Sen's daily

March 3, 2015

`Azam Motahari summoned to prison

HRANA, March 3, 2015.

`Azam Motahari (اعظم مطهری) has been summoned by telephone to begin serving a one-year sentence in the central prison of Yazd. [An earlier report states that the review court confirmed a sentence of two years in prison and one year’s probation ~ Sen]. The guarantor of his bail was also informed by telephone that he would be beginning his sentence. However neither call specified a date on which he should report to prison. Mr. Motahari is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai community activities.

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Increase in anti-Bahai propaganda in Iran

Iran Press Watch, February 25, 2015.

In recent days anti-Bahai posters have been displayed in Tehran metro stations. The propaganda and the simultaneous arrest of 14 Bahais in Tehran and Isfahan in the last two weeks attest to a new wave of pressure on the Bahais in Iran. Saham News reports that the propaganda posters claim that Bahais are members of a cult devised by imperialist powers, whose aim is to spy and to change the culture and religion of the people of Iran, specifically Shiite Muslims. The posters can be seen in most Tehran metro stations.

Concurrently, extensive anti-Bahai programs are being aired on radio and TV carrying the same message: accusations of cultism, spying and propagation of immorality.

Faranak, a 31-year-old Bahai woman, says, “I was shocked to see the poster in the metro station. I didn’t expect them to treat us this way. Although we have become used to harsh and offensive treatment over the years, these posters are alarming; they make us wonder after all these years of persecution and imprisonment: what more are they going to do to us?”

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March 1, 2015

Two fresh arrests in Yazd

HRANA, February 28, 2015.

Security forces in Yazd have searched the home of the Baqeri family, for the third time in the past year. They seized personal items and arrested Nasser and Qa’ez Baqeri (ناصر و قائز باقری). Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), the wife of Nasser Baqeri, has just begun a 2-year sentence in the central prison in Yazd.

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February 26, 2015

Fariba Ashtari begins her 2-year sentence in Yazd prison

HRANA, February 23, 2015.

On February 21, Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), a Bahai from Yazd, reported to the central prison in the city to begin serving a 2-year sentence. She has also been given a 12-month suspended sentence. She is the fourth of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, to begin her sentence. These 20 Bahais were charged with propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai community activities.

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Shahram Chiniyan beaten in prison again

Exiles Activist, February 21, 2015.

Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab (میاندوآب شهرام چینیان ), a Bahai shopkeeper from Tehran who is serving an 8-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, has again been beaten by prison guards and some prisoners from the criminal section of the prison. This follows a letter he wrote to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamene’i, complaining about prison conditions. The beating occurred on February 21, and another prisoner, Arash Moqaddam Aslanpour (آرش مقدم اصلان پور), is also reported to have been severely injured when prisoners from the criminal section raided section 10, where he is held. He is described in the Exiles Activist report as a Bahai prisoner, but other sources describe him as a Zoroastrian civic activist.

On September 20, 2014, Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab was beaten by guards because he refused to wear the standard prison uniform when being taken to see a judge.

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.

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February 22, 2015

Further details on five recent arrests, and one interrogation, in Tehran

Iran Wire, February 20, 2015.

The arrests in Tehran that were previously reported began about 5 pm on Monday February 16, with a raid by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on a Bahai meeting in the home of Sasan Yadegar (ساسان یادگار) in Tehran’s 10th district. The agents brought a camcorder with them. The agents searched the house thoroughly. The six Bahais present were interrogated one by one in a separate room, and two of them, Mrs. Elham Karam Pisheh (الهام کرم پیشه) and Mrs. Mona Mehrabi (مونا محرابی) were arrested in accordance with a warrant and taken away in a car from the Ministry of Intelligence. During the search, which lasted five hours, all the books, pictures and religious symbols of those present, as well as computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, were seized. An Iran Press Watch report adds that the officers demanded that those present should sign undertakings not to participate in Bahai meetings.

Security forces then went downstairs to the home of Mr. Ehsan Yadegar (احسان یادگار), Sassan’s brother, and searched it. They seized religious books and images, and computers and mobile phones. The Iran Press Watch report adds that they seized some gold coins. He was told to present himself to the public prosecutor’s office in Varamin (the capital of Varamin County in Tehran Provine). He did so, and was released after several hours.

On the same day, officers from the Ministry of Intelligence raided the home of Ruhiyyeh Baqr-dokht-Akbari ((روحیه باقردخت (اکبری), searched it and arrested her. Next day they raided the home of Mrs. Safa Forqani (صفا فرقانی), where they seized a computer and religious books. She too was arrested. An hour later, her father, Mehrdad Forqani (مهرداد فرقانی ) was arrested in his home in Varamin. Security agents also appeared at the home of Mrs. Arghavan Eshraqi (غوان اشراقی), with a warrant for her arrest, but she was not home. The agents searched the house and seized religious books, pictures and poems.

Thus far, the families of the five detainees have not been told the reason for these arrests, and the detainees have not be able to contact their families. According to the judicial authorities, they have all been taken to Evin prison, and their cases will be heard by the court in Varamin.

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February 21, 2015

Bandar Abbas Bahai assaulted, threatened with death

Iran Press Watch, February 21, 2015.

On Saturday 14 February, Kalim Jahandari, a Bahai from Bandar Abbas, was attacked and threatened in the city by unknown armed assailants.

According to reports received by Saham News, his attackers blind-folded him and took him to a deserted area of town, where they subjected him to harassment and persecution, denigrated his family — who are not Bahai — and threatened him with severe repercussions should he decide to promulgate his Faith.

The fact that these unidentified attackers have access to detailed information about the personal lives of Bahais in Bandar Abbas heightens the fear of a connection with the security authorities.

The assailants also declared that they were responsible for “sending to Hell” Ataollah Rezvani, a former member of the administrative body of the Baha’i community of Bandar Abbas, and threatened to kill two other former members, Mehran Afshar and Behzad Rasti, at the appropriate time.

These threats come in the aftermath of the assassination of the 52-year-old Ataollah Rezvani, who was shot to death last August by unknown agents who have yet to be identified or prosecuted by the security forces or the judiciary. The status of the case remains unclear.

The Bahais of Bandar Abbas have lodged complaints with the Security Council and the Department of Justice of Bandar Abbas, and have demanded protection against self-appointed groups.

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February 19, 2015

10 Bahai detainees freed in Isfahan

Exiles Activist, February 19, 2015.

On the evening of February 19, ten Bahais were freed from Isfahan prison, after two days in detention. There is still no information as to the reasons for their arrests.

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February 18, 2015

Extensive raids in Tehran and Isfahan: 14 Bahais arrested

Campaign to stop harassment of Bahais (facebook), February 18, 2015.

On February 16 and 17, security officers raided and searched the homes of Bahais in Tehran and Isfahan, and arrested 14 Bahais. In Tehran, the homes of Sasan Yadgar (elsewhere reported as Parisa Yadgar), Ehsan Yadegar, Arghavan Eshraqi and Mehrdad Furqani (ساسان یادگار، احسان یادگار، ارغوان اشراقی و مهرداد فرقانی ) were raided, and all the books, desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones were seized. Four Bahais were arrested, in line with arrest warrants, and the officers also had a warrant for the arrest of Mrs. Arghavan Eshraqi, who was not at home at the time of the raids. All those arrested in Tehran are reported to have been taken to Evin prison.

On February 17, security officers in Isfahan raided the homes of Mr. Kavian Dehqan, Houshang Rahimi and Peyman `Atefi (کاویان دهقان، هوشنگ رحیمی و پیمان عاطفی), and confiscated computers, mobile phones and books. They arrested 12 Bahais. There is no word of where they are being held.

Those arrested in Tehran have been named as Mrs. Elham Karam Pisheh (الهام کرم پیشه), Mrs. Mona Mehrabi (مونا محرابی), Mr. Mehrdad Furqani and Mr. Safa Furqani (صفا فرقانی و مهرداد فرقانی).

Those arrested in Isfahan are named as Mrs. Nika Rajabi, Mona Aqdasi, Shiva Aghsani and Negar Sobhaneyan (نیکا رجبی، مونا اقدسی، شیوا اغصانی و نگار سبحانیان), and Mr. Kavian Dehqan, `Aref Dehqan, Shayan Kawthar, Peyman `Atefi, Kaushar Rahimi and Houshang Rahimi (کاویدن دهقان، عارف دهقان، شایان کوثر، پیمان عاطفی، کوشا رحیمی و هوشنگ رحیمی ). [A subsequent report omits Houshang Rahimi and substitutes Houshang Dehqan (هوشنگ دهقان): the later report appears to be the correct one ~ Sen]

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February 12, 2015

Farah Baghi begins her sentence in Yazd

HRANA, February 11, 2015.

Farah Baghi (فرح باغی), a Bahai from Yazd who has been sentenced to one year in prison and a one-year suspended sentence, has reported to prison in Yazd to begin her sentence. She had previously been informed that she would begin her sentence on February 13, but on February 9 security officers appeared at her door to take her to prison. When she explained that she was summoned to prison on February 13, they agreed that she could take herself to the court offices, on February 10. Mrs. Farah Baghi is the third Bahai to begin her sentence, out of group of 20 Bahais who were arrested in Yazd, Isfahan, Kerman, Arak and neighbouring areas in August 2012.

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February 11, 2015

Court rejects complaint of several Bahai students

HRANA, February 10, 2015.

Following the announcement of results from Iran’s national secondary school graduation exam for this academic year, many Bahai youth who achieved good marks, sufficient for entry even to the best of the state-controlled universities, found they were rejected from university due to “defects in the file.” Some of these students filed a legal complaint, which after overcoming various obstacles was actually received and considered by Branch One of the Administrative Court. This court deals with complaints, grievances and protests lodged against officers or government entities, or challenges to government regulations. The Bahai students’ complaint was however rejected. The court, which is reported to have been headed by the President of the Administrative Courts for all of Iran, based its ruling on a decree of the Council for the Cultural Revolution, issued shortly after the 1979 Revolution, which bars Bahais from higher education in government-run institutions. The court did not provide any written decision to the students or their lawyer, and the court records do not contain any mention of the fact that the complainants were Bahais, but rather refer to the general conditions of admission.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Human Rights Council of the Judiciary, has publicly stated that “The authorities have never discriminated against the followers of the Bahai Faith merely based on being Bahais, as they believe that based on the Iranian Constitution every individual has the same rights and cannot be deprived of constitutional rights.” Nevertheless, hundreds of Bahai students have been barred from entering universities in Iran, or expelled from university when their religious beliefs became known. Moreover the Bahai Open University (BIHE), established to offer education to those excluded from government-supervised institutions, has been raided and closed down, and its administrators and teachers have been imprisoned.

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February 5, 2015

Two Bahais begin their sentences in Arak and Kerman, 3 summoned to prison in Yazd

HRANA, February 4, 2015.

On January 31, Navid Haqiqi (نوید حقیقی) and Shahram Falah (شهرام فلاح) reported to prisons in Arak and Kerman, respectively, to begin serving 3-year sentences for their faith. In August 2012, 20 Bahais were arrested in central Iran: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman. Mr. Haqiqi and Mr. Falah are the first two of these 20 to begin their sentences. Three Bahais in Yazd have been notified that they will begin their 3-year sentences on February 16. They are named as Mrs. Fara Baghi (فرح باغی), who has been sentenced to one year in prison and 1 year suspended sentence; Mr. Mehran Eslami (مهران اسلامی), facing one year in prison and 1 year suspended sentence (previously reported as two years plus a one year suspended); and Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), sentenced to two years (previously reported as three years).

[Corrected: In my initial report, Mrs. Fara Baghi (فرح باغی) was conflated with Mr. Faribourz Baghi (فریبرز باغی ).

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February 4, 2015

Human Rights Watch calls on Yemen to release Hamed bin Haydara

Human Rights Watch, February 4, 2015.

A statement released by Human Rights Watch says that the Yemeni government should drop all charges against Hamed Kamal Muhammad bin Haydara, a Yemeni Bahai, which violate his basic rights to freedom of religion.

Authorities have detained Hamed Kamal Muhammad bin Haydara, 50, without trial since December 2013. They have often denied him access to lawyers and family and subjected him to torture, his wife, Elham Muhammad Hossain Zara`i, told Human Rights Watch. The authorities allege that Haydara attempted to convert Yemeni Muslims and collaborated with Israel.

“The charges against Hamed Kamel Haydara appear to be based entirely on his adherence to the Bahai faith, flagrantly violating his right to freedom of religion,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of HRW. “Haydara should be released immediately and his allegations of torture impartially investigated.” … “Hamed Kamal Haydara is a victim of a Yemeni government policy that persecutes the Bahai,” Whitson said. “The case sheds a disturbing light on the government’s mistreatment of the country’s religious minorities.”

On January 8, 2015, the Specialized Criminal Court prosecutor issued an indictment claiming that Haydara was an Iranian citizen, using a false name, who arrived in Yemen only in 1991. Photocopies of his Yemini ID and passport provided by his wife show he was born in Yemen in 1964, however. The prosecutor charged him 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.

In the indictment, which Human Rights Watch reviewed, the prosecutor charges Haydara under Yemen’s Penal Code with committing, among other crimes, “an act that violates the independence of the republic, its unity, or the integrity of its lands,” “working for a foreign state’s interests,” “insulting Islam,” and “apostasy.” The prosecutor is seeking “the maximum possible penalty,” which for some of these charges is death, and confiscation of his property. The Prosecutor’s office has informed Haydara that his next hearing is scheduled for February 22, 2015.

On December 3, 2013, officers from the National Security Bureau (NSB), one of the country’s intelligence agencies, arrested Haydara at his workplace in Balhaf, in the southern Yemeni province of Shabwa, and transferred him to an NSB detention center in Sanaa, the capital. On December 17, six security officers searched his home and confiscated paperwork, laptops, and other electronic equipment, his wife told Human Rights Watch. She said that despite her repeated inquiries, authorities refused to give any reasons for his detention until August 2014.

During his first nine months in detention, the authorities denied Haydara access to his lawyer and his family, Zara`i said. She was allowed to speak with him for the first time over the phone on June 3, 2014, but could not visit him until September 2, following intervention by foreign diplomats and others. The authorities then transferred his case file to the attorney general. Haydara told his wife that during the first 45 days of his incarceration, officers beat him with a metal rod, causing him to lose hearing in his left ear, subjected him to electric shocks, and forced him to stand in a bucket of cold water. He said that National Security officers accused him of spying for Israel and proselytizing, and forced him to sign a 19-page document while blindfolded and without knowledge of its contents. Authorities transferred Haydara to Sanaa Central Prison on October 6.

Zara`i told Human Rights Watch that in a September 4 meeting with one of the judges presiding over the case, he threatened her with prison because of her faith and told her that all Bahais should be imprisoned. (more…)

Three Bahais in Tonekabon arrested: trials imminent

HRANA, February 3, 2015.

On February 3, three Bahai men living in the city of Tonekabon, in Iran’s Mazandaran province, were summoned to the court in Tonekabon, charged and arrested, as their trials are about to begin. Their names are given as Zayullah Qadri (ضیاءالله قادری), Soroush Gorshasebi (سروش گرشاسبی) and Faramarz Lotfi ( فرامرز لطفی). They were first arrested on September 23, 2013 (see previous report) after attending a birthday party for a Bahai in Tonekabon, and were held for 17 days. They have been charged with acting against national security, teaching the Bahai Faith and propaganda against the regime. Mr. Lotfi suffers from stomach problems, and his family are concerned about his health.

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Ministry of Intelligence pressures Muslims of Rasht to cut ties with Bahais

Iran Press Watch, February 1, 2015.

In the past two months over 20 Muslim residents of the city of Rasht, in Northern Iran, have been summoned and threatened by the Ministry of Intelligence because of their relationships with Bahais. Muslims who have some sort of relation with Bahais are frequently summoned and interrogated. These interrogations last between 5 and 7 hours; so far, 20 individuals aged between 20 and 64 have been subjected to 35 interrogation sessions. The process began on November 17, and the most recent case case was today (February 1), when two more people were summoned for interrogations to be held next week. Those summoned have been subjected to insults, humiliation and threats, and are told that they are not allowed to associate or have any business dealings with Bahais. The Ministry of Intelligence also seeks to obtain baseless statements from these people regarding the activities of members of Bahais.

On November 17, 2014, an agent of the Ministry of Intelligence, accompanied by two representatives of the Revolutionary Court, inspected the homes and businesses of four Bahai citizens in Rasht, on the basis of a hand-written warrant without the authenticating seal of the judge.

Persian source: HRANA

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January 31, 2015

Intelligence officers raid Bahai homes in Shiraz: seize forbidden religious material

Farzan Faramarzi blog, January 30, 2015.

On the morning of January 29, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided the home of Arman Atrian (آرمان عطریان), a Bahai from Shiraz, and seized religious books and images, three desk-top computers, a tablet and a cell phone. In the course of the past week, the home of four other Bahais in Shiraz was raided in a similar way.

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January 29, 2015

Dr. Fu’ad Moqaddam denied medical treatment

Iran Press Watch, January 29, 2015.

Fu’ad Moqaddam ( فواد مقدم ), a 63-year old physician and one of the managers in Isfahan of the Bahai online university, the BIHE, despite heart problems and other health issues, was forced out of his hospital bed by prison authorities and returned to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj without receiving treatment. According to the Peace Activists in Exile Campaign, officials of Rajai Shahr Prison, in Isfahan, blocked any medical treatment for Dr. Moqaddam, who had himself served Iran in front line war zone hospitals for three years. Last week, due to the severity of his health condition, he was transferred to a hospital outside the prison and was admitted to the ICU, but a few hours later, due to pressure from the authorities at Rajai Shahr Prison, in particular at the personal insistence of an individual by the name of “Asadi” (اسدی), he was returned to the prison. The conscript soldier who was accompanying the prisoner protested against this. It is said that he was reprimanded as a result, and his mandatory military service was extended.

Dr. Moqaddam was arrested in Isfahan on May 22, 2011, when Ministry of Intelligence agents entered the homes of at least 30 of the academic staff of the BIHE, seizing books, computers and personal effects. A total of 16 educators were arrested. He was sentenced by the 28th Branch of the Revolutionary Court to five years in prison for his role in educating students who, under the Iranian regime’s apartheid policy, should not be educated. He began his sentence in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj on January 21, 2013.

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January 27, 2015

Rozita Vaseghi freed after 5 years imprisonment

Iran Press Watch / HRANA, January 22, 2015.

Rozita Vaseghi ( رزیتا واثقی ), a Bahai from Mashhad was freed on the evening of January 21, after completing her five-year imprisonment with hard labour in Vakil-Abad prison, in Mashhad. She spent six months of her sentence in solitary confinement in the Office of the Ministry of Intelligence in Mashhad.

During her custody, Ms. Vaseghi was under heavy pressure from the Ministry of Intelligence to sign a statement indicating that she would not participate in any Bahai activities, which she refused. During her five years imprisonment, due to pressure from the Ministry of Intelligence, she was not given a single day of furlough, even for necessary medical attention. Like other Baha’i prisoners in Mashhad, she was barred from contacting non-Bahai prisoners, and was confined in a separate room in the women’s prison.

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January 26, 2015

Behfar Khanjani denied family visits

HRANA, January 23, 2015.

Behfar Khanjani (بهفر خانجانی), a Bahai prisoner of conscience serving a five-year sentence in Seman’s central prison, has been denied the right to receive family visits as a punishment for writing a letter to Dr. Jahangiri, the head of Iran’s Prison Association. Mr. Khanjani was initially given a four-year prison sentence for membership of illegal Bahai groups and attending Bahai prayer meetings and the 19th-day ‘Feast.’ His sentence was later extended by one year for “propaganda against the regime.” Mr. Khanjani suffers from an incurable medical condition which is at an advanced stage, and his condition is fragile. He was given a brief medical leave in January 2012.

Although the Warden of the Central Prison in Semnan and the supervising judge approved an end-of-sentence furlough for Mr. Khanjani, Mr. Asyabi, the City Attorney of Semnan, and Mr. Arab, who is in charge of all the prisons in Semnan, said that he was barred from receiving a furlough. Mr. Khanjani then wrote to Dr. Jahangiri, criticizing the decision and saying that it breached his legal and human rights. Officers at the Semnan central prison then criticized Mr. Khanjani and told him that he would be denied family visits as a punishment.

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January 21, 2015

Bahai home and workplace raided in Shiraz

HRANA, January 21, 2015.

On January 19, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided the workplace and then the home of Mr. Hasan Salehi (حسن صالحی) in Shiraz. They had a search warrant for both properties. The officers said that he was suspected of propaganda against the regime and membership of an illegal organisation. When Mr. Salehi’s family protested the seizure of some Bahai materials, the officers said they were required to collect anything relating to Bahai beliefs, because it was a baseless sect, and anything relating to any family member. In the end, the agents seized a large number of books, pamphlets, photographs and other religious materials, and a desktop computer, from the house. At Mr. Salehi’s workplace they seized accounting, tax and administrative records and computers and even some letters of appreciation from customers.

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January 19, 2015

Bahai student expelled from Technical University in Ramsar

Fariba Kamalabadi” (public figure Facebook page), January 19, 2015.

On January 11, Bahrad Adhargan (بهراد آذرگان), a student of Electrical Engineering at the Mulla Sadra Technical University in Ramsar, in the Mazandaran province of Iran, has been expelled because of his Bahai beliefs. However he was able to study for five semesters. Apparently it took this long for the university administration to notice that in his application form, following the question “Religion?” he had written “Of course.” The university then summoned him to the office of the Chancellor, to ask what he meant, and what religion he followed. Mr Adhargan said that he was a Bahai. They were surprised, and within the hour Mr. Adhargan had been expelled, without any documentation of the reason, or any academic records showing his results over five semesters.

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January 17, 2015

Trials of six Bahais in Tabriz continue

HRANA, January 14, 2015.

The fifth court hearing of charges against six Bahais took place in Tabriz on January 14. The accused are four members of the Bahadori (بهادری ) family, Shabnam Issakhani (شبنم عیسی خانی) and Rashin Saberi (راشین صابری).
During the hearing Simin Rasouli (سیمین رسولی), the mother of the Bahadori family, was questioned, and the court was adjourned until January 21. In the previous hearings, Farzad Bahadori (فرزاد بهادری), the father of the family, Mrs. Rasouli, the children Sahar ( سحر بهادری ) and Nassim Bahadori (نسیم بهادری ), Mrs. Shabnam Issakhani (شبنم عیسی خانی) and Mrs. Rashin Saberi, were questioned for four hours.

These six Bahais were arrested in the Bahadori home in Tabriz on July 12, 2014, by eight agents from the Ministry of Intelligence: five men and three women. The agents seized religious books and musical instruments, and also raided Mr. Bahadori’s work place and seized computers. All six were released on bail about two weeks later.

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January 12, 2015

Bahai arrested in Yemen, more arrests expected (updated(2))

Haberler and other sources, January 12, 2015.

Hamid Kamal Mohammed bin Haidarah (حامد كمال محمد بن حيدرة), a Bahai of Persian background, is to stand trial in Yemen on charges of spying for Israel and seeking to spread the Bahai faith in Yemen. According to Yemen’s official news agency, he was interrogated by prosecutors in the capital Sana’a on Sunday. The prosecution has referred the case to the Specialized Penal Court in the capital Sana’a as a prelude to trial.

Mr. bin Haidarah is also referred to in the report as Hamid Mirza Kamali Sarvestani (حامد ميرزا كمالي سروستاني), indicating that his ancestors came from Sarvestan, in Iran. He lived in the Socotra archipelago and in al-Mukalla, a city near Hadhramaut. The news agency reported one prosecutor as saying that he was arrested in Al-Mukalla last year. He added that the man, 51, had settled in Al-Mukalla on the pretext of doing business in the city. Other suspects are being sought by the security services, according to a judicial source at Yemen’s Penal Prosecution office. He said [incorrectly] that Mr. Sarvestani entered Yemen in 1991, together with his father. The indictment stated that he had bought land with the intention of bringing a large number of Bahais to Yemen, and had worked with Israel, through the Universal House of Justice, to spread the Baha’i Faith. The prosecution explained that the accused has held a number of meetings and symposiums in several forums and in houses to encourage Baha’is and Yemenis to elect members of the National Spiritual Assembly and its branches in the provinces. He is also accused of inciting Muslims against Islam. The prosecution said in the indictment that his activities harm Yemen’s political status and its independence and territorial integrity.

Informed sources said that there is a significant number of Bahais in Yemen, and that some government hospitals have issued birth certificates in which Bahai is recognized as a religious identity, but that in many [Islamic] countries the Bahai Faith is considered a sect, not a religious identity. The Iranian Embassy told Saba news agency that Iran does not recognize the Bahai Faith as a religion.

[A written response to the accusations by Mr. bin Haidarah’s wife, in Arabic, is available here. There are earlier reports in Arabic here and here.]

Update, January 17: The Bahai World News Service has an updated report, which states that:

Mr. bin Haydara was in fact born on Socotra Island in Yemen and has lived in the country as a citizen. His father, a physician, moved to Yemen from Iran in the 1940s and was granted Yemeni citizenship by the Mahra Sultan of Qishn and Socotra, in recognition of his sterling service to the poor in society. Citizenship was naturally and rightfully passed down to his son. The Sultan gave Mr. bin Haydara’s father his Yemeni name as an honor and in recognition of his respect for his adopted country.

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Bahai student expelled from the University of Mazandaran

HRANA, January 12, 2015.

Noura Mesami (نورا مسمی), a Bahai student of software engineering at the University of Mazandaran, has been expelled from the university at the end of her first semester of studies. She had honestly stated her religion as “Bahai” in her application, and was excluded from the end of term examinations.

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January 7, 2015

Susan Tabyaniyan … (corrected)

This news item has been removed while the facts are checked. Contradictory reports indicate that Susan Tabyaniyan has received visits from her children ~Sen

January 6, 2015

Nasim Ashrafi given medical leave from prison

Campaign to stop harassment of Bahai citizens (facebook), January 7, 2015.

Nasim Ashrafi ( نسیم اشرفی ), who is serving a one-year sentence for her religious beliefs in Evin Prison, in Tehran, has been granted medical leave. She was required to deposit bail of 500 million rials (15,000 euros, 18,000 US dollars). She was arrested in a wave of detentions of Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz in early July, 2012, and began serving her sentence on May 6, 2014. She was charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of Bahai organisations.

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Jamaleddin Khanjani moved to hospital

Zendani Siasi (facebook page ‘prisoners of conscience’), January 6, 2014

Jamaleddin Khanjani (جمالدین خانجانی) was transferred from Raja’i Shahr prison to Pars Hospital in Tehran on the morning of January 5, following a heart failure. Mr. Khanjani, aged 82, is one of seven Bahai ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran) who were sentenced to 20 years in prison after their May 2008 arrest. He has been imprisoned in block 12, the wing of Raja’i Shahr prison that holds prisoners of conscience, and suffers from diverse ailments connected to his age. He has previously had heart surgery. Doctors has advised that he should be hospitalized, but officials have allowed him only short medical leaves, before returning him to prison.

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January 5, 2015

Bahai suffers lethal poisoning in Shiraz

HRANA, January 5, 2015.

Leila Kargar (لیلا کارگر), a 42-year-old Bahai woman living in Shiraz, has been poisoned and killed by an unknown person, using Aluminium Phosphide, a powder that is used to kill insects and rodents. It reacts with acid in the digestive system to produce the toxic phosphine gas. Mrs. Kargar was in the habit of saying prayers while walking in a park near to the spot where the House of Bab once stood, before its destruction by the Islamic regime in 1979. On December 29 she was late in returning home, and after her return her condition became very serious, with severe vomiting. She was taken to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with Amuninium Phosphide poisoning, for which there is no cure. She died shortly afterwards. She told her family that she had been discussing religious matters with a well-spoken lady, who had given her a drink of fruit juice. Her body is still being held by authorities in Shiraz.

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January 3, 2015

Several Bahais arrested in Abadeh

HRANA, January 2, 2015.

On December 29, 2014, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Farshid Rastegar (فرشید رستگار) and a number of Bahai students who had gathered in his home in Abadeh, a town approximately halfway between Isfahan and Shiraz. As in other recent cases, the agents posed as postmen to gain entry to the house, and they did not have a search warrant or arrest warrants. They searched the house, and arrested Mr. Rastegar and the others present, who were all students of the Bahai Open University (BIHE). Mr. Rastegar has been helping students in the Abadeh area who are studying at the Bahai Open University, an institution designed to offer tertiary courses in certain subject to students who are excluded from licenced universities in Iran because of their religious beliefs. The youth who were arrested on December 29 were released next day, but Mr. Rastegar was held for two days, and was questioned mainly about the Bahai Open University.

Abadeh was the scene of large-scale raids on Bahai homes, and threats to the safety of Bahais, reported on this blog in October 2013.

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December 25, 2014

`Adnan Rahmat-Penah granted medical leave

HRANA, December 25.

On December 22, I reported that `Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمت‌پناه ), who is serving a one-year sentence in Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz, had been denied necessary medical treatment. The Ministry of Intelligence withheld permission, but after two weeks, as his condition worsened, prison officials sent him for treatment without the permission from the Ministry of Intelligence. He requires treatment by experts in infectious diseases, ear and nose conditions and back conditions, and the prison does not have this expertise.

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December 24, 2014

Susan Tabyaniyan begins another prison sentence

Fariba Kamalabadi (facebook page), December 25.

Susan Tabyaniyan (سوسن تبیانیان), a Bahai from Semnan, has been summoned to begin serving a one-year sentence. This is her second prison sentence: in May 2010 she was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime and membership of a Bahai organisation. After serving almost 14 months in Evin prison, she was one of the prisoners granted clemency to mark Eid al-Fitr, on August 27, 2011. She was arrested again on May 31, 2014, released on bail on July 15, and sentenced to one year in prison on September 11.

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Bahais banned from the optometry sector in Tehran

HRANA, December 22, 2014.

The Association of Optometry Manufacturers and Sellers in Tehran held its eighth trade fair, the Optics Exhibition, in Wessal Avenue on December 16 to 19. Eighty business took part. Not only were Bahai-run optometry importers and sellers barred from the exhibition, participants were also told to dismiss any Bahai employees they might have. A few years ago the Association stopped issuing licences to open optometry shops to Bahais, and stated that this instruction had come from the Ministry of Intelligence. Iran has an apartheid system that banns Bahais from higher education, receiving many state benefits, and employment in various sectors, but the rules are largely unwritten, and vary from time to time and in different localities.

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Bahai summoned and warned in Salmas

NISAN news, December 24, 2014.

Mansour Lahiji (منصور لاهیجی), a Bahai from Kerman province who settled in Salmas (West Azerbaijan province) with his family three years ago, was summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence in the city this morning. He was warned there should not be any kind of religious meeting in the city [sic: meaning that he should not organise Bahai meetings]. He had planned to organise a night of poetry, which would include poems in praise of Baha’u’llah, read by himself and his wife. He was warned that if there were poems in praise of the Bahai Faith or its central figures, he would be charged with “war against God” — a charge that carries the death penalty.

A committee of crows has been convened, to determine the merit of the nightingale’s song, and the day and means of execution.

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December 22, 2014

Authorities end investigation of the murder of Ataollah Rezvani

Editorial, December 23, 2104.

On October 17 this year, I reported that authorities were moving to close the file on the murder of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), a well-known member of the Bahai community in Bandar Abbas, who was killed on August 24, 2013. Latest reports in Persian indicate that the investigation has now been closed.

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`Adnan Rahmat-Penah denied medical leave

i-CNN, December 22, 2014.

`Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمت‌پناه ), a Bahai from Shiraz who began a one-year sentence in Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz on November 11, 2014, caught a cold some days ago and his physical condition has deteriorated due to poor conditions, especially the heating system. Adnan’s ears have also become infected, but prison officials demanded that his family to pay 20,000 Tomans (about 7 dollars) for an examination by a special doctor.
His request for medical release was barred by the Ministry of Intelligence, although his doctor and the court have accepted that he needs medical attention. It is also reported that the water has been shut off in Youth Green ward of Adel-Abad prison from Friday to Monday. Prisoners complained of receiver smaller quantities of food and that they must buy additional food from the prison store, which often charges greatly inflated prices.

`Adnan Rahmat-Penah was arrested during a raid on his home on December 12, 2012, and taken to the Ministry of Intelligence’s Detention Facility 100 in Shiraz. He was held for 186 days without trial, before being freed on bail. He was later sentenced to one year in prison for “propaganda against the regime,” and the review court confirmed this sentence on May 22, 2014.

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December 20, 2014

Planting the seeds: a new letter from the Universal House of Justice

Editorial, December 21, 2014.

The Universal House of Justice, the elected body that heads the Bahai community around the world, has written a letter in Persian, addressed to the Bahais in Iran, regarding devotional meetings and the institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar (Bahai houses of worship). The Persian text dated December 18, 2014, is available here.

December 27: The message, is now available in an authorized English translation, and will be released in other languages. The English translation has been placed in the documents archive of my Bahai Studies blog.

[Note: The concept of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar as a meeting for worship, a community that worships, the building itself and a social centre that includes activities and institutions for social service, is outlined in the 1997 compilation The Mashriqu’l-Adhkar Handbook, available as a pdf file online here. The compilation also discusses the relationship between local houses of worship, which might for example be hidden or underground (see the letter from Abdu’l-Baha quoted in this message), and the complete or perfected Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, which has nine sides and (for the present) a dome, and is made “as perfect as possible.” ]

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Another Iranian leader reiterates: no civil rights possible for Bahais

NCRI, December 19, 2014.

Mohammad Mousavi-Bodjnordi, who heads Iran’s civil rights watchdog and is considered close to President Hassan Rouhani,told the state-run Fars News agency that Iran’s Baha’is minority have no civil rights in the regime because their beliefs are contrary to Islam. “The Baha’i belief is contrary to Islam. In Iran, Baha’is have no civil rights and in particular, they do not have the right to study.” Civil rights are defined as in line with the beliefs of Ayatollah Khomeini, Mousavi-Bodjnordi said.

Mohammad Mousavi-Bodjnordi is a member of “combatant clergy” a clerical body that descibes itself as ‘moderate’. Hassan Rohani appointed him to the group tasked with defining “civil rights.” Earlier this month, a senior regime cleric also called for all Baha’is to be expelled from the southern city of Rafsanjan because they are ‘unclean’ and doing business with them is ‘forbidden.’

The Iranian regime has stepped up suppression of Baha’is in recent months with frequent arrests and interrogations. Read full report (in English).

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December 19, 2014

Four Bahais sentenced, and four summoned for questioning, in Mashhad

HRANA, December 17, 2014.

On December 17, the Revolutionary Court in Mashhad sentenced Mey Khalousi (می‌ خلوصی), Dari Amri (دری امری), Saqi Feda’i (ساقی فدایی) and Shayan Tafazzoli (شایان تفضلی) They were charged with propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith. They have been free on bail for the past month. The length of their sentences will be announced in the coming days.

On December 14, Negar Nadafi (نگار ندافی), Afshin Nik-A’in (افشین نیک آیین), Parvaneh Rafi`i (پروانه رفیعی) and Setareh Feda’i (ستاره فدایی) were summoned to the court in Mashhad and questioned for several hours before being released.

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December 15, 2014

Neda Farsatipour and Farahnaz Moqadam begin their prison sentences

HRANA, December 14, 2014.

On December 10, Mrs. Farahnaz Moqadam (فرحناز مقدم) responded to a summons to the Revolutionary Court in Urumiyyeh (Urmia) and was taken to the city’s central prison to begin serving her three-year sentence. On December 4, her husband Fardin Aghsani (فردین اغصانی) began serving his own three-year sentence.

Neda Farsatipour (ندا فرصتی‌پور), another Bahai from Urumiyyeh, also began her sentence in the past week. She has been sentenced to 6 months in prison. In all, six Bahais have begun serving their sentences in recent weeks.

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December 11, 2014

Peyman Kashfi released from prison

HRANA, December 11, 2014.

Peyman Kashfi Nejafabadi (پیمان کشفی نجف‌آبادی), a Baha’i prisoner of conscience from Tehran who has served a four-year sentence in Evin and Raja`i Shahr prisons, has been released at the end of his sentence. He was summoned and arrested in Tehran on October 19, 2009, and held incommunicado in section 209 of Evin Prison for two months. He was later granted bail. In July 2010, Judge Muhammad Maqiseh (محمد مقیسه), presiding over branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, sentenced him to 4 years in prison on a charge of being part of an illegal assembly. When the written sentence was handed down, the charges had been changed to establishing a group seeking to disturb security. [This means that he was sentenced on a charge that he was not told about, and given no chance to see the evidence or provide a defence ~Sen] This sentence was upheld by the review court. He began his sentence on February 14, 2011, first in Evin prison and then, from August 5, 2012, in block 12 at Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj, just west of Tehran, where most of the Yaran (Baha’i national facilitators), and a number of teachers from the Bahai Open University are also held.

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Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments warns against Baha’i threat

Daily News Egypt, December 11, 2014.

Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments organised a workshop on Wednesday and Thursday to raise awareness amongst imams on the “growing dangers of the spread of Baha’ism,” the Ministry said. According to the Ministry, this workshop comes in the context of “maintaining the Islamic constants and foundations in the face of deviant thoughts that destroy the minds of young people”.

The Baha’i faith is not recognised as a “heavenly religion,” in the Egyptian Constitution as Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are. Article 64 – the Constitution’s “freedom of belief” article – dictates that “practicing rituals and establishing places of worship for the followers of heavenly religions is organised by law”- an article that activists claim marginalises groups like the Baha’i.

The workshop, held in Abasseya’s Al-Nour Mosque, is also intended to maintain “national security and stability” as Baha’i thought “threatens Islam specifically and Egyptian society in general,” according to the Ministry. The workshop also aims to teach young imams how to respond to Baha’i thoughts and arguments.

The Baha’i faith is a monotheistic religion originating in 19th century Persia. Recent estimates suggest there may be between 500-3,000 Baha’is living in Egypt. On a number of occasions, including 2009 and 2011, Baha’is in Sohag were attacked and their homes were burned.

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December 8, 2014

5-year sentence of Hassan Momtazi confirmed

Campaign to stop harassment of Bahais (facebook), December 9, 2014.

Hassan Momtazi (حسن ممتازی) reports, on December 8, that he has heard via his lawyer that the review court has confirmed his five-year sentence for educational activities with the Bahai Open University (BIHE). He was one of ten Bahais associated with the BIHE who were heard at the Public Prosecutor’s office in Tehran on March 12, 2013. His sentence was handed down in Tehran Revolutionary Court branch 28 by Judge Maqiseh (مقیسه) on February 25, 2014, but was not communicated to his lawyer until April 2.

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December 7, 2014

Bahai home and business searched in Rasht

HRANA, December 7, 2014.

On the morning of November 17, one agent from the Ministry of Intelligence, accompanied by two staff members from the Revolutionary Court pretended that they were from the Post Office, to enter a Bahai home in Rasht. The house is home to four Bahais: Foad Yazdani (فواد یزدانی), Peyman Yazdani (پیمان یزدانی), Navid Yazdani (نوید یزدانی) and Nima Najafai (نیما نجفی). The intruders had a “search warrant” which proved to be a handwritten note without a judicial seal from the Court. The searched the house thoroughly and seized all the books, CDs, flash drives and any paper with handwriting on it. They then required the four Bahais to accompany them to their place of work, although the search warrant only referred to the home address. The business was searched, and items that included cutsomers’ appliances waiting to be repaired were seized. The officers then went to those non-Bahai customers whose contact information had been recorded, and interrogated them.

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December 4, 2014

Fardin Aghsani begins 3-year sentence

Campaign to stop harassment of Bahais (facebook), December 4, 2014.

Fardin Aghsani (فردین اغصانی), a Bahai from Urumiyyeh (Urmia) who was taken prisoner during the Iran-Iraq war, and held in Iraq for two and a half years, reported to the central prison in Urumiyyeh today to begin serving a 3-year sentence. His wife Farahnaz Moqadam (فرحناز مقدم), who has also been sentenced to three years in prison, is expected to begin her sentence in the next few days. The couple were among seven Bahais in Urumiyyeh who, in July this year, were given sentences ranging from six months to six years for teaching the Bahai Faith and propaganda against the Islamic Republic through hosting regular teaching classes in their homes, teaching minors and attracting Muslims. They were also charged with assembly and collusion in the form of membership of a Bahai Assembly, and having links to the Universal House of Justice (the elected body that heads the international Bahai community).

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December 3, 2014

Friday Prayer Leader in Rafsanjan proposes expelling all Bahais

FARS news agency, December 2, 2914.

In a December 2 meeting with provincial officials, the Friday Prayer leader of Rafsanjan, Hojjat-al-Islam Abbas Ramadanipour (حجت‌الاسلام عباس رمضانی‌پور) said that there were a number of “sects” in the province, and because people were ignorant they were able to live and work among ordinary people, without being recognized. He said that a number of Jews were also working in the city bazaar, but the difference between them and the Bahais was, that the Bahais are “unclean.” After outlining the history of the Shaykhi, Babi and Bahai religions, and claiming that the latter had Russian support, he repeated that the Bahais are “unclean” and business dealings with them are religiously forbidden (haram), and said “this sect has established many activities and programmes in our city, and the people’s legitimate demand that they should not be in the city should be implemented.”

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December 1, 2014

Soheila Aqdasi and Noushin Mithaqi begin 6-month sentences

HRANA, December 1, 2014.

On November 30th, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Noushin Mithaqi (نوشین میثاقی) and Soheila Aqdasi (سهیلا اقدسی), Bahai women living in Urumiyyeh (Urmia), in Iran’s Azerbaijan province, and took them to Urumiyyeh prison to begin their 6-month sentences. Ms. Mithaqi’s name has also been reported as Noushin Aqdasi (نوشین اقدسی). They were accused of “propaganda against the regime.” Not long ago they received telephone calls saying they should report to the prison, but did not do so as no official summons followed. They are among seven Bahais in Urumiyyeh who were sentenced early in July this year to terms ranging from six months to six years, on charges that included teaching the Bahai Faith, propaganda against the Islamic Republic, hosting teaching classes in their homes, teaching minors, attracting Muslims, membership of a Bahai Assembly, and having links to the Universal House of Justice (the elected body that heads the international Bahai community).

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November 24, 2014

Home raids and closures in Najafabad and Vila Shahr

HRANA, November 24, 2014.

[Corrected, Dec. 4: the Vila Shahr in this report is not in Mazandaran, but a few kilomters from Najafabad.]

On November 22, agents in plain clothes staged simultaneous raids on the homes of several Bahais in the city of Najafabad, in Iran’s Isfahan province, and the nearby town of Vila Shahr. They seized laptops, computers, and religious books, images and CDs. They also went to a mushroom-growing facility in Vila Shahr, belonging to one of the Bahais there, Mr. Haqiri(حقیری), where they broke some windows, turned off the heaters, and sealed the doors. The business provided work for a number of Bahais. A message was left on the door, saying it had been closed because of unsanitary conditions. Agents also went to the home of Mr. Piruzmandi (پیروزمندی) in Vila Shahr and seized leather bags, leather, and leather-working tools. No reason was given for that action.

HRANA also reports that two more Bahai-owned shops in Nashtarud have been closed by authorities, because they were closed on Muharram 1 and 2 this year (this year, for the last time, Bahais in Iran celebrated the Births of the Bab and Baha’u’llah on these days. Calendar changes mean that it will be many years before the Bahai Holy Days again fall in the first days of Muharram). The officers said that the instructions to close these businesses came “from elswhere” and that local authorities had objected, but were told to close the Bahai-run businesses. The failure to open the shops on Muharram 1 and 2 is treated as a breach of local commerce laws, although those laws allow every trade to close for 15 days during the year, in addition to Fridays.

The two closures in Vila Shahr, and two more in Nashtarud, in addition to the four previous closures reported in that town, and the closures of 79 Bahai-run businesses in the southern region of Kerman, Rafsanjan, and Jiroft, on October 25, mean that close to 90 Bahai-run business have been closed in the space of four weeks, and at least as many Bahai households have lost their means of livelihood.

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November 22, 2014

Indian Bahais continue process of gaining minority status

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 20:14
Tags: , , , ,

Indian Express, November 22, 2014.

On August 22, delegations representing the Bahais and Kashmiri Pandits met the Minority Affairs Minister of India, Mrs. Najma Heptullah, in New Delhi to ask that they be accorded minority status, which has been so far given to Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Jains. Following that meeting, the Minister referred the matter to the National Commission for Minorities. The matter was taken up by the NCM in several meetings in September and October, but the Commission felt that it did not have enough data on the socio-economic condition of the community to make a concrete recommendation. “We had asked for more information from the community and they did submit some … But, that was not enough for the commission,” said a source in the NCM. It is now up to the Ministry of Minority Affairs to take a call.

A spokesperson for the Bahai community, meanwhile, maintains that minority status is a matter of recognition, and the community is not looking for scholarships and other support from the government. “The Bahai community does not accept money from others. That is why we do not charge an entry fee at Lotus Temple where we get 16,000 visitors a day… Even Jains [who were granted this status in January 2014]] did not require the government support but they were granted the status,” said Nilakshi Rajkhowa, an official at the office of public affairs in the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais.

– See more at:

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November 19, 2014

Four Bahai shops closed in Nashtarud, more closures expected

HRANA, November 18, 2014.

Early in the morning of November 18, the local officials who supervise public places closed four Bahai-run shops in Nashtarud, a district centre on Iran’s Caspian coast. There was no written explanation or prior notice. The four businesses were owned by two Bahais, Mr. Abu-Alfazli (ابوالفضلی) and Mr. Mohsennezhad (محسن‌نژاد). A witness said that the agents told him that businesses belonging to another 16 Bahais were to be closed during the day, and that they had been to close them, but the owners were already present and demanded that the officials should present written orders. Mr. Mohsennezhad and Mr. Abu-Alfazli had not yet arrived to open their shops.

The closures of Bahai businesses in Nashtarud follow the closures of 79 Bahai-run businesses in the southern region of Kerman, Rafsanjan, and Jiroft, on October 25.

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November 17, 2014

Two Bahais sentenced in Yazd for facebook postings

HRANA, November 17, 2014.

Ms. Tannaz Mohammedi and Mr. Iraj Lohrasb (طناز محمدی و ایرج لهراسب), who were arrested in their homes in Yazd on June 29, 2014, have been sentenced by the revolutionary court in Yazd, after more than four months in detention. Ms. Mohammedi was sentenced to one year in prison, and Mr. Lohrasb to two years. They were charged with reporting human rights violations using the facebook network.

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