Sen's daily

October 25, 2016

Mariya Kothari free on bail in Qorveh


Bahai News (Persian), October 18, 2016.

Dr. Mariya Kothari (ماریا کوثری), a Bahai from Qorveh, who was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on October 4, was freed on bail on October 18. Her bail was set at 60 million tumans (17,000 euros, $US 19,000). After her arrest in Qorveh she was taken to the Ministry of Intelligence detention facilities first in Qorveh and then in Sanandaj. On October 9, while she was in jail, her home was searched by security forces for the third time.

Mrs. Kothari’s husband and son do not have Iranian nationality and have been required to leave Iran. Her husband lives in Equador and her son in Australia. As a result it has fallen to her mother to follow up on her arrest, but her mother has been denied visiting rights. Mrs. Kothari is accused of teaching the Bahai Faith. She is a qualified medical doctor. She studied medicine in Equador because, as a Bahai, she was barred from higher education in Iran under that country’s apartheid system.

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

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December 31, 2015

Parvaneh Rahmani free on bail


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

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

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

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

December 25, 2015

Sanandaj Ministry of Intelligence applies a new tactic


HRANA, December 24, 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 21, 2015

One arrest in Sanandaj


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

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

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

December 11, 2015

Ministry of Intelligence in Kermanshah seeks to isolate Bahais

MAF News, December 10, 2015.

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

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

September 9, 2015

Dhabihullah Ra’ufi arrested again in Sanandaj


HRANA, September 9, 2015.

Dhabihullah Ra’ufi ( ذبیح الله رئوفی ), a 66-year-old Bahai from Sanandaj, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on September 8. Four agents raided his home and seized CD’s, books, pictures and other items relating to the Bahai Faith.

On 12 July 2015, a Baha’i, Mrs. Baji Muhammadifard passed away and her family sought a burial permit to inter her body in the Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj. This was refused, with the officials insisting that Mrs. Muhammadifar’s body be laid to rest in the Baha’i cemetery in Qorveh, a town located approximately an hour and a half from Sanandaj. It emerged that this was part of a nation-wide policy under which Bahais would be buried in only one cemetery in each province of Iran. During and after the difficulties with burying Mrs. Muhammadifar, Bahais in Sanandaj approached a number of officials such as the Friday Prayer Leader and the Public Prosecutor, regarding the burial, and it is thought that the latest arrest may be intended to stifle protests regarding the burial.

Mr. Ra’ufi was arrested in 2009, and sentenced to 6 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime [followed according to my information by 6 months in exile ~Sen]. And in June, 2011, the Ministry of Intelligence in Sanandaj conducted mass interrogations of the Bahais there, seeking information on how Sanandaj’s Bahai community is managed. One of those questioned was Dhabihullah Ra’ufi.

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

August 12, 2015

Two Bahais in Sanandaj targets of vandalism and official pressure


MAF News, August 4, 2015.

Azharkhosh Mansuri (آذرخش منصوری) and Majis Abdu’l-Motallabi (مجید عبدالمطلبی), two Bahais from Sanandaj, were detained at a prayer meeting in a private house on April 1, 2014, and and interrogated for an hour. They are now being pressured by the Ministry of Intelligence to sign undertakings that they will not practice or preach the Bahai Faith. The head of the Sanandaj branch of the Ministry of Intelligence has told them that if they cooperate by identifying other Bahais, they will be allowed to live normally. In the last few days, their houses have been sprayed with anti-Bahai slogans. The slogan in the picture reads “Death to Bahai heretics; Death to America and England.”

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

July 17, 2015

Burial of Mrs. Muhammadi-far reveals a new restriction on Bahais in Iran


BWNS, July 17, 2015.

On 12 July 2015, a Baha’i, Mrs. Baji Muhammadifar passed away and her family sought a burial permit to inter her body in the Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj. This was refused, with the officials insisting that Mrs. Muhammadifar’s body be laid to rest in the Baha’i cemetery in Qorveh, a town located approximately an hour and a half from Sanandaj. Agreeing to burial in Qorveh would have forced the family to ignore the Bahai burial law requiring bodies to be interred within an hour’s journey from the place of death. The authorities told the family that an ambulance—which could exceed the speed limit—would carry the body.

Local authorities sympathetic to the plight of the Bahais told the family that a memorandum from the Supreme National Security Council has stated that the Bahais are only to be allocated one cemetery in any province. This rule is not applied to any other group in the country, and was not previously known to the Bahais.

“The Iranian authorities seem to have brought themselves down to a new level of absurdity and malice; extending their prejudiced attacks on the Baha’i community beyond the grave,” said Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community Office to the United Nations in New York.

The refusal to allow the burial to take place in the Baha’i cemetery in Sanandaj, an area made beautiful and verdant through decades of effort by the community, meant that the family had to keep the body of their loved one in cool conditions at home. The family knew that if the body were in the public morgue, it would be taken by the authorities without their knowledge or permission and buried with no Bahai rites [as has happened in other cases in Iran ~ Sen].

Members of the wider community who came to mourn Mrs. Muhammadifar’s passing were most sympathetic to the family’s situation. There was a swell of public support in the town, with attention being drawn to the unreasonable behavior of the authorities. Officials responded by summoning the son of the deceased for interrogation. After four hours of grueling questions and threats, he was forced to give up his mother’s body. Soon after it was taken in an ambulance, unaccompanied by any family member, to Qorveh cemetery.

Iranian law requires every town to provide, within its boundaries, cemetery plots for the burial of all its citizens and makes it unlawful for a municipality to accept for burial bodies from outside its jurisdiction.

Abbreviated: full report in English here.

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

Mrs. Muhammadi-Far buried outside Sanandaj


Campaign against harassment of Bahais (Persian facebook page), July 16, 2015.

Government authorities are reported to have buried Mrs. Baji Khanom Muhammadi-Far (باجی محمدی فر), a Bahai from Sanandaj, in the Golestan Javid cemetery in Qorveh. The name of this cemetery (the same as the one in Sanandaj) suggests that it is a Bahai cemetery. When Mrs. Muhammadi-Far died on July 12, authorities refused permission for her to be buried in the “Golestan Javid” cemetery in Sanandaj. It is not clear whether this refers to the Bahai cemetery which was razed by local authorities in December 2013, or a new piece of land that has been acquired as a Bahai cemetery for Sanandaj. The latest report is that authorities have buried Mrs. Muhammadi-Far in Qorveh against the wishes of her family. Qorveh is about 94 kilometers East of Sanandaj, over a mountain pass at Salavatabad. Not only is the distance a burden for the family, Bahai burial rituals require that the grave should be within one hour’s journey of the place of death. The cemetery at Qorveh does not satisfy this requirement of the Bahais of Sanandaj. The authorities in Sanandaj had previously threatened the family with arrest, and said they would bury Mrs. Muhammadi-Far in Qorveh without any ceremony. Mrs Muhammadi-Far is also known as Mrs Sadeqi (خانم صدقی).

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

July 15, 2015

No room in the morgue for unburied Bahai in Sanandaj


Bahai News (Persian), July 15, 2015.

As previously reported, when Mrs. Baji Khanom Muhammadi-Far (باجی خانم محمدی فر), a Bahai living in Sanandag, died on July 12, authorities refused permission for her to be buried in the Golestan Javid cemetery, sending 50 security agents to surround the cemetery and prevent the family and Bahai community performing the burial. Three days later, authorities are still refusing to issue a burial permit, and the family’s questions have gone unanswered. Moreover the body of Mrs Muhammadi-Far has not been allowed to enter the cool storage at the morgue. It is being kept, packed in ice, in a private home. These decisions have apparently not been taken by local officials, but at some higher level. The present news makes it clear that when they sent the security agents, the authorities were not objecting to the possibility of a large Bahai funeral, but rather to the presence of a Bahai body in the morgue or cemetery. According to a primitive superstition which is widespread among the majority Shiah community in Iran, the Bahais, Zoroastrians and some other people — whether living or dead — are believed to be ‘unclean’ and able to contaminate ‘pure’ (Shiah) people. In the past, the Bahais in Sanandaj have had separate cemeteries with facilities for washing the bodies, but these cemeteries have been confiscated and destroyed three times by the local authorities, most recently in December, 2013.

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

July 13, 2015

Bahai funeral blocked by authorities in Sanandaj


Bahai News (Persian), July 13, 2015.

The planned funeral of Mrs. Baji Khanom Muhammadi-Far (باجی خانم محمدی فر) in the Golestan Javid cemetery in Sanandaj yesterday was blocked by a force of 50 uniformed and plain-clothes police officers who surrounded the cemetery. The local government has refused to discuss complaints about the actions of the security forces, saying that the decision was not made at a local level, and they could not say anything.

The Muhammadadi-Far family come from the village of Sisan, in the Tabriz area. The town had a Bahai community numbering about 500 before the 1979 revolution, but arson, looting and official persecution has forced many of them to move to other towns, such as Sanandaj.

In December 2013, the Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj was destroyed by local authorities. That was the third Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj to be erased since 1979. For a discussion of the long history of symbolic violence directed at graves and bodies of Bahais and other in Iran, see Mehrdad Amanat, Set in Stone: Homeless Corpses and Desecrated Graves in Modern Iran.

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

December 16, 2013

Bahai cemetery destroyed in Sanandaj

HRANA, December 14, 2013

After a court upheld the confiscation of land belonging to the Bahais in Sanandaj which was used as a cemetery, the site was levelled by bulldozers on December 12. The land was given to the Bahais by the city administration in 1993. This was the third Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj to be destroyed since 1987. The Supreme Court had recently sent the case of this land to another branch of the Court of Appeals, which confirmed the previous verdict. A number of agents from the Ministry of Intelligence and police officers were present for the demolition.

For a discussion of the long history of symbolic violence directed at graves and bodies of Bahais and other in Iran, see Mehrdad Amanat, Set in Stone: Homeless Corpses and Desecrated Graves in Modern Iran.

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

September 27, 2013

Court orders destruction of Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj


Mohbat News, August 19, 2013

On October 30, 2011, I reported that efforts had been made over recent months to seize the Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan Province. First the Ministry of Intelligence, and then the city’s department for the environment, pressured the Bahais to hand over the land. Bahais with businesses were also told they must close them. Earlier that year, the Bahais of Sanandaj were summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence and warned they should not participate in the Bahai “Feast” (a religious meeting, held once every 19 days), or work with non-Bahais.

Now the Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj has issued an order for the destruction of the Bahai cemetery near the medical school in that city. According to the Kurdistan News Agency, Jamal Ha’eri, a Bahai from Sanandaj who is currently in Australia, told the agency by telephone, “This cemetery (the Jawid Cemetery) is the resting place of over 40 Bahais, most recently my mother, who was buried there four years ago.” He said that the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj issued an order for the destruction of the Bahai cemetery and this was confirmed by the court of review on August 3, 2013.

“In the past, and during the presidency of Mr. Ahmadinejad, unknown individuals had shown disrespect to the Bahais through graffiti and breaking the gravestones,” Ha’eri added. He said that the cemetery land had already been sold to an individual and the cemetery is expected to be destroyed soon.

There are more than 40 Bahai families in the city of Sanandaj. On December 19, 2012, a number of Bahai homes were raided by Ministry of Intelligence officers. Samim Zara’i (صمیم زارعی) a Bahai from Sanandaj, was arrested on July 6, 2013, when security agents raided his home. He was later freed on bail.

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

July 30, 2013

One arrest in Qorveh


PCED facebook page, July 29, 2013

Behnam Eqdamian (بهنام اقدامیان), a Bahai from Qorveh, was arrested at his workplace there on July 23, 2013. Security agents came with a judicial warrant. He was apparently transferred to the custody of the Ministry of Intelligence, since on July 27, 2013, he was transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence detention facilities in Sanandaj. There has been no word about the reason for his detention or his condition.

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


July 9, 2013

Two arrests in Sanandaj


HRANA, July 9, 2013

Samim Zara’i (صمیم زارعی) a Bahai from Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan Province, was arrested on July 6, when security agents raided his home. HRANA reports that this follows the arrest of Sama Ra’ufi (سما رئوفی) in Sanandaj “within the last two months.” This is presumably a different person to the Sama Ra’ufi, also a Bahai, who was arrested in Arak on February 20, as previously reported.

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


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