Sen's daily

April 14, 2014

Bishop of Coventry welcomes Ayatollah Tehrani’s symbolic gesture


Church of England news site, April 9, 2014

The Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, has described as a ‘courageous step’, the decision by a prominent Muslim cleric in Iran to gift to the Bahai community an important religious art work, as a sign of support. Bishop Cocksworth, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop in the Lords on foreign policy, said:
“I’m heartened to learn of the recent decision by Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani to gift to the Bahais an illuminated calligraphic work from the Writings of Baha’u’llah…. Given the systemic and long standing suffering experienced by the Baha’i community in Iran, this is an imaginatively courageous step by a senior Iranian Islamic scholar.”

Bishop Christopher, who is also a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human rights and International Religious Freedom, added: “Ayatollah Tehrani’s action reminds us all that despite the dehumanising nature of many of today’s conflicts, religious leaders have a shared responsibility to encourage freedom of religion and belief and to foster a deeper respect for human dignity. I very much hope and pray that this generous gift will assist in the flourishing of a culture of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence in Iran.”

Text in Persian (Mohabat News)

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

March 25, 2014

Leva Khanjani given prison furlough

Archive photo


Iran Green Voice, March 25, 2014

Leva Khanjani ( لواء خانجانی ), a Bahai serving a two-year sentence in Evin prison, has been granted furlough for Naw Ruz. Leva Khanjani is a student excluded from education because of her Bahai beliefs. She was arrested on January 3, 2010, along with her husband Babak Mobasher, on the pretext that they had participated in street protests following the 2009 elections.

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

March 17, 2014

One arrest in Shiraz


Radio Sahrvand (web site), March 17, 2014

Yekta Fahandezh (یکتا فهندژ), a Bahai from Shiraz, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on March 16. The agents searched her home and seized books, a laptop and personal effects. She was transferred to Detention Facility 100 in Shiraz, and was allowed to meet her husband on March 17. In February 2012, Yekta was arrested and spent 83 days in Detention Facility 100. She was released on bail and later charged with propaganda against the regime.

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

Second Bahai student expelled from Mazandaran University


PCED, March 13, 2014

It was previously reported that Setayash Asadi (ستایش اسدی), a Bahai studying Tourism Management at the Babolsar campus of the University of Mazandaran, has been expelled because of her religious beliefs. The PCED reports that Sama Hashemi (سما هاشمی), a student of management at the same campus, was also expelled, for the same reason: “religious minorities are not entitled to tertiary education.”

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

March 15, 2014

Student expelled from Mazandaran University for being a Bahai


HRANA, March 12, 2014

Setayash Asadi (ستایش اسدی), a Bahai studying Tourism Management at the Babolsar campus of the University of Mazandaran, has been expelled because of her religious beliefs. She was admitted in the current academic year, and expelled in the middle of the second semester, after gaining 19 university credits. A HRANA reporter was told that, after her student web page was closed, she was referred to the Office of Education and told that “religious minorities are not entitled to tertiary education.”

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

March 3, 2014

Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi: “Equal Rights for the Bahais and the Jews are Against Islam”


Iran Wire, March 3

In a speech to seminary students and teachers, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, an influential hardliner in the Iranian regime, stated “Some have come forward with a plan for citizenship rights and want to give equal rights to the Bahais and the Jews and the Muslims and… We can never accept this.” There was no doubt that he was referring to the Draft Citizenship Rights Charter presented by Rouhani’s administration last November.

Yazdi’s ire was directed at the principle that all citizens are equal under the law. “All Iranian citizens, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, wealth, social class, race, etc, enjoy citizenship rights and the foreseen guarantees in rules and regulations,” declares the draft charter’s first article. The sentence does not include the term “religion,” probably intentionally, but the “etc.” leaves a lot of room for speculation. Hardliners have been quick to speculate, especially when it comes to the Bahai community, which has been harassed relentlessly since the Islamic Revolution.

“The standard is always Islam,” Yazdi told the theological school students. “Western human rights and citizenship rights, meaning equality between Muslims and Bahais, has no relation to Islam. These rights, as described by the West, utterly go against Islam, the constitution and the way of Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini]. The people of this country, who have suffered hardships and have given so many martyrs, would not accept anything that goes against Islam. Of course, even those who are not Muslims must be respected. They have rights, which Islam recognizes.”

Second-Class Citizenship

Ayatollah Yazdi says that religious inequality is acceptable. “Islam never considers a Jew and a Muslim as equals,” he said. “Even though Islam has conferred certain rights to Jews, this does not mean that they are equals in every right. Sometimes this is called ‘second-class citizenship’. They can call it whatever they want, but it does not change the reality.”

Here, Bahais are conspicuous by their absence. Whereas in pronouncements condemning “equality,” Bahais were included [if only to be excluded ~Sen], when it came to “rights” they were not mentioned – not as second-class citizens, not even as third-class citizens. Not at all.

Human rights activists and liberal commentators have been critical of the rights charter for a number of reasons, labeling it “elegant but useless” and a “hodgepodge of things,” but Yazdi sees the charter as anti-Islamic both in word and in spirit.

The spirit, of course, comes from the people who wrote the draft under orders from Rouhani. Addressing the students, Yazdi asserted that those who promote citizenship rights are wrong about Islam and wrong about the history of the Islamic Republic. When citizenship rights supporters cite Ayatollah Khomeini’s respect for democratic practices such as the right to vote, they are misconstruing his words. They believe Khomeini “was a political figure and a national hero who opposed the previous regime because it was harmful for the country and wanted to establish a system which would be more beneficial to people.” But, according to Yazdi, this is simply untrue. “People who think like this are secular and, in their view, good and evil consist of material things,” he said, adding that, for these people, “evil is material backwardness and the absence of well-being, while good is using technology and providing a good life for everybody. They believe religion is something marginal, a fantasy.”

Islam was absolutely central to Khomeini’s thinking, Yazdi said. “When he said that society was facing a great danger, he meant a great danger for Islam. This was something that was not important to many politicians.”

Are the people who want equal rights for all citizens enemies of Islam? asked one student. “They are not really enemies of Islam,” he answered, “but this is how they see the world, especially if the person is educated in England or some other place like that, because in those places they talk of human rights, citizenship rights and other rights with such reverence that gradually the student comes to consider them as the most important issue.” He added that, although he was 80 years old, it would still be possible for him to fall under the influence of Western rhetoric if he travelled to one of these countries. So it was logical to assume a “young person who has no deep understanding of Islamic principles” to be particularly vulnerable to influence.

Full report
Persian report

Contrasting views of Ayatollah Masumi Tehrani

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

February 21, 2014

Bahai homes raided in Yazd

PCED, February 21

On February 19, police carrying search warrants raided the homes of Rostam Behifarr, Ramin Hosuri, Majid Qane`, Mehran Basiri and Mehran Bandi (رستم بهی فر، رامین حصوری، مجید قانع، مهران بصیری و مهران بندی). They seized some personal effects, books and computers, but did not arrest anyone.

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

February 19, 2014

Iranian MP claims Bahai community spy for Israel and US

Jerusalem Post, February 19, 2014

Ahmad Salek, chairman of Iran’s parliamentary cultural commission, on Tuesday accused his country’s Baha’i community of spying for Israel and the United States. “I declare very explicitly that Baha’ism is an espionage organization which gathers intelligence for the CIA and Mossad, and there are abundant documents to prove this,” the Fars news agency quoted Salek saying.

Fars, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard, reported in the same article comments that Iran’s then-prosecutor-general Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi made in 2009: “We [as the state] offer a variety of services to the Baha’i sect in Iran and respect them as human beings, but not as insiders, spies, or a political grouplet supported by Britain and Israel to cause disturbance in Iran.” (more…)

February 17, 2014

Two Bahai businesses closed in Karaj

HRANA, February 17

On the morning of February 16, a business owned by two Bahais, Saman and Badi`i Ashkar (سامان بدیعی و اشکان بدیعی ), was closed by the local authorities of Karaj, and their business licence was revoked. The action was taken because of their religious beliefs, and flimsy pretexts.

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

February 12, 2014

Ma’udi family recuperating well


Radio Yekjahan (facebook report), February 12

The condition of ‘Azam Ma’udi (اعظم مودی) is reported to have improved, and she is expected to be discharged from hospital tomorrow. She was stabbed, along with her parents, in an attack on her parents’ home in Birjand on February 3. Her parents were discharged from hospital today, and are in good health.

Update, February 18:

In a facebook posting,Azam Ma’udi expresses her thanks for the support and prayers of the friends. By all appearances, they are now in good health.

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

February 11, 2014

Prayers requested for `Azam Mavadi


Radio Yakjahan (facebook report), February 11, 2014

‘Azam Mavadi (اعظم مودی), who was stabbed in the chest during an apparently religiously-motivated attack on her parents’ home in Birjand on February 3, is reported to be in a serious condition. Prayers are requested.

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

February 6, 2014

Murder with impunity in Miandoab


HRANA, February 5, 2014

10 months after the murder of Sa’idullah Aqdasi (سعیداله اقدسی) in Miandoab, the security forces have still not taken any steps to apprehend the murderers. Mr. Aqdasi, an 83-year-old Bahai was found dead in his home on April 23, 2013. It appeared that his hands and feet had been bound with rope, and he had been killed by seven blows from a sharp object. The coroner determined that he had been killed three days earlier, that is, on April 21st, an important Bahai festival, that the door had been forcibly entered, and that nothing was stolen. A relative said that the house was full of blood, indicating that Mr. Aqdasi was alive when the seven blows were struck. His body was sent to the Coroner in Urumiyyeh, who stated that the Coroner’s office could not obtain a lawyer [a detective to deal with the case], since the officer responsible for Bahai cases was not present. Ten months have now passed, but no steps have been taken to investigate the murder.

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

February 5, 2014

Home invasion: 3 stabbed in Birjand


HRANA, February 5, 2014

In Birjand, a provincial capital close to Iran’s border with Afghanistan, a masked individual has entered the home of a Bahai family and brutally stabbed three of them. The attack occurred on February 3. Mr. Qodratullah Mu’adda (قدرت الله مودی) was stabbed in the abdomen and side, Mrs. Tubi Mu’adda (طوبی مودی) in the neck, close to the jugular vein, and ‘Azam Mu’adda (اعظم مودی) was stabbed in the chest. The assailant left the house without making any attempt to steal anything. Mr. and Mrs. Mu’adda are a middle-aged couple, living alone. Their daughter, who lives in Tehran, had arrived that morning on a visit.

Update, February 7: The Bahai World News Service states that the family name is pronounced Mavadi rather than Mu’adda (the two words are spelt in the same in Persian), and that all three are in intensive care in hospital. Mr. Mavadi is a leading figure in the Bahai community in Birjand, and the BWNS concludes that this was religiously-inspired hate crime. ““The sad fact is that there have been more than 50 physical assaults on Iranian Baha’is since 2005 – and none of the attackers has been prosecuted or otherwise brought to justice. And at least nine Baha’is have been murdered under suspicious circumstances in the same period, and the murderers have likewise enjoyed impunity.”

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

February 3, 2014

Another student expelled for Bahai beliefs


HRANA, February 3, 2014

Farshad Farzan (فرشاد فرزان), a student at the Shahid Bahonar school of engineering and technology in Shiraz, has been expelled because of his Bahai beliefs. He began a course in business accounting at the university in October 2011 and earned a preparatory qualification. He was then admitted to the Bachelor’s degree course, but was expelled on January 21, 2014, after completing one semester of study, because of his Bahai beliefs. He was not only denied further study, the university credits he had earned in his first semester were denied to him.

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

January 30, 2014

Universal House of Justice writes to Bahai youth in Iran

Editorial, January 30, 2014

A year after a chain of Bahai youth conferences were held around the world — in which the Bahai youth in Iran could not participate — the Universal House of Justice has released a message to Bahai youth living in Iran (English text here).

I have also placed the Persian text in the documents archive of my Bahai studies blog, as text and in PDF format. The PDF may not display correctly in Firefox, but works in Explorer.

[پیام بیت العدل اعظم الهی خطاب به جوانان بهائی ایران]

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

January 29, 2014

Sarang Ettehadi sentenced without trial: 5 years


Khodnevis, January 29, 2014

Sarang Ettehadi, a Bahai from Tehran, has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “membership in Bahai institutions.” An unusual aspect of the sentence is that Mr. Ettehadi had already been pardoned, and that the sentence was issued three days before the trial — which functioned only to inform the accused of his sentence.

Mr. Ettehadi was arrested was arrested in Tehran on June 27, 2012, in a wave of arrests in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz that netted almost 20 Bahais. He was among those pardoned for the Eid al-Fitr on August 15, 2012. Mr Ettehadi has written his own account of his conviction and sentencing, which has been translated by Dr. Nizam Missaghi:

On January 15, 2014, I appeared in the Revolutionary Court to meet the judge as ordered. However, upon my arrival, the Judge’s assistant, Mojtaba, told me that there would be no hearing for me on that day and that my sentence had already been issued in absentia three days prior to the scheduled court date. I reviewed the court document in disbelief and learned that I had been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “membership in Bahá’í institutions.”

My sentence was issued in absentia on January 12, 2014. However, my court date had initially been communicated as January 8 and had been postponed by the court to January 15, the date when I appeared in court. My attorney objected to the sentencing prior to the court date in absentia and insisted that we meet with the judge. After the urging of my counsel, we briefly met with the judge, who, without any hesitation or reasoning, re-read the same sentence to us and confirmed it had been issued.

It is noteworthy that my initial charge had been “propaganda against the regime,” which carries a maximum one-year prison sentence. However, the judge had illegally annexed another charge to my file prior to issuing the five-year sentence as follows: “membership in an illegal organization in order to disturb national security.” The judge addressed me directly and said, “you participated in prayer gatherings and religious rituals with other Bahá’ís, which constitutes an organized and illegal activity.” However, I responded, the Iranian Constitution clearly protects the rights of religious minorities to assembly and worship. When I asked the judge to explain how saying prayers with friends would constitute “propaganda against the regime” or could “disturb national security,” he responded matter-of-factly, “the assembly of even two or three people is an organized activity and is against the law!”

Unfortunately, legal due process in Iran is lamentably defective. Minorities, ethnic or religious, and dissidents are typically at the mercy of a judge who can add to their charges as he wishes, choose to not communicate a change in the defendant’s court date, and sentence the defendant in absentia without proper time allotted for the defense to respond or even know of the charges. The sentencing and the outcome, by and large, are forgone conclusions, and the hearing, if it actually takes place, is nothing but a formality reminiscent of a show trial. The longer such defective judicial system is in place, the more lives will be ruined, youth will be lost, trust will be replaced with despair, and the future of our glorious Iran will be overshadowed with injustice.

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

January 28, 2014

Punished for complaining: Hadjabr Firuzeyan begins his sentence


HRANA, January 26, 2014

On January 25, Hadjabr Firuzeyan (هژبر فیروزیان) reported to Semnan prison to begin serving a 40-day sentence. He is the father of Golrokh and Shidrokh Firuzeyan (شیدرخ و گلرخ فیروزیان), who began serving 6-month sentences in Semnan prison on January 8, 2014. His name has also been reported as Hadjir Firuzeyan (هژیر فیروزیان) and on this blog as Hadjbar Firuzeyan. He complained of the physical abuse of Golrokh by a Ministry of Intelligence interrogator. During one of her interrogations, the interrogators were harsh. One interrogator stood behind her and pulled her against the back of the chair, leaving her with severe back pains and a bleeding nose. Mr. Firuzeyan informed the officer handling the case, the Prosecutor and the Chief Justice. When there was no response from them, he wrote to the President of Iran, detailing the treatment of his daughter, and also tried to present this letter to the President when he was visiting Semnan. [From the dates, it would appear this refers to President Rouhani, who promised that human rights would be respected in Iran but has not been able to improve the situation at all.] Mr. Firuzeyan was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence and held in solitary confinement for some time. He was later fined 12 million rials (350 euros, $US 480), which was confirmed on appeal, for defaming the head of the Semnan office of the Ministry of Intelligence, Mohammad Reza Hashemian (محمد رضا هاشمیان). He has chosen to serve 40 days in prison rather than pay the fine.

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

January 23, 2014

Burial of Bahais in Tabriz hindered by officials

HRANA, January 23, 2014

Since July, 2011, officials have been preventing the Bahais of Tabriz from washing the bodies of their loved ones, and from using coffins in their burial. Following the death of Fatemeh Zara’i (فاطمه سلطان زارعی), officials at the Wadi Rahmat cemetery in Tabriz announced that it was not permissible to wash the body, or to use a coffin for her burial — both of which are part of Bahai burial practices — and that they would not allow her to be buried. This is despite the fact that the Bahais shared in the cost of construction and maintenance of the cemetery, and had previously been buried there alongside others, without any problems. The Bahais of Tabriz have sought redress with officials at all levels, including the Municipality, the Friday Prayer leader, the cemetery’s administrators, the committee for sects and religions, the Mayor, the office of the Supreme Leader, the President of the IRI and members of parliament, but all have refused to consider the matter.

Following the death of one young Bahai, Sabet Muhammadi (ثابت محمدی), his family was told they should hand over his body, and that a burial place would be found by noon, [thus denying the family an opportunity to wash and prepare the body according to Bahai law.] In 11 previous cases, bodies were buried without being washed, and without coffins, in the town of Miandoab, about 160 km south of Tabriz. Bahai teachings do not allow either moving a body long distances for burial (more than one hour’s travel), or burying the body of a Bahai in ways contrary to the Bahai burial rites.

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

January 12, 2014

Three Bahais begin their sentences in Semnan

HRANA, January 10, 2014

Ardeshir Fena’eyan (اردشیر فناییان) Golrokh Firuzeyan ( گلرخ فیروزیان ) and Shidrokh Firuzeyan ( شیدرخ فیروزیان ) were arrested on January 8, without prior warning, to begin serving their sentences in Semnan prison. The Firuzeyan sisters face 6 month sentences, and were arrested in their home, while Mr. Fenayan faces an eight-month sentence. He was arrested in the street. All three were tried on August 21, 2013. They were charged with various offenses, but eventually sentenced for “propaganda against the regime.”

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

Three Bahai women free on parole


RAHANA, January 11, 2014

Elham Ruzbehi (الهام روزبهی) and her baby have been released from Isfahan prison on January 8, while Negar Mulkzadeh and Behnaz Hodadzadeh (نگار ملک‌زاده و بهناز حدادزاده) have been freed from Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad. Elham Ruzbehi, a Bahai from Isfahan who began serving her 2 year sentence with her baby on April 27, 2013, in Semnan prison, and was later transferred to Isfahan prison, has been released on parole. Negar Mulkzadeh and Behnaz Hodadzadeh were among 10 Baha’i arrested in connection with a handicraft exhibition in Mashhad. They were sentenced to 6 months in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime, and entered Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on November 17, 2013. They too have been freed on parole.

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

Emanullah Mostaqim hospitalized


PCED, January 10, 2014

On January 8, Emanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ), one of the staff of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran who was serving a 5-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, suffered a sudden heart complaint and was taken to Imam Khomeini hospital in Tehran.
Mr. Mostaqim also suffers from diabetes, and doctors have said that he should be under treatment in a hospital specialising in heart disease. He had an open-heart operation not long before his arrest in May 2011, and has been hospitalised several times since he was imprisoned. The forensic doctor has stated that his physical condition is such that he should not be in prison. On September 4, 2013, he was granted leave from prison on medical grounds. It is not clear from this report whether he had since returned to prison, or was still on leave when his condition required him to be hospitalised on January 8.

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

January 1, 2014

Bahai student expelled from Semnan University

PCED, December 29, 2013

Two years ago, Nilisa Yahyahvi ( نیلیسا یحیوی ), a graduate in Persian language and culture, was barred from university studies with the excuse “file incomplete” — a euphemism used to disguise religious discrimination in Iran’s education system. In this academic year she again applied, and was admitted to a Master’s course at Semnan University. She attended classes until one week before her expulsion, when university officials asked for her BA diploma and a few day later, contacted her by telephone to ask some questions about her religious beliefs. She was then told that she was barred from further study at the University.

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

Iran’s Minister of Intelligence to present plan for dealing with Bahais

FARS news agency, December 21, 2013

A spokesman for the “Article 90″ committee in Iran’s parliamentary system has stated that the Minister of Intelligence will present a report to the committee on ways of dealing with “deviant sects” — a term usually referring to Bahais and sometimes to Sunni Muslims. The Minister will discuss ongoing correspondence between the Minister and the committee, and UN resolutions relating to human rights in Iran.

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

December 16, 2013

Three Bahai women and two babies freed from Semnan prison


HRANA, December 11, 2013

Zohreh Nik-A’in ( زهره نیک آئین ) who has been in prison in Semnan along with her baby, was released on parole on December 4. A week later, Anisa Fana’ayan ( انیسا فناییان ) and Taraneh Torabi ( ترانه ترابی ), also imprisoned in Semnan (the latter accompanied by her baby), were released on parole. Zohreh Nik-A’in was sentenced to 23 months in prison by the revolutionary court of Semnan on June 22, 2012. She began her sentence on September 24, 2012. Anisa Fana’ayan was originally sentenced to 4 years and 4 months, reduced to 22 months on October 14, 2012. She began her sentence on January 12, 2013. Taraneh Torabi was arrested on February 20, 2011, and sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison on charges of “setting up and running an illegal group” on February 23, 2012. This was reduced to 20 months on July 1, 2012. She began her sentence, accompanied by Barman Ehsani ( بارمان احسانی ), aged six months, on September 24, 2012. On December 26, Barman was taken to hospital suffering from a severe lung infection. Late in 2012, the women’s block at Semnan prison was reported to contain 70 prisoners and a number of babies, crowded into 50 square meters, which did not allow enough beds for all prisoners.

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

Bahai cemetery destroyed in Sanandaj

HRANA, December 14, 2013

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

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

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

December 8, 2013

Three Bahais sentenced in Yazd

HRANA, December 8, 2013

Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), Shabnam Mottahed (شبنم متحد) and Iman Rashidi (ایمان رشیدی), who were tried in Yazd on August 24, 2013, have been informed of their sentences. Fariba Ashtari and Shabnam Mottahed received 3-year sentences and Iman Rashidi was sentenced to 4 years in prison. These sentences are subject to review. All three were arrested on July 31, 2012, as part of a wave of arrests of Bahais in Isfahan, Shahin Shahr (a city in Isfahan province), Vila Shahr (on the outskirts of Najafabad, also in Isfahan province) and in Yazd.

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

December 1, 2013

Bahai businesses in Gorgan targetted by false flag flyposters

HRANA, December 1, 2013

In the city of Gorgan (the former Asterabad, in the North East of Iran), unidentified persons have been putting up posters on the homes and business premises of Bahais. The posters contain citations from the Bahai teachings, and typically Bahai pictures, so as to give the impression that the Bahais have put them up advertise their faith. On the morning of November 28, just as one of the Bahai shopkeepers arrived at his shop and found one of these posters on his window, officers from the local government body that supervises public places and businesses also arrived. They closed his business down for propagating the Bahai Faith. It was not re-opened until November 30.

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

Leva Khanjani returns to Evin Prison


HRANA, November 30, 2013

Leva Khanjani ( لواء خانجانی ), who has been on furlough from Evin Prison since July 10, 2013 (her release escaped the attention of Sen’s Daily), has returned to prison to resume serving her two-year sentence. Leva Khanjani is a student excluded from education because of her Bahai beliefs. She was arrested on January 3, 2010, along with her husband Babak Mobasher, on the pretext that they had participated in street protests following the 2009 elections.

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

Another Bahai home raided in Mashhad

HRANA, November 30, 2013

On November 29, the day on which Manuchher Khalasi ( منوچهر خلوصی) was arrested in Mashhad, security forces went to the home of Fares Daneshgeri ( فارس دانشگری ) in Mashhad with arrest warrants for Mr. Daneshgeri, who was not at home, and for his father, who was present. The agents left, without arresting Mr. Daneshgeri’s father, who was told that he would be arrested “another time.”

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

November 30, 2013

One arrest in Mashhad


Azadi Qalam blog, November 29, 2013

On the morning of Friday, November 29, five plainclothes officers from the Ministry of Intelligence arrived at to the home of Manuchher Khalasi ( منوچهر خلوصی), which also serves as his workplace and as the home of his father and stepmother. They searched the premises thoroughly, abd seized computers, laptops and religious books and prayer books belonging to the whole family. The agents did not have a search warrant, but did have an arrest warrant for Mr. Khalasi, which did not indicate the reason for his arrest, although this is required by law. His family were not told why he was being arrested. In 1999, Mr. Khalasi was sentenced to death for being a Bahai. This exceptionally heavy sentence was later overturned, and he was sentenced to one year in prison, by which time he had already served 19 months in prison.

Two girls from the same family, Nika and Nava Khalusi (نیکا و نوا خلوصی ), have been sentenced to six years and 4 and a half years in prison, 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 are free on bail pending a review of their sentences by the review court.

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

November 28, 2013

After 3 weeks’ detention, still no contact with Shamim Ruhani


صد نامه تا آزادی (blog), November 28, 2013

On November 5 agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Ahvaz searched the home of Shamim Ruhani ( شمیم روحانی ) and seized religious books, personal documents, a mobile telephone and a computer. They took Mr. Ruhani and a number of Bahais who were present in his home away. All the detainees except for Mr. Ruhani were released on November 8. More than three weeks have passed, but it is still not known where Mr. Ruhani is being held, or why he was arrested. Despite the efforts of his wife Mina Ruhani-Karimi (مینا روحانی – کریمی) to find out how he is, there has been no news, no telephone contact and no meeting with his family. At one time she was told he would be released on bail, but when she returned she was told the judge had denied bail.

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

November 27, 2013

Bahai student expelled in Shiraz


PCED, November 27, 2013

Azita Momtaz ( آزیتا ممتاز ) a student of Industrial Management at Zand University in Shiraz has been expelled for her Bahai beliefs, after gaining 92 study credits. The university authorities stated that her expulsion had been ordered by the Ministry of Intelligence and “the powers that be.” She has also been denied all forms of certification for the results of her three years of study, and for her preparatory studies. Following the election of President Rouhani, the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology announced that students who have been expelled from the country’s universities in recent years could be reinstated, none of the Bahai students who have been expelled, or barred from beginning with the excuse that their files were incomplete, have had their rights reinstated.

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

‘Unclean’ — Iran’s Outcast Baha’i Minority

Huffington Post blog, November 26, 2013

Anthony Vance, Director of Public Affairs for the Baha’is of the United States, has an excellent article on Huffington Post about the Iranian Shiah concept that Bahais (and others) are unclean, and that contact with them is to be avoided. It’s a point I’ve made several times on this blog, but Vance does it better, and has some documentation on the economic sectors that are forbidden to Bahais that I have not seen before:

The concept of ritual uncleanliness is an old one embedded in several major religious traditions, including Islam and Judaism. It is still accepted by many religious Iranian Muslims today. The Iranian Government has even taken legal steps to make sure that it applies to the occupations in which Baha’is may work. In a letter dated April 9, 2007, from the Public Places Supervision Office of the Public Intelligence and Security Force in the province of Tehran, addressed to the regional commanders of police and the heads of public intelligence and security forces, instructions were issued to prevent Baha’is from engaging in a wide range of businesses including “high-earning businesses.” The letter also prohibits Baha’is from receiving permits in 25 “sensitive business categories” and trades ranging from the tourist industry to computer sales, publishing, and a wide range of food businesses. With respect to the latter, the letter provides: “In accordance with the religious canons, work permits will not be issued to the followers of the perverse Bahaist sect in business categories related to Taharat [cleanliness]:
1. catering at reception halls,
2. buffets and restaurants,
3. grocery shops,
4. kebab shops,
5. cafes,
6. protein [poultry] shops and supermarkets,
7. ice cream parlors, fruit juice and soft drinks shops,
8. pastry shops,
9. coffee shops.” (italics added)

Related Posts
Signs of hope for Bahais in Iran
Ayatollah Masumi Tehrani speaks with, and for, the Bahais
Mohammad Nourizad calls for mass rejection of the ‘unclean’ superstition
Former Rector of Tehran University apologises
Demonstrative rejection of anti-Bahaism from Mohammad Nourizad
`Adnan Rahmat-Penah’s trial again a farce

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

November 25, 2013

Keyvan Dehqani begins his sentence in Mashhad


HRANA, November 25, 2013

Keyvan Dehqani ( کیوان دهقانی ), a Bahai from Isfahan, was taken to Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on November 14, to begin serving his sentence. In September 2012 the review court for the Province of Khorasan sentenced him to 6 months in prison. He was arrested at a Bahai celebration — the Feast of Rahmat — in Isfahan on July 12, 2011 and was taken to the Ministry of Intelligence branch in Mashhad. He was initially sentenced to 18 months in prison, on charges of propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith. The review court reduced this sentence to six months.

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

November 24, 2013

Analysis of evidence regarding the killing of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani


HRANA, November 23, 2013

Three months after the execution-style killing of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), a well-known member of the Baha’i community in Bandar Abbas, HRANA has published a detailed analysis in Persian of the information available thus far, by Dr. Arya Haghgoo (دکتر آریا حق گو) of Washington. This appears to be the pseudonym of an activist journalist for whom I cannot vouch, but the analysis appears credible and HRANA has a very good record in checking its sources. Despite mounting scientific evidence to the contrary, the local police continue to label the incident a “suicide” and have refused to open an investigation. The analysis focuses on that point, and concludes that Mr. Rezvani was most probably not sitting in his car when he was shot, by a pistol to the right temple at fairly close range. This conclusion is based on the lack of scattered remains on the headrest and in the back of the car, where the exit point of the bullet would have been had he been sitting in the vehicle. Contrary to previous reports, the bullet entered from the front and exited from the back of his head. Further, the murder weapon has not been found: it is not probably that someone could shoot themselves through the head, successfully conceal the weapon, and climb into a car before dying. Another interesting point in the analysis is that his cell phone has disappeared. It appears that Mr Rezvani received a telephone call on the night of his murder and responded to it. A young Afghan man who witnessed his receiving this call has also disappeared. These facts suggest that his murderer was afraid of being caught, which in the Iranian situation is significant. In the past those who murdered a Bahai have been so confident of immunity that they have even gone to the police while still covered in blood, and have indeed been acquitted.

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

November 18, 2013

Five Bahais begin their sentences in Mashhad


HRANA, November 17, 2013

On the morning of November 17, five Bahais from Mashhad reported to the authorities in response to sumonses, and were taken to Vakil Abad prison to begin serving their sentences. Their names are Their names are Negar Mulkzadeh ( نگار ملک زاده ), Houriyyeh Mohsani (حوریه محسنی), Negin Ahmadiyan ( نگین احمدیان ), Behnaz Hodadzadeh ( بهناز حداد‌زاده ) and Arman Mukhtari ( آرمان مختاری ). They were charged with propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith, and these sentences were confirmed by the court of review for Khorasan Province in October. Houriyyeh Mohsani and Negin Ahmadiyan, who were also fined 300 thousand tumans (90 euros, US$120), have had that fine converted to imprisonment at the rate of 30,000 tumans to one day in prison, so that their sentences will be 10 days longer. There are now 12 Bahais imprisoned in Vakil Abad prison.

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

November 15, 2013

Another Bahai business closed in Tonekabon

HRANA, November 14, 2013

On November 12, security forces closed the business of three Bahais in Nashtarud, Tonekabon county, until further notice. This is the second such closure in a month. The names of the Bahais involved in the business this time are Armeen and Michel Esma`ilour and Badi`ullah Abu-al-Fasli ( آرمین اسماعیل پور، میشل اسماعیل پور و بدیع الله ابوالفضلی ). They had previously been summoned and interrogated several times.

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

November 12, 2013

Three arrests in Mashhad in August, no news since

HRANA, August 14, 2013

On August 13, 2013, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence made three arrests which went unreported on Sen’s Daily. The agents raided the home of Fataneh Nabilzadeh-Saraf in Mashhad, where a number of young Bahais who have been barred from higher education were receiving instruction in preparation for classes from the Bahai Open University (BIHE). They arrested Mrs. Nabilzadeh along with Peyman Saraf and Dianne Timuri ( پیمان صراف و دایان تیموری ). I have found no reports of what has happened to them since.

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

November 11, 2013

Nahid Qadiri released early on parole


HRANA, November 11, 2013

Nahid Qadiri ( ناهید قدیری ), a Bahai from Mashhad, has been granted conditional release (on parole) from Vakil Abad prison. She has served 3 years and 9 months of a 5-year sentence. For the past several years, no Bahai prisoners in Mashhad prisons have been granted parole, because there was no agreement as to who was responsible for their files. Seven other Bahais remain imprisoned in Valik Abad prison. Nahid Qadiri was arrested on March 15, 2010 and sentenced to five year in prison. According to one report, she was sentenced to another five years in prison on June 28, 2010, but I have not been able to confirm this.

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

Several detentions and one arrest in Ahwaz


HRANA, November 11, 2013

Shamim Ruhani ( شمیم روحانی ), a Bahai from Ahvaz (a city in the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates) was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on November 5. The agents searched his home and seized religious books, personal documents, a mobile telephone and a computer. They took Mr. Ruhani and a number of Bahais who were present in his home away. All the detainees except for Mr. Ruhani were released three days later. It is not known where Mr. Ruhani is being held. During this period Mr. Ruhani’s wife, Mina Ruhani-Karimi (مینا روحانی – کریمی), has been summoned and questioned several times.

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


November 5, 2013

In the women’s wing at Evin: conditions have improved, but no leave for the Bahais

Rooz Online, November 3, 2013

Rooz Online has published an English translation of an article by the husband of one of the prisoners of conscience in Evin prison, Tehran. There are 21 women in the prisoner of conscience section, half the number that was normal until recently. This is partly because of transfers, and partly due to the release of prisoners held in connection with the post-election protests of 2009 or because they were affiliated with the “Green’ (democratic) movement. Many of the women prisoners who remain were charged with supporting the People’s Mojahedin organization, the MKO, and there is a group of Bahai women. Mahvash Shahreyari-Sabet (مهوش ثابت-شهریاری ) and Fariba Kamalabadi (فریبا کمال آبادی ) were “Yaran” (National facilitators for the Bahai community) and are serving twenty year sentences. Three others were arrested in connection with the Bahai online university. Lava Khanjani (لوا مباشر خانجانی) was arrested in connection with the 2009 post-election protests. Two other women prisoners in the wing are charged with espionage, and one with spreading Christianity.

Prison conditions have improved over the last 4 years. Prison officials have allowed the families of prisoners to provide for some of their needs. Their living space has been expanded slightly. But their access to family members remains limited. Telephone calls have been banned for over two years. Inmates are allowed weekly cabin meetings with their family members. Meetings in person are allowed only once a month.

Most of the prisoners are allowed some furlough from prison, but Bahai prisoners suffer from a double oppression. All have been deprived of any leave, none have been released (a number of political prisoners were released before President Rouhani’s speech at the United Nations), and there are no signs of flexibility regarding their situation. Mahvash Shahriyari and Fariba Kamalabadi have been in Evin for over five years each, but have not had a single prison leave, although they have health issues. Because of their age and health, they suffer more than others. Faran Hesami (فاران حسامی) whose husband is in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj has a four-year old child who lives with her grandmother. She has not been allowed to visit her child outside prison. The family of these Bahai prisoners also suffer more difficult conditions For example, Fariba Kamalabadi’s daughter received very good university entrance test results, but was denied admission to any university because of her religious beliefs.

Although the women come from different backgrounds and ages, they get along well. They read books together and critique them jointly, despite their political differences. Faezeh Hashemi-Rafsanjani (فائزه هاشمی رفسنجانی), daughter of a former president and current head of the Expediency Council, was held in this wing. She has written that these women live with minimum tensions and have positive interactions.

Full text here
Persian text here

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

November 4, 2013

Two prisoners from Marvdasht transferred to Adel Abad prison in Shiraz

HRANA, November 3, 2013

After 48 days in detention in Ministry of Intelligence detention facility 100 in Shiraz, Hassan Badhrafkan ( حسن بذرافکن ) and Vahid Taqvaju ( وحید تقواجو ) have been transferred to Adel Abad prison in Shiraz. They were among seven Bahais detained in Shiraz by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on September 11. Only one of these arrests, that of Mr. Badhrafkan, has been previously reported on this blog. Five of the seven were released after questioning. Mr. Badhrafkan was arrested in the street on September 11 and taken to his home, which was searched. The agents seized CDs, books, a flash drive and his car. The car was held for more than 20 days. Mr. Taqvaju was arrested at his home on March 1st, 2010, and released on bail a month later.

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

November 3, 2013

Bahai business closed in Tonekabon

HRANA, November 2, 2013

On October 5, security forces closed down a business run by three Bahais in Tonekabon. Their names are Soroush Gorshasebi, Sina Gorshasebi and Omid Qaderi ( سروش گرشاسبی، سینا گرشاسبی و امید قادری ). Mr. Gorshasebi was one of three Bahais arrested in Tonekabon on September 23 and taken to the Ministry of Intelligence detention facilities in Sari. He was freed on bail after 17 days in detention. Sina Gorshasebi, a Canadian citizen, was previously sentenced (September 2011) to six months in prison for leaving Iran without a permit. Omid Qaderi was previously arrested in October 2010, and the business he had at that time was closed down in February 2011, when he was fined about 300 euros. The reasons for the closure have not been announced. Because Bahais are believed to be “unlean” they are barred from selling food items to Muslims, but local authorities can extend this ban to cover numerous other items as well, as liquids are believed to convey “uncleanness” like a contagion. In some cases, florists shops run by Bahais have been closed on the argument that the plants are often wet when sold and could spread Bahai uncleanness.

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

October 30, 2013

Family of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani threatened


Sepidam blog, October 27

The family of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), a well-known member of the Baha’i community in Bandar Abbas, who was martyred two months ago, have been threatened with consequences under “the honour system.” It would appear that they are being blamed for the harm which the murder of Mr Rezvani has done to the international image of Iran and its government. Sixty six days after the murder, police investigations appear to have stalled. No clues regarding the murderers have been found. The investigating judge is holding to the supposition that Mr Rezvani must have shot himself in the back of the head and disposed of the weapon and bullet casing before dying. He has been vigorously interviewing the family and friends to gather evidence to support his suicide theory. Mr. Rezvani was murdered in his car. The windows were closed and the air conditioning was running. Police have not found a “bullet” [sic ~ presumably, they have not found the shell of the bullet] which would give a clue as to the murder weapon. It would appear that the murder was carried out by professionals.

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

October 27, 2013

Navid Khanjani hospitalized briefly, still no medical leave allowed


PCED (facebook), October 17, 2013

Navid Khanjani ( نوید خانجانی ), a Bahai civil rights activist who founded the PCED, an activists’ organisation which seeks to end discrimination in Iran’s education system, was taken from Raja’i Shahr prison to hospital, where he remained for some hours. He suffers from a number of chronic conditions, and a spinal disk herniation. The prison doctor has said that he needed three weeks of home rest without stress, to prevent the disk problem worsening to the point that surgery would be required. His condition worsened on October 21. He also suffers from a colon condition which requires surgery, and he is receiving medication for a heart condition.

Navid Khanjani was arrested in March 2010 and spent about 2 months in prison before being released on bail. He was one of the 35 social activists who were arrested while bring aid to the victims of the 2011 Azerbaijan earthquake, but was later acquitted in that case. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges of spreading propaganda, disturbing public opinion, propaganda against the regime in the reports and interviews of foreign media, membership of the central committee of the CHRR (Committee of Human Rights Reporters), and founding the PCED. He began serving this sentence, in Rajai Shahr prison, in September 2012. In March 2013 he was severely beaten by prison officers at Tehran’s Evin prison, where he had been taken for a court hearing.

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

October 25, 2013

“Bahais in Iran enjoy all citizenship rights and are not expelled from universities”

Report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, October 2013

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, has issued his annual report, which as usual catalogues numerous abuses against diverse groups in Iranian society, and against the population as a whole. The report states that “[Iran’s] culturally relativistic positions on human rights result in broad restrictions on fundamental rights and limit who can enjoy those rights on the basis of gender, ethnicity, ideology, political opinion, religion or culture.” In a break with the past, the Iranian government has responded to a draft version of this report, and the Special Rapporteur has incorporated these responses in his final report.

In the section on the oppression of the Bahai community in Iran, the rapporteur notes “an escalating pattern of systematic human rights violations targeting members of the Baha’i community, who face arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, national security charges for active involvement in religious affairs, restrictions on religious practice, denial of higher education, obstacles to State employment and abuses within schools.”

The Iranian government responds that “Baha’is enjoy all citizenship rights and that they are not expelled from universities or otherwise deprived of their rights on the basis of their beliefs.”

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

October 24, 2013

Nasim Baqeri sentenced to 4 years in prison


PCED, October 24 2013 +

Nazim Baqeri, a Bahai from Tehran who was associated with the Bahai open university BIHE, has been sentenced to four years in prison. She was tried on October 8 on charges of endangering national security by membership of the BIHE. Security forces raided the homes of many Bahais associated with the online university on May 22, 2011, and the following days, and arrested many of them. The university’s premises were closed, and many of the teachers and administrators have been given heavy sentences and are in prison.

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


October 23, 2013

Fuller details of recent raids in Abadeh

Azadi Qalam (blog), October 22

As previously reported, on the morning of Sunday October 13, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence searched Bahai homes in and around the town of Abadeh, in Fars province, seizing religious books, PCs, photographs and personal effects and summoning Bahais to the Ministry of Intelligence. The homes that were searched belonged to Behnam Jannati, Hedayat Golshan, Thani Sadeqi, Dhekrullah Sadaqat, Seyyed Jawad Dana, Mahmud Seyadat, Firuz Rastegar, Rahmatullah Golshan, Farshid Rastegar, Nasr Muvaffaq, `Ali Baqari, Fatemeh Kan`ani-Faruzan, Rezaqoli Rastegar and Sorush Ranjebar ( بهنام جنتی، هدایت گلشن، ثانی صادقی، ذکرالله صداقت، سید جواد دانا، محمود سیادت، فیروز رستگار، رحمت الله گلشن، فرشید رستگار، ناصر موفق، علی باقری، فاطمه کنعانی(فروزان)، رضاقلی رستگار و سروش رنجبر ).

Then one or more Bahais from each family were summoned for questioning, and asked to sign a pledge not to participate in illegal activities or to participate in Bahai activities except for the 19th-day Feast (the regular Bahai meeting for worship and community affairs). In addition, two young Bahais received special attention from the agents. Mr. Afshin Bulbulan (افشین بلبلان) has been travelling to Abadeh for some years, to care for his grandfather, who is not well, while Mehrzad Feruzan (مهرزاد فروزان) travels intermittently to Abadeh to see his mother. Mr. Bulbulan was asked to sign a pledge not to come to Abadeh to see his family any more. In addition to the raids on Bahai homes, a workshop belonging to Esma`il Feruzan (اسماعیل فروزان), which is the second floor of the home of his mother, Fatemeh Kan`ani, was sealed by the authorities. However it was not in use as Mr. Feruzan is seeking to move his work to another city. The government not only excludes Bahais from higher education, it makes it very difficult for them to find workplaces, or obtain licenses for small businesses.

Update, November 11: The Bahai World News Service adds that:

During questioning, several Baha’is were told that local residents “don’t like you” and that “when you are on the street, they might attack you and your children with knives.” Ms. Ala’i [a representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations] said, however, that not only is there no evidence that the people of Abadeh themselves are against the Baha’is but that the experience of the Baha’is says the opposite is true. “The real story is that the government is the culprit behind such threats and attacks,” said Ms. Ala’i. “The people of Abadeh have nothing against Baha’is and many love to associate with them freely.

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


October 22, 2013

One arrest in Isfahan


Daneshjoo News, October 22, 2013

Elham Mauqen (الهام موقن), a Bahai from Isfahan, was arrested in recent days following a raid by security forces on his home. The agents seized his personal computer, many books, and a large volume of handwritten notes. Mr. Mauqen is a playwright and theatre director. It is not known where he is being held.

Update, October 29: Mellun reports that “clashes” (presumably, raids on Bahai homes) took place in other parts of the city at the time of Elham Maugen’s arrest. There is still no word of where he is being held.

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

October 21, 2013

Ministry of Intelligence questions a Bahai visiting Iran from Australia

HRANA, October 21, 2013

The Ministry of Intelligence in Tonekabon has summoned and questioned an Iranian-born Bahai who is now an Australian national, and who had returned to Tonekabon after an absence of 30 years to see his (or her) mother, who is unwell. The name of the Bahai concerned has been withheld by HRANA. He or she was summoned to the Ministry on October 20, questioned from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., and pressured to sign an undertaking to do unspecified tasks for the Ministry of Intelligence. He or she refused to sign the document.

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

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