Sen's daily

December 10, 2016

Shayda Ta’id released in Babol


Bahai News (Persian), December 6, 2016.

Shayda Ta’id ( شیدا تائید ) has been released from prison in Babol, where she was serving a 1-year sentence for her Bahai beliefs. She was arrested in her home, along with her guest, Bayan Baba’i ( بیان بابایی ) from Qaemshahr, on January 21, 2013. They were taken to the Ministry of Intelligence in Sari, and three days later were allowed to contact their families. They were detained by the Ministry of Intelligence in Sari for a total of 25 days. She began serving her sentence on June 23, 2016 [meaning that she has served just half of her sentence].

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-2LV

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

December 1, 2016

Eleven Bahai-run businesses closed in Rasht

Iran Press Watch, November 29, 2016.

The Office of Public Places has sealed the business premises of eleven Bahais living in Rasht over the last few days. They are a haberdashery shop run by Faraj Farhangi (فرج فرهنگی), a clock sales & repair business run by Touraj Farhangi (تورج فرهنگی), a medical supplies business run by Mohammad Asadpour (محمد اسدپور), and unspecified businesses run by Foad Yazdani (فواد یزدانی), Mass`oud Razavian (مسعود رضویان), Siamak Abdulhamidi (سیامک عبدالحميدي), Sa`eed Abdulhamidi (سعید عبدالحميدي), Shehab Ta’eed (شهاب تائید), Homayoun Khanlari (همایون خانلری), Bashir Heravi (بشیر هروی), and Sa`adat Yegan (سعادت یگان). Moreover, the Office of Public Places in Lahijan sealed the business of Navid Rouhipour (نوید روحی پور) in that city on November 16. Lahijan and Rasht lie on Iran’s northern coast, on the Caspian Sea.

The businesses were closed by the authorities because their owners had observed Bahai Holy Days. In recent weeks, more than 120 Bahai-owned businesses have been sealed across Iran.

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

November 28, 2016

Ahdiyyeh Enayati, Bahareh Nowruzi and Parisa Sepehri free in Shiraz


Bahai News (Persian), November 27, 2016.

Ahdiyyeh Enayati (عهدیه عنایتی) and Bahareh Nowruzi (بهاره نوروزی) were released from Adel Abad prison in Shiraz on November 26, after posting bail of 200 million rials (5800 euros; 6,200 $US). They had been detained for interrogation by the Ministry of Intelligence for 58 and 52 days respectively, and were transferred to Adel Abad prison prior to their release.

They were among the 17 Bahais arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on Bahai homes in Shiraz on September 28 and the following days. Most have since been freed on bail, but I have heard no news so far of the release of Sahba Maslahi (صهبا مصلحی), Mahyar Safidi (مهیار سفیدی), Sahba Farabakhsh (صهبا فرحبخش) and Shadi Sadeq-Eqdam (شادی صادق اقدم). As previously reported, on the evening of November 22, five Bahais living in Shiraz were arrested in their homes by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence. One of these, Parisa Sepehri (پریسا سپهری), has been released for health reasons: she is in the first months of pregnancy.

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

November 27, 2016

Four more arrests in Zahedan

Bahai News (Persian), November 26, 2016.

On November 25, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence searched the home and workplace of Bahram Ruhani (بهرام روحانی) in Zahedan, seizing books, CDs, cassette tapes, and a mobile telephone. On the following morning Mehroush Ramdani (مهرنوش رمضانی), Heyda Yazdan (هیدا یزدان) and Siavash Rahimi (سیاوش رحیمی) were arrested in their homes in the same way. As previously reported, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Zahedan arrested Farshid Dadvar, Amelia Hokiman and her 19-year old daughter Tabsim Hosseini (امیلیا حکیمان، تبسم حسینی و فرشید دادور) on November 6. Tabsim Hosseini was released on November 22.

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

November 25, 2016

Payam Wali free on bail


Bahai News (Persian), November 25, 2016.

Payam Wali (پیام ولی), a Bahai living in Karaj who was arrested on November 22, was released on bail on November 24. Ironically, the bail was his worthless business licence. His business was closed by the authorities some nine years ago, and he is still trying to get the closure reversed. He recently wrote an open letter to Iranian authorities, seeking an end to the closure of his business.

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

November 23, 2016

Five arrested in Shiraz, one in Karaj


Bahai News (Persian), November 22, 2016.

On the evening of November 22, five Bahais living in Shiraz were arrested in their homes by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence. Those arrested are Lala Salehi (لالا صالحی), Parisa Sepehri (پریسا سپهری), Thamar Ashna’i (ثمر آشنایی), Nasim Kashaninejad (نسیم کاشانی نژاد) and Rezvan Yazdani (رضوان یزدانی). At the same time, a number of other Bahai homes in Shiraz were raided by the security forces.

Lala Salehi and Parisa Sepehri were arrested in their shared home, which was searched. Books and a computer were seized, and they were taken to the Ministry of Intelligence’s Detention Facility 100 in Shiraz. There is no indication of the charges against them, but others who were present at the time of their arrests (being the relatives of other recent Bahai arrestees in Shiraz) were also questioned, and all their mobile phones and ID cards and other effects were confiscated. Parisa Sepehri is in the early months of pregnancy.

Thamar Ashna’i was arrested when he returned home at about 9 p.m., by security forces who had been waiting for him. They searched his home thoroughly and took him to Detention Facility 100.

In recent months over 20 Bahais have been arrested in Shiraz, on charges of teaching their Faith. Some have been released on bail after questioning, but a number are still detained, two months after their arrest.

Payam Wali (پیام ولی), a Bahai living in Karaj, was also arrested on November 22. He had recently written an open letter to Iranian authorities, seeking an end to the nine-year-old closure of his business. He had also written a letter to the Alborz Provincial Prosecutor about personal threats he has received, and an attempt by two persons to enter his appartment. He was present in court for a hearing when he was arrested, and taken to his home which was searched. He was taken to a detention centre. In 2009 he was detained on charges of undermining national security, and released on bail after two months of interrogation. On June 9, 1990, his brother, Afshin Wali (افشین ولی), was killed by religious fanatics in the village of Hussain Abad.

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

November 22, 2016

Three arrested, one released in Zahedan


Bahai News, November 21, 2016.

On November 6, agents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence arrested Farshid Dadvar, Amelia Hokiman and her daughter Tabsim Hosseini (امیلیا حکیمان، تبسم حسینی و فرشید دادور), Bahais living in Zahedan. The agents went to the home of Farshid Dadvar, Amelia Hokiman and conducted a thorough search, confiscating books, a computer, mobile phones and other electronic devices, before arresting the three. On November 21, Tabsim Hosseini was released on bail from the Ministry of Intelligence jail. Mr. Dadvar, who is from Yazd, had previously been detained for two months after being arrested (with two other Bahais) in Zahedan on December 23, 2012. It would appear that on that ocassion no charges were laid against him.

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

Parviz and Neda Anvari free in Tehran


Bahai News (Persian), November 21, 2016.

Mr. Parviz Anvari (پرویز انواری) and his daughter Neda Anvari (ندا انواری), from Baba Salman, a village in Shahriar County, in Tehran Province, have been released after posting bail of 50 million tumans (14,700 euros; 15,600 $US). They were arrested, along with two other Bahais, on the evening of November 2 when agents from the Intelligence Protection Organization of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (IRGC) raided a prayer meeting in their home. The other two Bahais, Farhad Maqarabi (فرهاد مقربی) and Rezwanullah Abdel-Hayy (رضوان الله عبداللهی) were released on the following morning. Mr. Anvari and his daughter were held for 21 days in a section of Evin prison run by the Intelligence Protection Organization.

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

November 20, 2016

Shamim Ruhani free in Ahvaz


Bahai News (Persian), November 20, 2016.

Shamim Ruhani (شمیم روحانی), a Bahai prisoner of conscience from Ahvaz (a city in Khuzestan Province, in the Iranian part of the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates), was released from prison on November 20, at the end of 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 by the Ministry of Intelligence 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. He was held for a time before being released on bail, but on January 11, 2016 he was again stummoned to prison. During the period of his first arrest, his wife Mina Ruhani (مینا روحانی) was summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence for questioning several times.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-2Li

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

November 17, 2016

Court of review slashes sentences for 22 Bahais in Golestan


Bahai News, November 2, 2016.

In January this year, a court in Gorgan which began hearing the cases of small groups of Bahais in April, 2015, issued sentences in 24 cases. These 24 Bahais have been free on bail, pending the ruling of the Review Court for Golestan Province, which reviewed the cases on September 18 and 29, and has now announced its decision on most of these cases.

Farah Tebyanian (فرح تبيانيان), Puna Sana’i ( پونه ثنایی), Mona Amri Hesari (مونا امري حصاري), Behnam Hassani (بهنام حسني), Parisa Shahidi ( پریسا شهیدی ), Mojdeh Zouhori (مژده ظهوري), Parivash Shoja`i ( پریوش شجاعی ), Tina Mauhabati ( تینا موهبتی ) and Hana Aqiqiyan (هنا عقیقیان), all from Gorgan; Shohreh Samimi (شهره صمیمی) from Minudasht; Bita Hedayati (بيتا هدايتي), Vesaq Sana’i ()وثاق سنايي and Hana Kushkabaghi ( هنا کوشکباغی ) from Gonbad-e Qabus had their prison sentences reduced from 9 years to one year and nine months.

Rufeya Pakzadan ( روفیا پاکزادان), Soudabeh Mehdinezhad ( سودابه مهدی نژاد ), Mitra Nouri ( میترا نوری ), Shiva Rouhani ( شیوا روحانی ), Houshmand Dehqan (هوشمند دهقان), Mariyam Dehqan (مريم دهقان) and Nazi Tahqiqi (نازي تحقیقی), all from Gorgan, along with Kamelia Bideli (کاملیا بیدلی) and Navid Moalem (نوید معلم) from Minudasht, had their sentences reduced from 6 years to 18 months.

The review court did not anounce its decision on the cases of Shahnam Jadhbani ( شهنام جذبانی ) from Minudasht and Shayda Qodousi (شيدا قدوسي) from Gorgan, who were sentenced to 11 years in prison.

The Bahais were charged with collaborating with hostile governments, effective activities to promote the goals of a sect and of anti-Islamic and anti-Shiah hostile governments, and with making propaganda in favour of the Bahai Faith and against the regime of the Islamic Republic, by participating in the ‘Ruhi program’ (Bahai catechism) in Golestan Province.

Three of the women mentioned above have husbands who are already in prison, and who have not been allowed any prison furlough. Their husbands were in a group of seven Bahai men from Gorgan who were sentenced in May 2013. Punah Sana’i is the sister, and Farah Sana’i is the wife, of Fahrmand Sana’i (فرهمند سنایی), who was sentenced to five years; Parisa Shahidi is the wife of Kamal Kashani (کمال کاشانی), also sentenced to five years; and Mojdeh Zouhori is the wife of Farhad Fahandezh (فرهاد فهندژ), who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Among the 22 Bahais whose sentences have been reduced, Shohreh Samimi is the wife of Shahnam Jadhbani, while Kamelia Bideli is the wife of Navid Moalem (whose name was previously reported as Navid Moalemi (نوید معلمی)).

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-2L6

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

November 16, 2016

Five arrested at the Provincial Governor’s Office of Mazandaran

Iran Press Watch, November 12, 2016.

On the morning of November 8, at least five Bahais were arrested at the Mazandaran Provincial Governor’s Office, and a large number of Bahais were harshly treated in front of that office. According to a report by BahaiNews, at least five Bahais who had attended a day of “public interaction with officials” regarding the sealing of Bahai business premises in Mazandaran Province were arrested by security agents. An informed source told the BahaiNews reporter: “After a number of Bahais were permitted to enter the Provincial Governor’s Office, intelligence agents immediately arrested those who were inside the building. Moreover, those who were outside the door were videotaped and attacked by security agents.”

This informed source added: “The agents were shouting that these people receive instructions from Israel, and that they had come there to assemble, start a riot and set fire to the banks. They kept on shouting this. With respect to those who had been arrested, they said, ‘We have also arrested your leaders’ ‒ meaning those who had been arrested inside the building.”

According to this informed source, the people who had come to this public meeting with the officials were Bahais from the city of Qaemshahr. Based on the latest news received by BahaiNews, the names of some of those arrested are: Nima Nokhaah (نیما نوخواه), Aarshaam Golpour (آرشام گلپور), Sohayl Haqqdoust (سهیل حق دوست), Shahrouz Zamaani (شهروز زمانی) and Behnam Mirzai, who is named by the BBC as `Ala-addin Mirza’i (علاءالدین میرزایی).

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-2L2

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

November 15, 2016

Amrollah Hekmat-Sho’ar arrested in Karaj


Bahai News (Persian), November 7 and 10, 2016.

Amrollah Hekmat-Sho’ar (امرالله حکمت شعار), the father of 11-year-old ‘Aref Hekmat-Sho’ar (عارف حکمت شعار) who was expelled from school in Karaj last year because his parents are Bahais, was arrested in Karaj on November 7. In the preceding days he had been contacted by telephone with instructions to report to Raja’i Shahr prison, to which he replied that an arrest warrant should be sent according to formal procedures, and not via a telephone call. When agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested him near his home, they took him in handcuffs to his work place and his home, and searched both very thoroughly. They had a search warrant, and showed an arrest warrant that said he would be charged with undermining national security and propaganda against the regime. He was later released on bail, apparently on November 10. Bail was set at 50 million tumans (14,400 euros; $US 16,400). During his interrogation, he was asked about the exclusion of his son, then aged 10, from three schools in Karaj. 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, including Mohammad Nourizad (محمد نوری زاد), Doctor Maleki (دکترملکی) and Mr. Karim Bigi (کریم بیگی) travelled to Karaj to protest.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-2KY

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

Shahin Negari, BIHE teacher, released from prison


Bahai News (Persian), November 14, 2016.

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

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

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

Bahai student Danial Kheradmand expelled from university


Iran Press Watch, November 12, 2016.

Danial Kheradmand (دانیال خردمند), a Bahai from Tehran, secured admission to the University of Sari on 10 September 2016 to study accounting. Classes began on the first of October. In the first week of November his name was removed from the student list because of his Bahai beliefs. After following up the case with the university administration, he was told that the university was asked to stop cooperating with him.

During the current year at least 129 Bahai students, after successfully passing the University Entrance Exam (Concours) in 2016, were prevented from continuing their education because they believe in the Bahai Faith. Some were allowed to commence their studies, but after being identified as Bahais they were expelled from their universities. [I have been unable to keep pace, on Sen’s Daily, with the reports of these expulsions and exclusions.]

The exclusion of Bahais from higher education is based on a document, dated the 2nd of February 1991, approved by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. This document states that Bahais are not permitted to work in any government establishment, or to continue their education in higher institutions of learning.

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

November 8, 2016

Four arrests in Shahryar County, two released

14956525_830209140454511_2781716720164514649_nBahai News (Persian), November 3 (?), 2016.

Four Bahais were arrested on the evening of November 2 when agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided a prayer meeting in a Bahai home in Baba Salman, a village in Shahriar County, in Tehran Province. The home belonged to Mr. Parviz Anvari (پرویز انواری), who was arrested along with his daughter Neda Anvari (ندا انواری), Farhad Maqarabi (فرهاد مقربی) and Rezwanullah Abdel-Hayy (رضوان الله عبداللهی). The latter two (pictured) were released on the following morning.

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

 

November 7, 2016

Sahba Farabakhsh and Shadi Sadeq-Eqdam free on bail in Shiraz


Bahai News (Persian), November 6, 2016.

Another two recent Bahai detainees, Sahba Farabakhsh (صهبا فرحبخش) and Shadi Sadeq-Eqdam (شادی صادق اقدم) have been released from Adel Abad prison in Shiraz. Their bail amounts were set at 200 and 250 million tumans, respectively. 200 million tumans is roughly equivalent to 56,000 euros, or $US 63,000. They have been detained for 37 days in the Ministry of Intelligence’s detention facility 100, and were transferred to Adel Abad prison just before their release.

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

November 6, 2016

Three more prisoners in Shiraz free on bail, six still detained


Bahai News (Persian), November 5, 2016.

Shamim Ekhlaqi (شمیم اخلاقی), Varqa Kaviani (ورقا کاویانی), and Farbad Shadman (فربد شادمان), whose name was previously reported as Farid Shadman (فرید شادمان), have been released on bail of 200 million tumans (56,000 euros, $US 63,000). They were among the 14 Bahais arrested in coordinated raids by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on Bahai homes in Shiraz around 9pm on the evening of September 29. Another three Bahais were arrested after these raids. The three detainees who have been released have been held for 39 days, the first 37 days being their time of interrogation by the Ministry of Intelligence in detention facility 100 in Shiraz. They were then transferred to Adel Abad prison, from where they were released. This brings to ten the number of Shirazi Bahais released on bail, all for the same amount. At present four Bahais remain under interrogation in Detention Facility 100: Sahba Maslahi (صهبا مصلحی), Mahyar Safidi (مهیار سفیدی), Ahdiyyeh Enayati (عهدیه عنایتی) and Bahareh Nowruzi (بهاره نوروزی). The remaining two prisoners in this group, Sahba Farabakhsh (صهبا فرحبخش) and Shadi Sadeq-Eqdam (شادی صادق اقدم) have been transferred to Adel Abad prison.

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

November 5, 2016

Another Baha’i cemetery damaged


Iran Press Watch, November 3, 2016.

The Municipal office of Ardestan has demolished the gate of the Bahai cemetery. The report (on Gold News) does not indicate when this occurred. Because of restrictions on finding work and furthering their education, nearly all young and middle aged Bahais have moved to other cities; in particular to Isfahan. Some elderly women and men, along with a few middle-aged people, remain in the Bahai quarter, known as Bab ul Rahy, where they are deprived of basic municipal services such as garbage disposal.

In August 2014, the authorities in Semnan introduced new rules for Bahai burials, one of which was that no wall could be built around the Bahai cemetery. It is not clear whether the removal of the gates in Ardestan is another indication of a new policy to prevent the Bahais protecting the graves of their loved ones, or a random act of vandalism.

The full report on Iran Press Watch is available here.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-2Kv

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

November 4, 2016

Over 90 Bahai businesses sealed by authorities

Iran Press Watch, November 4, 2016.

According to Bahai News (Persian) and Gold News, security agents and agents from the Office of Public Places raided and shut down eight Bahai-owned businesses in Karaj, 35 in Sari, seven in Nowshahr, 6 in Tonekabon, one each in Fereydunkenar and Amol, two in Bahnemir, three in Chalus, five in Bandar Abbas and 29 Bahai-owned businesses in Qaemshahr.

[The majority of the closures appear to relate to the observance of the Bahai holy days but the report includes the closure of eight Bahai-run optometry business in Karaj, which took place before the Holy Days.]

The names of the business owners along with the corresponding business are as follows:

Karaj

Mansour and Manouchehr Enayati — Zeis store
Farshid Azarshab — Eyeglasses store
Koursoh Sharifzadeh — Sam Optics
Shahriar Rabbani — Lathe workshop, Eyeglasses
Kourosh Laghayee — Glasses repair shop
Pejman Misaahi — Sina Glasses Repair Shop
Forouhari — Optometry
Mahtab — Optometry

Nowshahr

Bahman Rohani — Photography shop
Monib Mansour — Optometry
Raki Yousefi — Optometry
Arastou Aasadi — Welding business
Riazollah Heravi — Horology business
Arash Derakhshanian — Mechanic’s shop
Behshad Derakhshanian — Burglar alarm business

Bandar Abbas

Behzad Rasti — Gameron Glasses
Behram Heidarpour and Mr. Ataollah Rezvani’s family — Zeiss Eyeglasses Store
Mr. Sharafi — Arash Glasses Store
Behzad Heidarpour — Tamasha Eyeglasses Store
Mr. Shadpour — Shayan Optic (managed by Mr. Soleimani)

Qaemshahr

Zahra Golabian — Optometry
Sohrab Laghayee — Optometry
Nima Miri — Cosmetics
Fairborn Sabeti — Appliance repair
Farzad Sabeti — Car alignment and oil change
Changiz Derakhshanian and Nima Nokhah — Toy shop
Rezvaneh Samii — Garment store
Kourosh Ahmadzadegan — Security systems
Alaoddin Mirzayee — Security systems
Shayan Ghedami — Paint store
Hooman Rostami — Burglar alarm business
Shahram and Shahrouz Zamani — Auto parts
Soheil Haghdoost — Optometry
Bahaoddin Samimi — Stationery store
Jhobin Yousefi — Burglar alarm business
Behnam and Behdad Shirvani — Appliance repair
Noorollah Ataeeyan — Motor winding business
Bahram Safari — Electronics
Naim Samimi – Auto body shop
Fazel Asadi – Mobile repair
Zekrollah Akbari – Welding business
Shahin Akbari – Ironware
Fariborz Sanaee – Plastic ware
Zekrollah Babayee – Grocery
Atrollah Movafagh – Refrigerator repair
Shahrokh Asadi – Refrigerator repair
Daryoush Bakhtiari – Automobile studio
Saeed Asadi – Auto repair
Jalal Atayeean – Cosmetics

Sari

Mahyar Ghanbari — Security systems installation
Nima Mahinbakht — Security systems installation
Behzad Zabihi — Eyeglasses store
Kamaloddin Akbar — Woodturning
Ghavanoddin Sabetian — Carpentry
Ramin Moosavi — Building decoration
Naim Kamali — Appliance repair
Kourosh Ahmadi — Engine tuning
Zatollah Darabi — Carpentry
Sanaee — Cosmetics
Zia Khoshbin — Paint store (commercial)
Kourosh Moradi — Carpentry
Hossein Ahmadi — Carpentry
Jamal Movafaghi — Carpentry
Asghar Movafaghi — Carpentry
Ashkan Khalili — Motor winding
Shahrouz Zamani — Auto parts
Yaghoub Akbari — Appliance repair
Kamaloddin Akbari – Woodturning
Mahyar Ghanbari – Security systems installation
Ehsan Sanee – Cosmetics
Sohrab Zahedi – Stationery store
Nima Shabrokh – Cosmetics
Bahman Zabihi – Fabrics and crafts store
Shahriar Foroughian — Electric windings
Behrouz Yousefi – Home appliances repair
Vahid Golpour – Clothing
Jahanbakhsh Movafaghi – Woodturning
Saed Andokhs – Clothing
Akbar Hosseini – Wood shop
Hesam Yousefi – Carpentry
Arman Safaee – Stationery store
Zargham Zamani – Clothing
Shahram Nobakht – Appliances store
Pezhman Roshankoohi – Appliances store

Tonekabon

Misagh Esmaeil zadegan — Telephone repair
Noushin Masoudian — Clothing
Sirous Nasiri — Cabinet making
Saleh Eshkevarian — Home appliances
Sina Garshasbi — Home appliances
Naeim Khalaj Abadi — Furniture manufacturing

Fereydunkenar

Afshin Azadi — Clothing

Bahnemir

Ahmad Nikounejad — Gas appliances (sale and repair)
Feizollah Nikounejad — Bike repair

Amol

Serrollah Hekmatshoar

Chalus

Daryoush Talaee — Shoes store
Farshid Kian — Eyeglasses store
Afshin Sobati — Eyeglasses store

According to Bahai News, the reason for sealing these businesses has been the closure of these shops during the nine Bahai religious holidays. This is despite the fact that according to the Executive Regulations of Article Twenty-eight of the Trade Law, commercial units can keep their businesses closed for up to 15 days without providing prior notice to officials.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-2Kp

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

November 1, 2016

Another eight Bahai-run businesses closed in Karaj

Bahai News (Persian), November 1, 2016.

In recent days, agents from the Bureau of Public Places in Karaj have closed down eight businesses run by Bahais. They are all optometry businesses: one a lens grinding workshop, a spectacle repair shop, and six optometry retail shops. Four of the Bahai managers are named as Farshid Adhershab (فرشید آذرشب), Korush Sharifzadeh (کورش شریف زاده), Shahryar Rabbani (شهریار ربانی) and Pazeshman Mithaqi (پژشمان میثاقی). The report states that ten other businesses have been closed recently, simply because they were run by Bahais, but it does not say whether these ten are in Karaj.

The recent closures of optometry shops in Karaj almost certainly relate to the widespread Iranian belief that Bahais are ‘unclean,’ and should not provide personal services to Shiah Muslims, who are ‘clean.’ This belief, and the government’s desire to prevent the Bahai minority prospering, have led to an extensive and largely secret set of rules specifying the jobs and sectors from which Bahais are banned. An order clarifying these rules, dating from 2010, says that Bahais must be barred from 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, or work in restaurants, cafeterias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways (Iranian-style), cafe, butchers shops, supermarkets, the production and sale of ice-cream, fruit juice, soft drinks, pastry and sweets, and coffee. Since this order was issued, the optometry sector has apparently been added to the list.

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October 31, 2016

Shahriar Cyrus sentenced: 5 years


Bahai News (Persian), October 30, 2016
August 1, 2015.

Shahriar Cyrus (شهریار سیروس), a Bahai painter and a respected art critic and teacher, was sentenced to 5 years in prison by Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای) in Tehran. Judge Moqayesseh was also responsible for the sentencing of the seven ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran). The sentence was delivered on September 5, but has only just been reported. Mr. Cyrus was charged with founding an illegal organisation, a charge that relates to his painting classes.
Mr. Cyrus was arrested by eleven agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, who raided his painting class at about 4pm on June 30th, 2015. He was kept in solitary confinement for 48 days. He was held in block 209 of Evin Prison, a section which is operated by the Pasdaran militia. He was released on bail two months after his arrest.

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October 28, 2016

Two Bahai-run businesses closed in Karaj

Bahai News (Persian), October 27, 2016.

On October 26, agents from the Bureau of Public Places closed two businesses in Karaj because they were run by Bahais. They are an optometry workshop run by Mr. Rahmani (رحمانی) and a spectacles shop run by Mr. Behshad (بهشاد). Six other Bahai-run shops in Karaj have been closed in recent weeks. One of these was a luxury goods shop run by Amin Rahmani (امین رحمانی). This is apparently not the same as the optometry workshop run by a Mr. Rahmani in the latest report.

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October 26, 2016

BIC report examines persecution of Iranian Bahais

Bahai International Community, October 25, 2016.

Iran’s persecution of Iranian Bahais continues unabated, despite government promises to end religious discrimination and improve human rights, according to a new report from the Bahai International Community.

Officially released today, “The Bahai Question Revisited: Persecution and Resilience in Iran” (PDF format) says Iran has actually stepped up certain elements of its campaign against Bahais, such as the dissemination of anti-Bahai propaganda and a crackdown on Bahai businesses.

The report offers a number of new statistics on the governments oppression of Bahais. Since 2005, it says, when the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began to re-intensify the persecution, there have been more than 860 arrests and some 275 Bahais have been sent to prison.

During that time, at least 240 Bahais have been expelled from university and thousands more have been blocked from enrolling through various ruses. There have been more than 950 specific, documented incidents of economic discrimination, such as shop closings or dismissals.

The report also says the situation has not changed under the administration of President Hassan Rouhani, who came to power in August 2013 with promises to end religious discrimination.

Since President Rouhani’s inauguration, the report says, Bahais have faced no less than 388 documented incidents of economic persecution and at least 151 Bahais have been arrested. The government’s campaign to incite hatred against Bahais has also intensified under his presidency, with more than 20,000 pieces of hateful anti-Bahai propaganda disseminated in the Iranian media.

“Taken altogether, what we have seen is an overall shift in tactics by the Iranian government, apparently as part of an attempt to conceal from the international community its ongoing efforts to destroy the Bahai community as a viable entity,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Bahai International Community to the United Nations.

“While arrests and imprisonments certainly continue, the government has relied increasingly on less blatant forms of persecution, such as economic, educational, and cultural discrimination.

“All this comes despite steadfast condemnation from the international community, activists, and, increasingly, ordinary citizens inside Iran,” said Ms. Dugal.

The 128-page report contains numerous human stories about the impact of the persecution on the lives of Bahais in Iran, showing how they have responded with surprising reserves of resilience and, even, small initiatives aimed at the betterment of Iranian society as a whole.

The report also examines the history of the persecution, offering an explanation for why it continues in the face of international pressure. An extensive appendix reproduces numerous secret government documents that show unequivocally that such persecution is official policy.

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October 25, 2016

Mariya Kothari free on bail in Qorveh


Bahai News (Persian), October 18, 2016.

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

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

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October 23, 2016

Killing of a Bahai in Yazd was religiously motivated


Bahai News (Persian), October 22, 2016

As previously reported, Farhang Amiri (فرهنگ امیری), a Bahai living in Yazd, was murdered by two brothers who came to the door of his house on the evening of September 26. He suffered multiple stab wounds, including to the heart. According to one report he was first hit on the head with a brick. The men were arrested, and have confessed to the murder, saying they killed Mr. Amiri for religious reasons. The information comes from the Prosecutor’s office in Yazd, via the family of Mr. Amiri. The apparent murderers told the Prosecutor that Bahais, in their eyes, are infidels and a verse in the Quran (which they could not cite) required them to kill infidels. They picked Mr. Amiri at random from among the Bahais, and watched his home and family. The father of the killers is reported to have said that his sons had become radical, and he and the boys’ mother had been feeling that they were about to do something, and had reported their fears to the Ministry of Intelligence. A source interviewed by Bahai News said that the two had acted on their own initiative, although some initials reports had said that a third person, and members of the Basiji (militia), were involved. The source said that Mr. Amiri died when he was stabbed by the older brother, and the younger brother had injured Mr. Amiri in the face with a small knife.

The Universal House of Justice, the elected body that heads the Bahai community world-wide, has issued a letter (in Persian) dated October 19, which states that religious fanaticism was the primary motive for the killing of Mr. Amiri. The letter acknowledges the help of neighbourhood residents leading to the capture of the killers, the work of the police, and the willingness of a lawyer to assist [the family of the deceased], as signs that this fanaticism is not shared by all sectors of society. It is promising that the investigating magistrate has promised to approach the case on the basis of the equality of all citizens.

October 16, 2016

Mahvash Sabet returns to prison


Bahai News,16 October 2016.

Mahvash Sabet (مهوش ثابت), one of the seven ‘Yaran’ or national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran, returned to prison on October 16. She had been free on prison leave for 10 days (extended from the original 5 days).
She is now in the ninth year of her prison sentence, and this is the first prison furlough she has been granted. During her furlough she was able to meet family members and civil society activists.

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.

More photos are available on Bazdasht.

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October 13, 2016

Five Bahais bailed in Shiraz


Bahai News (Persian), October 10, 2016.

Five of the Bahais who have been arrested in Shiraz in recent weeks have been freed on bail, which was set at 200 million tumans (approx. $US 63,600). Mrs. Ruhiyyeh Nahriman (روحیه نریمان) and her husband Farzad Delaram (فرزاد دلارام), Soroush Eqani (سروش ایقانی), Farzad Shademan (فرزاد شادمان) and Mazhgan Gholampour (مژگان غلامپور), whose name was previous reported as Mazhgah (مژگاه), were first transfered from Detention Facility 100, run by the Ministry of Intelligence, to `Adel Abad prison in Shiraz, and then released on bail. Ruhiyyeh Nahriman and Farzad Delaram were arrested on October 3, the other three were among 14 Bahais who were arrested in their homes in Shiraz on the evening of September 29. Behnam Azirpour (بهنام عزیرپور), Sa`id Hosna (سعید حسنی) and Esma`il Rusta (اسماعیل روستا) have already been released on bail.

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October 11, 2016

129 Bahai students barred from higher education

Iran Press Watch, October 9, 2016.

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

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October 9, 2016

Manuchher Khalousi begins 1-year prison sentence


HRANA, October 7, 2016.

On October 6, a month before Manuchher Khalousi (منوچهر خلوصی) was due to begin serving a 1-year sentence, security agents arrived at his home and took him under arrest to Vakil Abad prison, to serve his sentence.

He was arrested on November 29, 2013, when security forces raided his home, for the sixth time since the 1979 Revolution. At his trial, on July 8, 2014, he was charged with “acting against national security by giving interviews with foreign media.” However no interviews with Mr. Kholousi are known, in either Iranian or foreign media. The court therefore adjourned the sitting for lack of evidence, and a judge was appointed to gather evidence for new charges. A court then sentenced him to six years in prison on charges against of propaganda against the regime and undermining national security. The review court reduced this sentence to one year.

His daughters, Nika and Nava Kholousi (نیکا و نوا خلوصی ), are serving sentences of six years and four and a half years, respectively, on charges of membership of the Bahai organisation, participation in illegal Bahai activities, and propaganda in favour of the Bahais and against the regime of the Islamic Republic. They have both served more than two years of these sentences, also in Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad.

In 1999, Mr. Kholousi was sentenced to death for being a Bahai. This sentence was later reduced to one year in prison, by which time he had already served 19 months in prison. With respect to his current sentence, HRANA has published a document showing that he was sentenced solely for being a Bahai.

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October 7, 2016

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


Bahai News (Persian), October 6, 2016.

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

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October 6, 2016

Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi and Nabil Tahdhib free on bail


Bahai News (Persian), October 4, 2016.

Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi (یکتافهندژسعدی) and Nabil Tahdhib (نبیل تهذیب), two Bahais with an interest in environmental protection who were arrested in Shiraz on July 16 and 17, have been released on bail. Miss Fahandezh-Sa`adi
was one of fifteen Bahais arrested in Shiraz in 2010. On February 3, 2012, she was again arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence and spent 82 days in Detention Facility 100. She was released on bail and later charged with propaganda against the regime and undermining national security. She was given a five-year suspended sentence, but was later acquitted by the Court of Review. She was arrested again by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on March 16, 2014. The agents searched her home and seized books, a laptop and personal effects. She was transferred to Detention Facility 100 in Shiraz, and was detained for two months. On June 16, 2016 she was again tried and sentenced by Judge Doctor Sadati (دکتر ساداتی) to five years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “collusion.” A month later, while waiting to begin serving this 5-year sentence, she was arrested again, and has been over 80 days in the detention at the Ministry of Intelligence’s detention facilities in Shiraz, before her release on bail on October 4.

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New arrest in Qorveh


Bahai News (Persian), October 4, 2016.

Dr. Mariya Kothari (ماریا کوثری), a Bahai living in Qorveh, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on October 4. Eleven agents, including one female agent broke the door of her house and took her away in handcuffs. Her present whereabouts are unknown. Mrs. Kothari is a qualified medical doctor, but has no licence to work because she is a Bahai, and she herself has health problems. After her arrest, the agents hung a sign in front of her house saying that the property was closed because of sanitary violations. This apparently refers to the finding of some drugs, which Dr. Kothari said were for herself and her family.

Qorveh lies in Kurdistan Province, over an hour’s drive East of the major city of Sanandaj. The Bahai community there has been subject to intense scrutiny. In March 2012, fifteen members of the community were interrogated by the Ministry of Intelligence. They were asked about Bahai meetings, the participants and how the meetings are run, and the names of relatives living outside Iran, their income and living situation, and willingness to travel outside Iran, work status, and participation in Ruhi training institutes. In January 2013, 13 Bahai homes, including the home of the Kothari family, were searched in simultaneous raids by almost a hundred security agents. When the local authorities in Sanandaj decided to refuse to bury Bahais in their city, they began transporting the bodies to Qorveh, which had a Bahai cemetery containing the graves of nearly 30 Bahai martyrs who were executed by the Islamic Republic. But this cemetery was destroyed by the local authorities in Qorveh in the small hours of July 14, 2016. The agents also uprooted 300 20-year-old trees.

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Mahvash Sabet begins 5-day prison furlough


HRANA (Persian), October 5, 2016.

Mahvash Sabet (مهوش ثابت), one of the seven ‘Yaran’ or national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran, who are serving long prison sentences, has been released on a 5-day prison furlough. She is now in the ninth year of her prison sentence. Mrs. Sabet – a schoolteacher and mother of two – was arrested on March 5, 2008, after she was summoned to the Iranian city of Mashhad to discuss some matters regarding a Bahai burial. Two months later, on May 14, the other six Yaran were arrested in raids of their homes. Initially sentenced to 10 years in prison, this was later increased to 20 years, and then reduced again to 10 years.

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October 4, 2016

One new arrest in Shiraz


Bahai News (Persian), October 3, 2016.

Mrs. Bahare Nowruzi (بهاره نوروزی) was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence who came to her home in Shiraz around 2pm on October 3. She was taken to the Ministry’s detention facility 100 in Shiraz. As previously reported, Mrs. Ruhiyyeh Nahriman (روحیه نریمان) and her husband Farzad Delaram (فرزاد دلارام) were arrested in a raid on their home in Shiraz on the night of October 2, and fourteen Bahais arrested in Shiraz on September 29 are still in detention. Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi (یکتافهندژسعدی) and Nabil Tahdhib (نبیل تهذیب), two environmental activists who were arrested in Shiraz on July 16 and 17, continue to be held in the Intelligence detention center in Shiraz; they have been charged with acting against national security and propaganda against the regime. Na`imatullah Bangaleh (نعمت الله بنگاله), who was arrested with his daughter on August 27 is still being detained. I have had no word of the release of Sara Ekhlaqi (سارا اخلاقی), the owner of a bridal accessories shop who was arrested on June 14.

This list does not include those already sentenced and serving their sentences in prison, or the large number of Bahais in Shiraz who have suspended sentences or who are free on bail awaiting trial or awaiting the summons to begin their prison sentences. There is also no word of investigations regarding the fatal poisoning of Leila Kargar (لیلا کارگر) on December 29, 2014, apparently for religious reasons. She told her family that she had been discussing religious matters in a park with a well-spoken lady, who had given her a drink of fruit juice. The fatal stabbing of Koroush Rouhi (کوروش روحی) on November 12, 2015, also remains unexplained but there are no indications that this was a sectarian attack.

A summary by Bazdasht says that there are at present 60 Bahais in prison or detention in Iran.

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Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh vandalized again


Bahai News (Persian), October 3, 2016.

On September 30, the Bahai cemetery of Urumiyyeh (Urmia) was again vandalized. On July 25, 2015, a large number of 20-year-old trees in this cemetery were cut down using a chainsaw. On the most recent occasion gravestones were damaged and an attempt was made to burn the remaining trees. When the Bahais complained to the police and court, they were told there was nothing to be done, since the Bahais did not know who had vandalized the cemetery. The destruction of the graves of religious minorities, especially those of Bahais and Jews, has occured throughout Iran since Qajar times. On July 17, 2016, law enforcement agents in Kurdistan province demolished a Bahai cemetery there, uprooted over three hundred 20-year-old trees, and confiscated personal property from the mortuary. Some cities, notably Tabriz, refuse to allow the burial of Bahais. In Sanandaz, three successive Bahai cemeteries have been destroyed by government agents. For a discussion of the long history of symbolic violence directed at graves and bodies of Bahais and other in Iran, see Mehrdad Amanat, Set in Stone: Homeless Corpses and Desecrated Graves in Modern Iran.

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October 3, 2016

Two more arrests in Shiraz


Gold News, October 3, 2016.

Mrs. Ruhiyyeh Nahriman (روحیه نریمان) and her husband Farzad Delaram (فرزاد دلارام), a Bahai couple with two children, were arrested in a raid on their home in Shiraz on the night of October 2. Their present whereabouts and the reasons for their arrests, and the arrests of a number of other Bahais in Shiraz in recent weeks, are not known. Fourteen Bahais arrested in Shiraz on September 29 are still in detention.

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October 2, 2016

Two environmental activists still held in Shiraz, torture reported


Iran Press Watch, October 1, 2016.

As of September 23 (and there is no change as of October 2, ~ Sen), Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi (یکتافهندژسعدی) and Nabil Tahdhib (نبیل تهذیب), two environmental activists who were arrested in Shiraz on July 16 and 17, continue to be held in the Intelligence detention center in Shiraz; they have been charged with acting against national security and propaganda against the regime.

Three others arrested at that time have been bailed. They are Behnam Azirpour (بهنام عزیرپور), Sa`id Hosna (سعید حسنی) and Esma`il Rusta (اسماعیل روستا), whose arrest was not previously reported here. Bail was set at 200 million tumans (approx. $63,600). These three environmental activists spent the last ten days of their detention in the quarantine section of Shiraz’s Adel-Abad Prison, among prisoners accused of ordinary offences and in very harsh sanitary conditions. A source close to these activists has told Justice for Iran that they were beaten during interrogations. The interrogators hit the faces and sides of the bodies of the detainees with their fists, and also pulled out the fingernail of one of them. During interrogations they were blindfolded while facing the wall, and were dishonored, threatened and pressured to make commitments.

Another three of those arrested have already been bailed, for the same amount, They are Na’im Qa’idsharfi (نعیم قائدشرفی), released on July 18, Mrs. Noushin Zanhari (نوشین زنهاری), released on August 13, and Ramin Shirvani (رامین شیروانی), released on August 21.

It appears that the reason for the arrest of some of these environmental activists, who picked up trash around Shiraz on weekends, was the fact that they were Bahais.

The Intelligence Office of Shiraz had warned the families of the detainees not to spread news regarding the condition of their children, and had asked them not to provide any information related to this.

Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi had also been arrested and interrogated in January 2012 and February 2014. She was free on payment of 200 million tumans bail. A week before the third arrest, she had been sentenced to 5 years incarceration, charged with acting against national security and propaganda against the regime.

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Six Bahai-run businesses closed in Karaj

Bahai News (Persian), September 29, 2016.

On September 29, officials from the Bureau of Public Places closed down four businesses because they were operated by Bahais. They are a car parts shop run by Javid Iqaneyan ( جاوید ایقانیان ), which was closed previously on September 17, and allowed to reopen a week later, a luxury goods shop run by Amin Rahmani (امین رحمانی), a lighting shop run by Sa`id Vajdani (سعید وجدانی) and a shop called “Elixir” run by Ata’ullah Shahidi (عطالله شهیدی). In the previous week they closed to more Bahai business in Karaj, which I neglected to report at the time: those of Fardad Ja`fari (فرداد جعفری) and Houman Shahidi (هومن شهیدی). Houman Shahidi is the brother of Ata’ullah Shahidi.

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September 29, 2016

Yashar Rezvani free on bail


Bahai News (Persian), September 28, 2016.

Yashar Rezvani (یاشار رضوانی), a Bahai from Kerman who has been living in Tehran, has been freed on bail. He was arrested in a raid on his home on August 3. After over a month of solitary confinement and interrogation in Evin Prison, he was transferred to a general wing of the same prison. He is to be charged with membership of Bahai organisations. Bail was set at 200 million tumans (56,000 euros; 64,000 $US), and was apparently approved in mid-Septmber, but for some reason his actual release on bail was then delayed for 10 days.

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Fourteen new arrests in Shiraz – corrected


Bahai News (Persian), September 29, 2016.

Fourteen Bahais have been arrested in coordinated raids by security forces on Bahai homes in Shiraz around 9pm on the evening of September 29 [I believe this should read September 28 ~ sen]. The agents did not have arrest warrants or search warrants. Those arrested are Shamim Ekhlaqi (شمیم اخلاقی), Sahba Farabakhsh (صهبا فرحبخش), Sahba Maslahi (صهبا مصلحی), Ahdiyyeh Enayati (عهدیه عنایتی), Mahyar Safidi (مهیار سفیدی), Shadi Sadeq-Eqdam (شادی صادق اقدم) and Varqa Kaviani (ورقا کاویانی), Maryam Eslami (مریم اسلامی), Soroush Eqani (سروش ایقانی), Marjan and Mazhgah Gholampour (مرجان و مژگاه غلامپور), Farid and Farzad Shademan (فرید و فرزاد شادمان) and Parisa Rouhi-zadegan (پریسا روحی زادگان).

An earlier headline on Bahai News, which said that some of these arrests were in Karaj, has been corrected.

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September 28, 2016

Two Bahai business closed, more given notice of closure


Bahai News (Persian), September 25, 2016.

On September 22, officials from the Bureau of Public Places closed in Omidieh county, in the southern province of Khuzestan, closed two Bahai-run businesses. They were managed by Mustafa `Ebadi (مصطفی عبادی) and Ayaz Afshari (ایاز افشاری ), and worked in the refrigeration sector. Omidieh county is one of the hottest inhabited places on earth, during the summer months. No reason was given for the closures. The businesses have licenses to operate that are valid for another three years. Other Bahai-run businesses in the Province of Khuzestan have been given a 10-day notice of closure.

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September 27, 2016

Baha’i murdered in Yazd: two arrests


Bahai News, September 27, 2016.

Farhang Amiri (فرهنگ امیری), a Bahai living in Yazd, was murdered by two persons who came to the door of his house on the evening of September 26. He suffered multiple stab wounds, including to the heart. According to one report he was first hit on the head with a brick. Initial reports are that the murder was not related to his Bahai beliefs, and that two persons have been arrested but not yet charged. The Bahai News report says that two persons came to the door, and when his son Puya opened the door, they made the excuse of asking whether his car was for sale, and then went away. Another report based on a statement from the family says that the same happened on a previous occasion, when Mr. Amiri’s wife opened the door. On the evening of September 26, Mr. Amiri himself opened the door and was immediately attacked. He was taken to hospital, but his injuries were fatal. The two assailants fled but were later arrested on the basis of “information received.” Mr. Amiri’s father was executed for his Bahai beliefs.

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

 

September 23, 2016

Another Bahai business closed in Karaj


Bahai News (Facebook, Persian), September 17, 2016.

A vehicle parts shop in Karaj, run by Javid Iqaneyan ( جاوید ایقانیان ) and his son `Emad Iqaneyan (عماد ایقانیان), was closed by the authorities on September 17. The authorities had refused to renew its business licence, apparently because Mr Javad Iqaneyan is known as a Bahai and has a reputation for integrity and customer service. Three other Bahai-run businesses in Karaj were closed by the authorities on August 16 and 18 this year.

On June 23 this year, the Universal House of Justice issued new guidelines for the observance of Bahai Holy Days in Iran, which allow for various compromises between the Bahais’ desire to close their businesses on the Holy Days and authorities’ desire to reduce the visibility of Bahais in commercial centres. For example, Bahais who have businesses could close the business one day before and one day after the Holy Day as well as on the Holy Day, leave the lights of a business turned on although nobody is working, or have a worker present although no trading is done. But the guidelines reject the idea of seeking official permission to close for a day, where this is neither provided for in legislation nor imposed on non-Bahais, since this would be to accede to government interference in the freedom of conscience. Such compromises have to be worked out locally, and it is not yet clear whether fewer Bahai businesses are being shut down because of the Holy Days issue. The authorities also have a campaign — inconsistently enforced across the country — to exclude Bahais from offering personal services such as optometry to the Muslim population, because Bahais are believed to be “unclean.”

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

September 22, 2016

Yashar Rezvani still held, without bail


Bazdasht, September 19, 2016.

Mr. Yashar Rezvani (یاشار رضوانی), a Bahai from Kerman who has been living in Tehran, was arrested in a raid on his home on August 3. During his interrogation he was held for 33 days in solitary confinement before being transferred to a general wing of Evin Prison in Tehran, and his file was then sent to Bench 28 of the Revolutionary Court. Ten days later his family was able to meet with court officials, who told them that he would remain in custody since the investigator needed two weeks to determine the amount of bail. Yet Mr. Rezvani had been told, in prison, that bail was confirmed. Two weeks have passed but his family has had no response to their enquiries. It would appear that the relevant officials have gone on holiday. It appears that he is charged with membership in a Bahai organization, a charge that he has rejected since there is no such organization [in Iran, because they were disbanded on government orders].

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

More Bahai students barred from university in Iran

Bahai News (Persian), September 21, 2016.

Following the announcement of results from Iran’s University Entrance examinations, and the beginning of the new academic year, several new cases have emerged of students being excluded from education in Iran solely because of their Bahai beliefs. Bahai News has published reports of 22 such cases, nine in the report linked to above, and the remainder in previous reports. The pattern in past years has been that Bahai students are excluded at four points: by being barred from taking the examination, by receiving no results, at the moment of enrollment (as in these 22 cases), or when they are discovered to be Bahais after enrollment.

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

September 13, 2016

Zhila Shahriyari free on bail in Tehran


Bahai News (Persian), September 13, 2016.

Mrs. Zhila Shahriyari (ژیلا شهریاری) has been freed from Evin prison in Tehran, after posting bail. She was arrested in the city on August 13 by a squad of agents travelling in two cars and a pickup, and taken to her home. The agents searched her home for two hours, seizing religious literature, a PC, laptop and mobile phone and all her bank cards.

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

September 12, 2016

Optometry shop closed in Isfahan


Bahai News (Persian), September 12, 2016.

On September 11, local authorities in Isfahan closed down an optometry business run by Aminullah Emani (امین الله ایمنی). He had earlier been visited by local officials who wanted to confirm that he was a Bahai. They left, but returned a little later to shut his business down. Bahai-run optometry shops across Iran have been closed by the authorities in recent years, in an apparent effort to exclude Bahais from working in this sector.

Under Iran’s apartheid policy, Bahais are banned from government jobs and numerous industries, but the list of sectors from which Bahais are banned is formally a secret, and the list changes from time to time. On May 19, 2015, Saham News published a copy of the previously secret list of sectors from which Bahais are banned (by that time the list was already five years old, and incomplete). The order refers to a widely-held Iranian superstition that Bahais are “unclean,” and requires the police bureaus to block them from restaurants, cafeterias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways (Iranian-style), cafes, butchers shops, supermarkets, the production and sale of ice-cream, fruit juice, soft drinks, pastry and sweets, and coffee. At some stage optometry was apparently added to the list, and Bahai optometry shops began to be closed by the authorities. In January this year, the Vice President of the Iranian Optometry Association announced that Bahais are still involved in manufacturing and importing glasses, and have an active presence in this industry. This has been followed by the closure of many more Bahai optometrist’s shops.

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Nazanin Bangaleh free on bail in Shiraz


Bahai News (Persian), September 12, 2016.

Nazanin Bangaleh (نازنین بنگاله), a Bahai who was arrested with her father Na`imatullah Bangaleh (نعمت الله بنگاله) on August 27, was released from detention in Shiraz on September 11, after posting bail of 175 million tumans ($US 56,000; 50,000 euros). There is no news as to where her father is being detained.

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

September 10, 2016

`Azam Motahari released from prison in Yazd


Bahai News (Persian), September 10, 2016.

Mrs. `Azam Motahari (اعظم مطهری) was released from prison in Yazd today, September 10, at the end of a one-year sentence. Towards the end of her sentence she was granted a 15-day prison furlough, beginning on August 10, and it was hoped that this would be extended so that she would not have to return to prison. But it was not to be: she returned to prison and served the remaining days of her sentence. Mrs. Motahari is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai community activities.

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

September 8, 2016

Retrial for four Bahais following February miss-trial case in Isfahan


Bazdasht, September 8, 2016.

In February this year, seven Bahais from Isfahan who were among those arrested in raids in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on November 15, 2015, were “tried” in Isfahan, without their knowledge, without legal representation, and apparently without charges, evidence or defence. The lawyer acting for one of the Bahais went to the court, and was told that the trial had already been held and the sentences of the seven Bahais would be announced within the next few days. (A guilty verdict, for a Bahai in an Iranian court, is more or less inevitable). A retrial has been announced for four of these Bahais, and their bail has been increased to 1.2 billion rials (34,000 euros, 38,000 $US). The four, Yeganeh Agahi (یگانه آگاهی), Adib Janamian (ادیب جانمیان), Parvin Nik-A’in(پروین نیک آیین) and `Arsheya Rouhani (عرشیا روحانی) were summoned to court in Isfahan on September 7 and charged with membership of illegal Bahai organisations and undermining national security. The four are among 16 Bahais arrested in raids on Bahai homes conducted by the Ministry of Intelligence in Isfahan, Tehran and Mashhad on November 15, 2015.

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

September 7, 2016

Noushin Zanhari and Ramin Shirvani released on bail


Bahai News (Persian), September 5, 2016.

Noushin Zanhari and Ramin Shirvani (نوشین زنهاری و رامین شیروانی) have been released on bail in Shiraz. Mrs Zanhari was released on August 13, and Mr. Shirvani on August 21. They had been held in the Ministry of Intelligence’s Detention Facility 100 in Shiraz. They were among at least seven Bahais and a number of other residents of Shiraz who associated with Bahais who were arrested on the morning of July 16. One of the Bahais arrested, Na’im Qa’idsharfi (نعیم قائدشرفی), was released on bail on July 18.

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

September 2, 2016

Mr. Iraj Lohrasb released from prison


Bazdasht, June 28, 2016
[This report is two months old: I overlooked it at the time ~Sen]

Mr. Iraj Lohrasb (ایرج لهراسب) has been released from prison in Yazd at the end of a two-year sentence for posting pictures of the vandalism of the Bahai cemetery in Yazd on his Facebook page. He was arrested on June 30, 2014 and sentenced in November that year. He served the whole two years without any prison furlough. In 1983, Mr. Lohrasb was imprisoned for several months and then exiled, along with a number of Bahais, to Zabol, a town on the Afghan border. He was allowed to return to his home about 6 years later.

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

August 30, 2016

Denial of pensions for Bahais in Iran


Aasoo (Persian), undated [August 2016]

The website Aasoo has published a document from the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security in Iran, dated 23 May 2011. The letter, written by the management of the national pension fund, responding to a petition from Mr. Nahid Mehrabkhani (ناهید مهراب‌خانی ) states that no pension can be paid out to him because, in February 1984 he was dismissed from employment by the Ministry of Education because of his Bahai beliefs. The denial of pensions for Bahais after the 1979 revolution was widespread, but documents of individual cases seldom surface. The document in this case implies the existence of a general rule that state pensions cannot be paid to Bahais.

In September 2013, Behzad Shokuhi ( بهزاد شکوهی ), then 75 years old, was beaten up and insulted at the Provincial Government Offices for Tehran province, where he had gone to seek payment of pension rights accumulated when he worked for the Ministry of Agriculture before the 1979 revolution. Like other Bahais in the civil service he was fired and banned from any further work for the government.
12765
Gold News has published another ruling, in which Mr Mansour Baqa’i (منصور بقايي) is denied not only pension rights but also the health insurance coverage for himself and his family. Unfortunately the year given in the signature date is illegible, to me: it might be ’95’ (this year) or ’75.

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

 

Father and daughter arrested in Shiraz


Bahai News (Persian), August 28, 2016.

On August 27, Na`imatullah Bangaleh (نعمت الله بنگاله) and his adult daughter Nazanin Bangaleh (نازنین بنگاله) were arrested by security forces in front of the family home in Shiraz. The agents then entered their home and ‘searched’ it destructively, seizing personal belongings such as computers, mobile phones, books, religious paraphernalia and their personal writings. Mr. Bangaleh’s brother went to the Ministry of Intelligence detention facility (Facility 100) in Shiraz, but received no answers about the whereabouts of the two detained Bahais or the reasons for their arrest.

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

August 20, 2016

Mrs. Azam Motahari granted prison furlough


Bazdasht, August 20, 2016.

Mrs. `Azam Motahari (اعظم مطهری) has been granted a 15-day prison furlough. She is servng a one-year sentence in Yazd prison. She has only 21 days to serve of her sentence, and it is hoped she may not have to return to prison. Mrs. Motahari is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai community activities. She was summoned to begin serving a one-year sentence in the central prison of Yazd on March 3, 2015 but, for reasons that are not clear, it was later reported that she began her sentence on October 6, 2015. Mrs. Motahari is the mother of Shamim Ettehadi (شمیم اتحادی), who was released from the Central Prison in Yazd on June 7 this year. He was charged with propaganda against the regime, membership of Bahai organisations, insulting officials, spreading lies and having satellite receiving equipment. The charges relate to his supposed responsibility for a 4-minute video documenting the destruction of the Bahai cemetery in Yazd, which was shown on the Persian-language television network Manoto.

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

August 19, 2016

Sonya Ahmadi released in Mashhad


Baszasht, August 18, 2016.

Sonya Ahmadi ( سونیا احمدی ) was released from Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on August 17. She began serving her 5-year sentence, on charges of teaching the Bahai Faith and membership of the Bahai community, on September 2, 2012, but she was released early on January 10, 2014, with the promise that her complete freedom would follow. However on April 10, 2014, she was telephoned to say she would have to continue serving her prison sentence.

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

 

August 18, 2016

Three Bahai businesses closed in Karaj

Bahai News (Persian), August 16 and August 18, 2016.

Around August 8, three Bahais who run shops in Karaj were warned that their shops would be closed permanently. Their names are Mansur Enayati (منصور عنایتی), Husayn Shayegan (حسین شایگان) and Manouchir Enayati (منوچهر عنایتی ), all close relatives.

On August 16, local officials from the Bureau of Public Places sealed the optometry shop run by Mansur Enayati, which had been closed during Bahai holy days, and its business licence was therefore not renewed. It had a staff of eight, who are now unemplyed. On August 18, officials from the same office sealed Mr. Shayegan’s optometry shop. Its business licence had not been renewed, because it was run by a Bahai.

There is some ambiguity whether the apartheid rules in Iran allow Bahais to run optician’s shops: Bahais are barred from many economic sectors but the list of exclusions is intended to be secret, and when it has been leaked it is out of date. The most recent list of the activities banned for Bahais did not include optometry.

The report notes that Mr. Manouchir Enayati’s shop was also closed on August 18, without adding details of that case. It does say, however, that the officials said they were acting on order from “higher up” — usually a reference to the Ministry of Intelligence.

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

August 17, 2016

Nateqeh Na’imi freed from prison in Yazd


Bahai News (Persian), August 16, 2016.

Mrs. Nateqeh Na’imi (ناطقه نعیمی), a Bahai held in Yazd Prison, was released on parole on August 16, after completing one third of her sentence. She was one of 20 Bahais arrested in Yazd, Isfahan, Kerman and Arak in August 2011, and sentenced to a total of 78 years in prison. Her sentence was two years in prison and one year’s suspended sentence, while her husband Mr. Faribourz Baghi (فریبرز باغی ) is also serving a 2-year term, on charges of acting against national security and propaganda against the regime. Mrs. Na’imi began serving her sentence, along with Mrs. Azam Motahari (اعظم مطهری), on October 6, 2015. She was granted one 10-day furlough during her time in Yazd prison. Her name was previously reported on Sen’s Daily as Nateq Na’imi (ناطق نعیمی).

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

House of Baha’u’llah in Tehran in the news in Iran


Gold News, August 15, 2016.

On May 1 this year, the House of Baha’u’llah in an alley off Pamenar Street (خیابان پامنار) in Tehran was closed in accordance with a court order, and it was stressed that any attempt to reopen the house would face prosecution. The House is government-owned, and was renovated in 2013. It is not clear from the reports what was achieved by a physical closure. According to government-controlled media in Iran, Bahais in Iran and elsewhere had been trying to buy the neighbouring properties “to develop the historic building as a site for religious meetings and devotions” (or more likely, to make it difficult for a property developer to raze the area). According to these media, neglect of the historic building and ignorance and maladministration by the responsible officials in the Ministry of Cultural Heritage led them to ask the Bahais to seek — unsuccessfully — to have the house registered as a cultural monument. The age of the building and its beauty leaves no room for doubt, according to these media, that the refusal to register the building was due to anti-Bahai prejudice, yet the house is not linked only to the Bahai community, it is part of Iran’s history and belongs to all Iranians. Although the house is a sacred spot for Bahais, to avoid problems they refrain from activities nearby, and even from walking around the area.

Photographs inside the courtyard are available in this previous report on Sen’s Daily (2013).

My guess – as an outsider trying to read between the lines – is that the issue is that the registration of the building as a cultural monument, especially if it were listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, would prevent the construction of modern buildings in the immediate area. The judicial closure would prevent maintenance and further steps to document and register the site as a cultural heritage. The Ministry of Cultural Sites and Handcrafts, with a responsibility for both protecting heritage and developing tourism, is being blamed for failing to achieve the registration (because of anti-Bahai prejudice), and for working with Bahais to try to achieve registration! It is not clear why this issue should have resurfaced now, when the closure took place in May and was reported in a limited way at the time.

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

 

August 16, 2016

Saba Golshan granted furlough for medical treatment


Bahai News, August 14, 2016.

Mr. Saba Golshan ( صبا گلشن ), a Bahai from Isfahan who is serving a 3-year sentence for his Bahai beliefs, was released from prison on August 14 for medical treatment. He had previously been granted a 2-month medical furlough for surgery and other treatment, and a request to extend this leave, early in February this year, was refused. His treatment was therefore interrupted.

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

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

August 15, 2016

New arrest in Tehran


Bahai News (Persian), August 14, 2016.

Mrs. Zhila Shahriyari (ژیلا شهریاری), a Bahai living in Tehran, was arrested on August 13. She was arrested elsewhere in the city by a squad of agents travelling in two cars and a pickup, and taken to her home. The agents searched her home for two hours, seizing religious literature, a PC, laptop and mobile phone and all her bank cards. She was then taken away — she is believed to be in block 209 of Evin Prison. Mrs. Shahriyari is the sister in law of Mahvash Sabet (مهوش ثابت), one of the seven Yaran or national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran, who are serving long prison sentences. Mrs. Sabet is also in Evin prison.

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

August 14, 2016

Shayda Ta’id granted prison furlough


Bahai News (Persian), August 12, 2016.

Shayda Ta’id ( شیدا تائید ), a Bahai serving a 1-year sentence in Babol Prison, was released for a 10-day furlough on August 11. She began her sentence on June 23, 2016. The report does not indicate the reason for the furlough, which is unusually long and early in her sentence.

Shayda Ta’id was arrested in her home, along with her guest, Bayan Baba’i ( بیان بابایی ) from Qaemshahr, on January 21, 2013. They were taken to the Ministry of Intelligence in Sari, and three days later were allowed to contact their families. They were detained by the Ministry of Intelligence in Sari for a total of 25 days. Previously, on November 6, 2010, the home of Shayda Ta’id and her mother, Fariba Ta’id ( فریده تایید ), was searched by the Ministry of Intelligence, and on November 20, 2010, they were arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence. They were both released in early December, 2010.

August 9, 2016

17 Bahais in Yazd arrested, and later released

Bahai News (Persian), August 4, 2016, and updates

In recent days, seventeen Baha’is in Yazd were arrested in raids on homes, conducted without a search warrant. Security agents climbed over the gate of a house in Yazd belonging to Mr. Sahil Rouhani-Fard and Mr. Azzatullah Khorram (سهیل روحانی فرد و عزت الله خرم). They arrested all those present (the number is not stated), and searched the house. Mr. Rouhani-Fard was previously imprisoned for two years because of his Bahai beliefs.

During the following night they raided the home of two other Bahais and arrested them. The arrested Bahais were interrogated and released within a few hours, except that

Gold News reports that on the morning of August 8, security forces in Yazd simultaneously raided the home and workplace of Mr. Mehran Bandi (مهران بندی), a Bahai whose home was raided in February 2014, and who was previously imprisoned for three and a half years, and exiled for three and a half years, because of his Bahai beliefs. The agents seized books, computers, a satellite receiver, mobile phone and images of Bahai sacred places. Mr. Bandi has been told to report to Bureau of Public Places in Yazd today, August 9, along with his son.

They also raided the home of Mr. Mashallah Shadepour (ماشاالله شادپور) [during the day]. Because his wife was not at home, they went to his work place. After searching that, they took him with him to his home and searched it. Mr. Shadepour’s elderly mother, Mrs. Safa Zarandeyun (خانم صفا زرندیون) is not able to walk, and for that reason had not opened the door for the agents.

The agents also went to a downstairs apartment used by Mr. Shadepour’s aunt, Mrs. Ridvan Shadepour (رضوان شادپور), and searched it. She is the wife of the Ali Motahari (علی مطهری), a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of Yazd, who was executed for his Bahai beliefs on September 8, 1980. Their daughter, Mrs. `Azam Motahari (اعظم مطهری) is now serving a one-year sentence in the central prison of Yazd.

The sequence of events and scale of the raids is not entirely clear from these reports. A Facebook report from Bahai News states that Sahil Rouhani-Fard and Mr. Azzatullah Khorram were freed from detention on August 4. It is possible that a number of their friends visited them to congratulate them on their release, and the raids followed this gathering.

August 3, 2016

House raid and arrest in Tehran


Bazdasht, August 3, 2016.

Mr. Yashar Rezvani (یاشار رضوانی), a Bahai from Kerman who has been living in Tehran, was arrested this morning when agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided his home, breaking two doors in the process. His personal possessions were seized and he was taken away. The charges against him are not known.

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

August 2, 2016

Fu’ad Moqaddam has long-term medical furlough


Iran Press Watch, July 17, 2016.

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, has been allowed to go home for two months’ leave for medical treatment, which may be extended, and his sentence has been suspended. He was arrested in May, 2011, and sentenced to five years in prison for his educational activities. He was 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, under Iran’s discriminatory laws against Bahais.

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

July 22, 2016

UHJ letter on economic restrictions on Bahais in Iran

Editorial, July 22, 2016.

On June 23, the Universal House of Justice issued a letter through its Secretariat, regarding the response of the Bahais in Iran to the economic restrictions imposed upon them. With regard to employees, it restates existing policies that a Bahai employee should try to take leave from work on the Bahai Holy Days on which work is suspended, but can work with a good conscience if this is refused. With regard to Bahai-run businesses and institutions, the letter marks an important development both in Bahai policy and in the willingness of authorities in some parts of Iran to allow Bahai businesses to close for Bahai Holy Days under certain conditions.

The letter refers to a description given by two Bahais of the economic restrictions imposed on the Bahai community in a particular city and to some questions they had presented to the Universal House of Justice. It praises them for their interest in the progress of the Faith, their willingness to endure hardships in the path of God and their determination to remain in Iran. The letter refers to the alarming level of the difficulties imposed on the Bahais in that city, and other places in Iran, because they have closed their shops and work places on the Bahai Holy Days. [The authorities have responded by closing the businesses down] These illegal closures by some authorities are undoubtedly part of a plan for the economic strangulation of the Bahai community in Iran, in the hope of weakening the resolve of the Bahais to remain in Iran. The world and the people of Iran now recognize that, despite this pressure and the diverse restrictions on them, the Bahais uphold their spiritual teachings and high hopes for Iran.

The letter refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees freedom of conscience and religion, and states that the observation of Bahai Holy Days, including the suspension of other community activities, the closure of Bahai-owned businesses, and the suspension of work on the Holy Days form part of the religious practices of Bahais around the world. Every sincere believer is obliged to observe the Bahai Holy Days. In countries where freedom of religion and beliefs is respected, Bahais observe the Holy Days by taking leave from their work, just as the Shiah in Iran close their businesses on their religious festivals. For the Bahais in Iran, the implementation of this religious practice in present circumstances implies:

1. Bahai employees in whatever field, as well as students at all levels, should refrain from working on the holy days on which work is suspended, but if their superiors do not agree to this, they can do their work on that day with a clear conscience.

2. Bahais who control a business should close their businesses on the holy days on which work is suspended, even if they have employees who are not Bahais. However if this would have effects requiring prior arrangements to meet the needs of the public, they should endeavour to make such arrangements and should inform the authorities of the intention to close the business and of the measures they have taken.

3. In exceptional cases, entities linked to Bahais may continue to operate on Bahai Holy Days, for example where they provide services that are essential to society, to protect the life and health of persons, or provide a service that directly impacts the lives of the people around them, to such an extent that a short closure, even where prior arrangements had been made, might disrupt orderly life. In such situations, the Friends may continue the services offered by such institutions, but it is desirable to minimise the work involved in consultation with the authorities.

The authorities in some cities have demanded promises as regards the closure of Bahai businesses on Holy Days [as a condition for allowing a closed business to reopen], or have offered suggestions, such as closing the Bahai business one day before and one day after the Holy Day [as well as on the Holy Day], leaving the lights of a business turned on although nobody is working in the business, or having a worker present although no trading is done. The Bahais, who are always ready to show good will and to be flexible, may in consultation with mature Friends accept such conditions or suggestions providing they do not conflict with the spirit of the Bahai teachings.

With regard to the suggestion made elsewhere, that the Bahais should seek permission from the authorities to close their shops on Bahai Holy Days, if the civil law and trade regulations require such permission, it should be obtained, and the obligations of Bahai individuals in this case will be the same as those of employees and students. But if permission to close is neither required in the case of non-Bahais, nor mentioned in the relevant legislation, then it does not seem necessary to obtain it, as it would only be interference in individuals’ spiritual lives.

Commentary
The above is a precis and explanation rather than a translation. The most important change in practice, for the many Bahais in Iran who run small businesses, will be the possibility of observing the Bahai Holy Days while avoiding conflict with the authorities. The closures of Bahai businesses in Iran appear to have three motives, in a mix that varies from place to place. One is prejudice and superstitions: the belief that Bahais are unclean and that Muslims should not interract with Bahais. This is also the motive behind the exclusion of Bahais from economic sectors involving food, drink and personal services. When Bahais observe a Holy Day by closing their business, the authorities can withdraw the business licence and so reduce interraction between Shiah and Bahai individuals. The second motive is mentioned in the letter: the economic strangulation of the community with the intention of compelling as many Bahais as possible to leave Iran. The third is a desire on the part of some local authorities to remove the visible presence of Bahais from public spaces. A business that is visibly closed on Bahai Holy Days, and only on those days, is a visible statement that the Bahais are still there, despite over 30 years of Islamic education and unremitting state propaganda against the Bahais. A Bahai cemetery is also a visible presence: hence the destruction of old cemeteries near to towns and the allocation of sites for new Bahai cemeteries in remote places.

Since the Bahais observe the Holy Days not to make a public statement, but because of the holiness of the day and events it commemorates, it is logical that the Universal House of Justice says that the Bahais may, in consultation with mature Friends – who will help all the Bahai business in a locality to act together – accept conditions or suggestions from the authorities that are designed to lower the public profile of the Bahai businesses, providing these conditions do not conflict with the spirit of the Bahai teachings.

The Persian text of this letter is available in text format in the documents archive of my Bahai Studies blog, and in PDF format here.

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July 21, 2016

Seven Bahais arrested in Shiraz, one released on bail

Bahai News (Persian), July 19, 2016.

On the morning of July 16, security forces in Shiraz arrested five Bahais: Mrs. Noushin Zanhari (نوشین زنهاری), Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi (یکتافهندژسعدی), who was recently sentenced to five years in prison, Behnam Azirpour (بهنام عزیرپور), Sa`id Hosna (سعید حسنی) and Ramin Shirvani (رامین شیروانی). They are being held by the Ministry of Intelligence in Shiraz. On the following morning, security forces arrested two more Bahais in Shiraz, Na’im Qa’idsharfi (نعیم قائدشرفی) and Nabil Tahdhib (نبیل تهذیب). The agents also searched their home(s) and seized books, a laptop and a smart phone. They were taken to the Ministry of Intelligence’s Detention Facility 100 in Shiraz. Na’im Qa’idsharfi was released on bail on July 18.

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July 19, 2016

Security forces destroy Bahai cemetery in Qorveh, arresting one Bahai


Iran Press Watch, translating Bahai News, July 17, 2016.

Law enforcement agents in Kurdistan province have demolished a Golestan Javid (a Bahai cemetery), uprooted over three hundred 20-year-old trees, destroying the buildings used for prayers and for washing the bodies before burial, and even destroying some coffins. The destruction apparently took place at 5 a.m. on July 14.

Law enforcement agents later summoned one local Bahai, Mr. Khalil Eqdameyan (خلیل اقدامیان), to the Kurdistan Province Judiciary. A Persian source, Bazdasht, reports that when he answered the summons, he was detained for several hours and then released on bail. He had followed up the destruction of the cemetery in enquiries to the security forces, who referred him to the Department of Agricultural Development (Agricultural Jihad).

The cemetery, which was built by the Qorveh Bahais little by little was worth 60 to 70 million tumans (approx. $19,400-22,700). The graves of nearly 30 Bahai martyrs who were executed by the Islamic Republic re among those that have been destroyed. The destruction of Bahai cemeteries has become a common occurrence in the Islamic Republic.

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July 14, 2016

Yekta Fahandezh sentenced to 5 years


Bahai News (Persian), July 11, 2016.

Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi (یکتا فهندژ سعدی), a Bahai from Shiraz, has been sentenced to five years in prison. She was one of fifteen Bahais arrested in Shiraz in 2010. On February 3, 2012, she was again arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence and spent 82 days in Detention Facility 100. She was released on bail and later charged with propaganda against the regime and undermining national security. She was given a five-year suspended sentence, but was later acquitted by the Court of Review. She was arrested again by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on March 16, 2014. The agents searched her home and seized books, a laptop and personal effects. She was transferred to Detention Facility 100 in Shiraz, and was detained for two months. On June 16, 2016 she was again tried and sentenced by Judge Doctor Sadati (دکتر ساداتی) to five years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “collusion.”

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July 5, 2016

Afshin Seyyed-Ahmad begins a 3-year sentence


Iran Press Watch, July 4, 2016.

Afshin Seyyed-Ahmad (افشین سید احمد), a Bahai from Tehran, was summoned to Evin Prison in Tehran on June 28, to begin serving a 3-year sentence. He was arrested on November 7, 2012, when his work place in Tehran was searched. Two days earlier, the workplace of Kamran Qaysari (کامران قیصر) in Karaj was also searched, and his home was searched on November 7: the Iran Press Watch report links these two cases, which is plausible. Mr. Seyyed-Ahmad is expected to serve his sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj. His sentence, of three years, was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily.

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July 4, 2016

Afif Na`imi granted 5-day leave after 8 years in prison


Bahai News (Persian), July 2, 2016.

Afif Na`imi (عفیف نعیمی), one of the seven imprisoned ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran) began a five-day prison furlough on July 2. He is serving his sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, and suffers from very poor health, exacerbated by prison conditions and the lack of sustained medical care. During his time in prison he has often been transferred to a coronary care hospital in Tehran, only to be moved back to prison after a short period of care.

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June 25, 2016

Shayda Ta’id begins a one-year sentence in Babol


Bahai News, June 24, 2016.

On June 23, Shayda Ta’id ( شیدا تائید ), a Bahai living in Nur County, Mazandaran, was taken to Babol prison to begin a one-year sentence. She was arrested in her home, along with her guest, Bayan Baba’i ( بیان بابایی ) from Qaemshahr, on January 21, 2013. They were taken to the Ministry of Intelligence in Sari, and three days later were allowed to contact their families. They were detained by the Ministry of Intelligence in Sari for a total of 25 days. Previously, on November 6, 2010, the home of Shayda Ta’id and her mother, Fariba Ta’id ( فریده تایید ), was searched by the Ministry of Intelligence, and on November 20, 2010, they were arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence. They were both released in early December, 2010.

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June 24, 2016

Navid Khanjani transfered to hospital


Iran Press Watch, June 23, 2016.

Navid Khanjani, a Bahai social activist, has been transferred from Raja’i Shahr prison to hospital for treatment. He has physical health problems, a weakened immune system and a sudden weight loss, of about 20 kilograms (44 lbs) in two months.

On March 2 2010, after protests against the elections of 20091, under the human rights activists detention project operated by the Intelligence Office of the Islamic Guards, Navid Khanjani was detained at his family home in Isfahan and transferred to section 2-A of the Islamic Guards Detention Center for some time. In August 2012, in the course of helping with earthquake relief in the Iranian province of Azerbaijan, he was arrested, and on September 5, he was moved to Ward 4, Hall 12 of Raja’i Shahr prison to carry out his sentence. He had previously been detained in March 2010, and released on bail after spending two months in solitary confinement.

He was then sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment by Branch 26 of the Iranian Revolutionary Court. In 2015, his 12-year sentence was reduced to 5 years of incarceration. The accusations compiled by the Revolutionary Court against Navid Khanjani are as follows;

Membership of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters and Human Rights Activists
Forming the “Deprived from Education Group”
Perturbation of the public and propaganda against the system by disseminating news, reports, and conducting interviews with foreign radio and TV
Publishing lies to disturb public opinion.

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June 23, 2016

Bahai student expelled from the Imam Reza University in Mashhad

Bahai News (Persian), June 21, 2016.

Mo’in Muhammadi (معین محمدی), a Bahai student, has completed an undergraduate course in biomedical engineering at the Imam Reza University in Mashhad, and, based on a provisional Bachelor’s certificate, has been accepted to study for a Master’s degree. However university officials then refused to issue his Bachelor’s certificate, saying initially that they had lost his files. Mr. Muhammadi pursued his case, even going to Tehran, but he was subjected to months of bureaucratic buck-passing. In the meantime, in the winter of 2014-2015, Mr. Muhammadi sat the entrance examination for the Master’s course, and was accepted for a course in Electricity of Telecommunications at the Imam Reza University. When he went to register, in August 2015, the Office of Education, the security office, and the Chief of Security told him that, as a Bahai, he did not have the right to register or attend university.

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Bahai shop-keeper protests in Urumeyyeh


Bazdasht, June 22, 2016.

Mr. Navid Maraqhi (نوید مرغی), one of the Bahais in the city whose shops have been sealed by the local authorities because they are operated by Bahais, who have refused to convert to Islam, has protested by sitting outside his closed premises.

On December 29 2010, security agents raided the homes of five Bahai families in Urumeyyeh (Urmia), a substantial city situated between Tabriz and the Turkish border, and arrested Mr. Maraghi along with Mrs. Shiva Karimi (شیوا کریمی) and Mrs. Hamira Parvizi (حمیرا پرویزی). They were released on bail on January 19, 2011. They were charged with seeking to undermine national security, establishing meetings to teach the Faith, getting to know Muslims with the intention of teaching them, and confusing the minds of Muslims. They were sentenced to one year in prison, but because they had no previous criminal records, three months of each sentence was commuted to three year’s probation. [I have no record of them serving their sentences ~ Sen]

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June 20, 2016

Bahai business owners in North West Iran required to convert to Islam

Gold News (translation, Iran Press Watch), June 18, 2016.

Since mid-May 2016, in different parts of the city of Urumiyyeh (Urmia) such as Madani and Khayyam Streets, twenty-seven Bahai shops have been sealed and the owners warned that “they have no right to work in that city until and unless they convert to Islam”. In the city of Sanandaj, six Bahai-run shops, including a stationery store, were sealed. Despite appeals to different organizations such as trade unions, municipal officials and national officials, authorities at the Office of Public Places and the police department, the owners of these shops in Urumiyyeh and Sanandaj were offered “conversion to Islam” as their only option.

Full translation at Iran Press Watch

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June 19, 2016

Continuing difficulties for Bahai burials in Iran

Various sources, June 18, 2016.

According to Gold News, on March 4 this year, a group of Bahais from Tabriz met with Ayatollah Tehrani to present a sampling of the indignities suffered by deceased Bahais in Tabriz over the past four years. The problems are experienced by Bahais throughout Iran. Bahais are buried in coffins with the graves oriented to Akka, in Israel, while Muslims are buried in shrouds, which require smaller graves that are oriented to Mecca. Separate cemeteries or separate sections are therefore a practical requirement, as well as being required by the existing anti-Bahai prejudices. Prior to the 1979 Revolution, Bahai ‘Spiritual Assemblies’ (elected bodies that administer the affairs of local Bahai communities) administered Bahai cemeteries, but many members of these local Assemblies, including eleven in Tabriz, were executed following the Revolution. In August 1981, the Assemblies were disbanded by the Bahais, on government instructions. Local and nation facilitators were appointed, in part as intermediaries with government bodies in matters relating to the Bahai community, but in March 2008, Mahvash Sabet, one of the national facilitators (Yaran) who had travelled to Mashhad to deal with a burial, was arrested. Two months later her six colleagues were also arrested, and local facilitators across Iran ceased serving as intermediaries with the government. The Iranian government therefore has a problem of their own making.

The Bahais from Tabriz told Ayatollah Tehrani that since September 3, 2011, the burial of Bahais in Tabriz has not been allowed. The decision was apparently made by high-ranking government officials, but has not been publicized. As a result, Bahais have had to wash and shroud the bodies of those who have died at home in their own homes. Where Bahais have died in hospital, their families are sometimes not even informed, but buried unceremoniously by the authorities far from Tabriz, in the districts of Miandoab or Urumeyyeh. A distant grave is not only cruel for the family of the deceased, it is contrary to Bahai rites, which stipulate that a body should not be carried more than one hour’s travel from the town where he or she died. In the past few years, at least 35 Bahais from Tabriz have been buried in other districts in this way.


Some of these events in Tabriz have been reported previously on Sen’s Daily. On June 13, 2016, Bahai News reported that the body of Mrs. Rezvanieh Nabavi Dehkharqani (رضوانیه نبوی دهخوارقانی) is still in the morgue at the Vadi-e Rahmat Cemetery in Tabriz, five days after her death, because authorities will not issue a burial permit. After she died on June 8 2016, her body was washed and shrouded in her home, and the Bahai prayer for the dead was read. Then her body was delivered to the morgue to await a burial permit. A later report indicates that the body was taken to Miandoab by government agents, and buried there.

Bahai News also reported, on June 17, that a Bahai who died six days previously has suffered a similar fate. Hussein Aqa Zahedi Muhammadpour (حسین آقا زهدی محمدپور), aged 92, died in the southern city of Ahwaz on June 12, 2016. Permission for burial in the Bahai cemetery in Ahwaz was withheld. Security forces (in Iran, Bahai burials are a “security issue” !) told the family that they should take the body to the town of Hendijan, 200 kilometers to the south. Thus far, the family have no indication who is responsible for barring burial in the Bahai cemetery, except that it is “on orders from above.”

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June 16, 2016

Bahai-run shop in Shiraz closed, owner arrested


Bazdasht, June 16, 2016.

About a month ago, the bridal wear shop of Sara Ekhlaqi (سارا اخلاقی) in Shiraz was closed down, because photographs of women in wedding dresses had been posted to the shop’s Instagram account. These were called ‘obscene images.’ Agents took her Instagram password and used it to post a message on her Instagram account saying, “This account has been blocked for producing and distributing indecent images and instigation to behaviour incompatible with chastity.” The same message was attached to the door of her shop. The agents effectively took the place of the court and judge, deciding what was offensive and punishing her without a warrant or an opportunity for a hearing.

Two days ago, the Muslim holder of the business license [and presumably the owner of the premises] was contacted and told to go to the court with Sara Ekhlaqi, saying, “we have reviewed the case, you have no problems. Come to the court tomorrow for the legal procedure to reopen the shop.” A judge told them there was no problem, but they would have to participate in a “training class.” As the afternoon wore on, the pair had still not emerged. One of Mrs. Ekhlaqi’s neighbours reported that five or six agents posing as servicemen from the Water Department had rung her doorbell to gain admittance to the apartment building. They entered and brought a vehicle into the yard, and then contacted Mrs. Ekhlaqi’s husband to come for a signature for their work [The water company’s work on the appartment? ~ Sen]. When he opened the door, they entered and asked him whether he was a Bahai, and whether his wife was a Bahai. When he said they were, they said, “then your work is going nowhere.” The seized books and CDs relating to the Bahai Faith, poetry books and books on history and psychology, and departed over an hour later, saying that the books would be returned once they had been checked, and that Mrs. Ekhlaqi might be released that day; otherwise he was to contact the court the next day to arrange bail.

The holder of the business license was released that afternoon, and appeared very frightened. The word “Bahai” made his face cloud over. In the evening of the day she was arrested, Mrs. Ekhlaqi was allowed to telephone her husband, but there is no word of where she is being detained. The sources end by noting the polite behaviour of the various agents they dealt with, in the shop and in their home.

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June 14, 2016

Six Bahais in Tabriz acquitted on appeal


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

The Court of Final Review has acquitted six Bahais from Tabriz who were sentenced to one year in prison in May, 2015. They are four members of the Bahadori family, Mr. Farzad Bahadari (فرزاد بهادری) and Mrs. Simin Rasouli (سیمین رسولی) and their children, Sahar ( سحر بهادری ) and Nassim Bahadari (نسیم بهادری ), along with Shabnam Issakhani (شبنم عیسی خانی) and Mrs. Rashin Saberi (راشین صابری). They were arrested following a raid on the Bahadori home in Tabriz on July 12, 2014, by eight agents from the Ministry of Intelligence: five men and three women. The agents seized all the Bahai books and other materials they could find. From the date of their arrest, it is likely that they had gathered to celebrate the “Feast of Kalimat,” which Bahais around the world mark with prayers and readings from scripture. The usual policy of the security forces in Iran is to forbid gatherings of more than six Bahais in private homes, so Bahais in Iran meet only in small groups.

Mrs. Rashin Saberi, who was pregnant, was not arrested at the time of the raid, but was summoned for interrogation. Mrs. Simin Rasouli and Nassim Bahadari were arrested three days after the raid. All those arrested were released on bail in the following two weeks. They were charged with forming an opposition group and propaganda in support of opposition groups. Their trials, before Judge Baqerpour (قاضی باقرپور), extended over nine court sessions, leading to their acquittal on the first charge, and sentences of one year for propaganda in support of opposition groups. This was followed by a first review in June 2015, which confirmed the one-year sentences. This has now been overturned by the Court of Final Review.

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June 10, 2016

Afif Na`imi returned to prison, Adel Na`imi remains in hospital


Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), June 8, 2016.

Afif Na`imi (عفیف نعیمی), one of the seven imprisoned ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), has been transferred from a Coronary Care unit in Tehran to Raja’i Shahr prison, despite his poor condition. He suffers from blood clots and recurrent fainting. He has been imprisoned for 8 years without any prison furlough. His health problems are described as “severe,” and the prison’s Medical Examiner has determined that he is not fit for prison because of his failing health.

His brother Adel Na`imi (عادل نعیمی), another Bahai prisoner in Raja’i Shahr, suffers from diabetes and from low blood pressure, which has worsened. He remains in hospital. He is serving a 10-year sentence for his Bahai beliefs. He was arrested (along with his wife Elham Faramani ( الهام فراهانی )) during wide-spread raids on Bahai homes in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz on July 10, 2012.

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Keyvan Pakzadan still held incommunicado


Bahai News Today (Persian), June 9, 2016.

Keyvan Pakzadan (کیوان پاکزادان), a Bahai from Tehran, who was arrested as he was leaving his sister’s home on June 1, is still being held, without contact with his family. At the time of his arrest, agents not only searched his home and workplace and seized some of his personal effects, they also searched through his sister and brother-in-law’s effects and seized a laptop, flash drives, contracts, a Will, receipts, signed cheques and working notes. A previous report stated that Mr. Pakzadan was allowed to contact his family briefly, and told them that he has been taken to section 209 in Evin Prison, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. This is not confirmed in the present report, but in the days following their son’s arrest, his parents came from the city of Kalaleh, in Gulestan Province, to seek information from the Ministry of Intelligence in Tehran, where Evin Prison is located, but have received no news of the whereabouts of their son. It would appear that their requests for information are being sent to a Court named after the late Moqaddas Ardabili (شهید مقدس اردبیلی), which has not responded. Mr. Pakzadan must therefore be considered to be detained incommunicado, location unknown.

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June 7, 2016

Shamim Ettehadi released from prison


Bahai News (Persian), June 7, 2016.

Shamim Ettehadi (شمیم اتحادی), a Bahai prisoner of conscience, was released from the Central Prison in Yazd today, at the end of his sentence. He was charged with propaganda against the regime, membership of Bahai organisations, insulting officials, spreading lies and having satellite receiving equipment. The charges relate to his supposed responsibility for a 4-minute video documenting the destruction of the Bahai cemetery in Yazd, which was shown on the Persian-language television network Manoto. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison, 74 lashes, a two-year ban on leaving Iran, and a fine of 40 million rials (1200 euros; $US 1600). He was previously arrested in August 2011, along with three other Bahai youths who had gone walking in a mountainous area. On that occasion, he was sentenced to 91 days in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime, which the review court changed to 3 years probation. His mother, Mrs. `Azam Motahari (اعظم مطهری) was summoned to begin serving a one-year sentence in the central prison of Yazd on March 3, 2015, but for reasons that are not clear, it was later reported that she began her sentence on October 6, 2015. Mrs. Motahari is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and participation in Bahai community activities.

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June 6, 2016

Shamim Rouhani on ‘furlough’ (pending exile?)


Bahai News (Persian), June 2016.

Shamim Ruhani (شمیم روحانی), a Bahai prisoner of conscience from Ahvaz (a city in Khuzestan Province, in the Iranian part of the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates), has been granted a 5-day prison furlough after posting a bond of 50 million tumans (14,400 euros; $US 16,400).

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 by the Ministry of Intelligence 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. He began his sentence on
January 11, 2015. This means that he has already completed his sentence: it appears that he has five days’ grace to leave the Province on internal exile. It is not usual to demand a bond for prisoners on furlough (at least, I have never seen it reported). In other cases where a Bahai prisoner is sent into exile, the authorities have simply dumped him beside the road at the Provincial boundary on the last day of imprisonment.

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June 5, 2016

Bahai student expelled from University in Qazvin

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

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

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One new arrest in Tehran


HRANA, June 1, 2016.

On June 1, security forces arrested Keyvan Pakzadan (کیوان پاکزادان), a Bahai from Tehran, as he was leaving his home. The agents also searched his home and seized some of his personal effects. They then took him to his workplace, which they searched, seizing a laptop and some documents. Later in the day, Mr. Pakzadan was allowed to contact his family briefly, and told them that he has been taken to section 209 in Evin Prison, a prison within the prison, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. There was no arrest warrant, and no indication of the reason for his arrest.

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June 1, 2016

Campaign against Bahai businesses in Mazandaran continues

Various sources, late May, 2016.

Gold News reports the closure of four Bahai-run businesses in Babolsar, which had closed on May 28, when Bahais around the world commemorated the Ascension of Baha’u’llah (13 ‘Azamat in the Bahai calendar). The managers are named as Mr. Mithaq Leqa’i (میثاق لقایی), Farshid Hikmat Sho`ar (فرشید حکمت شعار), Peyman Sahand (پیمان سهند) and Shahin Sana’i (شاهین سنایی).

Gold News also reports the closure of one Bahai-run business in Babol, a stationary shop run by Mr. Baha’ul-Din Samimi (بهاالدین صمیمی).

Bahai News reports that the former employees of the Bureau of Public Places in the city of Qaemshahr, who allowed Bahai businesses there to re-open, have received threats from the Bureau’s Provincial Office, including even death threats. Bahai News states that an agent from the Ministry of Intelligence, who uses the name of “Ansar al-Husseini” (انصار حسینی; Companion of Imam Husayn), is personally responsible for maintaining records for the Bahais and has fabricated cases against them on charges such as “smuggling.”

Meanwhile the Bahais concerned have been told by the Bureau of Public Places that if they want to open their businesses, they should ask the (Universal) House of Justice (in Israel). This refers to recent claims in the state-sponsored Iranian media that Bahais obey the instructions of the House of Justice rather than those of the government in Iran, and calling the Bahai community “a state within the State.” In fact, just the opposite is true: the Bahai teachings specify that the Bahais “in whatever country they reside, … will, unhesitatingly, subordinate the operation of [Bahai] laws and the application of [Bahai] principles to the requirements and legal enactments of their respective governments. Theirs is not the purpose, … to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country’s constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their administration to supersede the government of their respective countries.” (Source). Far from aiming to be a state within the State, the Bahais are fully committed to the separation of the institutions of religion from politics, and this is one reason for their persecution by the theocratic order in Iran. “Go ask the House of Justice” apparently means that the authorities have no intention of allowing Bahai businesses to re-open. Security officials have also told the Bahais that they will be dealt with under the law (which allows them to close their shops for up to 15 days per year, see Article 28.b of the Code of Trades Guilds); that their business have been closed down because they did not open on Bahai Holy Days, which amounts to “teaching the Bahai Faith;” and that their cases would be referred to the Revolutionary Court for prosecution.

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

May 30, 2016

Afif Na`imi transferred from prison to hospital


Bahai News (Persian), May 29, 2016.

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

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

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

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

May 29, 2016

Nateq Na’imi begins 10-day prison leave


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

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

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May 24, 2016

28 Bahai businesses closed down in Urumiyyeh

Bahai News (Persian), May 24, 2016.

Agents from the Bureau of Public Places in Urumiyyeh (aka Urmia or Orumiyeh) have closed down at least 28 Bahai-run businesses. Ten days ago, the Bahais were told they had 10 days to shut down their businesses. The Bahais pursued the matter but were not able to learn any reason for the closures, having enquired with the local Burea of Public Places and the provincial government and Ministry of Intelligence in Urumiyyeh, although the Bureau of Public Places had originally said that the Ministry of Intelligence had ordered the closures. The Bahais have heard unofficially that it relates to the Bahai Holy Days, when the Bahai-run businesses shut.

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

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

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

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May 23, 2016

Iranian media publish list of Bahai businesses for boycotting and closure

Oweis, May 18, 2016.

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

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

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

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May 22, 2016

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

Gold News (Persian), May 21, 2016.

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

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

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

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

May 21, 2016

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

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

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

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

Faezeh Hashemi previously shared a prison cell with Kamalabadi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bad Timing for Hashemi Rafsanjani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discrimination Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

Flurry of Criticism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faezeh Hashemi has also been criticized by the Rouhani administration.

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

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

No Regrets

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

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

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

Legal Loophole

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

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

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

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

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

May 20, 2016

Two Bahai students expelled and two businesses closed in Kashan

Bahai News (Persian), May 18, 2016.

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

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

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

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May 18, 2016

Imprisoned Bahais in Yazd denied furlough

HRANA, May 18, 2016.

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

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May 17, 2016

Bahai-run business told to close in Urumiyyeh

Bahai News (Persian), May 17, 2016.

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

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May 14, 2016

Nine Bahai businesses allowed to reopen

Bahai News (Persian), May 11, 2016.

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

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

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May 10, 2016

Fariba Kamalabadi begins five-day prison furlough


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 6, 2016

Bahai businesses closed down in Isfahan

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

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

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