiti insulting the Bahai Faith has been sprayed on the walls of his home in Tehran.

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December 25, 2015

Sanandaj Ministry of Intelligence applies a new tactic


HRANA, December 24, 2015.

The Ministry of Intelligence in Sanandaj has detained a number of persons who have contact with a Bahai family, and has pressured them to submit private complaints against the family, which would accuse them of teaching the Bahai Faith or leading people astray. According to the HRANA report, this took place in August and September this year.

On September 8 the 66-year-old father of the family, Dhabihullah Ra’ufi ( ذبیح الله رئوفی ), was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, along with a number of non-Bahais. Four agents raided his home and seized CD’s, books, pictures and other items relating to the Bahai Faith. He later told a HRANA reporter that his own interrogation was “good,” but after his release some of his non-Bahai contacts were detained and lodged personal complaints against him for no apparent reason.

One of these contacts, Mr. Muhammad Salahaddin Rashidiyan (محمدصلاح الدین رشیدیان) has said that while he was detained at the Ministry of Intelligence office he was threatened with charges of apostasy, which carries the death sentence, but promised freedom if he lodged a complaint against the Bahais. He said that he knew of at least three others who were forced to lodge complaints against the Ra’ufi family in the same way. Their names are given as Entezar Rahimi (انتظار رحیمی), Mrs. Zhila Negahdar (ژیلا نگهدار) and Shahu Mohammadi (شاهو محمدی).

Mr. Ra’ufi said that they did not know exactly what had happened, but they had good relations with these people until they were arrested and released. Later, two or three of them came to apologise, saying they were forced to lodge a complaint. One even brought a signed letter saying he had been forced to complain. One of the complainants came to the Ra’ufi home in the middle of the night, shouting that they had made his wife and children happy [ شما باعث شدی زن و بچه مرا بگیرند — a better translation would be welcome ~Sen].

Mr. Rashidiyan, who is now free on bail, said “I asked the interrogator what I could complain about, since they had not prosyletized or done anything, and he replied, ‘just make a complaint, we already have a promise from them saying that even if someone asked them about the Bahai Faith, they would not answer.'”

Mr. Ra’ufi was arrested in 2009, and sentenced to 6 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime, followed by 6 months in exile (other reports say he was sentenced to 6 month in prison in the town of Tuyserkan, in Hamadan). In June, 2011, the Ministry of Intelligence in Sanandaj conducted mass interrogations of the Bahais there, seeking information on how Sanandaj’s Bahai community is managed. One of those questioned was Dhabihullah Ra’ufi. Parvaneh Rahmani-Ra’ufi (پروانه رحمانی رئوفی), who was arrested on December 19, 2015, is the wife of Mr. Ra’ufi. It appears that she is still being detained.

If the Ministry of Intelligence’s tactic is successful, it will enable the regime to persecute the Bahais under the guise of private legal proceedings, and to enforce social isolation.

Afshin Iqani released


Bahai News (Facebook, Persian), December 25, 2015.

Afshin Iqani (افشین ایقانی), a Bahai shop keeper from Semnan, has been released from prison at the end of a sentence of 4 years and 3 months and one day (elsewhere reported as 4 years and 6 months and one day), on charges of acting against national security and propaganda against the regime. His case began on March 11, 2009, when agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided his shop and seized half of his stock, demanding that he sell the remainder before March 20. He was arrested on January 5, 2010, and began his sentence on September 12, 2011.

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December 24, 2015

Sahba Farnoush freed on bail


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 24.

Sahba Farnoush (صهبا فرنوش), a Bahai from Tehran who was arrested on XX, has been freed on bail from Evin Prison. Bail was set at two million rials (60,000 euros, $US 66,000). Mr. Farnoush is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on November 15, two of whom were released within a few hours.

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December 22, 2015

Conditional release of 9 Bahais in Marvdasht

Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 22, 2015.

Nine Bahais who were detained during two house raids in Marvdasht on December 19 have been released after undertaking not to meet one another at night or have dinner parties.

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December 21, 2015

One arrest in Sanandaj


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 22, 2015.

Parvaneh Rahmani-Ra’ufi (پروانه رحمانی رئوفی), a Bahai from Sanandaj, was arrested in her home on December 19, and there is still no word from her. Her home was also searched.

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Navid Aqdasi moved from interrogation to detention section


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 21, 2015.

After over a month of solitary detention for interrogation purposes, Navid Aqdasi (نوید اقدسی) was moved to a general section of Evin prison in Tehran. From there, he was able to contact his family on December 20. Mr. Aqdas is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on November 15, two of whom were released within a few hours.

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December 20, 2015

Two house raids and nine arrests in Marvdasht

Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 20, 2015.

On the night of December 19, Iranian security forces arrested nine Bahais in the city of Marvdasht, in the Province of Shiraz. They arrived with 8 police officers, video cameras and a fingerprinting device. The raids began with the home of Mr. Nowdhar Falah (نوذر فلاح), where agents questioned all the guests who were present and arrested members of the family. After searching the house, they took one of the guests, Mr. Saraj Kazemi (سراج کاظمی) with them, using his own car, and went to his home and searched it. They seized some books and CDs. On the morning of December 20, the nine arrested Bahais were taken to the Ministry of Intelligence offices, and were not released. The nine Bahais arrested are members of the two households, and three of their guests. Their names are Nowdhar Falah, Sawadbeh Ha’eri (ثوادبه حائری) and the 18-year-old Negin Falah (نگین فلاح), who are members of the Falah family, Mr. Saraj Kazemi, Farhnaz Ashna’i (فرحناز آشنایی) and 18-year-old Elhan Kazemi (الحان کاظمی), in the second family, and from among the guests Jahanbaksh Pazerafkon (جهانبخش بذرافکن), Faribah Falah (فریبافلاح), and Delir Adzideh (دلیر آژیده). Thus far there has been no indication of the reasons for the raid and arrests, except that the gathering was considered an illegal meeting.

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December 19, 2015

Three detainees released on bail in Tehran

Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 20, 2015.

Nava Monjazeb (نوا منجذب), Negar Baqeri (نگار باقری) and Yavar Haqiqat (یاور حقیقت) have been freed on bail in Tehran. Bail was set at 100 million tumans (31,000 euros, $US 33,000). They were among 20 Bahais arrested in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on November 15, two of whom were released within a few hours.

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December 15, 2015

Faraneh Daneshgari released on bail

faraneh_daneshgari
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), December 16, 2015.

Faraneh Daneshgari (فرانه دانشگری), one of the Bahais arrested in widespread raids across Iran on November 15, was released on bail in Mashhad on the evening of December 15.

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Sanaz Es’haqi released in Mashhad


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), December 15, 2015.

Sanaz Es’haqi (ساناز اسحاقی), one of the Bahais arrested in widespread raids across Iran on November 15, was released in Mashhad yesterday.

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Foad Khanjani released from prison


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 15, 2015.

Foad Khanjani (فواد خانجانی), a former student of industrial management at Isfahan University who was expelled because of his Bahai beliefs, has been released at the end of his four-year sentence. He was arrested in Tehran on March 2, 2010, and taken to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence, released and rearrested, and arrested for the third time on April 27, 2010, when he was sent to Evin Prison. His arrests followed the widespread unrest in Iran following the announcement of national election results. Authorities initially tried to claim that Bahais had a hand in stirring up the protests. His sister Leva Khanjani ( لوا خانجانی ), another student excluded from education for being a Bahai, was also arrested after the election unrest, along with her husband Babak Mobasher ( بابک مبشر). She was arrested on January 3, 2010, and sentenced to two years in prison. She was released on June 24, 2014.

Mr. Khanjani was released on bail on May 8, pending his trial which was conducted on December 11, 2010. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison, by Judge Maqiseh (قاضی مقیسه), and this sentence was confirmed in the review court by Judge Mouhed (قاضی موحد). His lawyer attempted to appeal this sentence to the Supreme Court, but the lawyer was confronted with threats from the Ministry of Intelligence. Mr. Khanjani began his sentence in Evin Prison on January 17, 2012, but on August 5 of that year he was transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison. From late September that year he was in need of urgent hospital treatment for a cyst in the abdomen, which was denied until early November. On March 2, 2013, he was denied family visits for refusing to wear prison uniform.

Foad Khanjani’s father, Ala’eddin Khanjani (علاءالدین خانجانی), known as Niki, was also arrested following the election protests, and again in August 2014, apparently because he was running an optician’s shop, and such businesses had been added — unannounced — to the list of sectors in which Bahais are forbidden to work. He was summoned to appear at Bench 5 of the court at Evin Prison in Tehran on August 10, 2015. Bench 5 has specialised in the persecution of Bahais. So far as I know, his sentence has not yet been announced.

Niki Khanjani’s father Jamalledin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی) is one of the seven ‘Yaran’ (Bahai national facilitators) who are now in the eighth year of 10-year sentences for their services to the Bahai community.

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December 13, 2015

Message to the Bahais in Iran, on behalf of the House of Justice

A’en-e Baha’i, December 13 (?), 2015.

The Secretariat at the Bahai World Centre has published a letter in Persian that is of interest to the Bahais in Iran. It responds to a number of questions about collective efforts and teaching the Faith in Iran, and advises the questioner that the answers will be found through consultation with the local friends. It also urges the friends not to be critical of one-another, but to support and encourage one another, most especially during the difficult period when the Bahai Administration is not operating in Iran. I have placed the Persian text in the “Documents Archive” of my Bahai Studies blog.

December 11, 2015

Ministry of Intelligence in Kermanshah seeks to isolate Bahais

MAF News, December 10, 2015.

In the past week, at least 15 Muslims in Kermanshah have been summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence and questioned and threatened because they have associated with Bahai families in the province. They were told they should not have any links to any Bahais. In the city of Sanandaj, capital of the neighbouring province of Kurdistan, officials refused to register the marriage of a Bahai woman with a non-Bahai man.

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December 9, 2015

Saba Golshan given extended medical leave


Bahai News (Persian), December 9, 2015.

Mr. Saba Golshan ( صبا گلشن ), a Bahai from Isfahan who is serving a 3-year sentence for his Bahai beliefs, has been granted a 2-month medical furlough for surgery and other treatment. His sentence is in fact 4 years, of which one year is suspended. He began his sentence on August 12 (not October 11, as in the Bahai News report ~Sen) this year. On August 1, 2011, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided many Bahai homes in the cities of Yazd , Isfahan, Kerman and Arak, and arrested 17 Bahais. Two weeks later, three more Bahais were arrested in Yazd. These 20 Bahais have been given sentences totaling 78 years.

Arrests follow motorcycle attacks in Rangpur, Bangladesh

Daily Sun (Bangladesh), December 9, 2015.

As previously reported, on the morning of November 8, three assailants on a motorcycle attacked a Bahai man, Ruhul Amin, who was shot twice, in the leg and shoulder, but survived the attack. Mr. Amin works as Personal Assistant to the Director of Rangpur Medical College Hospital, as well as being active at the Rangpur Bahai Centre. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for this attack, and the murders of a 64-year-old Italian physician, Piero Parolari, who is assistant pastor of the Dinajpur parish of the Roman Catholic church, Rahamat Ali, an attendant at a Sufi shrine who was bludgeoned t death, Cesare Tavella, an Italian aid worker working for a Christian organisation based in the Netherlands, and Kunio Hoshi, a Japanese agricultural worker, on October 3.

Police in Bangladesh have now announced several arrests and a confession of involvement from the local leader of the Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a violent Salafist group native to Bangladesh that seeks to establish an Islamic state there. The JMB leader, Masud Rana, gave his confessional statement before a court in Rangpur on Monday, admitting that he and two accomplices had shot Kunio Hoshi. According to Humayun Kabir, the Deputy Inspector General of Police for the area, Rana was arrested on Thursday, December 3. Rana was also involved in the killing at a shrine in Kaunia on November 10 and the shooting of a Bahai community leader in Rangpur city on November 8, the police official said. “Police also seized huge home-made explosives and sharp weapons from a pond near his house,” he added.

Other sources report two further arrests, of JMB leader Morshed Ali, 36, and his nephew Shahidul Islam, 35, in connection with the shrine killing. Curiously, this report does not mention the shrine killing or Rana, yet some reports indicate that Rana was first arrested in connection with the shrine killing, and only later connected to the murder of Kunio Hoshi. Until a public trial is held, the possibility of mistake and misinformation in the media reports should be borne in mind. One report even names Humayun Kabir Hira — the police spokesman — as one of those arrested.

Update, December 16, The Daily Star.

The police have so far arrested 18 suspected JMB members in different districts of the division in connection with the attacks, said DIG Humayun Kabir. Of them, five were held in Rangpur, seven in Dinajpur and three each in Gaibandha and Lalmonirhat. During raids to arrest them the police also seized firearms and ammunition including an AK-22 rifle, three foreign pistols, 47 rounds of bullet, three motorcycles, laptops, a significant amount of explosives and jihadi books.

The Rangpur police range chief claims apart from the killing of Japanese national Hoshi Kunio and shooting of Italian doctor and pastor Piero Arolari, the outfit was involved in the killing of Rahmat Ali, a caretaker of a shrine in Kaunia, on November 11 and shooting of Ruhul Amin, a Bahai community leader and employee of Rangpur Medical College Hospital, on November 8.

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December 4, 2015

`Afif Na`imi (corrected report)


December 4, 2015.

The item published under this heading today was incorrect, and has been withdrawn. It referred to the return of ‘Afif Na’imi to prison, which actually happened in early September (one report is dated September 8), but as previously reported here, he was taken back to hospital on taken to hospital on October 20, 2015. So far as I know he is still receiving treatment. My apologies to readers and especially to the family and friends of Mr. Na’imi. ~ Sen.

November 30, 2015

Navid Aqdasi accused of drug-making


Katayoon Taghizadeh (Facebook), November 30, 2015.

Navid Aqdasi (نوید اقدسی), a Bahai arrested in Tehran on November 15, was transferred to Evin prison on November 29 and charged with making synthetic drugs. The charge could lead to the death penalty. Mr. Aqdasi is a cousin of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), who was murdered two years ago in the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas. Navid Aqdasi has actively pursued his cousin’s case and talked to the media about it. As a result, he has been threatened a number of times, including in recent months, when vandals have posted threatening graffiti on the walls of his house. On the first day after his arrest, he was able to contact his family, but there has been no further information about him, and he has not been able to meet his family.

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November 29, 2015

Prison sentence of Navid Khanjani reduced


Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, November 29, 2015.

The prison sentence of Navid Khanjani (نوید خانجانی) has been reduced from 12 years to five years. He has already served more than three years in prison. Mr. Khanjani is a Bahai student who has been barred from university, and a human rights and minority rights activist. He is a member of the central committee of the CHRR (Committee of Human Rights Reporters) and a founding member of the PCED (Campaign against Educational Discrimination). He was arrested in Isfahan on March 2, 2010, and sentenced to 12 years in prison early in 2011. He was charged with making false statements, propaganda against the regime, teaching minority groups, and membership of the banned Human Rights Committee. While he was free on bail he was again arrested, on August 22, 2012, as a member of a group of activists who were assisting victims of a devastating earthquake. He was sentenced to an additional five months for failure to obey instructions given by the police, but in September 2013 he was acquitted of this charge. He began his 12-year sentence on September 9, 2012, and has been hospitalized at least twice since then due to heart and respiratory problems.

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Bahai home searched in Isfahan

Bahai News, November 29, 2015.

The family home of Mr. Muhammadreza Thabet-Raseskh (محمدرضا ثابت راسخ) was searched by security forces early this morning, and a large number of CDs, books and personal effects were seized. Mr. Thabet-Rasekh was not present. However on a previous occasion he was detained for some time, and accused of propaganda against the regime. He was freed on bail after pledging his home as collateral. It is not clear whether this search is related to the recent wave of arrests of Bahais in in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad.

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November 28, 2015

Student expelled from Shiraz University for Bahai beliefs

Bahai News (Persian, Facebook)

Matin Nuwah-nejad ( متین نوح نژاد), a Bahai who has completed the first semester of study at Shiraz University, has been expelled because of his Bahai beliefs. He was studying Mathematics and Applications. Under a 1991 policy approved by the Iranian Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council (ISRCC), Bahais “must be expelled from universities, either in the admission process or during the course of their studies, once it becomes known that they are Bahais.”

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November 26, 2015

One new arrest in Tehran


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), November 27, 2015.

Shahram Najaf-Tumara’i (شهرام نجف تومرائي), a Bahai who previously served as one of the Khademin (area facilitators) for the Bahais in District 7 in Tehran, was arrested by the security forces early this morning, and taken to Evin Prison. The police knocked on his door and said there had been an accident with his parked car, and demanded ‘compensation.’ When he came out of his house, he was taken to prison. Seven officers then searched his home.

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November 24, 2015

Bahais among those protesting personal status law in Iraq

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 22:08
Tags: , , , ,

World Magazine, November 16, 2015.

Religious minority groups in Iraq are protesting a new law that would force children, under some circumstances, to become Muslim.

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad urged Iraqi President Fuad Masum to reject the recently passed national charter, which could take religious freedom away from children and teenagers. Chaldean Catholics, Yazidis, Mandean, Kakai, and Bahai minorities all opposed the charter. One article of the legislation states that children under 18 years old would have to become Muslim if their fathers convert to Islam or their mothers marry a Muslim man, according to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

In a Nov. 6, meeting, Sako urged Masum to veto the charter because the law would violate religious rights enshrined in the Iraqi constitution.

“We want to assert the principle that the child should keep their religious affiliation, so that he or she can freely decide their faith, according to belief, when they come of age,” Sako said in statements published online. “After all, religion is a matter which concerns only the relationship between God and man, and should not be bound by any obligations.”

Emily Fuentes, a spokeswoman for Open Doors, said the new law also would violate international standards for religious freedom and conscience. Because there is often government or community pressure not to convert to any other religion in Muslim countries, the Iraqi law “puts the children in a corner,” Fuentes said.

“Even if they think, ‘Okay, I’ll be Muslim now because it’s legal and switch when I’m 18,’ they can’t really do that,” she said.

Chaldean leaders in Iraq predict the new charter will accelerate the country’s Christian exodus, if enacted, CNA reported.

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Kenyan high court ruling allows registration of Bahai marriages

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 01:56
Tags: , , , ,

The Star, November 23, 2015.

A judgement issued by the High Court on October 28, 2015, will mean that Bahai marriages can be registered in Kenya. Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruled that while section 6 of the Marriage Act did not mention the Bahai Faith as one of the faiths whose marriages could be registered, the intention was not to exclude the Bahai or any other faith-based marriage. Ngugi said the omission was a result of the failure of people who drafted the Act to use language that would cover not only the main religions practiced in Kenya, but also the minority. Ngugi said it has to be read to include every marriage celebrated in accordance with the faith of a religion duly registered in Kenya.

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November 22, 2015

Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab released from prison

Bahai News (Persian), November 23, 2015.

Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab (میاندوآب شهرام چینیان ), a Bahai shopkeeper from Tehran who has been serving an 8-year sentence, was released from Raja`i Shahr prison on November 21. Mr. Chiniyan was first arrested in March 2009 and released on March 3, 2010, after using his business license as bail. He was sentenced to 70 lashes and 8 years in prison on a charge of insulting Islam, and began serving his sentence, first in Evin prison in Tehran and then in Raja’i Shahr prison, early in March, 2012. On May 28, 2014, he was transferred to section 1 of Raja’i Shahr, where dangerous criminals are kept. He was punished with one week in solitary from June 25 to July 1, and four days in solitary on August 20, following his first beating by prison guards. On September 20, 2014, Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab was again beaten by guards because he refused to wear the standard prison uniform when being taken to see a judge. On February 21, 2015 he was again beaten by prison guards and some prisoners from the criminal section of the prison. This followed a letter he wrote to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamene’i, complaining about prison conditions.

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November 21, 2015

Six recent detainees freed

Bahai News (Persian, facebook), November 22, 2105.

Bahai News is reporting that five Bahais who were arrested recently in Isfahan have been freed on bail, and in a separate report, that Helia Moshtaq (هلیا مشتاق) has been freed on bail in Tehran. Those freed in Isfahan are Parvin Nik-A’in(پروین نیک آیین), Keyvan Nik-A’in (کیوان نیک آیین), Zarin Aqa-Baba’i (زرین آقابابایی), Yeganeh Agahi (یگانه آگاهی) and Vahid Karami (وحید کرمی).

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Two Bahai businesses shut down in Bandar Abbas

Iran Press Watch, November 21, 2015.

Two optometry shops run by Bahais have been closed down by authorities in the city of Bandar Abbas. The closures are still in effect in spite of extensive appeals by the shop’s owners, Mr Heidarpour (حیدرپور) and Mr. Rasti (راستی). On November 15, security forces also raided and searched the business of Mr. Navid Hemmat (نوید همت) and confiscated some of his property.

Within the past few days, dozens of Bahai-run businesses in Rafsanjan, Kerman, Tanekabon, Qa`em Shahr, Tehran and Karaj have been closed and sealed by government authorities.

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November 19, 2015

Four more business closures reported from Salmanshahr

Raja Harmeet Singh (facebook), November 17, 2015.

Reports indicate that four Bahai-run businesses in the Caspian coast town of Salmanshahr were closed by the Bureau of Public Places on the morning of November 14. These reports have not been confirmed by the sources I usually rely on, but they are consistent with other activity in Mazandaran province and appear credible. the businesses are named as the footwear and handbag shop of Farhad Shahidi (فرهاد شهيدي), a clothing shop run by Farshad Shahidi (فرشاد شهيدي), the photography business of Aziz Azemayan (عزيز اعظميان) and the refrigerator repair business of Dariush Ahmadpour (داريوش احمد پور).

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November 18, 2015

Prison sentences of seven “Yaran” reduced to 10 years

Bahai News (Persian), November 18, 2015.

The prison sentences of the seven ‘Yaran’, who served as national facilitators assisting the Bahais of Iran in their dealings with government organs until their arrest and imprisonment, have been reduced from 20 years to 10 years in prison. They have already served more then seven years.

Background:

On 5 March 2008, one of the Yaran, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet (مهوش ثابت) – a schoolteacher and mother of two – was arrested having been summoned to the Iranian city of Mashhad to discuss some matters regarding a Bahai burial. Two months later, on 14 May, the other six Yaran were arrested in raids of their homes. The names of these six are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi (فریبا کمال آبادی), Jamaloddin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی), Afif Na`imi (عفیف نعیمی), Sa`id Reza’i (سعید رضایی), Behrouz Tavakkoli (بهروز توکلی), and Vahid Tizfahm (وحید تیزفهم).

After twenty months in prison without charge, a trial began on January 12, 2010. Throughout their long wait for justice, the seven had received barely one hour’s access to their legal counsel, and suffered appalling treatment and deprivations, including psychological and physical hardship. They were charged with espionage, propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and the establishment of an illegal administration – charges that were all rejected completely and categorically by the defendants. The trial of the seven accused ended on 14 June 2010 after six brief sessions, characterized by their lack of due legal process.

The initial sentence of 20 years imprisonment for each of the defendants, met with outrage and condemnation throughout the world. One month later, the appeal court revoked three of the charges and reduced their sentence to 10-year jail terms. In March 2011, the prisoners were informed that their original 20-year sentences were reinstated. Notwithstanding repeated requests, neither the prisoners nor their attorneys have ever received official copies of the original verdict or the ruling on appeal.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

November 16, 2015

Iranian authorities launch widespread crackdown: Bahais arrested, businesses closed


Iran Wire (English), November 16, 2015.

On the morning of Sunday, November 15, Iranian Intelligence Ministry agents arrested 20 Bahais in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad. They also closed down Bahai-run businesses in the Province of Mazandaran.

Among those detained was Nakisa Hajipour (نکیسا حاجی پور), who was detained at Mashhad railway station after Intelligence Ministry agents arrived at her home with an arrest warrant and were told she was traveling. According to an informed source who spoke to IranWire, she was prevented from boarding the train and arrested. Also arrested in Mashhad were Nika Pakzadan (نیکا پاکزادان), Faraneh Daneshgari (فرانه دانشگری), Sanaz Es’haqi (ساناز اسحاقی) and Naghmeh Dhabihayan (نغمه ذبیحیان). They were all arrested at their homes.

In Isfahan, agents arrested Yeganeh Agahi (یگانه آگاهی), Adib Janamian (ادیب جانمیان), Keyvan Nik-A’in (کیوان نیک آیین), Parvin Nik-A’in(پروین نیک آیین), Vahid Karami (وحید کرمی), `Arsheya Rouhani (عرشیا روحانی) and Zarin Aqa-Baba’i (زرین آقابابایی). They also arrested Sahab Rouhani (سحاب روحانی) and Matin Janameyan (متین جانمیان), but released them after several hours. In Tehran, agents arrested Helia Moshtaq (هلیا مشتاق), Negar Baqeri-Tari (نگار باقری طاری), Sahba Farnoush (صهبا فرنوش), Nava Monjazeb (نوا منجذب), Yavar Haqiqat (یاور حقیقت) and Navid Aqdasi (نوید اقدسی).

Navid Aqdasi is a cousin Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), murdered two years ago in the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas. Navid Aqdasi has actively pursued his cousin’s case and talked to the media about it. As a result, he has been threatened a number of times, including in recent months, when vandals have posted threatening graffiti on the walls of his house.

So far, no information has been made available about the charges against the Bahais. Their families have not been informed of their whereabouts. According to reports, it is likely that the prisoners have been taken to detention centers run by the Intelligence Ministry in their respective cities.

On the same day of the arrests took place, the Bureau of Public Places in the province of Mazandaran sealed and shut down 23 businesses belonging to Bahais in the cities of Sari, Qa`em Shahr, Tenakbon and Babolsar. This followed the businesses being closed on Saturday, November 14, a religious holiday for Bahais. Authorities have in the past objected to Bahai businesses observing holy days, threatening them with closure if they failed to keep the same business hours as non-Bahai shops and services.

Two days prior to the closure of Bahai businesses in Mazandaran, authorities also closed all Bahai businesses in the city of Rafsanjan in the southeastern province of Kerman. Among the businesses closed were shops selling cosmetics, health products, musical instruments, eyeglasses, clothes, tires and toys, and businesses offering refrigerator maintenance, photography and photocopier services. Bahais in Iran are barred from employment in most public sector jobs and many private sector jobs, with the result that many depend on small shops and workshops.

Shop and office owners were given no notice of the closure. In some cases, they were not even aware of the operation until some hours later. The town of Babolsar was the only exception. [That is, notice of closure was given in Babolsar. The ٍEnglish report on Iran Wire is incorrect on this point ~Sen]. The nature of the simultaneous arrests and closure suggests a planned operation, ordered and organized by the Intelligence Ministry.

According to reports, Bahai businesses shut down include those belonging to the following individuals:

Sari: Three optician’s shops run by Dhekrollah Rahimeyan (ذکرالله رحیمیان), Farid Alavi (فرید علوی), Behzad Zabihi (بهزاد ذبیحی) and Bozorgmehr Hor (بزرگمهر حر), the cosmetics shop of Ehsanollah Sana’i (احسان الله سنایی), and the clothing shops of Aramesh Zohouri (آرامش ظهوری) and Houshmand Goli (هوشمند گلی).

Qa`em Shahr: cosmetics and health products workshops run by Nima Miri (نیما میری) and Changiz Darakhshanian (چنگیز درخشانیان), a toyshop run by Bijan Nokhah (بیژن نوع خواه), a grocery operated by Dhekrollah Baba’i (ذکرالله بابایی), the optician’s shops of Soheil Haqdoost (سهیل حق دوست) and Zahra Golabian (زهرا گلابیان), the tire (or appliance?) business of Farzad Sabeti (فرزاد ثابتی) and a photocopy shop belonging to Shahin Sana’i (شاهین سنایی).

Tenakbon: The home security workhops of Omid Qaderi (امید قادری), the air conditioning workshops of Farhad Taqipour (فرهاد تقی پور) and of Michele and Armin Esma`ilpour (میشل و آرمین اسماعیل پور) and the refrigeration service business of Ruhollah Iqani (روح الله ایقانی).

Babolsar: The musical supplies business of Mithaq Leqa’i (میثاق لقایی), the photography business of Nasser Mir-Mohammadi (ناصر میرمحمدی) and the toyshop of Barzu Raf`ati (برزو رفعتی).

Persian source at Iran Wire
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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

November 15, 2015

Bahai businesses in Iran closed down following twin holy days

Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, November 15, 2015.

Separate reports from Rafsanjan and two cities in Mazandaran indicate that a considerable number of Bahai-run businesses have been shut down by the authorities, after their owners closed their businesses to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the Bab — the first of two consecutive days known as the twin Holy Days. In Mazandaran, almost ten businesses in Qa`em Shahr and Tenakbon were sealed by the authorities on November 14, and on the same day all the Bahai businesses still operating in Rafsanjan were sealed by local authorities. Twelve Bahai-run businesses had already been closed. The exclusion of Bahais from economic activities in Iran, and the confiscation of their properties, has become more systematic and widespread in recent years, as the government seeks to reduce this section of the population to subsistence-level serfdom, and to “block their progress.”

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

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