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News Dec. 9

The tale of such outrageous conduct, such widespread suffering and loss, if properly expressed and broadcast, cannot fail in the end to arouse the conscience of civilized mankind, and thereby secure the much-needed relief for a long-suffering people. I would, therefore, renew my plea, and request you most earnestly to redouble your efforts in the wide field of publicity, to devise every possible means that will alleviate the fears and sorrows of the silent sufferers in that distracted country. Surely these vile wrong-doers cannot long remain unpunished … (Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i Administration, p. 107)

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Nine Bahais from Baharestan, Isfahan Province, bailed

Campaign for Prisoners of Conscience, December 8, 2019. –

Nine of the ten Bahais arrested in Baharestan, 20km south of Isfahan, on November 29 have been released on bail. At the time of their arrest, there was media speculation that they would be blamed for instigating the fuel price protests, which I thought unlikely. Their quick release on bail confirms that these arrests were just routine harassment. Those released are Shahaab Ferdowsian (شهاب فردوسیان), Nasim Jaberi (نسیم جابری), Mehraanullah Daddi (مهران‌الله دادی), Qodous Lotfi (قدوس لطفی), Shahbaaz Baashi (شهباز باشی), Naasr Lotfi (ناصر لطفی), Saagher Manouchehrzaadeh (ساغر منوچهرزاده), Homa Manouchehrzaadeh (هما منوچهرزاده) and Soroush Azaadi (سروش آزادی). There is no mention in this report of Wahideh Niazmand (وحیده نیازمند).
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`Ali Ahmadi sentenced to eleven years in prison

HRANA, December 4, 2019. –

Mr. `Ali Ahmadi (علی احمدی), a Bahai from Qaemshahr, has been sentenced by the Revolutionary Court of Qaemshahr to eleven years in prison for “propaganda against the regime.” He was informed of his sentence on December 2. He was arrested on November 20, 2018, by agents who insulting his religious beliefs and calling him “unclean” and “Bahai dog.” They also seized some religious books mobile phone and computer. He was freed on bail on January 2, 2019, after posting bail of 150 million tumans (31,000 euros ; $US 35,000).

This is the fifth time he has been arrested in the past ten years: On the first occasion he was sentenced to 10 months in prison, and on the second occasion he was acquitted. In 2011 he was arrested with two others and charged with participation in Bahai activities. A previous report said that he is also known as Cheragh-`Ali (چراغعلی) Ahmadi.
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Hassan Momtaaz Sarvestaani granted early release

HRANA, December 3, 2019. –

Hassan Momtaaz Sarvestaani (حسن ممتاز سروستانی), a Bahai from Shiraz who began his five-year sentence in 2017, has been granted early release. He had been transferred from Shiraz to Evin Prison in Tehran, to receive medical treatment at a hospital in Tehran, and was released from Evin Prison on December 3. Mr. Sarvestaani was a teacher of Persian literature for the Bahai Open University (BIHE). He was first arrested in 2011, and was one of ten Bahais associated with the BIHE who were tried in Tehran on March 12, 2013. His sentence was handed down by Judge Maqiseh (قاضی مقیسه), a notorious abuser of human rights, on February 25, 2014, and confirmed by the review court. He began his sentence in 2017, in Adel Abaad prison in Shiraz, and was transferred to Evin prison in Tehran on February 26, 2019. On August 10 this year he was granted a short medical furlough. I have no record of when this furlough ended, but the current report says that he was released from Evin Prison.
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Destruction of Baha’i gravestones in Yazd

Iran Press Watch, Decmber 4, 2019. –

Reports indicate damage to a number of tombstones on Bahai graves in Yazd’s Golestan Javid (Bahai cemetery). It appears that stones and blocks were used. Unknown persons have damaged this cemetery several times over the years. The desecration of Bahai graves, and sometimes the total destruction of Bahai cemeteries, by irregular forces is a regular occurrence in Iran. Since the 1979 Revolution, state authorities have also closed Bahai cemeteries and used the sites for development projects, with the purpose of removing visible signs of the existence of a Bahai community.

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 (2012).
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Bardiyeh and Isma’il Farzaaneh bailed in Omidiyyeh

HRANA, December 7, 2019. –

I have previously reported that on November 29, Bardiyeh Farzaaneh (بردیا فرزانه) was arrested at his home in Omidiyyeh, Khuzestan Province. I missed a report that his nephew Isma’il Farzaaneh (اسماعیل فرزانه) was also arrested. They were released on bail on December 7.
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Mozhgaan Ahmadzaadeh sentenced to six months in Qaemshahr

HRANA, December 6, 2019. –

Mozhgaan Ahmadzaadeh-Fedaa’i (مژگان احمدزاده فدایی), a Bahai from Qaemshahr whose arrest was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily, has been sentenced to six months in prison by the Revolutionary Court, on the charge of propaganda against the regime. She was informed of the sentence on December 2. She was arrested on December 26 last year, when she was driving with her family to a garden they have on the outskirts of Qaemshahr. Her car was surrounded and stopped by four security agency cars. They took her back to her home, which was searched by eight agents. They seized three mobile telephones, a tablet computer, a computer, some flash drives, CD, prayer books, photographs of their children and some religious images. She was taken to the Ministry of Intelligence detention facility, where she was held in solitary confinement for interrogation for one week. She was bailed on January 2, 2019. She was tried by the revolutionary court on November 13, 2019. She has three children; the youngest has just started primary school.
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Sentences of Kimia Mostafavi and Kiaana Rezvaani reduced to 6 months

HRANA, December 5, 2019. –

On December 2, Kimia Mostafavi and Kiaana Rezvaani were informed that their five-year sentences have been reduced to six months by the Provincial Review Court for Kerman. They were exonerated of the charge of “membership of the Bahai organisation,” and sentenced to six months for “propaganda against the regime.” The review court hearing was held on November 9, and — unusually — the accused were allowed a lawyer. Mr. Mohammad-Madi `Erfaaneyaan (محمدهادی عرفانیان) represented them. Kiani Rezvaani is a Bahai student excluded from university with the excuse of a faulty file, the excuse used to bar Bahais from tertiary education in Iran.
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Fariba Ashtari arrested again

Campaign for prisoners of conscience, December 4, 2019. –

Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری), a Bahai from Yazd, was arrested in her home on December 2. She has already served a two-year sentence for her faith, beginning on February 21, 2015. She was released on January 13, 2017. An active Bahai, and a psychologist, she 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. Her husband Nasser Baaqeri (ناصر باقری) and her son Fa’iz Baaqeri (فایز باقری) have also been imprisoned for their faith. Fa’iz Baaqeri was 17 years old when he was arrested, along with his father, on February 28, 2015, a week after his mother began her two-year sentence. In November 2018 he was sentenced to three years in prison, and his father to nine months. Mr. Baaqeri began his sentence in late September 2019. So far as I know, Fa’iz Baaqeri is still free on bail, waiting to begin his sentence.

In the latest arrest, five security agents raided Mrs. Ashtari’s home, which they searched. They seized some Bahai books and her mobile phone and computer. Her relatives are concerned for her as she has a heart condition and has recently had two operations, and because there is no news about where she is being detained.
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Tenth Bahai arrested in Baharestan, Isfahan Province; one arrest in Omideyeh

HRANA, December 1. –

Following previous reports of the arrest of nine Bahais in Baharestan, Isfahan Province on November 29, HRANA reports that a tenth Bahai, Soroush Azaadi (سروش آزادی), was arrested on the same day. Also on November 29, Bardiyeh Farzaaneh (بردیا فرزانه) was arrested at his home in Omidiyyeh, Khuzestan Province. The agents seized some of his personal possessions.
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Keyhan Propaganda denounces President Khatami and others as Bahai pawns

Editorial, December 1, 2019. –

Keyhan, a government-controlled media outlet in Iran, has labelled Iran’s former Presidents Mohammad Khatami (سید محمد خاتمی) and Mir-Hossein Mousavi
(میرحسین موسوی), the former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi (مهدی کروبی) “and others” as “the hostages of Bahaism [who acted] in the uprising of 1388 (2009).” Mir-Hossein Mousavi is singled out as subservient to the Anglo-Zionist network of Bahaism (شبکه صهیونیستی- انگلیسی بهائیت). All three of these leaders are Islamic clerics, a class whose religious learning, according to the ideology of Khomeini, makes them uniquely fitted to rule the common people. All three have been approved as Presidential candidates by the Guardian Council. Keyhan’s claim that they were hostages to the Bahais therefore will be read as casting doubt on the country’s governing system and governing class, although Keyhan’s purpose was probably to give the impression that “outsiders” — and not everyday Iranians acting spontaneously — are responsible for the current unrest. A previous article in Fars News claimed that “most” of those arrested in the fuel price protests are Bahais. So far there is no evidence of any Bahais being engaged in the protests or of them being arrested afterwards to take the blame for the protests.
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Nine Bahais reported arrested in Isfahan

Radio Zameneh, November 30, 2019. –

Nine Bahais are reported to have been arrested in Isfahan on November 29: Shahaab Ferdowsian (شهاب فردوسیان), Nasim Jaberi (نسیم جابری), Mehraanullah Dadi (مهران‌الله دادی), Shahbaaz Baashi (شهباز باشی), Wahideh Niazmand (وحیده نیازمند), Nasr Lotfi (ناصر لطفی), Qodous Lotfi (قدوس لطفی), Sagher Manouchehrzaadeh (ساغر منوچهرزاده) and Homa Manouchehrzaadeh (هما منوچهرزاده). Their homes were searched and belongings were confiscated.

Radio Zameneh suggests that this could be related to an accusation made in government-sponsored media [such as Fars News], that Bahais were involved in the recent unrest over fuel price increases. I think this unlikely. (1) While none of those named is known to me, the names are not unlikely for the children of Bahai parents. If the authorities had arrested some rioters and launched a story that they were actually Bahais, they would probably be named Muhammad, Fatimah and Ali. (2) If the authorities arrested these Bahais in the hope of accusing them of causing the unrest, that story would face the obvious objection that the unrest arose spontaneously and simultaneously all over the country, immediately after the surprise announcement of price increases, while these nine were in Isfahan with the internet and telephones cut off across the country.

Therefore, pending further information, I am assuming that they were arrested for being Bahais, in the usual way, and will be charged with “propaganda.”
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Abbaas Taa’ef free on bail in Tehran

Campaign for prisoners of conscience, November 25, 2019. –

`Abbaas Taa’ef (عباس طائف), a Bahai from Tehran, was freed on bail from Evin Prison on November 25. He was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on September 27. The agents searched his home and workplace and seized a laptop, mobile phone and some ID documents and some of his personal effects. His office, which is his workplace, has been sealed by the authorities. He suffers from heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.
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Sentences confirmed for 7 Bahais from Busehr

HRANA, November 21, 2019. –

The Review court has confirmed the three-year sentences of seven Bahais from Bushehr. They are Minou Reyaazati (مینو ریاضتی), Asadollah Jaaberi (اسدالله جابری) and his wife Ehteraam Shakhi(احترام شخی), Leqa Faraamarzi (لقا فرامرزی), Emaad Jaaberi (عماد جابری) and Puneh Naashari (پونه ناشری). All seven were arrested in raids on Bahai homes in Bushehr on February 15, 2018 (an earlier report said February 13). Their homes were thoroughly searched, and personal effects such as laptops, books, flash drives, external hard drives, and family photograph albums were seized. Emaad Jaaberi and Puneh Naashari (were released on bail on March 6 and the remaining five on March 13, 2018. Bail was set at 250 million tumans (53,000 euros ; $US 66,000).
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One arrest in Damavand

Iran Press Watch, November 21, 2019. –

Maryam Laqqa’i-Forsatipour (مریم لقائی فرصتی پور) was arrested on October 22 after being summoned to the Damavand Office of the Ministry of Intelligence. She has been taken to the Ministry of Intelligence’s detention center known as Ward 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran. Authorities also searched the home of this Bahai after her arrest and confiscated several personal belongings, including laptops and mobile phones belonging to her and her husband. As previously reported, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence also arrested Mitra Forsatipour (میترا فرصتی پور) in her home in Gilavand on October 21.
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New arrest in Karaj

Campaign for Prisoners of Conscience, November 19, 2019. –

Rajab Naaser (ناصر رجب), a Bahai from Gohardasht, a suburb of Karaj, was arrested in his home on November 16. Seven agents, without a court order, came to his home to arrest him. They also seized some personal effects, including a mobile phone. It is not know where he is being held.
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Samin Maqsudi goes to jail

Campaign for prisoners of conscience, November 9, 2019. –

Samin Maqsudi (ثمین مقصودی), a Bahai from Tehran, began her sentence in the women’s wing of Evin Prison on November 9. She was charged with participating in Bahai activities. The charges relate to her commemoration, in her own home, of the bicentennial of the birth of Baha’u’llah, on October 21, 2017. She was initially sentenced on May 21, 2018, by Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای), a notorious abuser of human rights, and of judicial procedures, who was responsible for the imprisonment of the seven “Yaran.” The Review Court for Tehran Province, headed by Judge Zargar (قاضی زرگر), confirmed the 5-year sentence in September this year.
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Kiaana Sho`aari bailed in Shiraz

HRANA, November 7, 2019. –
Kiaana Sho`aari (کیانا شعاعی) has been released on bail from the Ministry of Intelligence detention centre in Shiraz. She was arrested on October 21, when agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested her and two other Bahais in Shiraz : Farzaan Ma`sumi ( فرزان معصومی) and Soroush Abaadi (سروش آبادی). The agents also searched their homes, along with the homes of a number of other Bahais in Shiraz, and seized personal effects such as computers, mobile phones and laptops.
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Eighteen Bahai businesses sealed in Abadan

HRANA, November 3, 2019. –

On November 2, the police chief for Abadan, Mohsen Taqizaadeh ( محسن تقی زاده), announced that eighteen businesses had been shut down for failing to observe Islamic traditions, and the “offenders” files have been passed to the judicial authorities. The Bahai Faith is not mentioned, but given the timing it is certain that the businesses were operated by Bahais, who respect Islam but are not Muslims.
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Five Bahai businesses closed in Chabahar

HRANA, October 30, 2019. –

Five business premises operated by Bahais in Chabahar, a port city on the Gulf of Oman in the Province of Sistan and Baluchistan, were sealed by the jucidical authorities on October 30. The owners had taken a day off work to celebrate a Bahai religious holiday. According to the regulations, all businesses may close for up to 15 days in a year, without notifying the authorities, but Bahais are apparently subject to a different, unwritten rule, applied by the judiciary. The businesses are identified an an optician’s workshop run by Shamim Touhidi (شمیم توحیدی) and Habibullah Touhidi (حبیب الله توحیدی); a similar business run by Ahmad-Ali Shokati (احمدعلی شوکتی), an electrical business run by Behman Gholam-Reza’i (بهمن غلامرضایی), a plumbing goods shop run by Behzaad Gholam-Reza’i (بهزاد غلامرضایی), and a tile and ceramics shop run by Behrouz Gholam-Reza’i (بهروز غلامرضایی).
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Meeting raided, and Jamaal Saabet arrested, in Tehran

HRANA, October 29, 2019. –

Jamaal Saabet (جمال ثابت), a Bahai from Tehran, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on October 28. It is not known where he is being detained. The agents raided a private gathering in another home — entering by breaking down the door — and questioned the guests for some hours, searching the house and making video recordings. They confiscated some personal effects of the home owner, including CDs, flash drives, a laptop computer and books. Then they went to Mr. Saabet’s home, which they searched, and arrested him. He was arrested on a previous occasion [not reported on Sen’s Daily], and interrogated for 40 days.
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Two arrests in Shiraz

HRANA, October 30, 2019. –

On October 29, agents from the Fajr Corps Intelligence Service arrested Shahryaar `Ataareyaan (شهریار عطریان) and Poulaad Karami (پولاد کرمی) in Shiraz. A number of agents went to a home where Bahais were commemorating the birth of the Bab, and questioned and photographed (on video?) those attending for several hours. They confiscated twenty cell phones, three laptops, numerous books and pamphlets, prayer books, and signs and pictures relating to the Bahai Faith. The Fajr Corps Intelligence Service announced the arrests publicly, explaining that it was in relation to the birth of one of the Bahai “leaders.” A Shia news service adds that it was a “secret ceremony,” which was raided to “counter the Israeli-backed sect and prevent them from realizing the ominous interests of foreign countries and reconstructing their espionage pyramid.” Radio Farda adds that they will be charged with “insulting those mourning Imam Reza,” the eigth Shiah Imam who is buried in Mashhad, and is believed to have been poisoned by Caliph al-Ma’mun. His martyrdom is commemorated according to the lunar calendar, which means that this and other Shiah holy days will sometimes coincided with Bahai commemorations based on the solar calendar. This year, the Shiah commemoration fell on October 28.

On October 21, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested three Bahais in Shiraz : Farzaan Ma`sumi ( فرزان معصومی), Kiaana Sho`aari (کیانا شعاعی) and Soroush Abaadi (سروش آبادی). The agents also searched their homes, along with the homes of a number of other Bahais in Shiraz, and seized personal effects such as computers, mobile phones and laptops. It was later claimed that they were holding a religious ceremony that would eclipse the Arba’een Pilgrimage in Karbala. That commemoration, which this year fell on October 20, marks 40 days after the death of Imam Husayn.
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Three Bahais in Semnan given long sentences

Voice of America, October 28, 2019. –

The Revolutionary Court in Semnan has sentenced three Bahais who were arrested on April 30 to ten years in prison on charges of “membership of illegal groups acting against national security” and “acting against national security through propaganda and organizational activities.” Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan (اردشیر فناییان), who is 30 years old, has been sentenced to ten years in prison and one year exile in the town of Khash in Sistan and Baluchestan Province; Behnaam Eskandreyan (بهنام اسکندریان) and Yalda Firouzeyaan (یلدا فیروزیان), aged 20, have been sentenced to five years in prison and two years’ exclusion from the city of Semnan. They were arrested by teams of four to six masked agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Semnan, in simultaneous raids on their homes at 8 a.m. on April 30.
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Three new arrests in Shiraz

HRANA, October 22, 2019. –

On October 21, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested three Bahais in Shiraz : Farzaan Ma`sumi ( فرزان معصومی), Kiaana Sho`aari (کیانا شعاعی) and Soroush Abaadi (سروش آبادی). The agents also searched their homes, along with the homes of a number of other Bahais in Shiraz, and seized personal effects such as computers, mobile phones and laptops. It is not known where those arrested are being detained.
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New arrest in Gilavand

HRANA, October 22, 2019. –

Agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Mitra Forsatipour (میترا فرصتی پور) in her home in Gilavand on October 22. Gilavand is a village in Tehran Province. The agents seized some personal items, including cell phones, laptops and a camera. She is being held in block 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran. It is believed that she is to be charged with “propaganda against the regime.” Mrs Forsatipour’s grandmother, buried in Gilavand, was exhumed by unknown persons in 2017 (not to be confused with the exhumation of Shamsi Aghdasi Azamian (شمسی اقدسی اعظمیان) in October this year).
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‘Ataa-ollah Zafar bailed from Evin Prison

HRANA, October 20, 2019. –

Mr. Ataa-ollah Zaffar (عطاالله ظفر) was released from Evin prison “in recent days,” after about three weeks in detention. His family obtained his release following serious concerns about his health in detention.

On September 27, security agents raided a number of Bahai homes in Tehran and Karaj, seizing various personal effects. Behrouz Asadollah-zaadeh (بهروز اسدالله زاده) and Mr. Zafar (آقای ظفر) are among those whose homes were searched. Mr. Zafar was then arrested. At least five other Bahai homes were raided, and agents went to the home of Waliollah Qademiyaan (ولی‌الله قدمیان) to search it, but found nobody home. It appears that Mr. Asadollah-zaadeh, Mr. Zafar and Mr. Qademiyaan were involved with the Bahai cemetery in Tehran.
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Three more early releases in Isfahan

HRANA, October 16, 2019. –

HRANA has announced the early release of Mr. Sahaam Armin (سهام آرمین), and in a separate report, of Mrs. Bahaareh Dhini-Sobhaaniaan (بهاره ذینی صبحانیان) and Sepideh Rouhani (سپیده روحانی). They join Mrs. Fuzhaan Rashidi (فوژان رشیدی), released a day earlier and incorrectly identified — in my first translation — as a man. These four releases leave four others — Afshin Bolbolaan (افشین بلبلان), Milaad Daavadaan (میلاد داوردان), Farhaang Sahba (فرهنگ صهبا) and Anush Raayneh (انوش راینه) in prison, of the eight Bahais from Baharestan, near Isfahan, who were arrested on September 23rd, 2018.
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Fuzhaan Rashidi released early in Isfahan

HRANA, October 16, 2019. –

Fuzhaan Rashidi (فوژان رشیدی) has been granted a conditional early release after serving just over one third of her three-year sentence. She was released from Esfahan prison on October 15. She and her recently-married husband Milaad Daavadaan (میلاد داوردان) were among a group of arrested Baharestan, near Isfahan, on September 23rd, 2018, by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence. Milaad Daavadaan was sentenced to six years in prison. Fuzhaan Rashidi was sentenced in a Revolutionary Court to three years for “membership of the Bahai organisation” with a concurrent one-year sentence for “propaganda against the regime.” This was confirmed by the Review Court.
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Two Bahais sentenced for internet postings

Iran Wire, October 14, 2019. –

On September 21, Paymaan Damashqi (پیمان دمشقی), a Bahai from Karaj, was sentenced to one year in prison by the Revolutionary Court. The trial, lasting less than 10 minutes, was held on September 19. The trial is reported to have taken place at both the Prosecutor’s office and the revolutionary court, suggesting that the Prosecutor also acted as Judge, which would be highly unusual. A relative said that Mr. Damsashqi did not accept the charge of “propaganda against the regime” and did not know what it was based on. Therefore he has not, thus far, made any comment on it himself. He was initially summoned in writing by the Police in Karaj in February this year. When he went to the Police station, his mobile telephone was confiscated and he was questioned for half an hour. He was told that he had posted an article entitled “Justice” under the pen-name “A certain Bahai”, and the use of this name constituted, indirectly, propaganda for the Bahai Faith. When he asked to see the article attributed to him, the interrogator refused. In April/May this year he was summoned to the Revolutionary Court (the ideological court) to hear the charges against him. During the hearing, the Judge twice asked him in writing [sic] “have you made propaganda for the Bahai Faith” to which he replied, “until now, nobody has asked me about Bahai.” The Judge offered him release on bail of 50 million tumans, but he was not able to pay that amount. Two days later he was released when the business licence of a friend was accepted as bail. Another source told IranWire that Mr. Damashqi had been sentenced because of a question — not an article — that he had posted, but the Judge had not disclosed what this question was. They [undefined] “told him that because he was a Bahai, a question about justice was propaganda against the regime. Mr. Damashqi, who is active in various groups, still cannot recall what question he asked, in which group, that has led to his punishment, but thinks it must have been in comments on a thread.

In recent days, Sima Behrouzi (سیما بهروزی) was sentenced to three months in prison in the Revolutionary Court of Yazd, presided over by Judge Dashtipour (قاضی دشتی‌پور). He was charged with membership of a group opposing the regime. The Judge did not find him guilty of the other charge, of circulating jokes in favour of opposition groups. He was summoned in writing by the Police in Yazd on March 20 this year, and questioned about this membership of Telegram groups. After some time he was summoned to Branch 4 of the Revolutionary Court, and charged with “membership of a group opposed to the regime” and “propaganda in support of a group opposed to the regime.” Bail was set at 250 million tumans, which he could not provide, but he was released on bail two days later. On July 2, 2019, he was summoned to a hearing on August 18 at the Revolutionary Court. The summons specified the charges as “membership of the Bahai community,” and “Bahai propaganda.” The sentence, of three months in prison, was announced in the last week of September.

In recent years, a number of Bahais in Yazd have been sentenced for activities on internet. Shamim Etehaadi (شمیم اتحادی), a Bahai student excluded from tertiary education, was sentenced for filming a Bahai cemetery that had been destroyed by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence. 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 and three month in prison [previous report: 3 years], 74 lashes, a two-year ban on leaving Iran, and a fine of 40 million rials (1200 euros; $US 1600). He completed his sentence in June 2016. [The article continues with more examples of the persecution of the Bahais of Yazd for internet crimes].
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Neda Sabeti, Nooshin Afshar and Foroogh Farzaneh sentenced to 1-year terms

HRANA, October 12, 2019. –

Ms. Neda Sabeti-Azadi (ندا ثابتی -آزادی), Ms. Nooshin Afshar-Azadi (نوشین افشار) and Ms. Foroogh Farzaneh (فروغ فرزانه ), Bahais living in Abadan and Ahvaz have each been sentenced to a one-year prison term on the charge of “propaganda against the regime” by the Revolutionary Court of Abadan. On May 6, 2019, they were arrested at their houses and were transferred to Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz on May 30, 2019.

Their prosecution was initiated by the Intelligence Corps of the IRGC (Revolutionary Guards) and during their interrogations, they were under pressure to make forced confession. On May 6, 2019, they were arrested at their homes by six agents of the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Ahvaz and Abadan. [My earlier report said they were agents from the Ministry of Intelligence ~ Sen] They were released a week after on May 13 but were rearrested for an unknown reason on the same day. They were released on bail on May 30, 2019.
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Forum 2000 in Czechoslovakia to present Bahai community

Mistni Kultura, October 12, 2019. –

This year’s Forum 2000 Festival of Democracy in Prague will present the Bahai community. The 2019 Festival also marks 30 years of freedom in Eastern Europe. After November 1989, a number of organizations that were suppressed under Communist governments, including the Bahai community, were able to resume operations.

The Forum 2000 Foundation was founded in 1996 as a joint initiative of the Czech President Václav Havel, Japanese philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel. Mr. Havel based his idea for Forum 2000 on the principle that, “it would be good if intelligent people, not only from the various ends of the earth, different continents, different cultures, from civilization’s religious circles, but also from different disciplines of human knowledge could come together somewhere in calm discussion.” This year’s Forum 2000 Conference, held under the theme Recovering the Promise of 1989, will take place in Prague on October 13-15, 2019.
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Farhaang Sahba, imprisoned in Isfahan, transferred for interrogation

Iran Press Watch, October 4, 2019. –

Farhaang Sahba, a Bahai serving a 5-year sentence in Isfahan prison, has been transferred to a solitary confinement cell of the IRGC’s Intelligence Unit, and is being subject to intense interrogation and psychological pressure. He was convicted of “membership in the Bahai organizations with an intent to act against national security,” with a one-year (concurrent) sentence for “propaganda against the regime through Bahai propaganda.”

Mr. Sahba was one of a groups of Bahais arrested in Baharestan, near Isfahan, on September 23rd, 2018, by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence. He was sentenced in November 2018, and I have no reports indicating when he began his sentence. The Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has now intervened, is an Iranian intelligence agency within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and is as powerful as the Ministry of Intelligence. Rivalry between the two agencies is not unknown.
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Azita Rafizaadeh released after four years

Voice of America, October 9, 2019. –

Azita Rafizaadeh (آزیتا رفیع‌زاده) has been released from Evin Prison after serving a four-year sentence for teaching online classes in computer engineering to members of the Bahai Faith. Under Iran’s apartheid system, Bahais are banned from gaining advanced qualifications in tertiary institutions in Iran, although there is no formal law against teaching one’s skills to others. Nevertheless, she was charged with “undermining national security” for teaching at the Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). In January, 2018, she was offered prison furlough if she would sign a statement to repent for her work and promise that she will not work with the BIHE again. But she said she had done nothing to repent for.” Her husband Peyman Koushk-Baghi was also imprisoned in October 2015, for teaching at the BIHE.

Rafizadeh, 36, is a former BIHE student who returned to Iran after receiving a master’s degree in computer engineering from a university in India. She began teaching the subject at BIHE in 2002.

In 2014, Judge Moqisseh (قاضی مقیسه) of Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Rafizadeh to four years in prison and her husband to five years in prison on the charge of “membership in the illegal and misguided Bahai group with the aim of acting against national security through illegal activities at the BIHE educational institute.”

The imprisoned couple’s son, Bashir Koushk-Baghi, has been raised by another Bahai family.
~~~~~~~~

One arrest in Tehran

Voice of America, October 5, 2019. –

`Abbaas Taa’ef (عباس طائف), a Bahai from Tehran, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on September 27. The agents searched his home and workplace and seized a laptop, mobile phone and some ID documents and some of his personal effects. As previously reported, security agents raided a number of other Bahai homes in Karaj and Tehran on the same day, and Mr. Zafar (آقای ظفر) was arrested. `Abbaas Taa’ef (or another Bahai with the same name) was arrested in Tehran in connection with the raids on the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in 2012.
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Raids and arrest in Tehran and Karaj

HRANA, September 29, 2019. –

On September 27, security agents raided a number of Bahai homes in Tehran and Karaj, seizing various personal effects. Behrouz Asadollah-zaadeh (بهروز اسدالله زاده) and Mr. Zafar (آقای ظفر) are among those whose homes were searched. Mr. Zafar was then arrested. At least five other Bahai homes were raided, and agents went to the home of Waliollah Qademiyaan (ولی‌الله قدمیان) to search it, but found nobody home. It appears that Mr. Asadollah-zaadeh, Mr. Zafar and Mr. Qademiyaan were involved with the Bahai cemetery in Tehran. HRANA expects information on more arrests to follow.
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Kimia Mostafavi and Kiaana Rezvaani sentenced to five years

Campaign for prisoners of conscience, September 23, 2019. –

The Revolutionary Court in Kerman has sentenced Kimia Mostafavi ( کیمیا مصطفوی) and Kiaana Rezvaani ( کیانا رضوانی) to five years in jail for membership in the Bahai organisation, and to one year for “propaganda against the regime and in favour of opposition groups.” However prisoners with concurrent sentences serve only the longer sentence. They were arrested in Kerman on Saturday, January 19, released on bail five days later.
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Samin Maqsudi sentenced to 5 years in prison


HRANA, September 22, 2019. –

The Review Court for Tehran Province, headed by Judge Zargar (قاضی زرگر), has confirmed the 5-year sentence of Samin Maqsudi (ثمین مقصودی), a Bahai from Tehran whose arrest and sentencing was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily. She was initially sentenced on May 21, 2018, by Judge Moqiseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای), a notorious abuser of human rights, and of judicial procedures, who was responsible for the imprisonment of the seven “Yaran.” She was charged with participating in Bahai activities. The charges relate to her commemoration, in her own home, of the bicentennial of the birth of Baha’u’llah, on October 21, 2017.
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Mitra Badrnezhad-Zahdi begins one-year sentence

Campaign for prisoners of conscience, September 21, 2019. –

Mrs. Mitra Badrnezhad-Zahdi (میترا بدرنژاد زهدی), a Bahai from Ahwaz, began her sentence at the Sepidah Prison in Ahvaz on September 21. A few days ago it was reported that the Khuzestan Court of Appeals had reduced her sentence from five years to one year. She was charged with membership of the Bahai organisation.
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As academic year begins, more Bahai students are excluded

Hesar news, September 19, 2019. –

As the new academic year begins in Iran, reports are coming in from across the country of Bahai students who have passed the university entrance examination (the ‘Concours’) but are refused enrollment in tertiary institutions because of their Bahai beliefs. One current collation of these reports has 22 names :
-1 سهند شیرازی، تهران؛
۲- مهتاب خادم، تهران؛
۳- نگین فروغی، شهرکرد؛
۴- وفا نوبخت، ساری؛
۵- بهزاد یزدانی، شیراز؛
۶- ترنم کمالی، شیراز؛
۷- تارا احسان، تهران؛
۸- آیلار روشن نهاد، ساری؛
۹- ارمغان عنایتی، سمنان؛
۱۰- سیاوش بلوچ قرائی، مشهد؛
۱۱- درسا مصطفوی، تهران؛
۱۲- آریا احسانی، کرج؛
۱۳- نوریه فردوسیان، اصفهان؛
۱۴- شایلین عقیلی، کرج؛
۱۵- نگار ایقانی، شیراز؛
۱۶- غزل الله وردی گرجی، ساری؛
۱۷- سراج صفریان، ساری؛
۱۸- شعله موفقی ایولی، ساری؛
۱۹- روژان احسانی، کاشان؛
۲۰- روژین کثیری، کرج؛
۲۱- مهسا فروهری، کرج؛
۲۲- شمیم ایدلخانی، اردبیل
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Parisa Sobhaaneyaan bailed from Evin Prison, brother arrested

HRANA, September 18, 2019. –

Parisa Sobhaaneyaan Najafaabaadi (پریسا سبحانیان نجف آبادی), a Bahai from the village of Mehrabad, near Rudehen, has been released on bail from Evin Prison, in Tehran, pending her trial. She was arrested on August 10. The agents who arrested her at her home also seized some books and other personal belongings. She was released on September 18, for bail of 500 million tumans (107,000 euros ; $US 119,000). Her brother, Seyaavash Sobhaaneyaan (سیاوش سبحانیان) was told at the time of her arrest that he should not leave town, and was arrested a few days later. This arrest was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily. He remains in custody.
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Mitra Zahdi’s sentence reduced

Campaign for Prisoners of Conscience, September 17, 2019. –

The Khuzestan Court of Appeals has reduced the sentence of Mrs. Mitra Badrnezhad-Zahdi (میترا بدرنژاد زهدی), a Bahai from Ahwaz, from five years to one year. She was charged with membership of the Bahai organisation. She was arrested in Ahwaz on March 3, 2018, and taken for questioning to the Ministry of Intelligence. At the time of her arrest her home was searched and various religious items were discovered. She was released on May 14, 2019, on bail of 200 million tumans each (40,000 euros ; $US 47,500). In November, 2018, the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz sentenced her to five years in prison. Her case appears to be linked to that of Mr. Farajollah Bengaaleh ( فرج اله بنگاله), who was arrested on March 28, 2018, in Shiraz and later transferred by the Ministry of Intelligence to Ahwaz. They were bailed o the same day for the same amount, and their sentences were the same.
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Three Tehran Bahais in Gilavand burial case bailed

HRANA, September 9, 2019. –

Mrs. Munireh Bavil-e Soflaa’i (منیره باویل سفلایی), Mrs. Minou Zamaanipour (مینو زمانی پور) and Mr. Ghollam-hoseyn Mazlumi (غلامحسین مظلومی), who were arrested in Gilavand, a village in Tehran Province, on August 10, were released from Tehran’s Evin Prison on September 4. Their bail was 300 million tumans each (64,000 euros ; $US 71,0000).

Shamsi Aghdasi Azamian (شمسی اقدسی اعظمیان), a Bahai from Gilavand, in Tehran Province, was buried in Gilavand Bahai Cemetery on October 24. Four days later her body was exhumed by unknown individuals and abandoned in the deserts of Jaban in the suburbs of that city. Security forces had told the Gilavand Bahais earlier that they had no right to bury their deceased member in Damavand and that they should perform burials only in Tehran, so it is a reasonable assumption that government agents exhumed the body and dumped it in the desert. Four days after the burial, in a phone call, police told Mrs. Azamian’s son that the body of his mother, had been found and he should take it to Tehran. He objected, since the distance between Gilavand and Tehran is more than an hour, and according to Bahai burial rites, the body should not be transported more than an hour. The agents then carried away the body of Mrs. Azamian to Tehran without the consent of the family.
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Minister of Education approves policy of barring Bahais from schools

Radio Farda, September 11, 2019. –

Iran Press Watch, following HRANA and other Persian sources, has reported that Borna Piraasteh (برنا پیراسته), an outstanding Bahai student at the Sa’adat School in Semnan, has been barred from re-enrolling in the third grade of high school after the summer break because of his Bahai beliefs. According to a Radio Farda report, after this news became public, the Minister of Education, Mohsen Haaji Mirzaa’i (محسن حاجی‌میرزایی) declared that all students belonging to “non-official” religions are barred from secondary schools, because this would constitute “propaganda.” He was speaking at a news conference connected to a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, but the report does not indicate whether Cabinet has approved his policy, which would involve barring all Bahai children from schools.

The Piraasteh family were informed that their son would not be allowed to enroll by the Principal, speaking by telephone. Initially they were told this was because some parents at the school had objected.
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Family home confiscated for Bahai beliefs

Kayhan London, September 7, 2019. –

The ‘Setaad’ (the Executive Headquarters of the Imam’s Directive / Committee for Implementing the Instructions of the Imam) has confiscated a home belonging to the Iraannezhaad family in the wealthy Niavaran district of Tehran. The house was the home of Mrs. Shraareh Farokhzaadi (خانم شراره فرخزادی), the widow of Cyrus Iraannezhaad (سیروس ایران‌نژاد). Agents from the Setaad arrived at the home and, in the space of four hours, removed all the family’s possessions and took control.

Cyrus Iraannezhaad was a businessman who was imprisoned In Evin Prison after the 1979 Revolution because of his Bahai beliefs. His property was seized at the time, along with the property of thousands of other Bahais across Iran. He suffered continual harassment after his release from Evin.

After his death, his sons, Siamak and Rayan (سیامک و ریان), sought to overturn the confiscation order, and suffered harassment. They have not only failed, the house that belonged to their father (presumably purchased after his release from prison) has also been expropriated. In September 2017, a Revolutionary Court ruled that that all the family’s property was expropriated because of their Bahai beliefs, and this ruling was confirmed in the Review Court. The ruling explicitly states that, because of their membership of the Bahai sect, all their property is expropriated in favour of the Setaad.

The Setaad is an organisation specifically set up in 1989 to expropriate and use property confiscated not only from Bahais, but also from Iranians living abroad and other targets of the Supreme Leader. It is subject to international sanctions, as “a massive network of front companies hiding [stolen] assets on behalf of … Iran’s leadership.”

Although most significant assets belonging to Bahais were expropriated after the Revolution, cemeteries and the assets of the small businesses by which most Bahai families live are regularly expropriated today, and there are occasional reports of a home or farm being expropriated. In November 2012, the home of the late Hussein al-Hourehzaadeh ( حسین الهوردیزاده ) in Mashhad was seized by the Setaad. A previous seizure order had targeted all the assets of his only daughter Munireh al-Hourehzaadeh, but not her father’s home. Three decades later that house, now the home of his grandchildren, was seized as well. In October 2015, fifty hectares of land and the livestock on it, belonging to Zia’ullah Muta`aarifi (ضیاء الله متعارفی), a 65-year-old Bahai from Semnan, was confiscated. Farmland and multiple homes have been seized by the Setaad in the village of Kata, in the province of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, and in the village of Evel ( ایول) in Mazandaran, not to mention all the cases in which individual farms and rural homes have been seized.
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Abu-Fadl Ansaari bailed in Karaj

Campaign for Prisoners of Conscience, September 8, 2019. –

Abu-Fadl Ansaari (ابوالفضل انصاری) was released on bail in Karaj on September 8. He was arrested at his home in Karaj on August 3 and held in Raja’i Shahr prison.
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Farid Moqadam-Ziraki bailed in Birjand

Campaign or prisoners of conscience, September 9, 2019. –

On September 7, Farid Moqadam-Ziraki (فرید مقدم زیرکی), a Bahai from Birjand, was released from detention after posting bail of 150 million tumans (32,000 euros ; $US 35,000). He was arrested on August 3 by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, who searched his home and seized his personal effects. He faces charges of “aggravating the economic sanctions against Iran” and “undermining national security.” He was interrogated by the Ministry of Intelligence for 26 days before being transferred to Birjand’s Prison.
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New arrest in Shiraz

Campaign for prisoners of conscience, September 5, 2019. –

Shahnaaz Saabet (شهناز ثابت), a Bahai from Shiraz, was arrested in her home on September 1. Security agents searched her home and seized many of her personal effects, including including her ID card, a passport, bank cards, mobile telephone and some books and photos. The agents were also filming the search. There is no information about where she is being detained.
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Rouhaa Emaani begins prison sentence in Kerman

HRANA, September 3, 2019. –

Mrs. Rouhaa Emaani (روحا ایمانی), from Kerman, was arrested on September 3, and taken to begin her nine-month prison sentence. Mrs. Emaani was arrested in Yazd during a raid on her home on May 12, 2015, and released on bail on July 1, 2015. She was sentenced by a Revolutionary Court — as is usually the case for Bahais. Revolutionary Courts try ideological offences and have a single judge and no fixed procedures.
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Ru’in Kohansaal and Ruhollah Zibaa’i bailed in Karaj

Campaign for prisoners of conscience, September 2, 2019. –

According to two separate reports, on September 2, Ruhollah Zibaa’i (روح‌الله زیبایی) and Ru’in Kohansaal (روئین کهنسال) were released on bail from Raja’i Shahr prison, in Karaj, where they have been detained for one month. They were arrested in Karaj, on August 3 and 4, respectively, along with Abu-Fadl Ansaari (ابوالفضل انصاری), arrested on August 3. On the same day, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Birjand arrested Farid Moqadam-Ziraki (فرید مقدم زیرکی). The Provincial command of the Ministry of Intelligence in South Khorasan Province had previously announced the arrest of an unnamed Bahai in Birjand, who was said to be working to tighten sanctions. Government-sponsored media have also claimed that Mr. Zibaa’i’s arrest was in relation to a scheme to tighten the economic sanctions. He is described as conducting business activities in the Alborz and Southern Khorasan provinces. Other reports speak of a number of Bahais and people who have associated with Bahais being summoned for questioning in Alborz Province, but no further details are available at present.

The physical condition of Mr. Zibaa’i and Mr. Ansaari is not good. Mr. Zibaa’i has been released on bail “temporarily” rather than “pending trial,” suggesting that this may be a medical release. Mr. Kohansaal has been bailed pending his trial. It appears that Mr. Ansaari is still being detained. He suffers from a heart condition and has recently had a pacemaker fitted.
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Passing of Dr. Udo Schaefer

Announcement, from Dr. Armin Eschraghi

Dear friends,
the German Bahai scholar and author Dr. Udo Schaefer passed away this morning (August 30) in his 93rd year. His contributions to Bahai scholarship, particularly to the areas of ethics and theology, as well as his invaluable services in defending the Faith over many decades will no doubt be fondly remembered and thoroughly appreciated by future generations. His deep familiarity with both the Bahai Writings as well as ‘European’ philosophical and theological discourses, his original approach, his sharp mind and logic, as well as his unique writing style, all combined with steadfastness and unshakable loyalty to the Cause, will continue to inspire Bahai scholars around the world. Those who have known him, will add his modesty, his humour and wit and his generosity.

He will be dearly missed. Please pray for his family and for his soul´s progress in the next world.
A befitting obituary will no doubt be shared in due course.
Warm regards
Armin
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Arrest and continuing detention in Karaj

Campaign for prisoners of conscience, August 27, 2019. –

Ru’in Kohansaal (روئین کهنسال), a Bahai from Karaj, was arrested in the street on August 4, but this arrest was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily. He is still undergoing interrogation at a detention centre in Karaj. There is no official news, although a relative living outside Iran suggested that the authorities viewed his Bahai beliefs as a threat to the Islamic Republic.
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New arrest in Mehrabad, Tehran Province

HRANA, August 18, 2019. –

Parisa Sobhaaneyaan Najafaabaadi (پریسا سبحانیان نجف آبادی), a Bahai from the village of Mehrabad, near Rudehen, was arrested on August 10. The agents who arrested her at her home also seized some books and other personal belongings. It is not known where she is being detained.
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Another arrest in Shiraz

HRANA, August 11, 2019. –

Soheila Haqiqat (سهیلا حقیقت), a Bahai from Shiraz, was arrested on August 10. Seven masked agent from the Intelligence Corps of the IRGC (Revolutionary Guards) came to her home, where she was hosting an addiction recovery meeting. They searched the home and questioned all the participants, recording their details. They arrested Mrs. Haqiqat and seized a computer, ID documents, bank cards and her father’s birth certificate and passport. She was taken away, and her whereabouts are unknown.
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New arrest in Birjand

HRANA, August 11, 2019. –

On August 3, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Birjand arrested Farid Moqadam-Ziraki (فرید مقدم زیرکی). The Provincial command of the Ministry of Intelligence in South Khorasan Province, had previously announced the arrest of an unnamed Bahai in Birjand, who was said to be working to tighten sanctions. Mr. Moqadam-Ziraki has been able to contact this family once since he was arrested. He was previously summoned and questioned by the Ministry of Intelligence twice, in 2017 and 2018.

As previously reported, Ruhollah Zibaa’i ( روح الله زيبايي ), a Bahai resident of Baghestan, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on the same day, August 3, and government-sponsored media claimed that this too was in relation to a scheme to tighten the economic sanctions.
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Raid on the home of Jamaalodin Khaanjaani

HRANA, August 10, 2019. –

The Tehran home of Jamaalodin Khaa
njaani (جمال الدین خانجانی) was searched by seven agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on the morning of August 9. Mr. Khaanjaani is one of the seven “Yaran” (former national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran), who served 10-year prison sentences. He was released from prison on March 17, 2018. The search lasted for five hours, and the agents seized all his books, Bahai pictures, and some cash.
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Three arrests in Tehran

HRANA, August 10, 2019. –

At 8 a.m. on August 10, three security agents arrested Mrs. Minou Bavil-e Sofla’i (منیره باویل سفلایی), Mrs. Munireh Zamani (مینو زمانی پور) and Mr. Ghollam-hoseyn Mazlumi (غلامحسین مظلومی), three Bahais in Tehran, and took them to Evin Prison. The agents had a warrant. They arrived at the home of Mrs Bavil-e Sofla’i and searched it, seizing a laptop, mobile phone, Bahai books and pictures, and took her away with them. [The report implies that the other two arrests were at a different address.] The agents said that the arrests were related to events in the village of Gilavand in October last year.

Shamsi Aghdasi Azamian (شمسی اقدسی اعظمیان), a Bahai from Gilavand, in Tehran Province, was buried in Gilavand Bahai Cemetery on October 24. Four days later her body was exhumed by unknown individuals and abandoned in the deserts of Jaban in the suburbs of that city. Security forces had told the Gilavand Bahais earlier that they had no right to bury their deceased member in Damavand and that they should perform burials only in Tehran, so it is a reasonable assumption that government agents exhumed the body and dumped it in the desert. Four days after the burial, in a phone call, police told Mrs. Azamian’s son that the body of his mother, had been found and he should take it to Tehran. He objected, since the distance between Gilavand and Tehran is more than an hour, and according to Bahai burial rites, the body should not be transported more than an hour. The agents then carried away the body of Mrs. Azamian to Tehran without the consent of the family.
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Hassan Momtaaz Sarvestaani on medical furlough

HRANA (facebook), August 10, 2019. –

Hassan Momtaaz Sarvestaani (حسن ممتاز سروستانی), a Bahai prisoner from Shiraz who was transferred to Evin prison in Tehran on February 26 this year, has been granted a short medical furlough, beginning on August 10. In mid-May he received an angiograph test at a hospital in Tehran. Although the doctor wanted him to be hospitalized for observation for 24 hours and prepared for a stent, he was returned to prison in handcuffs and shackles on the following day.
Mr. Sarvestani was a teacher of Persian literature for the Bahai Open University (BIHE). He was first arrested in 2011, and was one of ten Bahais associated with the BIHE who were tried in Tehran on March 12, 2013. His sentence was handed down by Judge Maqiseh (قاضی مقیسه) on February 25, 2014, and confirmed by the review court. He began his sentence in 2017, in Adel Abaad prison in Shiraz, and was transferred to Evin prison in Tehran on February 26, 2019.
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Faarouq Izaadinia sentenced to 10 years

HRANA, aUGUST 9, 2019. –

Faarouq Izaadinia (فاروق ایزدی نیا), a scholar, translator and Bahai citizen of Tehran, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Unless the Review Court exonerates him, this will be his second long prison sentence.

Mr. Izaadinia was arrested when his home was raided at 10.30 a.m. on February 12, 2017. The agents confiscated some 1300 books, and some of his personal effects. He was released on bail about two weeks later. His trial was not held until mid-February this year. Mr. Izaadinia later described the process of his prosecution in an open letter which Iran Press Watch has translated. The judge was Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای), a notorious abuser of human rights, and of judicial procedures, who was responsible for the imprisonment of the seven “Yaran.” Mr. Izaadinia was charged with undermining national security by administering Bahai activities. The verdict stated that he had been and is one of the people influential and effective in organising Bahai activities, and mentions his work for the BIHE, the informal university that gives courses to some of the Bahai students who are excluded from tertiary education.

He has also been arrested previously for his religious beliefs, and served three prison terms, including being among those sentenced to death in the 1980’s, but this sentence was reversed and he was released after a five-year prison term. He has worked as a translator, and is know for his Persian translation of Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudun and William Sear’s Thief in the Night.
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Review court confirms that Bahais are barred from tertiary education

HRANA, August 8, 2019. –

The Review court for administrative law has upheld a ruling that Bahais in Iran are barred from tertiary education. Hanaan Har (حنان حر) passed the University Entrance examinations three years ago and was accepted at the Noshirvaani (نوشیروانی) University in Babol, to study Mechanics, but from October 23, 2016, she was barred from the campus because of her Bahai beliefs. In the following year, she took a case to the Administrative Court to obtain her human and civil rights, but the court refused to hear the case because it stated that “Bahais are not only barred from working in public places, they are barred from tertiary education in Iran as well.”
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Home of Bahai author Touraj Amini searched

HRANA, August 8, 2019. –

On August 4, security forces in Karaj searched the home of Bahai researcher and author Touraj Amini ( تورج امینی), seizing books and notes, as well as personal belongings. He was told to expect a summons to the office of the Ministry of Intelligence in the next few days. Mr. Amini was previously detained for a short time, in March 2008. His books include one on the role of religious minorities in the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911, and “The Hidden Awakening” (رستاخیز پنهان), on the relationship between Iranians intellectuals and the Babi and Bahai Faiths.
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NSA of the UK looking to buy temple land near London

Editorial, August 6, 2019.

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the United Kingdom is seeking to buy about two hectares of land, no more than 15 miles from Greater London, for a temple site. The purchase is intended to be completed by April, 2021, and is expected to cost up to two million pounds. The Assembly is presently holding 656,000 pounds in a Temple Fund, and a small riverbank site at Sonning, Berkshire. A residential training centre is also planned, and could be combined with the temple on a larger site. I have placed a plain text version of the National Assembly’s announcement in the “documents archive” section of my Bahai Studies site.
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Sohrab Naqipour granted early release in Isfahan

Human Rights in Iran, August 2, 2019. –

Sohraab Naqipur (سهراب نقی پور), a Bahai prisoner in Isfahan, has been granted early release on medical grounds. He was released in mid-July, but this has only now been reported. He began his 5-year sentence on January 5, 2019. He was one of five Bahais arrested in Isfahan on March 28, 2017. Note that there is another Bahai prisoner of the same name in Yazd (released in 2015).
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Six Bahais acquitted in Tabriz: is there a pattern?

HRANA, August 4, 2019. –

The Review Court for East Azerbaijan Province has acquitted six Bahais who had each been sentenced to six months in prison, on the charge of “membership in the illegal Bahai organisation.” Those acquitted are Kaambiz Mithaaqi (کامبیز میثاقی), Farzaad Bahaardori ( فرزاد بهادری), Monika Alizaadeh-Aqdasi ( مونیکا علیزاده (اقدسی)), Mrs. Shabnam Issakhaani ( شبنم عیسی‌خانی), Shahryaar Khodaapenaah (شهریار خداپناه) and Khayrullah Bakhshi (خیرالله بخشی). They were arrested between November 16 and November 20, 2018, and held for one month before being released on bail. The trial took place on June 11, and the six were then released on bail of one million tumans. The sentences were issued on June 15. The Judge in that trial (in a Revolutionary Court) was Mr. Hamelbar (قاضی حمل بر). The organisations of the Bahai community in Iran were all disbanded after the 1979 Revolution – the Bahais in that country have no organisation.

This begins to look like a pattern In mid-July, the Review Court for Fars Province acquitted Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi (یکتافهندژسعدی), a Bahai from Shiraz, who had been sentenced last December to 11 years in prison by a Revolutionary Court. In early June, the Review Court for Mashhad acquitted Kaaviz Nouzdahi (کاویز نوزدهی), a Bahai from Mashhad, of all the charges against him. In mid-January the Review Court for Kurdistan Province acquitted Dr. Mariya Kothari (ماریا کوثری). At about the same time, the Alborz Province Review Court dismissed the charges brought against Liza Tebyanian Enayati (لیزا تبیانیان ( عنایتی). The court found that teaching the Bahai Faith is not equivalent to “propaganda against the regime.” Some hundreds of Iran’s Bahai population have served many years in prison on the suppositions that having a Bahai book or image in one’s home is equivalent to propaganda against the regime.
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Another arrest in Karaj

Campaign for Prisoners of Conscience, August 4, 2019. –

On August 3, security agents arrested Abu-Fadl Ansaari (ابوالفضل انصاری) at his home in Karaj. It is not known where he is being detained. He suffers from a heart condition and has recently had a pacemaker fitted.
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Ruhollah Zibaa’i arrested in Baghestan, Tehran Province

Human Rights in Iran, August 3, 2019. –

Ruhollah Zibaa’i ( روح الله زيبايي ), a Bahai resident of Baghestan, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on the morning of August 3. Baghestan is a dormitory town lying between Tehran and Karaj. Mr. Zibaa’i is described as conducting business activities in the Alborz and Southern Khorasan provinces. His family have not been able to discover where he is being held, or the reason for his arrest. Tasnim, a news agency linked to the government, mentioned the arrest withut Mr. Zibaa’i’s name, saying that he was a leading member of a sect and had economic links to a counter-revolutionary network that active in these two provinces to “impose economic sanctions.”

Mr. Zibaa’i’s home was searched in December, 2005, and he was arrested on May 11, 2006, and taken to Qazil Hesar prison. He was charged with “acting against national security.” He was released on bail of 50 million tuman (about 32,000 euros at that time) around May 19. In early June, 2006, he was sentenced to one year in prison for “propaganda against the system and acting against national security.” His brother Ramin Ziba’i was detained following the raids and arrests targeting the BIHE.
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After 2 years, Fardin Aghsaani’s shop is still sealed

HRANA, July 25, 2019. –

Two years after local authorities in Urumiyyeh sealed the shop of Fardin Aghsaani (فردین اغصانی), a Bahai war veteran who has been imprisoned for his religious beliefs, the shop itself remains sealed. Mr. Aghsaani, who is 84 years old, now sells small items from a stall on the pavement in front of his shop.

In July and August, 2017, local authorities in Urumiyyeh sealed the premises of 23 Bahai-run businesses. They acted because these businesses took a free day on Bahai Holy Days. There are nine days each year that Bahais take free from work (with logical exceptions). The law in Iran allows any business to shut for up to 15 days each year, without special permission from the authorities, but Bahais are often denied this normal right, as they are denied many other civil rights.

After appealing to various authorities including Iran’s Supreme Administrative Court, the Bahais agreed to sign a pledge not to close their businesses on Bahai Holy Days — except for Mr. Aghsaani. In January 2019, West Azerbaijan Provincial authorities gave permission for the re-opening of 22 Bahai-run businesses. It is not clear from this report whether the Provincial Court’s decision applied to Mr. Aghsaani’s business: in any case local authorities have not implemented it.
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Bahai man missing from Isfahan for six months

Iran Wire (English), July 22, 2019. Persian source: Iran Wire. –

Haamed Rezvaani (حامد رضوانی), a musician and a teacher, left his home in Isfahan on December 24, 2018 and never returned. His family have repeatedly tried to find him, searching hospitals and the coroner’s office, and enquiring at the police detective bureau, police stations, police headquarters, the local Intelligence Bureau, the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Unit and the court in Isfahan. But there is no trace of Haamed Rezvaani.

“We can find no reason for his disappearance,” one of Rezvaani’s relatives told IranWire. “The possibility that he lost his way is very low … he had no mental problems. Haamed Rezvaani played and taught the daf [a tambourine-like frame drum]. He made a living by playing and teaching music. He was not a wealthy person to have been kidnapped for ransom. He had no enemies.”

The relative said Haamed Rezvaani had spent most of his time prior to his arrest with his pupils and with other artists. “A few years ago he found his faith in the Bahai religion and, although he was not considered an official member of the Bahai community, throughout these years he was time and time again insulted and threatened on the phone or in person by the Intelligence Bureau and anonymous persons. He was attacked and beaten up a few times. They even arrested him and told him to abandon his faith.”

Because of his faith, the Intelligence Ministry also banned him from teaching at music schools in Isfahan and from holding concerts.

In the summer of 2016, Intelligence Ministry agents raided his home under the pretext that Rezvaani had spread “propaganda against the regime through proselytizing for Baha’ism.” They insulted and verbally abused him, searched his home and confiscated his personal belongings including his laptop, the notebooks he wrote poetry in, and his musical notations and instruments.

The agents did not have a warrant for his arrest. They shackled his hands and his feet and beat him in front of his elderly parents for “converting to the Bahai faith.” Afterwards, they took him to his place of work, searched it and confiscated his computer and other items, including musical instruments. They then took him to an unknown location outside the city and beat him with force on the head and the face, insulting and swearing at him at the same time. He was then forced to give his fingerprints to be filed on record along with the confiscated items.

Threat of “Physical Elimination”

Mr. Rezvaani was arrested again that same year. Intelligence Ministry agents arrested him in October 2016, and took him to the prison in Isfahan. During his detention, he was subjected to mental and physical torture, and the interrogator told him he would be soon “physically eliminated” by execution. The examining magistrate did not allow his lawyer to pursue the case or read his file.

Rezvaani was released on bail after spending 21 days in detention. After his release, he filed a complaint against the examining magistrate and the Intelligence Ministry agents who had tortured him, but the court acquitted them. Rezvaani then filed a complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court and this complaint was reportedly sent to the Judges’ Disciplinary Court shortly before his recent disappearance.

“After six months,” his relative told IranWire, “we have no reliable news about Haamed except that, during our repeated visits to various agencies, one of them said that he had been handed over to a security unit the same day that he was summoned to the prosecutor’s office.” But he added that it was not clear whether the claim is true or not because no agency had named the security unit or clearly stated why and on what charges Rezvaani is being held or why no news has been made available about him.

Article 23 of the constitution of the Islamic Republic unequivocally states: the “investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.” However, over the last 40 years, Iran’s judiciary and security officials have explicitly violated the constitution and have persecuted any person who has converted from Shia Islam to another religion by threatening the individual with prison on the charge of heresy in order to force him or her to return to the Shia faith. The treatment of Hamed Rezvani by the Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Court’s examining magistrate is a flagrant miscarriage of justice and a violation of citizens’ rights.
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Health concerns for Korush Pardis in Evin Prison

Iran Wire, July 16, 2019. –

Korush Pardis (کوروش پردیس) is a Bahai prisoner serving a five-year sentence in Evin Prison, whose arrest, trial and detention have not previously been reported. He began serving his sentence on June 2 this year, when security agents arrested him unexpectedly, without a prior summons and without an arrest warrant. His life is said to be at risk in prison, as he has had a kidney transplant and suffers from blocked arteries. The doctor treating him has certified that his health will not bear imprisonment, but thus far this has been ignored.

Mr. Pardis was arrested in his home in Tehran by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in September 2016, who searched his house for several hours and arrested him on charges of being a Bahai and teaching Chemistry to several Bahai students in the neighbourhood. He was held for two weeks before being released on bail. A year later, a trial was held before Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای), a notorious abuser of human rights, and of judicial procedures, who was responsible for the imprisonment of the seven “Yaran.” He was found guilty of membership of the Bahai organisation, and sentenced to five years in prison, although he has never been a member of a Bahai organisation. All Bahai organisations in Iran disbanded themselves following the 1979 revolution. Since that time, only the children of Bahais have been reckoned as part of the Bahai community. A source close to Mr. Pardis said that the sentence was based on false suppositions, as the belief of Mr. Pardis in the Bahai religion was “of heart and conscience only,” and he had never been a formal member of the religion.

Mr. Pardis holds a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. He taught at universities for many years, until he realised that the University Security (a branch of the Ministry of Intelligence, not of the universities themselves) was aware that he had changed his religion from Muslim to Bahai. At that point he resigned, before he could be dismissed from his job. He was able to find work at the Organisation for Vocational and Technical Training. At the time of his initial arrest he was giving Chemistry lessons to a number of Bahai youth in the suburb where he lived, leading to his arrest.

At the time of his arrest [June 2], he was so severely ill that the prison’s judicial officer promised to send his file to the Medical Officer, for a ruling that he was unfit for prison. His condition has worsened over the past six weeks, to the point that his health is in serious danger, but there has been no action thus far.
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Supporter of a supporter of Bahai rights sentenced to prison

VOA news, July 15, 2019. –

Mehdi Moqaddari (مهدی مقدری), a member of the city council of Isfahan, has been sentenced to two years in prison, and a two-year from political activities, membership of the Council and of political parties, and from internet activities. He was charged with propaganda against the regime and disturbing public opinion, after speaking out in support of women’s right to ride bicycles and in support of Mehdi Haajati (مهدی حاجتی), a member of Shiraz city council who began a one-year sentence on June 2 this year. Mr. Haajati in turn was accused of supporting Bahais, after he tried to pursue the case of two Bahais who had been arrested in Shiraz.
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Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi acquitted again in Shiraz

HRANA, July 14, 2019. –

The Review Court for Fars Province has again acquitted Yekta Fahandezh-Sa`adi (یکتافهندژسعدی), a Bahai from Shiraz, who had been sentenced last December to 11 years in prison by a Revolutionary Court, in a closed session.

Miss Fahandezh-Sa`adi was one of fifteen Bahais arrested in Shiraz in 2010. She was expelled from the Shiraz Payam Noor University in 2012, for her religious beliefs. On February 3, 2012, she was again arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence and spent 82 days in the Ministry of Intelligence’s Detention Facility 100 in Shiraz. 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.

However 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 held for over 80 days in the Ministry of Intelligence’s detention facilities in Shiraz, before her release on bail on October 4. In December, 2016, the Court of Review in Shiraz reduced her 5-year sentence to two years in prison and a three-year suspended sentence. The Ministry of Intelligence was not satisfied, and renewed the charges, obtaining an eleven-year sentence from another revolutionary court 2 in Shiraz. This has now been overturned.
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Nilufar Hakimi and Elaheh Sami`zaadeh face new charges

Human Rights in Iran, July 12, 2019. –

Elaheh Sami`zaadeh (الهه سمیع زاده) and Nilufar Hakimi (نیلوفر حکیمی), Bahais from Shiraz who have been free on bail since October 12 and October 18, 2018, respectively, have been summoned to the Revolutionary Court in recent days. Nilufar Hakimi, summoned on on July 7, now faces an additional charge of blasphemy (“insulting sacred things”), and her bail has been increased by 80 million tumans (16,800 euros ; $US 19,000). She was originally arrested on October 6, 2018.

Elaheh Sami`zaadeh was summoned on July 11, and now faces an additional charge of forging a document, because she holds a degree from the Bahai Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). Her bail was increased by 60 million tumans. Her original arrest also related to education. In November 2018 two childrens’ music schools in Shiraz were shut down for employing Bahais to teach. The schools were not owned or run by Bahais, but Noraa Pourmoraadian (نورا پورمرادیان) and Elaheh Sami`zaadeh taught there. Previous reports said that she was teaching music, but this report says she was arrested in a class in psychology, taught by Navid Bazmaandegaan (نوید بازماندگان), another Bahai who was arrested on September 15 and bailed on October 23, 2018. Elaheh Sami`zaadeh was taken to the Ministry of Intelligence’s “Facility 100” interrogation centre. The agents who raided the class interviewed those present individually, searched the classroom, and seized ID cards, computers, flash drives and mobile phones. They required those present to give the passwords for their devices, and provide personal details. They took Navid Bazmaandegaan with them to his home, where they conducted a search and arrested his wife, Bahreh Qaderi (بهاره قادری). Next day, September 16, Ehsan Mahbub-Rahufa (احسان محبوب راه‌وفا) and Sudabeh Haqiqat (سودابه حقیقت) were arrested. Noraa Pourmoraadian (نورا پورمرادیان) was also arrested, on either the 15th or 16th of September.

The case of the September six drew national attention because a Shiraz city Counselor, Mehdi Haajati (مهدی حاجتی) made efforts for the release of Navid Bazmaandegaan and Bahaareh Qaaderi, and was himself arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence on September 27 and accused of defending the “false Bahai Faith.”
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Mo’in Muhammadi’s sentence reduced to electronic surveillance

HRANA, July 9, 2019. –

The Review Court for the Province of Yazd has reduced the sentence of Mo’in Muhammadi (معین محمدی) from six years in prison to one year of electronic surveillance by wearing a tracking bracelet. He is required to remain within the city of Yazd and the associated industrial park where he works. He has been acquitted of the charge of membership of groups opposed to the regime. The supervision sentence relates to a charge of propaganda against the regime. He was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on January 9, 2019. At the end of March he was sentenced to six years in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Yazd, and was released on bail on April 10.
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Nine Bahais in Birjand sentenced: five years in prison

HRANA, July 8, 2019. –

The Birjand Revolutionary Court has sentenced nine Bahais to six years in prison, and has seized the donations they had collected [from Bahais] for the affairs of the Bahai community in Birjand. They were sentenced to five years on the charge of membership of the illegal and subversive Bahai organisation, and one year on a charge of propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith. The sentences are concurrent.

The trial was held on July 3, without a defence lawyer. Only state-approved lawyers may present a defence in trials on national security matters in Iran, and their lawyer, Mazdak E`tamaad (مزدک اعتماد زاده) was not approved. Eight of the defendants were arrested in raids of 15 Bahai homes on the morning of October 21, 2017, but Shayda Abedi (شیدا عابدی) was arrested in Birjand on October 29. Although the nine Bahais were arrested on a Bahai Holy day (marking the Birth of the Bab), from the fact that so many homes were raided it appears that the Bahais had not gathered to celebrate the day, but were remembering the occasion separately in their homes.

The eight Bahais arrested on October 21 are: Firuz Ahmadi (فیروز احمدی), Khalil Malaaki (خلیل ملاکی), Simim Mohammadi (سیمین محمدی), Bizhan Ahmadi (بیژن احمدی), Maryam Mokhtaari ( مریم مختاری), Saagher Mohammadi (ساغر محمدی), Rafa’at Talebi-
fard (رفعت طالبی فرد) and Behman Saalahi (بهمن صالحی).
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Farzaad Homaayouni released in Isfahan

HRANA, July 3, 2019. –

Farzaad Homaayouni (فرزاد همایونی), a Bahai serving a 20-month sentence in Isfahan, has been granted conditional early release after serving one third of his sentence. He was initially arrested on March 28, 2017, and began his sentence on January 5, 2019, along with Manuchehr Rahmaani (منوچهر رحمانی), Sohraab Naqipur (سهراب نقی پور) and Mohsen Mehrgaani (محسن مهرگانی).
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Sufeya Mobini sentenced to 10 years in prison

Iran Press Watch, June 29, 2019. –

Sufeya Mobini (سوفیا مبینی), a Bahai from Tehran, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by Branch 26 of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court. Ms. Mobini and Negin Tadrisi (نگین تدریسی) were arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on October 2017, during the bicentenary celebration of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet Founder of the Bahai Faith. She was later released on bail.

An informed source told a HRANA reporter: “During the proceedings, the charges against this Bahai citizen were issued as “formation and administration of an illegal Bahai group with the aim of disrupting national security.” A sentence of 10 years in prison has been decided based on this charge. However, in the sentencing there is reference to Article 499 of the Islamic Penal Code, though in reality, the original text of this article reads: “Anyone who joins, as a member, any of the groups, societies, or branches … shall be sentenced to three months to five years’ imprisonment, unless it is proven that they had been unaware of its aims.” So the maximum penalty for such a charge is five years in prison.” Negin Tadrisi has been sentenced to 5 years in prison under the same article. This sentence was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily.
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Moves to close Bahai home for the elderly in Golshahr

Iran Press Watch, June 29, 2019. –

HRANA News Agency – Officials from the Karaj Office of Public Places, by appearing in one of the Elder Care Centers that belongs to Bahais, have been trying to remove seniors and residents of the area and to seal the location. Giti Charkhi Zarrin (Khollas), a Bahai and Director of the complex, was also summoned to the Alborz Provincial Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday.

According to HRANA, on June 27, 2019, Karaj Provincial Police Officers appeared at one of the Elder Care Centers in Golshahr, Karaj, owned by Bahais and tried to close the business.

It is said that the site, which has been working to care for the elderly and people with disabilities for the past twenty years, while receiving the official approval of the Office of Welfare, has been denied continuation of the service license in recent years because of its officers’ belief in the Bahai Faith.

An informed source told the HRANA Reporter, “For the past year, on several occasions, Office of Public Places administration officials has been trying to close this unit; their effort today to close the home is much more severe than in the past. They were trying to remove the elderly and disabled Bahais from the building and leave them in the street, so they could close the premises, according to the Karaj prosecutor’s office. Eventually, because the disabled elderly and the staff refused to leave, they were temporarily prevented from closing the center.”

Following this action, Giti Charkhi Zarrin (Khollas), a Bahai and Director of the complex, was summoned to the Alborz Provincial Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday.

According to this source, a person who has introduced himself as a parliamentary representative, by coming to this complex, as well as government agencies in Karaj, has been closely following the closure of this nursing home owned by Bahais in the past year.
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Raids on Bahai businesses and homes in Shahin Shahr

Iran Wire, June 27, 2019. –

Security forces in Isfahan province have launched a fresh campaign of intimidation against the local Bahai community, carrying out raids on the homes and businesses of 11 Bahais in the city of Shahin Shahr between June 9 and June 15.

IranWire has received reports that the agents confiscated religious books and images, as well as personal possessions and business equipment.

According to the informed source who spoke to IranWire, the Bahais targeted in the crackdown have so far been unsuccessful in their efforts to reclaim their seized belongings. Responsible judicial and Intelligence Bureau officials have offered no reasons or explanations for the searches and seizures.

“From Sunday June 9 through Saturday June 15, agents of the Intelligence Bureau and Shahin Shahr police went to the homes of 11 Bahais in the city,” the source said, “and the only thing that they [authorities] showed was a handwritten and illegible piece of paper that they claimed was a warrant from the prosecutor. But the paper lacked a judiciary letterhead, there were no charges specified and only the name of the owner was legible. Two of them were absent from their homes so then the agents searched the other nine homes to find them. There were between five and eight agents at each location and, in searching the homes, they seized whatever they suspected had anything to do with the Bahai Faith.”

According to him, the agents also seized documents, including national ID cards, driver licenses and passports. They also seized personal computers, laptops, flash memory drives, printers, mobile phones, chargers and even packaging boxes for mobile phones.

“After searching one of the homes, they took the owner to his hairdressing shop and, without a warrant, confiscated all the beauty products from a lawful company that this citizen worked as a representative for in Shahin Shahr,” the source said. “They also confiscated work tools belonging to another Bahai who makes a living by bookbinding at home. In another case, they first searched the business of a Baha’i and then took him to his home and searched those premises as well.”

According to this source, when asked about searches and seizures, the agents said that they did not know about them, or replied that the reason would be explained in court. In one case, the agent frankly told the owner of one of the houses raided that the reason was because he was a Bahai.

Mahboubeh Hosseini, Bahram Safaei, Mesbah Karambakhsh, Naeim Haghiri, Peyman Imani, Derakhshandeh Shakibai, Azita Yazdani, Cyrus Golzar and the Afshar family are among the Shahin Shahr Baha’is whose homes were searched. The agents searched the living quarters of two members of the family, who live in the same building one floor apart.

According to latest reports received by IranWire, during the last week of June, Mesbah Karambakhsh was summoned to court to retrieve his ID papers but when he responded to the summons, he was interrogated and was unable to retrieve his papers. In addition, Naeim Haghiri, who worked for an air travel agency, has been suspended from his job under pressure from the Intelligence Ministry.

[On May 1, 2017, authorities closed down 18 Bahai-run businesses in Shahin Shahr, amounting to a majority of the Bahai businesses operating that time. ~ Sen]
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Six Bahais sentenced in Tabriz

HRANA, June 17, 2019. –

Kaambiz Mithaaqi (کامبیز میثاقی), Farzaad Bahaardori ( فرزاد بهادری), Monika Alizaadeh-Aqdasi ( مونیکا علیزاده (اقدسی)), Mrs. Shabnam Issakhaani ( شبنم عیسی‌خانی), Shahryaar Khodaapenaah (شهریار خداپناه) and Khayrullah Bakhsi (خیرالله بخشی) have each been sentenced to six months in prison, on the charge of “membership in the illegal Bahai organisation.” The organisations of the Bahai community in Iran were all disbanded after the 1979 Revolution – the Bahais in that country have no organisation. The trial took place on June 11 and the sentences were issued on June 15. The Judge in this case was Mr. Hamelbar (قاضی حمل بر). Mr. Khayrullah Bakhsi was also charged with “propaganda against the regime,” but was acquitted on that charge.

These six Bahais were arrested between November 16 and November 20, 2018, and held for one month before being released on bail.
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Kaaviz Nouzdahi acquitted in Mashhad

HRANA, June 5, 2019. –

The Review Court has acquitted Kaaviz Nouzdahi (کاویز نوزدهی), a Bahai from Mashhad, of all the charges against him. He is at present free on bail after being sentenced by a lower court for “membership in an anti-regime organization” (i.e., membership in the Baha’i administration). The Bahai Administration in Iran dissolved itself many years ago, following the 1979 Revolution. His trial in the lower court was quite irregular, with no defence and a court clerk, Mr. Farhikhteh (آقای “فرهیخته), taking the place of the supervising judge, Judge Mansouri ( قاضی منصوری).

Mr. Nuzdehi has previously served a two-year prison sentence, from July 2010 to June 2012, on charges of propaganda against the regime, endangering national security, membership and activity in the Bahai Faith, advocating contact with foreigners after traveling outside the country, participating in illegal organisations, and producing and distributing Bahai CDs and books.
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Councilor in Shiraz sentenced for defending Bahais

Radio Farda, June 2, 2019. –

A member of Shiraz city council in Iran was taken from his home to prison to serve a one-year sentence Sunday June 2, his wife said in a tweet.

Mehdi Haajati (مهدی حاجتی) was first arrested and detained for ten days last September for defending the rights of the Bahai minority, which is severely persecuted by the Islamic Republic, especially the conservative clerics and hardliner security force. He was free on bail.

His wife Zohreh Rastegari said in her tweet that a day earlier they received a text message that he has been sentenced to one year and they took action to enforce the verdict today.

His told the official government news agency IRNA that Mr. Hajati has been transferred to Abdel Abad prison.

His legal trouble started when last year he tweeted, “In the past ten days I have knocked on many doors to get two Bahai friends released from detention, without success. As long as we face foreign enemies, our generation has a duty to reform the judicial and other procedures that endanger social justice”. He was charged with assisting the Bahais.
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Defence lawyer Amir Salar Davudi sentenced to 15 years

Radio Farda, June 1, 2019. –

Amir Salar-Davudi (امیرسالار داوودی), a lawyer who has defended prisoners of conscience including Bahais, has been sentenced to fifteen years on charges of establishing a Telegram channel called “No Retouch” («بدون روتوش»). He was also sentenced to 111 lashes, a fine of six million tumans ($US 1425) and deprivation of all civil rights for two years.

In an earlier report, his lawyer Vahid Farahani said that he faced four charges for running a Telegram app channel for lawyers in Iran, giving interviews to foreign news organizations, propaganda against the regime and insulting officials. This report also includes the charge “forming a group to overthrow the regime,” which may refer to the Telegram channel. Mr. Davudi was found guilty on multiple charges, but under section 134 of the prison code he will serve only the prison term for the most serious offence: establishing a Telegram channel. Telegram is very widely used in Iran, and is not illegal, but authorities blocked it in April, 2018. Users resort to circumvention tools.

Mr. Davudi was arrested on November 20, 2018, by intelligence officers. His arrest, as well as the search of both his office and home, was conducted without a warrant. Some of his work documents were confiscated.
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Injustice and extortion in Semnan’s prison

Iran Wire, June 1, 2019. –
A month has passed since three young Bahais were arrested by teams of four to six masked agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Semnan, in simultaneous raids on their homes at 8 a.m. on April 30. What little news is available is not good. It appears they are to be charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “undermining national security,” and they have not been allowed to have a lawyer. There are also reports that several other Bahais in Semnan have recently been threatened with arrest.

The family of Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan (اردشیر فناییان), who is 30 years old, have had no news from him: he has not been allowed even a short telephone call. His mother died in an accident a few months ago, and his father is hospitalized due to kidney problems, so his sister and small child have travelled over 300 km, from Gonbad-Kavus, to follow up on his arrest. Thus far the Ministry of Intelligence and judiciary have not given her any information about her brother’s situation. Mr. Fenaa’eyan was previously arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence and held for over 50 days before being freed on bail. A Revolutionary Court sentenced him to nine months in prison [other reports say, 8 months]. He began his sentence in January 2014. Immediately after his release, the Ministry of Intelligence sent him to the army to undertake his military service.

Behnaam Eskandaareyan (بهنام اسکندریان), previously reported as (اسکندریان)Eskandaraani (بهنام اسکندرانی), is 25 years old. Six days after his arrest, in a brief telephone conversation, he told his family that he had been beaten, and asked them to bring two million tumans ($US 475) to the prison. When his family went to the prison, they found that he had been transferred from solitary confinement to the quarantine section, where he was left alone with a hashish addict who beat him up to extort money. The guards, who could hear what was going on and had video surveillance as well, did nothing. When the beating and extortion had been confirmed by the authorities, his family asked for him to be referred to the prison’s medical officer, but the prison authorities said that Behnaam was an adult and could ask himself. However, except for the short telephone call for extortion that they had facilities, Behnaam has been held incommunicado and cannot ask for anything — not even a lawyer.

The third detainee, Yalda Firouzeyaan (یلدا فیروزیان), is 20 years old. She is reported to have been transferred about 10 days ago, from Ministry of Intelligence detention to the general prison for women, where she is held alone. In Semnan, and in some other prisons, Bahai prisoners are kept apart from others because of a widespread superstition in Iran that Bahais are ‘unclean.’ [And I would add: because Bahai prisoners who have been held together with other prisoners of conscience have sometimes demonstrated to their fellow-prisoners that the anti-Bahai propaganda in Iran’s official media is hogwash, to the extent that they have become friends with the Bahais ~ Sen.] After five days in the general prison, she was allowed a telephone call with her family. The family have asked to visit her, but were told that this is not allowed. Her sisters Golrokh and Shidrokh Firuzeyan (شیدرخ و گلرخ فیروزیان), were arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence on March 12, 2013 and February 12, respectively. Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan was arrested at the same time. The sisters were held by the Ministry for 40 days. They were charged with “propaganda against the regime” and initially sentenced to 9 months in prison, reduced to 6 months by the review court. They served their sentences and were released in May 2014. Their father, Hadjbar Firuzeyaan (هژبر فیروزیان), served a 40-day sentence in 2014, charged with libel against an agent of the Ministry of Intelligence. He had complained to the judicial authorities that one of his daughters was beaten in prison. When they took no action, he wrote to the President of the Islamic Republic, describing the beating. He was charged with libel and fined, but refused to pay the fine and was sent to prison instead.
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Hassan Momtaaz Sarvestani receives treatment

HRANA, May 19, 2019. –

Hassan Momtaaz Sarvestani (حسن ممتاز سروستانی), a Bahai prisoner from Shiraz who was transferred to Evin prison in Tehran on February 26 this year, has received an angiograph test at a hospital in Tehran. Although the doctor wanted him to be hospitalized for a stent, he was returned to prison after one day [one the same day?].

Mr. Sarvestani was a teacher of Persian literature for the Bahai Open University (BIHE). He was first arrested in 2011, and was one of ten Bahais associated with the BIHE who were tried in Tehran on March 12, 2013. His sentence was handed down by Judge Maqiseh (قاضی مقیسه) on February 25, 2014, and confirmed by the review court. He began his sentence in 2017, in Adel Abaad prison in Shiraz, and was transferred to Evin prison in Tehran on February 26, 2019.
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Farzaad Rouhaani released on bail in Yazd

HRANA, May 18, 2019. –

Farzaad Rouhaani Manshaadi (فرزاد روحانی منشادی), a Bahai from Yazd whose one-year prison sentence was commuted to a 3-year suspended sentence in July 2018, was re-arrested while taking his son to school on January 28. he was released on bail yesterday, May 17. Bail was set at 700 million tumans (147,000 euros ; $US 164,000). A court sitting to establish the charges against him took place on May 15, but the charges are not known. He was one of those arrested in the course of raids on Bahai homes in Yazd on January 18, 2017, when masked agents seized religious books, flash memory sticks and computers.
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Bahai barred from rose-water manufacture

HRANA, May 13, 2019.

On May 12, security forces raided the home of Mr. Heshmatollah Ehsaani (حشمت الله احسانی) in the village of Maazgaan (Maazgun, مازگان) in Kashan County, and seized all the items related to making rose-water. He was told that he was not entitled to continue this work. He was told that he would have “problems” with security agencies if the media reported this action. Maazgaan is a village that has had a substantial Bahai population for many years past.

The present action presumably means that making rose-water has been added to the list of occupations that Bahais are barred from, under Iran’s apartheid system. Because Bahais in Iran are excluded from employment in the civil service, education and health, and other major sectors, many of them start small shops or workshops in sectors where this is permitted, but the rules they must obey have been kept secret. The list of occupations that are barred to Bahais also changes at the whims of unidentified authorities. A leaked copy of the list, dating from April 8, 2010, clarifies which economic sectors are forbidden for Bahais. This order from the chief of police to police bureaus all over the country instructs them to constrain, limit and police the activities of Bahais in the specified fields, and ensure the Bahais do not constitute a significant presence in society.

The order specifies that Bahais should not be allowed to earn high incomes, but may work or be employed at the standard minimum income. Bahais may not work in cultural, educational or financial institutions, and are not to be allowed to work in the sectors of periodicals, jewelry, watchmaking, print-making, tourist agencies, car rentals, publishing and bookshops, photography, film-making, internet gaming, computers, or internet cafes. They may not own printing works or hotels and other accommodation for travellers, or teach tailoring skills.

The order refers to the widespread Iranian belief that Bahais are unclean, and requires the police bureaus to block them from restaurants, cafeterias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways (Iranian-style), 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, on or before December 2014. In addition to these limitations on where Bahais may work, the Ministry of Intelligence has pressured Muslims to cut social and economic ties with Bahais, and Bahai businesses across Iran have been shut down where they close to observe the Bahai Holy Days.
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Home search and summons in Isfahan

HRANA, May 8, 2019. –

On May 8, the home of Neyousha Behin-A’in (نیوشا بهین آئین) in Isfahan was searched by members of the security forces, who seized laptops, cell phones and Baha’i books. She was summoned to appear at the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence next week.
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Three Bahais begin their sentences in Shiraz

HRANA, May 8, 2019. –

Mahbub Habibi (محبوب حبیبی), Pejmaan Shahryaari (پژمان شهریاری) and Koroush Rouhaani (کوروش روحانی)reported to Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz on May 7. They were originally given one-year sentences by Judge Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی محمود ساداتی) in the Revolutionary Court. The Review Court reduced this: Mr. Habibi and Mr. Ruhaani have been sentenced to six months in prison, on charges of “propaganda against the regime,” while Mr Shahyaari has been sentenced to three months and one day, on the same charge.
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Seven Bahais in Bushehr sentenced to 3 years in prison

HRANA, May 7, 2019. –

The Revolutionary Court in Bushehr has sentenced seven Bahais to three years in prison. They are Minou Reyaazati (مینو ریاضتی), Asadollah Jaaberi (اسدالله جابری) and his wife Ehteraam Shakhi(احترام شخی), Leqa Faraamarzi (لقا فرامرزی), Emaad Jaaberi (عماد جابری) and Puneh Naashari (پونه ناشری). All seven were arrested in raids on Bahai homes in Bushehr on February 15, 2018 (an earlier report said February 13). Their homes were thoroughly searched, and personal effects such as laptops, books, flash drives, external hard drives, and family photograph albums were seized. Emaad Jaaberi and Puneh Naashari (were released on bail on March 6 and the remaining five on March 13, 2018. Bail was set at 250 million tumans (53,000 euros ; $US 66,000).
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Bahai motorcross champions barred from the sport

HRANA, May 6, 2019. –

On November 18, 2018, security forces in Tehran arrested Shahrzaad Nazifi (شهرزاد نظیفی), a well-known sportswoman and trainer in women’s motorcross, was arrested on November 18, and released on bail 15 days later. Bail was set at 700 million tumans (147,000 euros ; $US 164,000) and was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily. Now, without a trial or a judge’s order, she and the other members of her family — who also participate in motorcross — have been banned from being present at motorcross tracks, participating in competitions, and practicing or teaching motorcross sport. Mrs. Nazifi and her husband Mehrshaad Naraqi (مهرشاد نراقی) and their two children Meraat (مرآت ) and Nora (نورا) have all been motorcross champions in Iran, and the mother and daughter are pioneers of women’s motor sports in Iran. Since her arrest, the premises used for storing the family’s motor bikes and other personal effects have been sealed by the authorities. Meraat Naraqi, who is 30 years old, was barred from national competitions and Olympic trials in December, 2018, and prior to that was barred from competing internationally, although he had championship titles to his credit. Their lawyer’s enquiries to the Sports Federation and government ministries have produced no response, no institution has taken responsibility for the banning order, and Mrs Nazifi has not been summoned for trial in relation to her arrest in November 2018, so all that the family know is that her arrest was initiated by the Minister of Intelligence in Tehran. At the time of her arrest, the agents seized all the family’s awards, titles and prizes, as well as documents related to motorcycle races.
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Afshin Seyyed-Ahmad released

HRANA, May 4, 2019. –

Afshin Seyyed-Ahmad (افشین سیداحمد) was released from Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj at the end of his three-year sentence on May 4. He was arrested on November 7, 2012 and held for interrogation for 30 days, and then released on bail. He was tried and sentenced by Judge Moqiseh ( قاضی مقیسه) in the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, on charges of acting against national security and propaganda against the regime. The Review Court confirmed his 3-year sentence, which he began to serve in June, 2016. He was granted one 8-day furlough during his sentence.
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Three Bahai youth arrested in Semnan

HRANA, April 30, 2019. –

Behnaam Eskandaraani (بهنام اسکندرانی), Yalda Firouzeyaan (یلدا فیروزیان) and Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan (اردشیر فناییان), three young Bahais from Semnan, were arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on the morning of April 30. The agents also seized some of their personal effects. Mr. Fenaa’eyan was previously sentenced to 8 months in prison. During his time in prison he was obliged to promise that — contrary to a legal provision — he would present himself for military service when he was released from prison. The whereabouts of the three detainees is not known at present.
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Negin Qadameyan, serving a 5-year sentence, allowed furlough

HRANA, April 27, 2019. –

Negin Qedamiaan (نگین قدمیان), who began serving her 5-year sentence for educational crimes in relation to the Bahai Open University (BIHE) on December 16, 2017, was allowed a furlough from Evin Prison from April 22 to April 27. She had lodged several requests for a furlough for medical treatment for gum inflammation and pain in her jaw and teeth. She was arrested, along with many others associated with the Open University, in May, 2011. On March 12, 2013, she and nine other Bahais associated with the Open University were tried. After the trial they were freed on bail or with a pledge, until summoned to begin their sentences.
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Hamid Nasseri bailed in Tehran

HRANA, April 26, 2019. –

Hamid Nasseri ( حمید ناصری), a Bahai from Tehran who was arrested on March 11, was released on bail on April 24. His brother Saeed Nasseri (سعید ناصری), arrested in Tehran on March 11, was released on bail on April 18. The bail for each of the brothers was set at 500 million tumans ( 105,000 euros; $US 119,000 ).
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On April 21, Ruhiyyeh Narimaan (روحیه نریمان) was informed that the charges against her — for which she served five months of a 30-month sentence — have been dismissed by the Court of Review. She is already free, having been provisionally released from prison in Shiraz on March 9, pending a sitting of the Provincial Review Court. Mrs. Narimaan and her husband Farzaad Delaaraam (فرزاد دلارام) were originally sentenced to five years in prison by the notorious Judge Sadati ( قاضی ساداتی), but the Review Court reduced this to two years and six months for Ruhiyyeh Nariman and one year for Faarzaad Delaaraam. They were arrested in Shiraz on October 8, 2018, to begin serving their sentences, so she served five months of her sentence. Her husband was released in early February, benefiting from an amnesty for some prisoners of conscience marking the fortieth anniversary of the 1979 Revolution. Mrs. Nariman’s release is not related to the amnesty, and no reason is given in this report. It is possible that it relates to a January ruling by the Alborz Province Review Court, in the case of Liza Tebyanian Enayati (لیزا تبیانیان ( عنایتی), that teaching the Bahai Faith is not equivalent to “propaganda against the regime” and is not a crime.
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Mohsen Mehrgaani freed in Isfahan

HRANA, April 21, 2019. –

Mohsen Mehrgaani (محسن مهرگانی) was released from Isfahan prison on April 20. This is a conditional early release. He has served one third of his sentence, beginning on January 5, 2019. Alhough his sentence was 20 months, the three months he spent under interrogation and in prison between his arrest on January 24, 2017, and his release on bail in late April or early May, 2017, have been taken into account, giving a total of over six months served.
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Saeed Nasseri bailed in Tehran

Campaign for Prisoners of Conscience, April 19, 2019. –

Saeed Nasseri (سعید ناصری), who was arrested in Tehran on March 11, was released on bail on April 18. Bail was set at 500 million tumans ( 105,000 euros; $US 119,000 ). He was arrested after going to the Evin detention center to inquire about the condition of his brother Hamid (حمید ناصری), arrested on the same day, and of his wife Afsaneh Emami-Nasseri ((افسانه امامی(ناصری), arrested 40 days earlier. She has since been released, also on bail of 500 million tumans, but Hamid Nasseri remains in prison.
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Dhabihullah Ra’ufi begins internal exile; Parvaneh Rahmani acquitted

HRANA, April 15, 2019. –

Dhabihullah Ra’ufi ( ذبیح الله رئوفی ), a 70-year-old Bahai from Sanandaj, has set out from his home to serve his sentence of one year in internal exile in Minab, a town in Hormozgan Province which is 1700 kilometers from his home. He was also sentenced to one year in prison, but after serving just over four months of this sentence he was freed on March 12, under a prison amnesty marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 revolution in Iran. Last week he received a summons to appear at a court in Minab.

He was charged with “propaganda against the regime,” which apparently related to follow-up actions he took following the destruction of the Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj. His wife Parvaneh Rahmani-Ra’ufi (پروانه رحمانی رئوفی) was also sentenced to one year in prison and one year in exile, but (contrary to my previous report) this sentence was nullified by the Review Court on September 3, 2018.

Mr. Ra’ufi was previously arrested in 2009, and sentenced to 6 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime, followed by 6 months in exile in Tuyserkan. He also served his six-month prison term in Tuyserkan. And in June, 2011, the Ministry of Intelligence in Sanandaj conducted mass interrogations of the Bahais there, seeking information on how Sanandaj’s Bahai community is managed. One of those questioned was Dhabihullah Ra’ufi.
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Mo’in Muhammadi bailed in Yazd

HRANA, April 11, 2019. –

Mo’in Muhammadi (معین محمدی), a Bahai living in Yazd, was released on bail on April 10. He was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on January 9 this year. At the end of March he was sentenced to six years in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Yazd, and has apparently remained in detention since his trial — presumably because it has taken this long to arrange bail. Bahais sentenced to prison in Iran often wait some years before there is a place for them in prison. Mr. Muhammadi has been involved in environmental issues, but the charges against him have not been specified.
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Sentences reduced for three Bahai men in Shiraz

Voice of America (Persian), April 8, 2019. –

The Provincial Review Court has reduced the one-year sentences of Mahbub Habibi (محبوب حبیبی), Pejman Mehryaari (پژمان شهریاری) and Kurush Ruhaani (کوروش روحانی). Mr. Habibi and Mr. Ruhaani have been sentenced to six months in prison, on charges of “propaganda against the regime,” while Mr Merhyaari has been sentenced to three months and one day, on the same charge. They were informed of the reduced sentences on April 7.
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Six Bahai businesses reopen in Khorramshahr

HRANA, April 6, 2019. –

On November 15, 2018, the businesses of at least six Baha’i citizens of Khorramshahr were sealed by the order of the judicial authorities. In the five months since then, they have been allowed to reopen, one by one. On April 6, the sewing machine shop of Kaambiz Aazaadi (کامبیز آزادی) reopened. In late March and early April the optician’s shops of Hossein-Ali Habibi (حسینعلی حبیبی)and Behnaam Habibi (بهنام حبیبی)and the engine repair shop of Kouroush Jaaberi (کوروش جابری) reopened. The optician’s shops of Behrouz Habibi (بهروز حبیبی), and Bahaador Ahmadi (بهادر احمدی) were apparently allowed to reopen in early January, although this was not reported at the time.

The sealing of businesses was ordered in response to the owners having closed their businesses for a day in observance of a Bahai holy day. By law, as cited in Item B of Article 28 of the Commercial Union Law, citizens are allowed to close their business up to 15 days a year without providing authorities any reason or informing the Association for their industry. However, this legal provision is not extended to cover Bahais, and authorities routinely penalize Bahai business owners for observance of their Holy Days, by sealing their businesses.
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Mo’in Muhammadi sentenced to 6 years, in Yazd

HRANA, March 31, 2019. –

Mo’in Muhammadi (معین محمدی), a Bahai living in Yazd, has been sentenced to six years in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Yazd. He was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on January 9 this year. The agents then searched his father’s home and seized a laptop, books and a mobile phone. He has been involved in environmental issues, but the charges against him have not been specified.
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Zhinous Sobhani arrested in Tehran

HRANA, March 31, 2019. –

Zhinous Sobhani ( ژینوس سبحانی ), a Bahai human rights activist who has been arrested and sentenced previously, was arrested at her home in Tehran on March 31. Security agents searched her home and seized a laptop and telephone. The reasons for her arrest and the place of detention is not known. Ms. Sobhani, a former secretary of the Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights, and a member of the Organisation for Mine Clearance, was arrested on January 15, 2000, and bailed on March 11 of that year. She was arrested again in January, 2010. On October 13, 2010 she was sentenced to two years in prison. It is possible that her arrest yesterday was to begin serving her sentence — but the usual procedure is to issue a summons, in person or via the bail agent.
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22 Baha’is began New Year in Prison

Iran Press Watch, March 28, 2019. –

The last month of the Persian year 1397 (corresponding to 2018-2019 in the Gregorian calendar) was an eventful month for Baha’i prisoners. On one hand, some of them were released; on the other hand, trials, indictments, arrests and searches of their homes continued for these citizens in various cities in Iran.

On February 11th, the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, 17 prisoners who had less than a year remaining of their sentences were pardoned and released in Shiraz, Mashhad, Ghaemshahr, Isfahan, Sanandaj and Yazd.

Pouya Tebyaaniaan (پویا تبیانیان), one of the prisoners, was released from prison in Semnan, upon the completion of his seven-year sentence. Shayda Qodousi (شیدا قدوسی), a Baha’i prisoner in Gorgan, who had been sentenced to five years in prison, after serving one-third of her sentence was released on probation in the last days of the Persian year (which ended March 20). Maryam Ghaffaarmanesh (مریم غفارمنش) and Atosa Ahmaada’i (آتسا احمدائی) were also released from Evin prison, after serving respectively 6 months and 45 days of temporary detention.

As reported by Iranwire, on March 11 security agents in Tehran arrested two Baha’i brothers, Hamid Nasseri (حمید ناصری) and Saeed Nasseri (سعید ناصری). Hamid Nasseri was arrested on the street in front of his business, and Saeed after going to the Evin detention center to inquire about the condition of his brother Hamid and of his wife Afsaneh Emami-Nasseri ((افسانه امامی(ناصری). At the time of Saeed’s arrest, 40 days had passed since the arrest of his wife, Afsaneh Emami. She was released on bail in the final days of the year, but Saeed and Hamid Nasseri still remain in detention.

The sentence against Ghazaaleh Baaqeri Taari (غزاله باقری طاری), a Baha’i from Tehran, who was tried in December 2018, was issued in February of this year. She has been sentenced to five years in prison for the crime of “activities against national security because of membership in the Baha’i administration”. She was arrested by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence in September 2017, during a religious gathering at her home, and was released on bail three weeks later.

Kaaviz Nouzdahi (کاویز نوزدهی) is another Baha’i whose sentence was announced in February. A source with knowledge of the case told Iranwire: “The court hearing for Kaaviz Nouzdahi was held in late December 2018 in Branch 4 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Mashhad, presided over by Judge Mansouri ( قاضی منصوری). However on the day of the hearing the judge was not present, and the hearing was conducted by the court counselor, Mr. Farhikhteh (آقای “فرهیخته). The charges against Mr. Nouzdahi were “cooperating with hostile foreign governments” and “membership in an anti-regime organization”. The judge did not permit the defendant’s attorney to be present in court or review the case file. Their excuse was that the attorney named by Mr. Nouzdahi was not on the judiciary’s list of approved attorneys, and the court hearing was conducted without the attorney present. Article 48 of the New Penal Code states that in crimes against domestic or international security as well as organized crime, in the preliminary investigation phase the parties in the case must select their attorney or attorneys from among those approved by the head of the judicial branch.

According to the verdict issued, Kaaviz Nouzdahi was acquitted of the charge of cooperation with foreign governments, and was convicted for the charge of membership in an anti-regime organization (i.e., membership in the Baha’i administration), and sentenced to four years in prison.

Another Baha’i citizen, Neda Mokhtaari (ندا مختاری), was also sentenced to four years in prison by the verdict of Branch 5 of the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad presided over by Judge Mazloumi ( قاضی مظلومی) for the crime of “teaching the Baha’i Faith”.

Twenty two Baha’i citizens began Naw-Ruz (the Persian New Year) 1398 on March 21, 2019, away from their homes and families in Iranian prisons. They were sentenced in Iranian courts to a total of 105 years of imprisonment. The verdicts against these Baha’is were issued based on articles 498, 499 and 500 of the Islamic Penal Code.

Article 498 of the code states: “Any person with any ideology who forms or leads a group, society or sub-group of more than two people, under any name or title, domestically or abroad, with the goal of disrupting national security, who is not considered a combatant, shall be sentenced to prison for two to ten years.”

According to article 499 of this law: “Any person holding a membership in one of the groups, societies or sub-groups mentioned in article 498 shall be sentenced to three months to five years in prison, unless it is proven that they were unaware of its goals.”

Article 500 also states: “Any person engaged in any way in propaganda activities against the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran, or in favor of anti-regime groups and organizations, shall be sentenced to three months to one year in prison.”

The punishment for teaching the Baha’i Faith, membership and activity in this religious community is determined based on these articles of the law.

In Evin prison, four instructors of the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) are currently serving sentences for the crime of teaching youth who were deprived of a university education; Hassan Momtaaz (حسن ممتاز), Peymaan Kooshkbaghi (پیمان کوشکباغی), and Negin Qedamiaan (نگین قدمیان), each with five year prison sentences, and Azita Rafizaadeh (آزیتا رفیع زاده) with a four year prison sentence, are currently in Evin prison. Peyman Kooshkbaghi and his wife Azita Rafizadeh are among the incarcerated married couples who spent the final days of the year away from each other and from their young child.

Adel Naimi (عادل نعیمی) with an 11-year sentence, Farhaad Fahandej (فرهاد فهندژ) with a 10 year sentence, Vaahed Kholousi (واحد خلوصی) with a 5 year sentence, and Afshin Seyyed Ahmad (افشین سید احمد) with a 3 year sentence, are the four Bahai prisoners in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. Shahnaam Jazbaani (شهنام جذبانی) is the only Baha’i prisoner in Gonbad-e-Kavoos in Golestan province. He has been sentenced to 5 years in prison.

Isfahan, with 13 Baha’i prisoners, has the highest number of Baha’i prisoners in Iran. Nine of these prisoners were transferred to the Isfahan prison from the town of Baharestan. Of the nine, Sepideh Rouhaani (سپیده روحانی), Bahaareh Zaini (بهاره زینی), Fouzjaan Rashidi (فوژان رشیدی), each with a 3 year sentence, are incarcerated in Dowlatabad prison in Isfahan. Anousheh Raeineh (انوش راینه), Afshin Bolbolaan (افشین بلبلان), Milaad Daavardaan (میلاد داوردان), Farhang Sahba (فرهنگ صهبا) and Ali Saani (علی ثانی), each with a six year sentence, and Sahaam Armin (سهام آرمین), with a 3 year sentence, are the other six prisoners from Baharestan who have been transferred to Dastgerd prison in Isfahan to serve their sentences.

In addition, Sohraab Taqipour (سهراب نقی پور), with a 5 year sentence, and Manouchehr Rahmaani (منوچهر رحمانی), Mohsen Mehregani (محسن مهرگانی) and Farzaad Homaayouni (فرزاد همایونی), each with a 20 month sentence, are four Baha’is from Isfahan who began the Persian New Year in that city’s central prison.
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Publication: 175 Years of Persecution

Editorial, March 24, 2019. –

One World publisher has announced a well-documented and gripping account of the persecution of the Babi and Baha’i communities in Iran from its origin to the present time, by my dear friend Fereydun Vahman, Professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at the University of Copenhagen. From the genocidal pogroms of the Qajar era, to the improved, but precarious situation during the Pahlavi years, and the re-emergence of the severe persecutions since the 1979 revolution in Iran, the Bahai community has been consistently disparaged, as foreign spies, devil-worshippers and enemies of Iran and Islam. The book also shows the resilience of the Baha’i community in the face of hatred and violence. Available as a hard cover and e-book, see https://oneworld-publications.com/175-years-of-persecution-hb.html.
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Sheida Qoddusi granted conditional release in Gorgan

HRANA, March 18, 2019. –

Sheida Qoddusi (شیدا قدوسی), who began her 5-year sentence in Gorgan prison on June 13, 2017, has been granted conditional release after serving one third of that sentence. She was one of 14 Bahais arrested in Gorgan in mid-October, 2012. A number of other Bahais were arrested at the same time elsewhere in Golestan Province. They were tried in their absence by Judge Qanbari (قاضی قنبری). Mrs Qoddusi was initially sentenced to 11 years in prison, reduced to five years by the review court. She has two children. She was granted a ten-day furlough from June 27, 2018.
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Maryam Ghafarmanesh bailed from Evin Prison

HRANA, March 17, 2019. –

Maryam Ghafarmanesh (مریم غفارمنش) was released on bail from Evin Prison on March 17, after six months of detention without trial. She was one of five Bahais arrested at a meeting for environmental education in Karaj on September 16, 2018. About 20 hours after her arrest, Mrs. Ghafarmanesh reported in a telephone conversation that her bail had been set at 300 million tumans (61,000 euros; $US 71,000), but she was not released at that time. She was kept under interrogation and in solitary confinement for two months, in the section of the prison run by the Ministry of Information, and was transferred to the general women’s block on November 14, 2018.
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Afsaaneh Emaami bailed, her husband Sa`id Naaseri arrested, in Tehran

HRANA, March 14, 2018.

Sa`id Naaseri (سعید ناصری) was arrested in Tehran at about 11 a.m. on March 11, after reporting to the Public Prosecutor’s office at Evin Prison. He was allowed a telephone call to tell family that he had been arrested. He had gone to Evin Prison to inquire about his wife, Afsaaneh Emaami (افسانه امامی), who was arrested on February 2, and also about his brother, Hamid Naasseri (حمید ناصری), who had been arrested a few hours previously, on the morning of March 11.

A separate report indicates that Afsaaneh Emaami was released on bail on March 16. Bail was set at 500 million tumans ( 105,000 euros ; $US 120,000 [or one tenth as much, if the bail was actually in Rials]). Curiously, she was not released from the prison gates, where her family had gone to meet her: rather the family were first sent away, and then she was dropped at a metro station. [The authorities presumably sought to prevent the family photograph in front of the prison gates which is almost customary when Bahai prisoners are released. ~Sen]
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Dhabihullah Ra’ufi released in Sanandaj

Campaign for prisoners of conscience, March 13, 2019. –

Dhabihullah Ra’ufi ( ذبیح الله رئوفی ), a 70-year-old Bahai from Sanandaj, was released from prison on March 12. He has served just over four months of a one year sentence, but has been freed under a prison amnesty marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 revolution in Iran. He was charged with “propaganda against the regime,” and his one-year sentence was to be followed by one year in internal exile in Minab, 1700 kilometers from his home. The sentence apparently related to follow-up actions he took following the destruction of the Bahai cemetery in Sanandaj. His wife Parvaneh Rahmani-Ra’ufi (پروانه رحمانی رئوفی) has also been sentenced to one year in prison and one year in exile, but has not yet begun her sentence (according to my partial information).
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One arrest in Tehran

Campaign for Prisoners of Conscience, March 11, 2019. –

On the morning of March 11, security forces arrested Hamid Naasari (حمید ناصری), a Bahai living in Tehran at his work. It is assumed that he has been taken to Evin Prison.
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Ruhiyyeh Narimaan released in Shiraz: a reason for hope?

HRANA, March 10, 2019, with editorial commentary. –

Ruhiyyeh Narimaan (روحیه نریمان) was provisionally released from prison in Shiraz on March 9. Her sentence has been put in abeyance pending a sitting of the Provincial Review Court. Mrs. Narimaan and her husband Farzaad Delaaraam (فرزاد دلارام) were originally sentenced to five years in prison by the notorious Judge Sadati ( قاضی ساداتی), but the Review Court reduced this to two years and six months for Ruhiyyeh Nariman and one year for Faarzaad Delaaraam. They were arrested in Shiraz on October 8, 2018, to begin serving their sentences, so she has served only five months of her 30-month sentence. Her husband was released in early February, benefiting from an amnesty for some prisoners of conscience marking the fortieth anniversary of the 1979 Revolution.

Mrs. Nariman’s release is not related to the amnesty, and the re-review of a sentence already determined by the Review Court is highly unusual. I speculate — optimistically — that her release relates to a January ruling by the Alborz Province Review Court, in the case of Liza Tebyanian Enayati (لیزا تبیانیان ( عنایتی), that teaching the Bahai Faith is not equivalent to “propaganda against the regime.” Mrs. Enayati was acquitted and released. Part of the verdict issued by Branch 12 of the Alborz Province Review Court, headed by Judge Ali Badri (قاضی علی بدری), states: “The propagation of the Bahaism does not constitute propaganda against the regime. Basically, in the law, belief in Bahai Faith has not been criminalized so as to be able to prosecute or punish anyone under this charge…” Another part of the proceedings states: “Basically religious propagation, which is not considered to be against the system of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its sovereignty, is not considered a crime; [considering it a crime] is contrary to the Constitutional rights of citizenship.”
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Atosa Ahmadaa’i bailed in Tehran

HRANA, March 6, 2019. –

Atosa Ahmadaa’i Rafsanjaani ( آتسا احمدآئی رفسنجانی) was released on bail from Evin Prison in Tehran on March 6. She was arrested in a raid on her home in Tehran on January 20, 2019, has held incommunicado in Evin prison for 38 days before being transferred to a general section of the prison. She was allowed contact with her family on March 2. She has been charged with “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against the security of the country.”
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Puya Tabayaniyan released early in Semnan

HRANA, March 2, 2019. –

Mr. Puya Tabayaniyan (پویا تبیانیان), a Bahai who began as sentence of seven years in the Central Prison of Semnan on December 22, 2012, has been released unexpectedly after six years and two months. While prisoners in Iran generally are granted early release for good behaviour, this provision does not usually apply to Bahais. He was granted prison furlough for a few days, and when he returned to prison on March 2, he was told that he was free to go.

Mr. Tabayaniyan was first arrested on March 8, 2009 and held in solitary confinement for two months, during which he was interrogated by Judge Dowlat-Khah (قاضی دولت خواه). He was sentenced to two years in prison, and was granted a conditional release on April 29, 2010, with a six-month suspended sentence.

Then he was one of four Bahais who were arrested in Semnan on March 12, 2011. He was released on bail on April 3, and re-arrested on June 11. This was apparently for further interrogation, as reports from that time indicate that he released ten days later, on June 21, 2011. He was charged with undermining national security and propaganda against the regime, and sentenced to six and a half years in prison by Judge `Eyn al-Kamaal (قاضی عین الکمال). The six month suspended sentence was added to this.

In January, 2016, another prisoner released from the Central Prison of Semnan reported that Mr. Tabayaniyan was in solitary confinement in the prison. The reason and duration of this are not reported.
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Hassan Momtaaz transferred, from Shiraz to Evin Prison

HRANA, March 1, 2019. –

Hassan Momtaaz Sarvestani (حسن ممتاز سروستانی), serving a five-year sentence in Adel Abaad prison in Shiraz, was transferred to Evin prison in Tehran on February 26. It appears that this is so that he can receive medical treatment outside prison. Mr. Sarvestani was a teacher of Persian literature for the Bahai Open University (BIHE). He was first arrested in 2011, and was one of ten Bahais associated with the BIHE who were tried in Tehran on March 12, 2013. His sentence was handed down by Judge Maqiseh (قاضی مقیسه) on February 25, 2014, and confirmed by the review court. He was arrested to begin serving his sentence in Shiraz on November 15, 2017, although this HRANA report says he actually began his sentence on December 28, 2017.

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For older news, see the “old news” archive on Sen’s Daily blog.

 
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