Sen's daily

January 31, 2016

Khosro Dehqani released early in Isfahan


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

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

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

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

January 28, 2016

Tahereh Reza’i released from prison


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

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

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

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

Another Bahai student expelled in Tehran


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

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

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January 27, 2016

Sina Ravankard begins 3-month prison sentence


Iran Press Watch, January 23, 2016.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

January 25, 2016

Bahai shop windows broken in Aq Qala city


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

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

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

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

January 23, 2016

Bahai burial again impeded in Tabriz


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

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

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

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

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

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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.

 

Shahram Falah released in Kerman


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

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

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

January 19, 2016

Puya Tabayaniyan in solitary confinement in Semnan


Bahai News, January 18, 2016.

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

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

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

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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.

Shamim Ruhani begins his prison sentence


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

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

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

Navid Haqiqi Najafabadi released early


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

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

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January 8, 2016

Nakisa Hajipour released


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

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

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

January 7, 2016

Tahereh Reza’i transferred to prison in Isfahan


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

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

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January 4, 2016

Final trial of the Gorgan Bahais

HRANA, January 3, 2016.

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

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

January 2, 2016

Gudarz Bidaqi completes his third prison term


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

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

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

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.

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.

Elham Faramani spends her 7-day furlough visiting prison


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

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

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

December 29, 2015

Shahram Najaf-Tumara’i free on bail


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

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

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

December 28, 2015

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

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

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


The Malaysian Insider, December 28, 2015.

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

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

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

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

Hamid Azizi released


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

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

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

December 27, 2015

Navid Aqdasi released


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

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

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

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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.

Afshin Iqani released


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

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

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December 24, 2015

Sahba Farnoush freed on bail


Bahai News (Persian, facebook), December 24.

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

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December 22, 2015

Conditional release of 9 Bahais in Marvdasht

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

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

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December 21, 2015

One arrest in Sanandaj


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

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

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Navid Aqdasi moved from interrogation to detention section


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

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

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December 20, 2015

Two house raids and nine arrests in Marvdasht

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

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

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December 19, 2015

Three detainees released on bail in Tehran

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

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

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December 15, 2015

Faraneh Daneshgari released on bail

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

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

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Sanaz Es’haqi released in Mashhad


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

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

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Foad Khanjani released from prison


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

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

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

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

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

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December 13, 2015

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

A’en-e Baha’i, December 13 (?), 2015.

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

December 11, 2015

Ministry of Intelligence in Kermanshah seeks to isolate Bahais

MAF News, December 10, 2015.

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

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December 9, 2015

Saba Golshan given extended medical leave


Bahai News (Persian), December 9, 2015.

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

Arrests follow motorcycle attacks in Rangpur, Bangladesh

Daily Sun (Bangladesh), December 9, 2015.

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

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

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

Update, December 16, The Daily Star.

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

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

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December 4, 2015

`Afif Na`imi (corrected report)


December 4, 2015.

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

November 30, 2015

Navid Aqdasi accused of drug-making


Katayoon Taghizadeh (Facebook), November 30, 2015.

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

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November 29, 2015

Prison sentence of Navid Khanjani reduced


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

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

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Bahai home searched in Isfahan

Bahai News, November 29, 2015.

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

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November 28, 2015

Student expelled from Shiraz University for Bahai beliefs

Bahai News (Persian, Facebook)

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

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November 26, 2015

One new arrest in Tehran


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

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

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November 24, 2015

Bahais among those protesting personal status law in Iraq

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

World Magazine, November 16, 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kenyan high court ruling allows registration of Bahai marriages

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

The Star, November 23, 2015.

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

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November 22, 2015

Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab released from prison

Bahai News (Persian), November 23, 2015.

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

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November 21, 2015

Six recent detainees freed

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

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

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Two Bahai businesses shut down in Bandar Abbas

Iran Press Watch, November 21, 2015.

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

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

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November 19, 2015

Islamic State claims attempted assassinations in Rajpur

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 21:43
Tags: , , , ,

Compiled by Sen, November 20, 2015.

As previously reported, on the morning of November 8, three assailants on a motorcycle attacked a Bahai man, Ruhul Amin, who is active at the Rangpur Bahai Centre. On November 18, a very similar attempted assassination in the same city targetted a 64-year-old Italian physician, Piero Parolari, who was shot in the neck by three assailants riding a motorbike. Mr Parolari is assistant pastor of the Dinajpur parish. He was attacked as he was cycling to Saint Vincent Hospital to provide free treatment to tuberculosis patients.

The SITE Intel Group, a US-based terrorism monitoring organisation, has stated that Islamic State, speaking via twitter and the Amaq News Agency, has claimed responsibility for both these attacks, in addition to three recent attacks that killed Rahma Ali, a politician [not confirmed ~Sen]; Cesare Tavella, an Italian aid worker working for a Christian organisation based in the Netherlands, and Kunio Hoshi, a Japanese agricultural worker.

With regard to the latest attacks, the district Detective Branch’s officer-in-charge Rezwan Rahim said they have nothing concrete right at the moment, not even a clue.

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Four more business closures reported from Salmanshahr

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

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

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November 18, 2015

Prison sentences of seven “Yaran” reduced to 10 years


Bahai News (Persian), November 18, 2015.

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

Background:

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

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

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

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November 16, 2015

Iranian authorities launch widespread crackdown: Bahais arrested, businesses closed


Iran Wire (English), November 16, 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Persian source at Iran Wire
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November 14, 2015

Bahai killed in Shiraz in obscure circumstances


Bahai News (Persian), November 13, 2015.

Koroush Rouhi (کوروش روحی), a Bahai man from Shiraz, was stabbed to death in the parking area of his home on Fazilat Avenue (خیابان فضیلت) yesterday. The circumstances and motives have not been clarified, but there is no indication that he was killed for religious reasons.

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November 12, 2015

Further details on three house raids in Yazd

Iran Press Watch, November 10, 2015.

According to the “No to the Persecution and Imprisonment of Bahai Citizens” campaign, the recently reported raid on the home of three Bahais in Yazd was in fact three raids.

The first home to be raided belonged to Mr. Sahand Dhakeripour (سهند ذاکری پور). Around eight o’clock in the morning, five men in the guise of “postmen” knocked on his door. On opening it, he recognised them as security officers because they had been present at the arrest and interrogation of other Bahaism including Nasser Baqeri (ناصر باقری). After they searched his house, Mr. Dhakeripour was handcuffed and taken to a security office for nearly three hours of interrogation. During the interrogation, the security officers demanded that Mr. Dhakeripour should become their informant, which he refused to do. Finally they asked him not to respond to any inquiries from websites or reporters with respect to this incident. He responded that it was not possible to say nothing to anyone and keep quiet. They said that they knew that very soon that many people on social networks would know about the interrogation, but if anyone asked questions, he should say that it was about banal issues and that their questions were related only to simple religious matters.

The other two recent searches were conducted in one afternoon at around 12 o’clock, first at the house of Mohsen Qane` (محسن قانع) and then at the house of Seyyed Habib’ullah Dehqan (سید حبیب الله دهقان). In all these searches, security officers confiscated mobile phones, computers, tablets, satellite devices and Bahai literature. In all these searches security officers disguised themselves as postmen. When they planned to search Mr. Qane`s house, they first called him, asking for his address in order to deliver a package.

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November 10, 2015

Faran Hessami returns to prison


Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, November 10, 2015.

On November 3, I reported that Faran Hessami ( فاران حسامی ) had begun a prison furlough to enable her to be with her son Artin who required surgery. She has now returned to the women’s section of Evin Prison, in Tehran. Mrs. Hessami is serving a four-year sentence for educational activities with the Bahai Open University (BIHE).

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November 9, 2015

Motives unclear in attempted assassination of a Bahai in Bangladesh

The News Today (Bangladesh), November 9, 2015.

On the morning of November 8, three assailants on motorcycles attacked Ruhul Amin, who was shot twice, in the leg and shoulder. Mr. Amin is a Bahai, and works as Personal Assistant to the Director of Rangpur Medical College Hospital, as well as being active at the Rangpur Bahai Centre. He was getting into a rickshaw on RK Road in Rangpur at the time of the attack. He has been taken to hospital in Dhaka to have the bullets removed. Police arrested an employee of the Hospital who is secretary of one of the hospital’s Unions.

Bahais in Bangladesh are allowed to run schools, teach their faith and elect the Assemblies that administer their affairs. However Bangladesh has seen several episodes of communal violence directed especially at Hindu and Buddhist places of worship and individuals. On October 24 this year, one person and was killed and many were injured in a bomb attack on a Shia Muslim congregation who were commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hoseyn.

Update, November 13. Two local Bahai sources have shared their impression that the attack was more likely to be work-related than linked to Mr. Amin being a Bahai.

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November 7, 2015

Hassan Badhrafkan and Vahid Taqvaju released

Bahai News (Persian), November 5, 2105.

Hassan Badhrafkan ( حسن بذرافکن ) and Vahid Taqvaju ( وحید تقواجو ) have been released from prison in Shiraz at the end of their one-year sentences. Mr. Taqvaju was released 15 days ago, and Mr. Badhrafkan apparently in the past few days. On September 11, 2013, security forces searched their home and seized computers and books relating to the Bahai Faith. They detained these two men as well as five others, who were released soon after.

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November 4, 2015

Faran Hessami granted compassionate leave


HRANA, November 3, 2015.

Mrs. Faran Hessami ( فاران حسامی ), who is in Evin prison serving a four-year sentence for educational activities with the Bahai Open University (BIHE), has been granted a furlough to enable her to be with her son Artin who requires surgery. She was released today. Her husband Kamran Rahimiyan (کامران رحیمیان) was released from Raja’i Shahr prison in mid-August this year after serving a four-year sentence for educational activities.

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November 3, 2015

Bahai home raided in Yazd

Bahai News (Persian), November 4, 2015.

This morning, security forces raided a Bahai home in Yazd belonging to three Bahai men, Mohsen Qan`e, Habib’ullah Dehqan and Wahid Dhakera’i (محسن قانع، حبیب الله دهقان و وحید ذاکرای), seizing some of their belongings. They also arrested Mr. Sahand Dhakera’i (سهند ذاکری), but he was released a short time later.

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Susan Tabyaniyan released from prison


HRANA, November 3, 2015.

Susan Tabyaniyan (سوسن تبیانیان), a Bahai from Semnan who has been serving a one-year sentence in Isfahan prison, was released from prison on November 2. She was charged with propaganda against the regime, opposition to the regime and propaganda in support of opposition groups, in the form of giving interviews to foreign media about the economic situation of the Bahais in Iran, and began her sentence on December 24, 2014. This was 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. She has two children.

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November 2, 2015

Kurdistan Region of Iraq recognizes Bahais as religious minority

Bas News, August 24, 2015.

The Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs has announced that Jews, Zoroastrians, Kakai and Bahais will have representatives in the Ministry, following confirmation by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Subsequent reports indicate that the KRG has approved the move, and that the Jewish representative has begun work. There is no indication of whether the Bahai representative has been appointed, but the Iranian Consul has visited the Ministry of Religion to complain about the new representatives for Jews and Bahais.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs Mariwan Naqshbandi said in August that according to the constitution, people have the right to choose and practice their religion freely, and they can have representatives in the Ministry. “A number of religious minorities of the Kurdistan region, including Jews, Zoroastrians, Kakai and Bahais will have representatives in the ministry to manage their religious activities in the future.”

There are no official statistics on Bahais in Iraq, but there are communities in Baghdad and also in Sulaimaniyah, in the Kurdistan Region, where they have a degree of security.

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November 1, 2015

Navid Haqiqi granted a prison furlough

navid-haqiqi
Bahai News (Persian), November 1, 2015.

Navid Haqiqi Najafabadi (نوید حقیقی نجف آبادی) has been granted a 10-day leave from prison, which began on October 31. He is serving a 3-year sentence in Arak prison, which began on January 31 this year. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, and who have been given sentences ranging from one year to three years plus a one year suspended sentence. His father, Majid Enayatu’lah Najafabadi (مجید عنایت الله نجف آبادی) was martyred for his Bahai beliefs.

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Bahai cemetery damaged in India (updated)

Indian Express, November 1, 2015.

A ‘First Information Report’ (a complaint to the police) was registered at Sanganer Sadar police station in the Northern Indian city of Jaipur on Friday, following an attack on the local Bahai cemetery by a mob of about 40-50 persons, allegedly led by a sarpanch (village head).

The FIR says the mob beat up the security guard and damaged the guard room and portions of a partly-built prayer house at about 11.30 am on Friday.

Shocked Bahai community leaders have termed it the first such incident in India against their community. On Saturday, Bahai community members, who number just about 1,000 in Jaipur, came together and issued a joint statement, seeking prompt action. One, Niyaz Alam, said, “During elections to appoint village heads (sarpanch) about a year-and-a-half ago, a contestant promised that he will take possession of our ground and will set up a playground or a school instead, and he was subsequently elected. But we didn’t pay any attention as it is in our religion to be apolitical.”

In 2002, the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) allotted the community a ground at Ram Ki Nangal village of Jaipur to perform the the last rites of their dead and “for 12-13 years, we had no trouble and even organise classes for children and conducted prayers.”

Update November 2: A report from The Wire shows that the watchman has not been seriously harmed, as members of the mob have since gone to his house to threaten him with retaliation if he identifies them to the police. The report states that Baha’i representatives have pointed out that during the sarpanch election campaign, Nathu Jangid, (the current village head) was heard promising the villagers that he would get the burial ground demolished. On certain occasions he called the community ‘Muslim’ while on others ‘Christian’. “Since Baha’is, as a rule, don’t participate in party politics, we ignored the campaign”, the Baha’i statement said.

“After the elections, the sarpanch’s men, from time to time, started threatening and intimidating the chowkidar. One day, the sarpanch, accompanied by some Jaipur Development Authority officials, demanded that we produce the allotment letter for the land. This was shown to them. Despite this, he organised a series of village meetings for getting the burial place removed. But when the watchman was threatened and told to leave the place or face dire consequences, some Bahais met Jangid to appeal for peace. He assured them that the chowkidar would no longer be harassed and that he would resort to legal remedy, to which we agreed,” the statement said.

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October 29, 2015

Amanullah Mostaqim released from prison

Bahai News (Persian), October 28, 2015.

Amanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ) one of the imprisoned staff members of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, was released from Raja’i Shahr prison today. He was sentenced 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 serving his prison term in Tehran’s Evin Prison in May, 2013, but has been released early because of a heart condition. He had heart surgery just before his arrest on May 22, 2011, when premises and homes relating to the BIHE were raided by security forces. During his time in prison he has been hospitalized outside the prison several times, and was returned to prison. although doctors had said he needed treatment for blocked arteries and was unfit for life in prison.

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October 24, 2015

Shahram Eshraqi begins a 3-year sentence in Isfahan

Iran Press Watch, October 23, 2015.

Shahram Eshraqi (شهرام اشراقی), one of 20 Bahais who were sentenced to a total of 78 years in prison by a court in Yazd in April, 2014, began his 3-year sentence on October 11.

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October 23, 2015

Keyvan Rahimiyan receives medical care


HRANA, October 20, 2015.

Keyvan Rahimiyan ( کیوان رحیمیان), a Bahai from Tehran and one of the imprisoned teachers at the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, was recently taken from Raja’i Shahr Prison to hospital, for treatment and a checkup relating to problems with his eyes and ears. He was then returned to prison. He has been imprisoned for more than three years, without any prison furlough. He was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of 97 million rials (6,300 euro, 7,900 US dollars) on charges of collaborating with the Bahai Open University. He is due for release in September, 2017.

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Three more Bahais tried in Gorgan

HRANA, October 21, 2015.

On October 12 a court in Gorgan, in Iran’s Golestan Province, held the sixth in a series of trials of the Bahais who were arrested in the Province in October, 2012, and later released on bail. The accused at this trial were Mitra Nouri (میترا نوری) and Shiva Rouhani (شیوا روحانی), both from Gorgan city, and Navid Moalemi (نوید معلمی) from Gonbad-e Qabus. They were charged with “propaganda against the regime.” There was no Prosecutor present, and the defendants were summoned orally. In September this year the court tried Soudabeh Mehdinezhad ( سودابه مهدی نژاد ), Rufeya Pakzadan ( روفیا پاکزادان), who was also reported to have been tried on July 3, and Nazi Tahqiqi (نازی تحقیقی).

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`Afif Na`imi returned to hospital


HRANA, October 21, 2015.

`Afif Na`imi ( عفیف نعیمی ), a Bahai prisoner of conscience held in Raja’i Shahr prison, and one of the seven Yaran (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), was taken to hospital on October 20. He is to receive treatment for blood clotting problems and fainting, and his existing medications will be adjusted. It was also reported that he has suffered from acute irritation and swelling of the lymph glands, exacerbated by lack of treatment. He is 52 years old, and suffers from blood clots which require carefully controlled doses of Warfarin. He received treatment in Tehran’s Heart Center for nine months in 2013 and 2014, but on August 9, 2014, he was taken back to Raja’i Shahr prison, only to be returned to the Tehran Heart Center in early June this year.

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

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October 21, 2015

Tahereh Reza’i begins a one-year sentence

Bahai News (Persian), October 19, 2015.

Mrs. Tahereh Reza’i ( طاهره رضایی ), a Bahai from Isfahan, was arrested in front of her home on October 19 and taken to prison in Yazd. She is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran August 2012: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman. [The report does not indicate Mrs. Reza’i’s sentence, but it would appear this is the same person as Tahereh Rouhani (طاهره روحانی), arrested on July 31, 2012, who was sentenced to two years in prison, of which one year is suspended. ~Sen]

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October 20, 2015

Agricultural land confiscated in Semnan


HRANA, October 17, 2015.

Fifty hectares of land and the livestock on it, belonging to Zia’ullah Muta`arifi (ضیاء الله متعارفی), a 65-year-old Bahai from Semnan, was confiscated on October 15. The decision was made at a court hearing in Semnan, attended by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture in Semnan, the Public Prosecutor, and representatives of the security forces. Mr. Muta`arifi has been working this land since 1982, and purchased it in 1999, paying in installments. He was told his title would be confirmed once he paid a fee to confirm the area and improvements, and this last cheque had been cleared. But afterwards, the sellers denied having sold the land. A lower court decided against Mr. Muta`arifi, and the case was referred to the Provincial court of review. According to Mr. Muta`arifi, the review court judge initially overturned the lower court ruling, but later said that this was a mistake and referred the case to another court, which ruled that the land should be confiscated. Mr. Muta`arifi has been allowed to retain 3552 square meters, which he says is not suitable for use due to its location. The confiscated land had 17,000 mature trees and vines: pistachio nuts, olives, pine trees, grapes, pomegranates and others. Mr. Muta`arifi was not permitted to remove his belongings and implements from the land.

Mr. Muta`arifi had also written to an advisor to the President, who passed his letter to the Ministry of Agriculture, who said that this was a political case, and they could not interfere.

Mr. Muta`arifi introduced the first pressurized irrigation system in the province, and planted the first olive trees. He has received several awards from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agricultural Development, and a recognition from the international Food and Agriculture Organisation. According to another report, by the Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, the farm employed about seven staff, some of whom lived on the land with their families.

Mr. Muta`arifi said that his only concern was to serve the people of Iran, and his only fear was that the trees would be left to dry out and die. In January, 2010, Mr. Muta`arifi’s license to run an animal husbandry unit was revoked by the Department of Agricultural Development, who levelled accusations which Mr. Muta`arifi denied.

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October 17, 2015

Baha’i student expelled from school for not participating in Islamic Friday congregational prayers

Iran Press Watch, October 16, 2015.

Parsa Hemmat (پارسا همت), a Bahai school pupil from Isfahan, has been prevented from continuing his education because he did not attend the Muslim congregational prayer in his school. He was in his second year of high school. Informed sources said, “this Bahai citizen did not show up at the prayer room because of his religious beliefs; he announced that he did not find it necessary to participate in the congregational prayer because he is not a Muslim. He has been expelled from school for the same reason.”

Persian report (Bahai News)
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October 12, 2015

Little ‘Aref goes to school


Bahai News (Persian), October 10, 2015.

‘Aref Hekmat-Sho’ar (عارف حکمت شعار), a 10-year old boy who has been excluded from three schools in Karaj, is to return to school. His father has said that the Ministry of Intelligence for the province of Alborz has now returned his son’s file, and his son will be readmitted to school on October 11. The report does not say which school has accepted him. Following ‘Aref’s third expulsion, from “the cradle of knowledge” (گهواره دانش school in the Mehrvila district of Karaj, a number of human rights activists intervened, and some of them travelled to Karaj to protest.

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October 7, 2015

Baha’i child expelled from a private school in Karaj


Iran Press Watch, October 1, 2015.

According to the “No to the Persecution and Imprisonment of Bahai Citizens” campaign, a 10-year-old child has been expelled from his primary school in Karaj because he is a Bahai.

Mohammad Nourizad (محمد نوری زاد), a human rights activist in Iran, writes:

Last Saturday I received an email from a friend telling me that they wanted to expel his 10-year-old son [‘Aref (عارف)] from school in Karaj because he is a Bahai. [He has only been attending that school for two or three days.] I told my friend a 10-year-old couldn’t be Bahai or Muslim or Christian. But the school Principal, Mrs. Eskandri (خانم اسکندری) saw this child as a Bahai, and insisted that either he goes or she will go. I arranged to meet the father in front of the school the next day and we entered together. [This private school in the Mahr Vila is called “the cradle of knowledge” (گهواره دانش). It presents itself as a strongly religious school.]

The Principal was a slight, sullen 60-year-old woman. The father said to her, you asked me to come and collect my son’s file. “Yes”, she replied – either he goes or I go.” I asked her: “Is there anything wrong with this child?” She said: “There’s nothing wrong except that he is not acceptable in my creed.”

I said: “So if there is a problem it is because of your beliefs. … If you had any sense you would accept this child and try to attract him with your kindness, courtesy, wisdom and tolerance instead of repelling him from Shi’ite Islam with the garment of hatred you have forced on him. If I cannot close down your school because of your actions, I will make sure that every car that passes your school will jeer at the ignorance which is prevalent here.”

When we were outside, I told the father not to take the file under any circumstances. I said: “Your son is a student in this school; drop him off here every morning; let them refuse to admit him; we must sweep away this ignorance once and for all.”

Update, October 10.
Baha’i Campaign reports that Mohammad Nourizad, Doctor Maleki (دکترملکی), Mr. Karim Bigi (کریم بیگی) and ‘Aref’s father went to the school with ‘Aref on the morning of October 6. Mr. Muhammadi (محمدی ), the proprietor, initially refused them entry. When he was introduced to Dr. Maleki [a well-known author and the first President of the University of Tehran], his attitude changed. They went inside, to a room at the school, where the Principal, Mrs. Eskandri, joined them. A polite discussion was interrupted by five members of the Revolutionary Guards, who expelled the visitors from the school, although the leader of the team was polite and said that these [Bahai] children should have the same rights as their own children, and offered to help enroll ‘Aref in another school.

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September 14, 2015

Vahed Khalousi arrested in Tehran, transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison


Bahai News, September 14, 2015.

Vahed Khalousi (واحد خلوصی), a Bahai student who has been excluded from tertiary education, was arrested in front of his home in Tehran a few days ago. According to current reports, he has been transferred to Raja’i shahr prison and is being held in the quarantine wing. He is expected to be moved to the wing housing prisoners of conscience on Wednesday. He was arrested in March 2010, along with four other Bahais: Navid Khanjani, Sama Nourani. Eqan Shahidi and Dorsa Sobhani (نوید خانجانی ، سما نورانی، ایقان شهیدی و درسا سبحانی), and later released on bail. It appears he was arrested to begin serving a five-year sentence in connection with this arrest, although another report, in January 2014, states that he was sentenced to two years in prison, possibly on a separate charge. The charges levelled against persons accused of political and religious crimes in Iran are so vague, that it is difficult to distinguish one case from another.

Mr. Khalousi was also one of the 35 social activists, including five Bahais, who were arrested while bring aid to the victims of the the 2011 Azerbaijan earthquake. The activists were detained in Tabriz for almost two months and were charged with assembly and collusion to commit crimes against national security, endangering public health and insulting Iran’s Supreme Leader. All were acquitted in September 2013.

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September 13, 2015

Sasan Haqiri released early from prison in Isfahan


Bahai News (facebook), September 13, 2015.

Mr. Sasan Haqiri (ساسان حقیری) has been released on parole from Isfahan’s central prison. He was one of the Bahais arrested on July 21, 2012, in widespread raids by security forces in cities and towns in Isfahan province. He was sentenced to one year in prison and a one-year suspended sentence, on charges of propaganda against the regime and society, and began his sentence in mid-June this year.

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September 10, 2015

Current example of the exclusion of Bahai students from Iran’s universities


HRANA, September 10, 2015.

After completing the national university entrance examinations, Ava Amini-Yazdel (آوا امینی یزدلی), an 18-year old Bahai, was confronted with a message on the examinations result site saying that her file was incomplete, and she could not continue her education. “File defective” is currently the usual phrase used to exclude Bahai students from tertiary education. Although President Hassan Rouhani had promised to address the issue of students being excluded from university, many Bahai students were excluded after the entrance examinations this year, on the excuse that their files were incomplete.

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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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September 6, 2015

Two Bahai prisoners in Yazd released on bail

Bahai News, August 31, 2015.

Mr. Sohrab Naqipour ( سهراب نقی پور) and Mrs. Adhar Pourkhorasand (آذر طلوعی – پورخرسند) have been released on bail from their imprisonment in Yazd. They were arrested in July 2012, in raids that netted dozens of Bahais in Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad, Isfahan, Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Yazd. They were sentenced to one year in prison, and a one-year suspended sentence, and began their sentences in late May or early June, 2015. The report does not indicate why they have been released after three months: both were held for less than a month following their first arrest, so previous time in detention is not the explanation.

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September 5, 2015

Three Bahais tried in Golestan Province

Bahai News (Facebook), September 3, 2015.

A court in Golestan Province (Northern Mazandaran region, capital city Gorgan) has tried three Bahais on charges of “propaganda against the regime.” Their names are given as Soudabeh Mehdinezhad ( سودابه مهدی نژاد ), Rufeya Pakzadan ( روفیا پاکزادان), who was also reported to have been tried on July 3, and Nazi Tahqiqi (نازی تحقیقی). They are among 20 Bahais who were arrested in the Province in October, 2012, and later released on bail.

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August 27, 2015

Officials shut off ‘Bahai’ water supply to Dazgareh township

Filed under: Bahai rights — Sen @ 10:12
Tags: , , , , ,

Iran Press Watch, August 26, 2015.

On Monday 24 August, officials shut off the water supply for residents of the small town of Dazgareh in Semnan province. The water comes from a well dug with a legal permit 25 years ago, and given to the town by the Khanjani Family. The family are Bahais. The police, Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Intelligence and Security agents of the water authority and other officials, including Mr. Ehsani, head of the Intelligence service, were in attendance. They had a special expedited order to destroy the well, and used heavy construction machinery. Work continued to 2:00 am in the morning.

Several members of the Khanjani family have been imprisoned for their Bahai beliefs, their property has been confiscated and factories and businesses belonging to family members have been closed down. Intelligence and Security agents had previously destroyed a dirt dam built with a legal permit for the purpose of generating electricity, cutting electric power to the area. One piece of land that was given to one of the members of this family thirty years ago was unjustly seized and given to the Revolutionary Guards. Officials have also destroyed their home, and the executive committee has issued an order to confiscate their lands and farms. The Municipal Security Council of the province, in the presence of the Governor Vakili, appointed by the Rouhani administration of “Prudence and Hope,” have declared the entire area in which the family’s ancestors have lived for generations a military zone. Revolutionary Guard monitors criss-cross the area, and only particular individuals may visit the family property and stay a few hours, or at most a few days. The pressures started during the Ahmadinejad government and continue to the present.

Full translation at Iran Press Watch
Persian report at Campaign against harassment of Bahais

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August 23, 2015

Trees cut down in the Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh

HRANA, August 24, 2015.

A number of 20-year old trees in the Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh (Urmia) have been cut down with a chainsaw. The destruction apparently happened on July 25, 2015. This is the first time that this cemetery has been targetted by the vandals, although trees have been cut down in the Bahai cemeteries of Marvdasht, Sansgar and Isfahan. In Isfahan, some 2500 trees were cut down October 2008, and in Marvdasht, 1200 were cut down in April, 2011.

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Shahram Falah granted 10-day leave from Kerman prison


Campaign against harassment of Bahais, August 23, 2015.

Shahram Falah (شهرام فلاح), a Bahai from Yazd who began a 3-year prison sentence in Kerman on February 4, 2015, has been granted a 10-day furlough, and left prison this morning. He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran August 2012: 10 in Yazd and Isfahan and 10 others in towns and cities such as Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Arak and Kerman. This report indicates he was held in Kerman prison, although earlier reports said he was in Yazd Prison.

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August 20, 2015

Details of Bahai businesses closed in Kerman province


Bahai News (Persian), August 15, 2015.

Bahai News reports on a number of Bahai businesses in the Province of Kerman that have been shut down by authorities because they were closed on Bahai Holy Days. In November 2014, when Bahais in Iran were celebrating the Birthdays of the Bab and Baha’u’llah, close to 90 Bahai-run businesses in Vila Shahr, Nashtarud, and the southern region of Kerman, Rafsanjan, and Jiroft were closed by the authorities. No dates are given in the latest report, but these closures appear to be in addition to those previously reported, and are certainly in addition to the 12 closures in Rafsanjan — also in Kerman Province — that were reported on May 1, 2015. The new report gives a picture of how the Bahais in Iran try to make a living, given that they are excluded from government service, most professions, and work in many economic sectors (see the summary of the apartheid rules for Bahais here.) The latest report lists premises for construction pipe sales, car radiator sales or repair, an automobile workshop, and curtain and clothing production, which have been closed by the office of commercial and public places for Kerman Province. The Office has asked the Bahais to sign an undertaking [not to close on Bahai Holy days] for which there is no legal basis. The report states that one of the purposes of the closures is to prevent the businesses developing their customer base, and “to create divisions among the Bahais.” [sic ]

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August 19, 2015

Amanullah Mostaqim’s medical furlough ends: back to Raja’i Shahr prison


Bahai News (Persian), August 18. 2015.

Amanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ) one of the imprisoned staff members of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, was returned to Raja’i Shahr prison on the morning of August 18. Mr. Mostaqim, a Bahai from Shiraz, is serving a 5-year sentence for educational activities. He had been free on medical leave since late April, 2015, as he suffers from diabetes and heart disease. Prison doctors have determined that prison and other stressful circumstances are a danger for him. He began serving his sentence on May 20, 2013, but he has had a number of periods in hospital during his time at Raja’i Shahr prison. Until this morning, it had been expected that his medical leave would be transformed into conditional release.

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August 17, 2015

Kamran Rahimiyan freed after 4 years in prison


Bahai News (Persian), August 17, 2015.

Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان ), one of the teachers of the Bahai Open University in Iran, has been released from Raja’i Shahr prison, near Tehran, at the end of a 4-year sentence. His wife Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی ) is still serving a 4-year sentence, in Evin Prison in Tehran, also for educational activities. Mr. Rahimiyan’s father was martyred for his faith in Evin Prison, 32 years ago, following the 1979 Iranian revolution.

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Kamran-and-family
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August 16, 2015

Bahai student expelled from a private university in Sari (updated)


Taghato, August 14, 2015.

Dorsa Qolizadeh (درسا قلی‌زاده), a Bahai student of architecture who had managed to enjoy two terms of tertiary education at Rouzbahan University, a private institution in Sari, has been expelled from the University following pressure from Iran’s Ministry of ‘Intelligence.’ She has described the events in a letter, on which this summary is based. [Iran Press Watch has now translated the entire letter.] During the examinations at the end of the second term, on June 9, she was summoned by telephone to the Sari office of the Ministry of Intelligence, and asked why she had enrolled when she knew the Bahais were not permitted to attend higher education in Iran. She was accused of teaching the Bahai Faith on the campus, but without any specifics about when or how she was supposed to have done this. When she asked for evidence, she was told it was not her place to ask questions. The two interrogators told her that there were three possibilities: continue in her religious beliefs, and be expelled from the University; continue her studies outside Iran; or renounce the Bahai religion, and go to the Friday Imam [to declare herself a Shiah Muslim], in which case her conversion to Islam would be published in the newspapers and she could continue her studies. Ironically, her examination for the following day would be on the subject “The Islamic Perspective.” She replied that people believe in their hearts, you (the Ministry) cannot take their faith from them, and chose to stick to her beliefs. She was able to sit the last two examinations, and tell her friends that she was being expelled. She reports a great measure of solidarity from her classmates and friends. Next day, she was summoned to the University to sign a form. She did so, and then realized that the form said she was withdrawing from the course. The university staff may have meant well, since signing the form also meant that she would get part of her university fees back.

[I have used her letter, on HRANA, to supplemented the Tagheto report ~Sen]

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Sentences announced for 10 Bahais in Hamadan

Bahai News, August 15, 2015.

Ten Bahais from Hamadan have been sentenced to one year in prison, and two have also been sentenced to two years in exile in the town of Khash (خاش), near the Afghan border south of Zahedan, which is 1800 kilometres from their homes. The ten were tried on July 29, and charged with propaganda against the regime. Strangely enough, an initial announcement from the court said that they would be acquitted for lack of evidence.

Those sentenced are Shahin Rashedi (شاهین راشدى), `Atefeh Zahedi (عاطفه زاهدى), Roumina Tabibi (رومینا طبیبى), Mina Hemmati (مینا همتى), Parvaneh Ayoubi (پروانه ایوبى), Mozafer Ayoubi (مظفر ایوبی), Farida Ayoubi (فریده ایوبی), Mehran Khandel (مهران خاندل), Hamid Adharnoush [Azarnoush] (حمید آذرنوش) and Mas`oud Adharnoush (مسعود آذرنوش). Hamid and Mas1oud Adharnoush have also been sentenced to two years in exile.

They were arrested in late March along with the others and bailed one month later. Several of these Bahais have also faced the closure of their businesses or workshops.

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August 14, 2015

Report on the situation of 3 imprisoned BIHE staff


HRANA, August 14, 2015.

Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان) and his wife Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی), and Keyvan Rahimiyan ( کیوان رحیمیان) are serving prison terms for their work for the Bahai Open University (BIHE): Kamran and Faran have 4-year sentences and Keyvan has a 5-year sentence. All three are said to be in good health at present, Faran Hesami in Evin Prison in Tehran, and the Rahimiyan brothers in Raja’i Shahr prison. Kamran Rahimiyan should be released in a few weeks, on August 22; Faran Hesami on April 7, 2016; and Keyvan Rahimiyan in August, 2017. Kamran and Keyvan have been denied any prison leave during their sentences, but Faran has been allowed leave twice, in November 2014 and March 2015.

Kamran and Faran have a son Artin (آرتین) who is in the care of his grandmother, Mrs. Rahimiyan (his grandfather was martyred for his Faith some years ago), and Artin will begin school on September 23, by which time his father should be free. Faran Hesami has applied for leave on that day, but thus far it has been denied. She is able to meet her son and mother-in-law once a week, first for a few minutes in a visiting cubicle, when they can discuss Artin’s upbringing, and then face-to-face with her son in a room for mothers and children.

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August 13, 2015

Destruction of Shiraz Bahai cemetery continues


Bahai News (facebook), August 13, 2015.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Fars Province has continued to prepare the site for the cultural, sporting and commercial centre it intends to build on the Bahai cemetery of Shiraz. New burials in the cemetery were forbidden in 1984, soon after 10 Bahai women who had been hung by the government were buried there. In all, the cemetery held the remains of 23 Bahais martyred for their faith, following the 1979 Iranian Revolution. However the cemetery had been in use for nearly 70 years, and contained 950 graves, of which nearly 400 have now been desecrated by earth-moving machinery. The IRGC has chosen to build on the cemetery, although there is a large empty site adjoining it which would be suitable. When the destruction of graves began, there was an international outcry, and the destruction was limited to one area in the cemetery, although the building work continued. However the latest photographs show that work is underway on most of the site’s 16,000 square meters. The Bahais of Shiraz have attempted to discuss the matter with religious and civil authorities, and some have even gone to Qom [to meet senior religious figures there ~sen], but without results. On August 5, 2014, three Bahais were arrested in Shiraz, apparently because they had sought to discuss the destruction of the cemetery with the responsible authorities. On June 14 last year, the head of the IRGC in Fars Province held a religious ceremony on the site, to mark the “night of power,” and used the occasion to insult and threaten the Bahai community.

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August 12, 2015

Saba Golshan begins 4-year sentence in Isfahan

Saba-Golshan
Bahai News (facebook), August 12, 2015.

Mr. Saba Golshan ( صبا گلشن ) reported to the central prison on Isfahan this morning, to begin serving a 4-year sentence. His sentence also includes a one-year suspended sentence. On August 1, 2011, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided many Bahai homes in the cities of Yazd , Isfahan, Kerman and Arak, and arrested 17 Bahais. Two weeks later, three more Bahais were arrested in Yazd. These 20 Bahais have been given sentences totaling 78 years.

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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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August 9, 2015

Niki Khanjani summoned for trial (updated)


Bahai News facebook page, August 9, 2015.

Alaeddin Khanjani (علا‌ءالدین خانجانی), known as Niki (نیکی), has been summoned to present his final defence before Bench 5 of the court at Evin Prison in Tehran on August 10. Bench 5 has specialised in the persecution of Bahais.

Niki Khanjani and Babak Mobasher ( بابک مبشر ) — pictured above — and some of their Bahai employees were arrested in Tehran on August 24, apparently because they were selling spectacles, which was forbidden for Bahais. However the new regulations making it illegal for Bahais to sell spectacles are still officially secret: the existence of a new law is inferred from arrests of Bahai optometrists and closures of Bahai opticians’ shops across Iran in the course of 2014 and 2015. For a list of the economic sectors that are forbidden for Bahais, see “Iran’s apartheid rules” on this blog.

Niki Khanjani’s father Jamalledin Khanjani (جمال الدین خانجانی) is one of the seven ‘Yaran’ (Bahai national facilitators) who are now in the eighth year of 20-year sentences for their services to the Bahai community. His son Fu’ad Khanjani (فواد خانجانی) is serving a 4-year sentence.

August 11: The court sitting went ahead as scheduled. Mr. Khanjani was able to present his oral defence — which was in line with the written defence he had previously submitted — and was allowed to return home.

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August 6, 2015

Letter from the NSA of the United States, July 31, 2015

Editorial, August 6, 2015.

On July 26, Professor Mehrangiz Kar posted an article in Persian on the Rooz Online site, which referenced remarks she made remarks as a guest speaker at a symposium in Virginia, focusing on the historical and social context of Taahereh’s unveiling at Badasht. Dr. Kar’s question, which she repeated in the article on Rooz online, (in Persian) was:

Mehrangiz-Kar-thumbnail“Suppose that Taahereh were to miraculously return to life, and came to the same meeting [in Badasht], and put her name forward for membership of the House of Justice, the highest decision-making body for Bahais. Given the ruling of the new religion, that women are excluded from the principle centre of authority in the Bahai Faith simply by virtue of their sex, could Taahereh, with all her courage, passion, wisdom and knowledge, enter the House of Justice?”

The responses from some Bahais, at the symposium and following her article on Rooz Online, have been such that the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States has published a letter, in Persian and in English, which reproves “the harsh criticism made against Professor Kar by some Baha’is.”

I have posted the entire letter in English on my Bahai Studies blog, under the title “Let’s talk,” together with some reflections on what can be learned, and what could be done.

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August 4, 2015

Over 30 Bahai businesses closed in Sari

Bahai News (facebook page), August 4, 2015.

Reports from Sari indicate that over 30 Bahais business have been closed by authorities, and that the closures are continuing. Most of the closures have now lasted from 3 weeks to 3 months, and in a few cases much longer. Local Bahais say that officials have two aims: to isolate the Bahais from society, and to force them to leave the country. By keeping the shops locked up, officials ensure that perishable contents will deteriorate. Officials have also tried to get the Bahais to sign an undertaking not to close their businesses on Bahai Holy Days. However the law allows all businesses to close without giving notice, on 15 days during the year, except that businesses such as bakeries are only allowed to close for 3 days and are required to give notice to the authorities before they close.

On May 27 I reported that eleven Bahai business had been closed in Sari. Since then, I have reported on five more closures. the most recent on June 30. The present report apparently includes these earlier closures. In recent months there has been a wave of closures for Bahai business across Iran, in cities such as Hamadan, Karaj, Kerman, Rafsanjan, Tehran and Zahedan, but the Bahais in Sari have faced the heaviest persecution. See the category “economic discrimination” on this blog.

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August 3, 2015

Mahvash Sabet transferred from Evin Prison to hospital


Bahai News (facebook page), August 2, 2015.

Mahvash Shahreyari-Sabet (مهوش ثابت-شهریاری ), one of the “Yaran” (National facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran) who are serving twenty year prison sentences, has been transferred to hospital. Mrs. Sadiqeh Moradi (صدیقه مرادی) was taken to hospital at the same time: she was arrested on May 1, 2011, and is serving a 10-year sentence for making war on God and having links to the opposition. Both women were taken to the intensive care unit at the Shohada-e Tajrish hospital in Tehran for MRI scans, On Saturday August 1. Mrs. Sabet was handcuffed for the move, and since the handcuffs stayed on for more than six hours, she suffered pain in her wrist which has persisted.

Mrs. Sabet was arrested on March 5, 2008, in Mashhad, where she had gone to make arrangements for the burial of a Bahai. She was held in solitary confinement for 175 days. Concerns for her health in prison were expressed as early as 2010, and on September 26, 2012, she suffered a hip fracture due to osteoporosis but was denied surgery. Before her arrest, she served for 15 years as Director of the Bahai Institute for Higher Education, which provides alternative higher education for Bahai youth who are excluded from all other forms of higher education in Iran.

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August 1, 2015

Family of Shahriar Cyrus denied prison visiting rights


HRANA, August 1, 2015.

Despite the orders of the Prosecutor, authorities at Evin prison, in Tehran, have refused to allow Shahriar Cyrus (شهریار سیروس), a Bahai painter and a respected art critic, to receive family visits. Mr. Cyrus was arrested on June 30th. On July 23, his wife Afsaneh Eqani (افسانه ایقانی) and their 7-year-old son went to block 209 at Evin prison, where prisoners of conscience are held. They had a visiting permit from the Tehran prosecutor’s office. However the interrogator for bench 3 of Evin court, a Mr. Hosseini (حسینی) refused to allow a visit. Mr. Cyrus has now been held in solitary confinement for a month, yet his family have not been told why he was arrested.

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