Sen's daily

November 8, 2017

Three Bahai students who sought justice sent to prison


HRANA, November 8, 2017.

Mr. Sarmad Shadabi (سرمد شادابی), Tara Houshmand (تارا هوشمند) and Rouhiyyeh Safajou (روحیه صفاجو), aged 22, 21 and 21 respectively, have each been sentenced to five years in prison by the notorious human rights violator Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه). All three are students barred from tertiary education because of their Bahai beliefs, who pursued their constitutional rights to equal treatment through various legal means. They were arrested in Tehran on March 8, 2016.

Tara Houshmand was arrested by security agents in her home in Tehran, which was searched. 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 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 was arrested by 8 security agents posing as workers from the gas supply company who entered her home. 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. Mr. Mahjoub called the students terrorists and gunmen and expelled them from his office.

The three were summoned to appear in court six times, but court sittings were held on only two occasions. In the first sitting, Judge Moqiseh was absent and another Judge took his place. This Judge heard the accusations and defence, and issued a summons to the Prosecutor’s Office dealing with the defendants’ case to come to court and explain why they had been arrested [since they had not broken any law ~ sen]. However at the next sitting, on September 26 this year, Judge Moqiseh was present, as were the defendants and their lawyer. No representative from the Prosecutor’s office was present to explain why the defendants had been arrested. Judge Moqiseh reserved his judgement, and now, five weeks later, has announced the sentences of five years each on charges of undermining state security in the form of membership of the Bahai sect. The ruling contained no mention of the defence that had been presented, as if the defendants and their lawyer had not attended the court at all.

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

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September 22, 2017

115 Bahai students barred from universities in Iran


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Payam News (Facebook), September 19, 2017.
Radio Farda, September 20, 2017

As the results of the annual University Entrance Examination come in, at least 115 Bahai students are known to have received the message “Dear applicant, there’s a flaw in your dossier. Please contact the Response Unit of the Appraisal Agency.” The number actually excluded this year is thought to exceed 200 — some for the first time, some who have been excluded in the past and who have taken the examination again this year. Some of the names that have been checked by Payam News are shown on the right.

The number of Bahais excluded or expelled from tertiary education since the 1979 revolution is believed to exceed 100,000. Iran’s educational apartheid policy was formalised in a 1991 decree which also sets out other measures intended to block their “progress and development.”

Farzad Safaei, an Open University student in the southwest city of Ahvaz; Vafa Hovaidaei, an Amir Kabir University student in Tehran; and Vesal Laqaeifar (pictured), an Amir Kabir University student in Tafresh are three Bahais deprived of their rights for education in recent months.

This was the second year that Foad, a Baha’i applicant, received the message. “I have not yet visited the Response Unit of the Appraisal Agency this year. However, last year I had a long discussion with one of the agency’s officials, who told me I was denied entry on the orders of security agents of the Intelligence [Ministry],” he told Radio Farda.

Foad quoted the official as saying, “Therefore, we cannot let you enter a university,” and added, “When I asked the reason behind it, the official said, ‘They have disqualified you because of your faith.’ ”

The answer was not good enough for Foad. “I asked the official to respond to my enquiry in writing. He wrote down my address and telephone number, saying, ‘We’ll send your request to the Intelligence [Ministry] and will let you know if we receive an answer.’ ”

“I never received any answer,” Foad added.

Another Iranian Bahai, Omid, who successfully participated in this year’s national university admission contest but was denied entering a university, told Radio Farda, “Yesterday, I went to the Response Unit of the Appraisal Agency. They introduced me to an expert who was there exclusively for Bahai student cases. They didn’t respond to my enquiry in writing but told me I do not have the right to enter a university because of my belief in the Baha’i faith.”

A Bahai nicknamed Maryam, who used to study at Tehran’s Beheshti University, told Radio Farda, “They did not deliver me anything in writing. They simply closed down my site and, after two semesters, tried me in absentia and expelled me from the university. I called them to find out why I was deprived of continuing my studies. They did not tell me why.”

Maryam had no choice other than to visit the Response Unit of the Appraisal Agency. “There, I discussed my case with the members of the Central Appraisal Board. They said, ‘You know that you are a Baha’i and Bahais do not have the right to education.’ I was deprived of further education solely because my school of thought is different. They insisted the only way for me to return to the university was to write a letter saying I had converted to Islam and rejected Baha’ism.”

June 1, 2017

Three students expelled for Bahai beliefs, Farzan Ma`sumi denied his Diploma


Editorial compilation, June 1, 2017.

Bahai News reports that Wafa Hoveida’i (وفا هویدایی), who was in the second semester of an undergraduate degree in the Department of Physics and Energy Engineering, has been expelled from Amir Kabir Polytechnic University because of his Bahai beliefs. He learned of the expulsion when his user’s page on the University’s site was blocked. When he made enquiries, university officials told him he had been expelled because he was a Bahai.


The same report says that Farzad Safa’i (فرزاد صفایی), who has completed 8 semesters of a degree in Industrial Metallurgy at the Free Islamic University of Ahwaz, was expelled in late May. He received a summons from the University Security office, and his user’s page on the University’s site was blocked.


In a separate report, Bahai News says that Wessal Leqa’i-far (وصال لقایی فر) a student of Chemical Engineering, was expelled at the end of his seventh semester, when he resisted pressure from two officials from the Ministry of Education to renounce the Bahai Faith. At the end of his fourth semester he was also blocked, and in response to his enquiries the university officials told him this was because he was a Bahai. After repeated follow-ups he was able to win a promise that he could complete two more semesters.


A third report from Bahai News states that officials at the Payam-e Nour University campus in Kavar (Fars Province) have refused to issue a graduation diploma to Farzan Ma`sumi (فرزان معصومی). He has completed the courses for a Bachelor in Political Science. The officials said they were acting on orders from the Bureau of Educational Assessments, and protests to the University would be fruitless. Farzan Ma`sumi was arrested on February 12, 2017, along with Farhad Sabet (فرهام ثابت), when their homes were searched and religious and non-religious books, mobile phones and computers were seized, along with family photos and religious images. He was released on bail on February 22.

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

April 23, 2017

Twin siblings expelled from two universities


Bahai News (Persian), April 22, 2017.

Two separate universities in Iran have expelled twin siblings, Shekib Muhammad-Alipour (شکیب محمدعلی پور) and his sister Shima Muhammad-Alipour (شیما محمدعلی پور), because of their Bahai beliefs. When Shima Muhammad-Alipour (-Dastgerdi) was filling in the enrollment forms for the School of Art and Architecture at the University of Kashan, she chose the option ‘other religion,’ but in the forms for accommodation she filled in “Bahai Faith.” On October 1, 2016, which was her first day at the University, she was summoned by the security office and her student card was taken away. She was told that she could apply to the national Office of Educational Assessment for permission to continue her studies, but several months have passed and she has received no reply.

Her brother Skekib was enrolled for a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering of the Khorramabad State University, in Lorestan Province, and gave his religion as “Bahai” on enrollment. At the end of the first term, when he found he had no grades for his courses, he discovered — via one of his teachers — that he had been expelled.

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March 9, 2017

Two more Bahai students expelled from universities


Bahai News (Persian), March 2017.

In separate reports dated March 4 and March 6, Bahai News reports on the expulsion of Mahsa Sha`erzadeh (مهسا شاعرزاده) and Puya Azami Aqjeh (پویا اعظمی اقجه).

Ms. Mahsa Sha`erzadeh, a Bahai living in Ramhormoz, in Khuzestan, was expelled from the campus of Payam-e Nour University in Rahhormoz because of her Bahai beliefs. She was taking a Bachelor’s course in Applied Chemistry, and had passed her final exams and gained 70 credits. She was summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence in the city and pressured to officially withdraw from her course. She refused, but was expelled on March 1, 2017, and was given no documentation.

Mr. Puya Azami Aqjeh, a Bahai from Tehran, was expelled from the Rudehen campus of the Free Islamic University. He was in the first semester of a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. In January 2016, he found himself barred from the final examination for the semester, and was told that he had no right to university education because he was a Bahai. He is the sixth Bahai student expelled from this University in recent months.

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

January 18, 2017

Six Bahai students expelled in Rudehen


Bahai News (Persian), January 17, 2017.

On December 31, 2016, six students were expelled from the Islamic Free University in Ruhdehen (Roodehen), because of their Bahai beliefs. After confirming their identity (as enrolled students), Sana Hourbakht (ثنا هوربخت), Janahgir Hedayati (جهانگیر هدایتی) and four others who have not given permission to use their names found they were blocked from the student’s part of the university web site and, after various efforts to follow up on this, found that their expulsion was directly related to the head of the University’s security department.

Sana Hourbakht sat the national University Entrance examination in the previous academic year, and was faced with the “incomplete file” excuse that is used to bar Bahai students from universities, but he was nevertheless able to enroll at the Free University to study architectural engineering. But on December 28 he, like the other five Bahai students at the university, found his personal page had been blocked and that he no longer had user access as a student.

Janahgir Hedayati was in his fifth semester of a degree in Computers and Applications, and just two weeks before his expulsion the Chancellor of the Free University had awarded him a wall plaque (pictured above) in recognition of his academic excellence. He too sat the national University Entrance examinations and received only the result “file incomplete,” but was able to enroll at the university as a “free” student, without UE results.

The other expelled students likewise had given their religion as “Bahai” on enrolling, and found they were expelled when they were blocked from the university web site. There is no evidence of who took the decision or blocked their accounts, but only university officials have that access to the web site. When they followed up, the Chancellor’s office told them to go to the Security Department [which is an arm of the Ministry of Intelligence, not controlled by the University ~ Sen]. when they went to the Security Department, their mobile phones were confiscated [to prevent them recording the interview ?] and the Head of Security told them “do not come to the University, you know why you have been expelled.” From the University Administration they learned that the officials there had no idea why they had been expelled, only that there was a red star beside their names in the list of students. The officials said to ask the Security Office what it meant.

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

January 17, 2017

Bahai student expelled in Shiraz


Bahai News (Persian), January 15, 2017.

Dorna Esmaili (درنا اسماعیلی), a student in the 7th semester of a degree in Graphic Design at the Eram non-profit private university in Shiraz, has been expelled because of her Bahai beliefs. On January 8, during the end of term examinations, an examination official contacted her to say that the National Organisation for Educational Testing had said she was not eligible for examinations. When she asked the reason, she was told to contact Mr. Nourbaksh (آقاي نور بخش), at the head office of NOET in Tehran. When she asked the Chancellor of the University why she was expelled, he said she contact NOET. She did so, travelling to Tehran to see Mr. Nourbaksh, he said he had been contacted by the Ministry of Intelligence, and was not responsible for the decision.

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

January 15, 2017

Bahai student expelled in Isfahan


Bahai News (Persian), January 16, 2017.

Ma’ideh As-sadat Hosseini-rad (مایده السادات حسینی راد), a Bahai from Isfahan, has been expelled from university because of her Bahai beliefs. She was not given any documentation of her expulsion, or evidence of the grades she had achieved.

Following the national university entrance examinations she was excluded from study, with the excuse of “incomplete file,” but she was able to resolve that issue (the details are not specified) through contact with the National Organisation for Educational Testing, allowing her to enrol at the Technical University of Isfahan to study mathematics and statistics. But following the examinations at the end of the first semester she was excluded from the University’s web site and contacted to say that the National Organisation had not confirmed her eligibility to enrol, and she should go to the Organisation with any questions. When she did go to the Organisation, accompanied by her mother, for an interview with the head of student selections. He said the issue was a long-standing one, and that he was a supporter of the Bahais, to which Miss Hosseini-rad replied that there had been no improvement in the situation for Bahais over the years. He said the fault lay with the Ministry of Intelligence, not the Ministry of Science and Technology.

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

January 12, 2017

Another student expelled in Shiraz


HRANA, January 12, 2017.

Nazanin Niku-seresht ( نازنین نیکو سرشت), a student of English Literature at the Faculty of Literature and Human Sciences, Shiraz University, has been expelled after two and a half months of study because of her Bahai beliefs. On December 28, 2016, when she checked the University web site to see her grades, she found the list was blank. When she enquired at the Faculty, she was told the University’s central administration had sent a letter saying her university studies had been stopped. The letter was signed by Dr. Muhammad-`Ali Masnadi Shiraz (محمدعلی مسندی شیراز), the head of educational affairs at the University. University officials said the decision was made by the Lecturer and Student Selection Committee in Tehran on December 12, and covered the expulsion of six students [for various reasons]. She was told she would have to contact the Committee for further details, but was not allowed a copy of the letter.

Mrs. Niku-seresht was one of the 129 Bahai university applicants who were rejected this academic year, with the excuse “incomplete file.” But she enquired about the nature of the “incomplete file,” and in the meantime was able to enroll and begin studies. Her further enquiries to the national body responsible for the university entrance requirements received not answer. But when she looked at Shiraz University, where she had applied, she found her name on the list of new students. She chose her courses and was given a student number and ID card.

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

January 4, 2017

Iqan Shahidi released after 5 years in prison


Bahai News (Persian), January 1, 2017.

Iqan Shahidi (ایقان شهیدی), a Bahai from Kermanshah, was released from Raja’i Shahr prison on January 1, at the end of a five-year sentence for his activism for equality of educational opportunities in Iran. Mr. Shahidi was successful in the University Entrance exams in 2007, but was excluded from tertiary education because he is a Bahai. The authorities used the excuse of “file incomplete” – which is to say, it lacked the word “Muslim.” He became active in the campaign against educational discrimination, and was arrested along with a number of other human rights activists, including four Bahais, on March 2, 2010, in Kermanshah. He was transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran and held in wing 2A for 71 days. During this time he was subjected to prolonged interrogation and physical and psychological torture. He and Sama Nourani ( سما نورانی ), another Bahai who had been denied university admission, were pressured to make televised confessions. At that time he was about 21 years old. He was released on bail of 50 million tumans (at that time worth about 35000 euros) on May 11, 2010.

He was tried in Tehran on July 2 on charges of membership of an illegal organisation (the Committee for the Right to Education (PCED), propaganda against the regime, and membership of the Bahai community. He was sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای) in Tehran. Judge Moqayesseh was also responsible for the sentencing of the seven ‘Yaran’ (imprisoned national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran) and continues to misuse his judicial position to oppress the Bahai minority even today. The sentence was confirmed by the review court under Judge Mauhed (قاضی موحد). He began his sentence on April 9, 2012. In 2014 he was granted six days of leave from prison, beginning on July 28.

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

December 29, 2016

Bahai student expelled from university in Birjand


Bahai News (Persian), December 28, 2016.

Farinarz Mokhtari (فریناز مختاری) was expelled from the Birjand Women’s Technical Institute on December 26 because of her Bahai beliefs. She was contacted on December 25, and told to report to the Chancellor to receive documents relating to a letter from the Department of Education. Next day, she reported to the Chancellor’s office, and was told she had been barred from tertiary education. In the current academic year, at least 129 Bahai students who have passed the University Entrance examination have been barred from tertiary institutions because of the religious beliefs.

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

December 28, 2016

Bahai student expelled in Yazd


Iran Press Watch, November 29, 2016.

Raha Sedaqat (رها صداقت), a Bahai from Yazd, has been expelled from university because of her religion.

According to reports and Raha herself: “After participating in my college entry exam, I was told my academic record had deficiencies, like other Bahai students. However, a few days later, I received a message from the State University of Yazd to register, and so I began my studies at Yazd University, until the day I went for my midterm exams and was unable to find my name or seat number in the student roster. The next day, when I inquired about this, I was told that they had received an urgent and confidential letter from the national University Assessment authorities for my immediate expulsion, as well as three other students. At the end of the meeting, they took my student ID and expelled me.”

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

Expulsion of Bahai High School student


Iran Press Watch, December 5, 2016.

Bardia Rouhu’l-Fada (بردیا روح الفدا), a 15-year-old Bahai boy, has been expelled from Komayl boys high school in Rasht because of his belief in the Bahai Faith. [It would appear that this happened early in September, during the re-enrollment process. Secondary education in Iran is divided into 3 years of lower secondary school followed by up to 3 years of upper secondary schooling, beginning at about 15 years. The school (incorrectly identified in one report) appears to be an orthodox religious school, the Dabirestan Shahid Komayl ~Sen] Two other high schools in Rasht also refused to register him. He is currently being home-schooled.

A source close to his family stated that: “Bardia’s father was asked by the Principal of the high school to fill out the registration form again. When he came to the religion section of the form, the Principal asked him not to mention that he is a Bahai, although Bardia’s father had previously mentioned that his son is a Bahai. The Principal told him that this high school is one of the exemplary public schools, and so he had to expel his son.”

His father then went to the Education Department, but officials there refused to give him a document that would state that being a Bahai was the reason for his son’s expulsion. According to this source, “Sanayeh Poushesh High School told his father that they did not have room for his son; Mulla Sadra and Shahid Raja’i High Schools recommended that his father not state that he is a Bahai. Contesting this, Bardia’s father said, “You mean I have to lie?” And they replied, “Yes, you have to lie. Otherwise, your son cannot continue his education.”

After Bardia was expelled from high school, his classmates were upset about his expulsion, and they gave him a standing ovation as he was leaving the school.

Within the past month, more than two thousand Bahai citizens have written to Hasan Rohani, and have asked for the improvement of educational conditions for the Bahais in Iran. From the Islamic Revolution in Iran to date, more than one hundred thousand Bahais have been prevented from continuing their education in Universities and Technical Institutes (Tertiary education). In recent years, a number of Bahais or those born into Bahai families have also been denied education in elementary, middle school and high school. This has been based on a Resolution of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution dated February 25, 1991, under which Bahais are excluded from tertiary education or employment in government bodies. According to this text, “The government’s dealings with them must be such that their progress and development are blocked.” “They can be enrolled in schools provided they have not identified themselves as Bahais. Preferably, they should be enrolled in schools which have a strong and imposing religious ideology.

The last two clauses are contradictory: Bahai children are required to identify themselves so that they can be directed to enrol especially in schools that emphasise religious orthodoxy, but having identified themselves as Bahais they should be excluded from school! This appears to be the issue here: in accordance with government policy the Bahai family has registered with an orthodox religious school, but these are just the schools that do not want Bahai students.

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

December 27, 2016

Student couple expelled from university for Bahai beliefs


Bahai News (Persian), December 23, 2016.

Azadeh Dhulfaqari (آزاده ذوالفقاری) and Masoud Qadirzadeh (مسعود قدیرزاده), a young Bahai couple studying in Yazd, have been expelled from the Payam-e Nour University because of their religious beliefs. On November 14, 2016, they enrolled in courses on medical engineering and accounting. Some time later, after they had chosen their units and paid the fees, it was noticed that the registration form, which they had not filled in themselves, said that they were Muslims. When they went to the University Rector [to correct this], the Rector consulted with the University’s security department [answering to the Ministry of Intelligence], and they were expelled.

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

November 15, 2016

Shahin Negari, BIHE teacher, released from prison


Bahai News (Persian), November 14, 2016.

Shahin Negari ( شاهین نگاری), a faculty member of the Bahai Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), was released from Raja’i Shahr Prison on November 14, at the end of a four-year prison sentence. He was arrested at his home in Tehran in May 2011, but he was free on bail from June 28, 2011, to January 13, 2013, when he began his sentence.

The BIHE is a distance-learning institute which serves students who are excluded from tertiary study in Iran, because they are Bahais. Many staff and some students associated with the BIHE were arrested in late May, 2011, when their homes and BIHE premises were raided by security forces.

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

October 11, 2016

129 Bahai students barred from higher education

Iran Press Watch, October 9, 2016.

In a continuation of the pattern of previous years, at least 129 Bahai students (as of September 18) have been denied the right to register at a university in Iran using the excuse of “incomplete file”. These are students who have gained adequate grades in the national University Entrance examination; it does not include those barred from sitting the examination, for example by not sending them exam registration cards, or who were given no grades when they did sit. It includes Bahai students who have been excluded in previous years, and sit the examination again. (Because of this, the figure cannot be used to guess the size of the Bahai community in Iran ~Sen) The Iran Press Watch article includes a review of the ways Bahais have been excluded from Higher Education since 1979.

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

October 7, 2016

Peyman Koushk-Baghi moved from Evin prison to Raja’i Shahr


Bahai News (Persian), October 6, 2016.

On October 6, Peyman Koushk-Baghi (پیمان کوشکباغی) was moved unexpectedly from Evin prison in Tehran to Raja’i Shahr prison, about an hour’s drive West of Tehran. Raja’i Shahr houses many of the male prisoners of conscience, including Baha’i prisoners. He has been sentenced to five years in prison for cooperation with BIHE, the Bahai open university which educates Bahais who are excluded from tertiary education in Iran under the apartheid laws. His wife Azita Rafizadeh (آزیتا رفیع‌زاده) is serving a four-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison for her own work in educating Bahai youth. The couple have a six-year-old son who, while both his parents were in the same prison, was able to visit his mother on Sundays and his father on Wednesdays.

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

June 5, 2016

Bahai student expelled from University in Qazvin

faraz-sisan-expelled
Bahai News (Persian), May 30, 2016.

Faraz Karin-Kani Sisan (فراز کرین کانی سیسان), a Bahai student of civil engineering, has been expelled from university because of his religious beliefs. He was in the first year of studies at the Alborz Institute of Higher Education (recently recognized as a University). He received a letter from Dr. Assadullah Asra’i (دکتر اسدالله آسرایی), who is named in the letter (under the signature) as the “President” (Chancellor) of the Institute, although the Institute’s web site names Dr. Seyyed Morteza Nourbaksh (دکتر سید مرتضی نوربخش) as President. The letter states that he has been expelled in accordance with a decision of the University’s Security Department, on May 18 this year, that Bahai students cannot continue their education. Mr. Sisan is referred to the University’s Bureau of Education to “settle accounts,” suggesting the possibility of refund of his fees.

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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.

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 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 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 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 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 25, 2016

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

 

January 28, 2016

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

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

 

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

 

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.

December 31, 2015

Fu’ad Moqaddam transferred to hospital


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

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

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

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

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