News Feb. 26
Letter from the NSA of the USA focusses on race unity
Editorial, February 26, 2017.
A general letter released by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the United States on February 25 focusses on the theme of race unity. An earlier letter on this theme, entitled ‘eradicating racial prejudice in the nation’, was timed to coincide with the Feast of Izzat, on September 8, 2014.
American Bahais, it says, “have a twofold mission: to develop within our own community a pattern of life that increasingly reflects the spirit of the Baha’i teachings, and to engage with others in a deliberate and collaborative effort to eradicate the ills afflicting our nation.” (paragraph 6). In the context of involvement in the national discourse on race, the letter speaks of “a national race unity conference under the sponsorship of this Assembly, details of which will be announced in due course.” (Paragraph 11).
The full text of the letter is in the documents archive of my Bahai studies blog.
69-year-old invalid arrested in Tehran
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), February 21, 2017.
At 7.30 a.m. on February 21, three male and one female security agent arrested Sorur Forughi Mahdiabadi (سرور فروغی مهدی آبادی) in Tehran, and took her to Evin Prison. She is described as a 69-year old resident of Yazd, suffering from cancer and high blood pressure, who had gone to Tehran to celebrate the marriage of her son, planned for February 23.
Farzan Ma`sumi and Farhad Sabet bailed in Shiraz
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), February 22, 2017.
Farzan Ma`sumi (فرزان معصومی) and Farhad Sabet (فرهام ثابت) were freed on bail on the morning of February 22. They were arrested on the morning of February 12, when their homes were searched and religious and non-religous books, mobile phones and computers were seized, along with family photos and religious images. They were held at the Ministry of Intelligence Detention Center (Detention Facility 100). Bail was set at 200 million tumans each (59,000 euros ; $US 62,000).
Four Bahai detainees freed in Yazd
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), February 21, 2017.
On February 20, four of the Bahai detainees in Yazd were released after 33 days in detention. Bail was set at 180 million tumans (52,000 euros ; $US 55,000). Those released are Farzad Rouhani (فرزاد روحاني), Mehran Bandi (مهران بندي), Ramin Hasouri (رامين حصوري) and Ahmad Na`imi (احمد نعيمي). They were arrested in the course of raids on Bahai homes in Yazd on January 18, when masked agents seized religious books, flash memory sticks and computers.
Sholeh Ram and Shayan Rahimi released on bail
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), February 20, 2017.
Sholeh Ram (شعله رام) and her husband Shayan Rahimi (شایان رحیمی), Bahais living in Zahedan, have been released on bail after 20 days in detention. They were arrested by Security agents at 10.30 a.m. on February 1. At that time, it was said that they would be charged with activities contrary to national security.
Baha’is of Iran website launched
Bahai World News Service, February 15, 2017.
The site of the Bahai community of Iran went online earlier today. The website, in Persian, covers a range of topics and presents the history, activities, and aspirations of the Bahai community in Iran. [It does not present current Bahai news from Iran ~ Sen]
The new “Bahais of Iran” website is the first website of the Baha’i community of Iran. This is especially important at a time when a large volume of anti-Bahai propaganda has proliferated in that country.
Full report in English: here.
Trial of Hamed bin Haydara in Yemen postponed again
Bahai Campaign, February 14, 2017.
The trial of a Bahai citizen, Hamed bin Haydara, in Sana’a, Yemen, has been postponed for the seventh time. He has been imprisoned without trial since December 3, 2013. In April 2016, the Prosecutor asked for two months to gather evidence, although Mr. bin Haydara had at that point been imprisoned for 28 months. It would appear that no evidence has been found to sustain the various charges against him. Further background to his detention is given in an earlier report on this blog.
Shahram Eshraqi granted prison furlough
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), February 15, 2017.
Shahram Eshraqi (شهرام اشراقی), a Bahai who is serving a 3-year sentence in Block 3 of Isfahan Prison, has been granted a one-month furlough for medical treatment. He is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, and served in the front lines. This is the fourth time he has gone to prison for his Bahai beliefs. He is one of 20 Bahais who were sentenced to a total of 78 years in prison by a court in Yazd in April, 2014, and began his sentence in Isfahan on October 11, 2015. He has had health problems because of prison conditions, and his health deteriorated after he was transferred to Block 3, where conditions are particularly bad.
Details of the arrest of Faruq Izadinia
HRANA, February 14, 2017.
Faruq Izadi-nia (فاروق ایزدی نیا ), a well-known Bahai scholar, writer, and translator living in Tehran, was arrested when his home was raided at 10.30 a.m. on February 12. Agents from the security forces seized about 1300 books and various electronic equipment and personal effects. He is now under interrogation in Evin prison, and his daughter has been told the interrogation will last 10 days. He is accused of illegal activities against national security. This is his thrid arrest. He was arrested and condemned to death in the 1980s. His sentence was later commuted to 10 years in prison, and he was freed after five years. He was arrested again in 1996. Family members said that he is currently physically weak and ill. Among his symptoms are frequent bleeding of the nose, which doctors have not been able to explain. At the time of his arrest he was suffering from pain on the left side of his body, and he has low blood pressure and a low heartbeat rate.
New arrests in Tehran and Shiraz
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), February 12, 2017.
On the morning of February 12, security agents arrested Faruq Izad-nia (فاروق ایزدی نیا ), a Bahai living in Tehran who has already served two prison terms for his religious beliefs. He is a scholar and translator. It is presumed he has been taken to Evin Prison.
In Shiraz, security forces searched the home of (فرزان معصومی) and arrested him. This is in addition to the arrest of Farhad Sabet (فرهام ثابت), also on the morning of February 12.
One new arrest in Shiraz
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), February 12, 2017.
Farhad Sabet (فرهام ثابت), a young Bahai from Shiraz, was arrested by security forces for the Province of Fars on the morning of February 12. He was taken to “Detention Facility 100” which is operated by the Ministry of Intelligence.
Iran’s Martyr’s Foundation refuses to recognize Bahai soldier who died in war
Iran Press Watch, January 20, 2017.
The family of Muhyiddin Dhehni (محی الدین ذهنی) a Bahai soldier from Miandoab who died on the Piranshahr front during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, has written a letter asking the Martyr’s Foundation to recognize him as a “martyr,” and to create a record for him. The President of the Foundation in Miandoab, in response to his mother’s request, wrote that because they “belonging to the misguided Bahai sect,” and based on regulations, there was no possibility of being allowed to file a request, for this individual or similar individuals, whether Bahai war veterans or killed in action.
Muhyiddin Dhehni was killed at the end of his military service, on August 19, 1986, at Davoodabad Military Base in Piranshahr. Despite losing his life in the 8-year war, in which in every case the deceased is designated a “martyr,” and the Foundation supports his surviving family, they never created a file for Mr. Zehni, nor was any support allocated to his family.
Assets seized from 10 Bahai-run businesses in Karaj and Fardis
Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), February 6, 2017.
During the first week of February, government agents have opened up 10 of the Bahai-run businesses in Karaj and Fardis (two adjoining towns to the West of Tehran) that have been closed down by the authorities, taken away all the stock and other requisites, and re-sealed the premises.
Three Bahais arrested in Kerman
On February 8, 2017, security forces in Kerman arrested Ehsan Amiri-nia (احسان امیری نیا), Arman Bandi (آرمان بندی) and Nima Rajab-zadeh (نیما رجب زاده), and then searched their homes.
Bahai student Sepena Shadabi expelled from the Azad university of Kermanshah
Bahai News (English), February 9, 2017.
Sepena Shadabi (سپنا شادابی), a Bahai student from Kermanshah, has been expelled from the Sahneh County campus of the Free Islamic University of Kermanshah because of his Bahai beliefs. He is an architectural engineering student who began his studies in September 2014, and passed 104 units and completed the examinations. On January 31, 2017, he responded to a summons to the security office of the central university [university security offices in Iran are departments of the Ministry of Intelligence ~ Sen] where a security official took his student ID card and asked him whether he was a Bahai. “Yes,” he said, “I am a Bahai.” The head of security then told him “I have been instructed by the competent authorities to tell you that, under a ruling issued by the Council of the Cultural Revolution, you as a Bahai are not allowed to study at a university.” Next day he found that his login to the university website was blocked.
In the past month, 20 Bahai students have been expelled from Iranian universities because of their belief in the Bahai Faith. The ruling of the Council of the Cultural Revolution which initiated this systematic policy of discrimination against Bahai is available here.
Uzzatallah Kharram bailed in Yazd
Bahai News (Persian), February 5, 2017.
On February 5, after 20 days in detention, Uzzatallah Kharram (عزت الله خرم) was freed on bail from Yazd Prison. He was one of seven Bahais arrested in home raids in Yazd on the morning of January 18, and held in detention by the Ministry of Intelligence. During the raids, masked agents seized religious books, flash memory sticks and computers. The names of the other Bahais arrested that day are Farzad Rouhani (فرزاد روحاني), Nateqeh Na`imi (ناطقه نعيمي), Mehran Eslami (مهران اسلامي), Mehran Bandi (مهران بندي), Ramin Hasouri (رامين حصوري) and Ahmad Na`imi (احمد نعيمي). One of these, Nateqeh Na`imi, was released without bail a few hours later, but the other five remain under interrogation at the Ministry of Intelligence detention facility.
Mr. Azzatullah Khorram was also one of 17 Bahais who were arrested in Yazd in early August, 2016.
Ruhiyyeh Zaynali free on bail in Kerman
Bahai News (Persian), February 5, 2017.
Ruhiyyeh Zaynali (روحیه زینلی), a Bahai who was arrested in Kerman on January 3, has been released after posting bail of 100 million tumans (29,000 euros; $US 31,000). After her arrest she was held for prolonged interrogation by the Ministry of Intelligence, before being transferred to the Kerman Provincial Prison. Her husband Samir Khalousi (سمیر خلوصی) was arrested during a violent raid on the their home on December 30, 2016, and is apparently still being held by the Ministry of Intelligence. The couple have two children, aged 7 and 16.
Bahai student expelled from a non-profit university in Mashhad
Bahai News (Persian), February 1, 2017.
Sougol Kazemi-Bahnamiri (سوگل کاظمی بهنمیری) has been expelled from the Non-Profit University in Mashhad, where she had reached the fifth semester of a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Enginering, because of her Bahai beliefs. The discovered she had been expelled when she tried to access her personal page on the University’s web site on January 23. Her access was blocked. She went first to the IT services department, who sent her to the Education Office, who knew nothing about her expulsion. That office sent her back to the Director of the Education Office, who made further enquiries with the National Organisation for Educational Testing, who said that her student portal had been closed, but this was to be confidential. When she asked whether she had been expelled, the Education Office told her, “No, but until the Testing Organisation says that the problem with your file has been resolved, you are barred from further study and cannot follow classes in the coming semester.” She then went to the Ministry of Education and the Testing Organisation, but as of January 28 she had received no response, and there has also been no official documentation of the her expulsion.
Two Bahais arrested in Zahedan
Iran Press Watch, February 2, 2017.
Sholeh Ram (شعله رام) and her husband Shayan Rahimi (شایان رحیمی), Bahais living in the city of Zahedan, were arrested by Security agents on the morning of February 1, and were transferred to an unknown location. An informed said, “Yesterday morning [at 10.30 am], they arrested Mrs. Ram at her father’s workplace, and then went to the business premises of Mr. Rahimi and arrested him.” Another source said that this was the first time these Bahais had been arrested, and the arresting agents said they would be charged with “activities against national security.”
Afif Na`imi returns to Rajai Shahr prison
Bahai News (Persian), January 28, 2017.
Afif Na`imi (عفیف نعیمی), one of the seven imprisoned ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahai community in Iran), returned to Rajai Shahr prison on January 28. He has served 8 years of a 10-year sentence, and was granted a furlough for medical treatment which eventually extended to five months. On several occasions in recent years, he has been taken from prison to a heart disease hospital in Tehran for treatment, only to be returned to prison with the treatment incomplete. He suffers from blood clots and recurrent fainting (apparently due to the effects of blood thinning drugs to reduce the risk of brain hemorrhage). His health problems are described as “severe,” and the prison’s Medical Examiner has determined that he is not fit for prison because of his failing health.
One arrest in Tehran
Iran Press Watch, February 2, 2017.
The website of Human Rights in Iran reports: on January 27 Haleh Gholami (هاله غلامی), a Bahai from Tehran, was detained by security agents in the Shahrara area of Tehran because of her belief in the Bahai Faith, as she was participating in charity work for child laborers. Bahai News reported that after her arrest, they searched her home and confiscated her mobile phones and tablets.
Two arrests in Isfahan
Bahai News (Persian), January 26, 2016.
On January 24, security forces raided the home of Manouchehr Rahmani (منوچهر رحمانی) and Mohsen Mehrgani (محسن مهرگانی), which they searched thoroughly, seizing their religious books and personal effects. They were arrested and taken away, and their present whereabouts is unknown.
Tina Mauhabati’s prison sentence commuted to a fine
Bahai News (Persian), January 31, 2017.
Tina Mauhabati ( تینا موهبتی ), a Bahai originally from Gorgan in Golestan Province, has been fined 3 million tumans (860 euros; $US 930). This fine replaces her previous sentence of one year and nine months, which was not implemented because she was less than 18 years old when she was sentenced. At the time of her arrest she was living in Tehran, and was arrested at the bus station in Gorgan on the evening of October 23, 2012, as she was waiting for the bus to Tehran. She was held for 24 days before being released on bail. She was charged with propaganda against the regime, apparently connected to a prayer meeting. She is one of 24 Bahais from Golestan province who were given very heavy sentences in January, 2016, sentences which were greatly reduced by the Review Court in November, 2016. They were charged with crimes such as collaborating with hostile states by promoting the interests of a sect and of anti-Muslim and anti-Shiah arrogant governments, and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic and in favor of the Bahai Faith through participation in Ruhi projects in Golestan province.”
Tina Mauhabati’s sentence was initially 9 years in prison, later reduced to 21 months, and now commuted to a fine. Because she will be ‘credited’ with the time she has already been imprisoned, the amount she will actually have to pay is 1.8 million tumans.
Latest news from the Bahais in Yazd
Bahai News (Persian), January 24, 2017.
On the morning of January 24, security forces searched the home of Muhammad Tadrisi (محمد تدریسی), a Bahai living in Yazd, and arrested him. He was taken to the jail run by the Ministry of Intelligence. He was released on bail on February 1. About four years ago, his home was searched and photographs and other personal effects were seized.
Also on the morning of January 24, Mrs. Shabnam Motahed (شبنم متحد) was released from prison after serving a two-year sentence. Her husband Mr. Eyman Rashidi (ایمان رشیدی) is serving a three-year sentence. Both entered prison on March 18, 2015. They were among 20 Bahais who were arrested in August, 2011, and given heavy prison terms in April, 2014.
As previously reported, Mahbod Ettehadi (مهبد اتحادی), another Bahai from Yazd, was released on bail on January 23 after a 3-week interrogation period, and Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری) was released on January 13, after serving a 2-year sentence. On the morning of January 18, security officers arrested seven other Bahais in Yazd.
Mahbod Ettehadi bailed in Yazd
Bahai News (Persian), January 23, 2017.
Mahbod Ettehadi (مهبد اتحادی), a 23-year-old Bahai living in Yazd who was arrested by security forces on the morning of January 1, has been released on bail after being detained for 23 days by the Ministry of Intelligence. He was arrested at his workplace, in a travel agency. The arresting agents gave no reason for his arrest. They took him to his home, which they searched.
Kouroush Sharif-zadeh and Fo’ad Mithaqiyan bailed in Karaj
Bahai News (Persian), January 22, 2017.
Kouroush Sharif-zadeh (کوروش شریف زاده) and Fo’ad Mithaqiyan (فواد میثاقیان), Bahais from Karaj who were arrested on January 19, have been freed on bail of 300 million tumans and 120 million tumans, respectively ($US 92,000 and $US 37,000 respectively). After their arrest they were transferred to Ghezel Hazar prison. Follow the arrest of Mr. Sharif-zadeh, he was taken in handcuffs to his business (which had previously been closed by the authorities), and all his stock was confiscated. The two men are (apparently) joint owners of Sam Optics in Karaj, which has been shut down by the authorities because of their Bahai beliefs. It is one of over 90 Bahai-run businesses that were closed down in various places in November, 2016.
Two Bahai men forcibly disappeared in Yemen
Amnesty International, January 19, 2017.
Heshmat Alah Ali Mohammad Sabet Sarvestani and his son-in-law Nadim al-Sakkaf have been arbitrarily detained in Yemen, without charge and subjected to enforced disappearance, since January 11. They have been held incommunicado in an unknown location without access to their families or lawyers, raising fears they might be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.
On 11 January, Nadim al-Sakkaf drove Heshmat Alah Sarvestani to the international airport in Yemen’s southern city of Aden. Heshmat Alah Sarvestani was due to board a Yemenia flight to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to renew his Iranian passport and receive medical treatment. He is 75 years old and suffers from various medical ailments, including arterial hypertension — a rare form of high blood pressure — and a slipped disc. At around 2pm, while at the check-in desk, the two men were approached by an airport officer dressed in civilian clothing who ushered Nadim al-Sakkaf into an office for questioning. Hesmat Alah Sarvestani was called into the same office shortly after. Neither has been seen since. The Yemeni authorities have refused to disclose their whereabouts.
Amnesty International has issued an “urgent action” call because of the dissappearance of the two men,
+ calling on the Yemeni authorities to disclose the fate and whereabouts of Heshmat Alah Sarvestani and Nadim al-Sakkaf and release them immediately and unconditionally, unless they are to be charged with a recognizable criminal offence, in line with international law and standards; and
+ urging them to ensure that they are protected from torture and other ill-treatment and granted, without delay, regular access to their families, lawyers and any medical treatment they may require.
Seven Bahais arrested in Yazd
Bahai News (Persian), January 18, 2017.
On the morning of January 18, security officers arrested Farzad Rouhani (فرزاد روحاني), Nateqeh Na`imi (ناطقه نعيمي), Mehran Eslami (مهران اسلامي), Mehran Bandi (مهران بندي), Ramin Hasouri (رامين حصوري), Ahmad Na`imi (احمد نعيمي) and Uzzatallah Kharram (عزت الله خرم).
Mrs. Nateq Na’imi (ناطقه نعیمی) has been imprisoned previously, and was only released on August 16, 2016. Mehran Bandi has also been imprisoned for his beliefs: on October 3, 2010, he was reported to be serving a 3-year sentence in the prison of Zabul. In February 2014 his home was the target of a raid, and in August, 2016, his home and workplace in Yazd were raided. Mr. Azzatullah Khorram was one of 17 Bahais who were arrested in Yazd in early August, 2016.
Two Bahai business-owners arrested in Karaj
Bahai News (Persian), January 19, 2017.
Bahai News (Persian), January 19, 2017.
Kouroush Sharif-zadeh (کوروش شریف زاده) and Fo’ad Mithaqiyan (فواد میثاقیان), Bahais from Karaj whose optician’s workshop has been shut down by the authorities because of their Bahai beliefs, were summoned to the Office of Suspensions (a department of the Ministry of Justice), and arrested when they arrived. They were taken away from the Office of Suspensions, and their present whereabouts is not known. Kouroush Sharif-zadeh has been previously mentioned on this blog, as the owner of Sam Optics in Karaj, one of over 90 Bahai-run businesses that were closed down in various places in November, 2016.
Six Bahai students expelled in Rudehen
Bahai News (Persian), January 17, 2017.
On December 31, 2016, six students were expelled from the Islamic Free University in Ruhdehen (Roodehen), because of their Bahai beliefs. After confirming their identity (as enrolled students), Sana Hourbakht (ثنا هوربخت), Janahgir Hedayati (جهانگیر هدایتی) and four others who have not given permission to use their names found they were blocked from the student’s part of the university web site and, after various efforts to follow up on this, found that their expulsion was directly related to the head of the University’s security department.
Sana Hourbakht sat the national University Entrance examination in the previous academic year, and was faced with the “incomplete file” excuse that is used to bar Bahai students from universities, but he was nevertheless able to enroll at the Free University to study architectural engineering. But on December 28 he, like the other five Bahai students at the university, found his personal page had been blocked and that he no longer had user access as a student.
Janahgir Hedayati was in his fifth semester of a degree in Computers and Applications, and just two weeks before his expulsion the Chancellor of the Free University had awarded him a wall plaque in recognition of his academic excellence. He too sat the national University Entrance examinations and received only the result “file incomplete,” but was able to enroll at the university as a “free” student, without UE results.
The other expelled students likewise had given their religion as “Bahai” on enrolling, and found they were expelled when they were blocked from the university web site. There is no evidence of who took the decision or blocked their accounts, but only university officials have that access to the web site. When they followed up, the Chancellor’s office told them to go to the Security Department [which is an arm of the Ministry of Intelligence, not controlled by the University ~ Sen]. when they went to the Security Department, their mobile phones were confiscated [to prevent them recording the interview ?] and the Head of Security told them “do not come to the University, you know why you have been expelled.” From the University Administration they learned that the officials there had no idea why they had been expelled, only that there was a red star beside their names in the list of students. The officials said to ask the Security Office what it meant.
Bahai student expelled in Shiraz
Bahai News (Persian), January 15, 2017.
Dorna Esmaili (درنا اسماعیلی), a student in the 7th semester of a degree in Graphic Design at the Eram non-profit private university in Shiraz, has been expelled because of her Bahai beliefs. On January 8, during the end of term examinations, an examination official contacted her to say that the National Organisation for Educational Testing had said she was not eligible for examinations. When she asked the reason, she was told to contact Mr. Nourbaksh (آقاي نور بخش), at the head office of NOET in Tehran. When she asked the Chancellor of the University why she was expelled, he said she contact NOET. She did so, travelling to Tehran to see Mr. Nourbaksh, he said he had been contacted by the Ministry of Intelligence, and was not responsible for the decision.
Bahai student expelled in Isfahan
Bahai News (Persian), January 16, 2017.
Ma’ideh As-sadat Hosseini-rad (مایده السادات حسینی راد), a Bahai from Isfahan, has been expelled from university because of her Bahai beliefs. She was not given any documentation of her expulsion, or evidence of the grades she had achieved.
Following the national university entrance examinations she was excluded from study, with the excuse of “incomplete file,” but she was able to resolve that issue (the details are not specified) through contact with the National Organisation for Educational Testing, allowing her to enrol at the Technical University of Isfahan to study mathematics and statistics. But following the examinations at the end of the first semester she was excluded from the University’s web site and contacted to say that the National Organisation had not confirmed her eligibility to enrol, and she should go to the Organisation with any questions. When she did go to the Organisation, accompanied by her mother, for an interview with the head of student selections. He said the issue was a long-standing one, and that he was a supporter of the Bahais, to which Miss Hosseini-rad replied that there had been no improvement in the situation for Bahais over the years. He said the fault lay with the Ministry of Intelligence, not the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Fariba Ashtari released from prison
Bahai News (Persian), January 13, 2017.
Mrs. Fariba Ashtari (فریبا اشتری) was released from prison in Yazd on January 13, after serving a 2-year sentence which commenced on February 21, 2015. She has also been given a 12-month suspended sentence (probation), which will begin now. 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 Baqeri (ناصر باقری) and her son Fa’iz Baqeri (فایز باقری) have also been imprisoned for their faith in Yazd.
Bahai business reopened in Karaj
Campaign against harrassment of Bahais, January 6. 2017.
An office fittings business operated by Kambiz and Kourush Sadeqi ( کامبیز و کوروش صدقی), two Bahai brothers living in Karaj, has been allowed to reopen. In the last three months, at least 140 Bahai-owned businesses have been sealed by the authorities because they were closed on Bahai religious holidays. Most remain sealed.
Another student expelled in Shiraz
HRANA, January 12, 2017.
Nazanin Niku-seresht ( نازنین نیکو سرشت), a student of English Literature at the Faculty of Literature and Human Sciences, Shiraz University, has been expelled after after two and a half months of study because of her Bahai beliefs. On December 28, 2016, when she checked the University web site to see her grades, she found the list was blank. When she enquired at the Faculty, she was told the University’s central administration had sent a letter saying her university studies had been stopped. The letter was signed by Dr. Muhammad-`Ali Masnadi Shiraz (محمدعلی مسندی شیراز), the head of educational affairs at the University. University officials said the decision was made by the Lecturer and Student Selection Committee in Tehran on December 12, and covered the expulsion of six students [for various reasons]. She was told she would have to contact the Committee for further details, but was not allowed a copy of the letter.
Mrs. Niku-seresht was one of the 129 Bahai university applicants who were rejected this academic year, with the excuse “incomplete file.” But she enquired about the nature of the “incomplete file,” and in the meantime was able to enroll and begin studies. Her further enquiries to the national body responsible for the university entrance requirements received not answer. But when she looked at Shiraz University, where she had applied, she found her name on the list of new students. She chose her courses and was given a student number and ID card.
Maryam Bashir and Borhan Ismaili arrested in Borazjan, Bushehr
Iran Press Watch, January 3, 2017.
Agents from the Intelligence Protection Organisation (سازمان حفاظت اطلاعات سپاه پاسداران) arrested Maryam Bashir (مریم بشیر) and Borhan Ismaili (رهان اسماعیلی), two Bahai residents of Borazjan in Bushehr province, on the morning of January 2, 2017.
The agents searched their homes from 8 AM to 12 PM on Monday, 2 January 2017, and confiscated personal belongings, including mobile telephones, religious books and laptop. According to informed sources they then took them to a prison run by the Organisation, then to a court, and finally to Borazjan prison.
According to a source close to the family, the security forces showed their families only a letter, saying they should go to the court on the following day.
The security forces also went to the home of Farshad Taqavi (فرشاد تقوی) in Borazjan, searched the house and confiscated some of his belongings, including his mobile telephone, laptop, religious books and photos, but this Bahai was not arrested.
Maryam Bashir (pictured following her release) was freed on bail two days later. Bail was set at 120 million tumans (35,000 euros ; $US 37,000). Borhan Ismaili was freed after posting bail of the same amount on January 7.
In the days following the two arrests, the Organisation summoned and interrogated Minu Bashir (مینو بشیر), Farang Shaykhi (فرانک شیخی) — the wife of Borhan Ismaili — and Haydeh Ram (هایده رام), the wife of Farshad Taqavi.
One arrest in Yazd
Bahai News (Persian), January 1, 2017.
Mahbod Ettehadi (مهبد اتحادی), a 23-year-old Bahai living in Yazd, was arrested by security forces on the morning of January 1. Initial reports suggested that he was being detained by the Ministry of Intelligence, but as of today (January 10) there is no further news of him. He was arrested at his workplace, in a travel agency. The arresting agents gave no reason for his arrest. They took him to his home, which they searched.
Bahai murdered in Semnan, and his body burnt
Bahai News (Persian), January 9, 2017.
Ahmad Fana’ian ( احمد فناییان), an elderly Bahai farmer living in Semnan Province, was murdered on the night of January 7, and his body was burnt to such an extent that DNA tests were required to identify the victim. It is not clear whether there was a religious motive for the murder.
A neighbour noticed that Mr. Fana’ian’s sheep were wandering, and that his car stood with the door open, and the key in the ignition, and found no trace of him. He called Mr. Fana’ian’s brother, who tried to contact him several times and then came with his son to the farm, where they found his burned body. Four farm workers are also missing.
Wife of Samir Khalousi arrested in Kerman
Bahai News (Persian), January 3, 2017.
Ruhiyyeh Zaynali (روحیه زینلی), a Bahai living in Kerman, was summoned twice to the Provincial Office of the Ministry of Intelligence on two successive days. On the second occassion, on January 3, she was arrested. Her husband Samir Khalousi (سمیر خلوصی) was arrested during a violent raid on the their home on December 30, 2016, and is still being interrogated by the Ministry of Intelligence. Both are accused of propaganda against the regime and undermining national security. Mr. Khalousi suffers from a skin disease that requires medications, but the Ministry of Intelligence has not allowed him to receive the medication. The imprisoned couple have two children, aged 7 and 16.
Iqan Shahidi released after 5 years in prison
Bahai News (Persian), January 1, 2017.
Iqan Shahidi (ایقان شهیدی), a Bahai from Kermanshah, was released from Raja’i Shahr prison on January 1, at the end of a five-year sentence for his activism for equality of educational opportunities in Iran. Mr. Shahidi was successful in the University Entrance exams in 2007, but was excluded from tertiary education because he is a Bahai. The authorities used the excuse of “file incomplete” – which is to say, it lacked the word “Muslim.” He became active in the campaign against educational discrimination, and was arrested along with a number of other human rights activists, including four Bahais, on March 2, 2010, in Kermanshah. He was transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran and held in wing 2A for 71 days. During this time he was subjected to prolonged interrogation and physical and psychological torture. He and Sama Nourani ( سما نورانی ), another Bahai who had been denied university admission, were pressured to make televised confessions. At that time he was about 21 years old. He was released on bail of 50 million tuman (at that time worth about 35000 euros) on May 11, 2010.
He was tried in Tehran on July 2 on charges of membership of an illegal organisation (the Committee for the Right to Education (PCED), propaganda against the regime, and membership of the Bahai community. He was sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسهای) in Tehran. Judge Moqayesseh was also responsible for the sentencing of the seven ‘Yaran’ (imprisoned national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran) and continues to misuse his judicial position to oppress the Bahai minority even today. The sentence was confirmed by the review court under Judge Mauhed (قاضی موحد). He began his sentence on April 9, 2012. In 2014 he was granted six days of leave from prison, beginning on July 28.
2016: not a good year for the Bahais in Iran
Bahai News (Persian), December 29, 2016.
Bahai News has published an overview of incidents affecting the human rights and civil rights of Bahais in Iran in 2016. The figures, which are ikely to be incomplete, since the Bahais in Iran do not have membership rolls or community organizations, show the the human rights situation for Bahais in Iran has deteriorated under President Roughani. The report lists:
72 prisoners released
12 Bahai prisoners allowed prison furlough
9 trials (presumably this means trials of groups of Bahais ~ Sen)
140 Bahai-run businesses closed down
3 cases of refusal to allow the burial of Bahais
5 Bahai cemeteries destroyed
2 cases of high school students expelled for Bahai beliefs
1 martyrdom, that of Farhang Amiri (فرهنگ امیری) in Yazd.
For older news, see the “old news” archive on Sen’s Daily blog.