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                                  Reflections on the Bahai teachings

News May 28

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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More from Shiraz: Farzaan Ma`sumi and Farhaam Sabet sentenced

HRANA, May 26, 2020. –

Farzaan Ma`sumi (فرزان معصومی) and Farhaam Sabet (فرهام ثابت) are the latest Bahais in Shiraz to be sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی سید محمود ساداتی), with an additional but concurrent one-year sentence. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of groups opposed to the regime.

They were arrested on the morning of February 12, 2017, 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 Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Detention Center (Detention Facility 100) in Shiraz, and were freed on bail on the morning of February 22. Bail was set at 200 million tumans each (59,000 euros ; $US 62,000). Farzaan Ma`sumi was again arrest on October 21, 2019, along with Kiaana Sho`aari (کیانا شعاعی) and Soroush Abaadi (سروش آبادی). It was later claimed that they were holding a religious ceremony that would eclipse the Arba’een Pilgrimage in Karbala.
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Amin Dhulfaqaari arrested in Yazd

HRANA, May 26, 2020. –

Amin Dhulfaqaari (امین ذوالفقاری), a Bahai from Yazd, was arrested on May 21 and taken to the city’s prison. It is reported that the detention order specified that he would be held for one month, He is expected to be charged with teaching the Bahai Faith.
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Elaheh Sami`zaadeh sentenced to an additional year

HRANA (ENG), May 25, 2020. –

As previously reported, Elaheh Sami`zaadeh (الهه سمیع زاده) was sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی سید محمود ساداتی), on charges of “propaganda against the regime and membership in opposition groups” (plus a one-year concurrent sentence), for her work as an instructor at “mother-child innovation courses” using her valid college degree obtained from official institutions. Another charge of “forging a university degree” was brought up against her in July 2019 and caused her bail to be increased by 60 million tumans. This case was heard by Judge Fakhaarzaadeh (قاضی فخارزاده), the charge being “misuse of scientific titles,” which refers to her studies at the Bahai Institute of Higher Education. He sentenced her to one year in prison and 2 years suspension from holding all governmental and public jobs. All Bahais in Iran are permanently barred from governmental and public jobs, and also from work in many economic sectors.
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In Shiraz, two more Bahai women sentenced to six years

HRANA, May 17, 2020. –

Shahnaaz Saabet (شهناز ثابت) and Soheila Haqiqat (سهیلا حقیقت) have been sentenced to six years in prison. They were charged with “propaganda against the regime and membership in anti-regime groups.” The trial was held on May 10. The same judge, Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی سید محمود ساداتی), has recently sentenced eight other Bahais. In two of these cases, Elaheh Sami`zaadeh (الهه سمیع زاده) and Sudabeh Haqiqat (سودابه حقیقت) were sentenced to six years, which was specified as five years on one charge plus an one-year concurrent sentence. It may be that the 6-year sentences in today’s report also include a one-year concurrent sentence.

Mrs Haqiqat was arrested in her home in Shiraz on August 10, 2019, and Mrs. Saabet was arrested in her home in Shiraz on September 1, 2019. They were freed on bail after their arrest.
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Another six young Bahais sentenced in Shiraz

HRANA, May 14, 2020. –

Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی سید محمود ساداتی), who sentenced Elaheh Sami`zaadeh (الهه سمیع زاده) and Sudabeh Haqiqat (سودابه حقیقت) to five years in prison (plus an one-year concurrent sentence) has announced sentences for Shahryaar `Ataareyaan (شهریار عطریان), six years, Navid Bazmaandegaan (نوید بازماندگان) and his wife Bahreh Qaderi (بهاره قادری), both six years, Nilufar Hakimi (نیلوفر حکیمی), eight years, Noraa Pourmoraadian (نورا پورمرادیان), six years, and Ehsanollah Mahbub-Rahwafa (احسان الله محبوب راه وفا = ) (احسان محبوب راه‌وفا), one year. They were tried on May 10, charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of groups opposed to the regime. All eight young Bahais were arrested in September, 2018. The common factor in their cases is that they were attending or teaching adult education classes, while Elaheh Sami`zaadeh and Nilufar Hakimi were also teaching music to children. Their arrests 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 and accused of defending the “false Bahai Faith,” an offence for which he served a jail sentence.

This report does not mention any concurrency in the sentences, but given the examples of Elaheh Sami`zaadeh and Sudabeh Haqiqat, it is likely that the sentences of six and eight years will in fact be five and seven years. All sentences are from a Revolutionary Court, and must be reviewed by the Provincial Review Court, which very often cuts sentences that are obviously ideologically motivated, yet seldom acquits the accused.
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Elaheh Sami`zaadeh and Sudabeh Haqiqat given 5-year sentences in Shiraz

HRANA,May 13, 2020. –

Elaheh Sami`zaadeh (الهه سمیع زاده) and Sudabeh Haqiqat (سودابه حقیقت) have been sentenced to five years in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, on the charge of membership of anti-regime groups, as well as a one-year concurrent sentence on the charge of propaganda against the regime. They were tried on May 10. Their lawyer was present, but they were excluded from the court by the sentencing judge, Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati (قاضی سید محمود ساداتی). They are also awaiting trial in another court – a criminal court. This presumably relates to the charge of “forging a document,” because they are graduates from the Bahai Institute of Higher Education.

They are both residents of Shiraz, and were arrested there on September 15 and 16. They were released on bail 25 days later.
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Ruhollah Zibaa’i summoned again

HRANA, May 11, 2020. –

Ruhollah Zibaa’i (روح‌الله زیبایی) has been summoned to a Revolutionary Court in Karaj, although he has already been tried and sentenced by another Revolutionary Court judge in Karaj. This report does not indicate when he is to appear at the court. He was arrested in Karaj on August 3, 2019, and released on bail on September 2. At the time, government-sponsored media claimed that Mr. Zibaa’i’s arrest was in relation to a scheme to tighten the economic sanctions against Iran. He requires constant medical supervision because of wounds suffered in the Iran-Iraq war, requiring the amputation of one foot and the loss of one kidney and part of his liver, and various other injuries and ailments. Because he is a Bahai, he is excluded from the support given to war veterans. He was given a one-year sentence by Judge `Assef Al-Husseini (قاضی عاصف الحسینی), on a charge of propaganda against the regime and in favour of the Bahai Faith. The provincial review court has confirmed that sentence, so it is possible that his summons is the beginning of his imprisonment.
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Four raids, summons and one arrest in Isfahan

HRANA, May 5, 2020. –

On May 3, agents from the Intelligence Arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IGRC) raided three Bahai homes in Isfahan in a coordinated operation. At the same time they raided and sealed the business premises of Mr. Shahzaad Hosseini (شه زاد حسینی), one of those whose homes were raided. He was summoned to appear at IGRC office on May 6. On May 4, his son Shaayaan Hosseini (شایان حسینی) was arrested. It is not known where he is being held. The third home that was searched belonged to Mrs. Hosseini, the elderly mother of Shahzaad Hosseni.

In the raids, the agents first pretended to be Corona virus officers, but then broke doors and windows in the houses. They seized some personal effects. When Shahzaad Hosseini heard by telephone that the home of his mother had been raided, went there and found that the agents had broken a window and the security mesh on the window and entered her house in a brutal way. Mrs Hosseini was in shock and was unconscious for a time. When the agents had completed their search, they summoned Mr. Hosseini to come to their offices on May 6. Meanwhile, unidentified persons broke into Shahzaad Hosseini’s carpentry workshop, breaking all the locks and doors, stealing all his carpentry tools and his stock of timber. He and his neighbour there have reported the theft to police. When his son Shaayaan went to the workshop to lock it, he was set on by agents from the Isfahan IRGC, in the workshop itself. The agents took away the remaining contents of the workshop and sealed it, and arrested him, as well as taking his mobile phone and his car.
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Vaahed Khalousi released from Evin Prison

HRANA, April 28, 2020.

Vaahed Khalousi Derakshaan (واحد خلوصی درخشان), who was given leave from Evin prison on March 12 this year, was told by the prison Prosecutor on April 28 that he could consider himself released. He began his five-year sentence in September, 2015. He was arrested in March 2010, along with four other Bahais: Navid Khanjani, Sama Nourani. Eqan Shahidi and Dorsa Sobhani (نوید خانجانی ، سما نورانی، ایقان شهیدی و درسا سبحانی), and later released on bail. In June, 2011, he was tried by Judge Muhammad Moqiseh (قاضی محمد مقیسه), a notorious abuser of human rights and judicial procedures, who was responsible for the imprisonment of the seven “Yaran.” He was found guilty of “assembling and colluding against national security,” “membership and active participation in the Bahai community and extensive propaganda for it” and “propaganda activities against the regime by means of active participation in organisations defending the right to tertiary education.” Judge Moqiseh’s five-year sentence was later confirmed by the Review Court for Tehran Province. Mr. Khalousi sat the University Entrance examination while in prison, but was excluded from tertiary education because of his Bahai beliefs.

Mr. Khalousi was also one of the 35 social activists, including five Bahais, who were arrested while bring aid to the victims of the the 2011 Azerbaijan earthquake. The activists were detained in Tabriz for almost two months and were charged with assembly and collusion to commit crimes against national security, endangering public health and insulting Iran’s Supreme Leader. All were acquitted in September 2013.
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One-year sentences confirmed for 4 Bahais in Karaj

HRANA, April 29, 2020. –

The Review Court for Alborz Province has confirmed the one-year sentences previously handed down by Judge `Assef Al-Husseini (قاضی عاصف الحسینی) in a Revolutionary Court in Karaj for Abu Al-Fadl Ansaari (ابوالفضل انصاری), Ruhollah Zibaa’i (روح‌الله زیبایی), Ru’in Kohansaal (روئین کهنسال) and Muhammad-Sadeq Reza’i (محمدصادق رضایی). They were informed of the decision on April 28. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and in favour of the Bahai Faith. The court rejected the defence that teaching the Bahai Faith is a religious matter. This arises from the previous finding of the Review Court for Alborz Province, 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. It appears that it is again a crime, at least in Alborz Province.

Ruhollah Zibaa’i and Ru’in Kohansaal were arrested in Karaj in 2019, on August 3 and 4, respectively, and released on bail on September 2. At the time, government-sponsored media claimed that Mr. Zibaa’i’s arrest was in relation to a scheme to tighten the economic sanctions against Iran. He requires constant medical supervision because of wounds suffered in the Iran-Iraq war, requiring the amputation of one foot and the loss of one kidney and part of his liver, and various other injuries and ailments. Because he is a Bahai, he is excluded from the support given to war veterans.

Abu-Fadl Ansaari was arrested at his home in Karaj on August 3, 2019, and held in Raja’i Shahr prison. He was released on bail in Karaj on September 8. He has a heart condition and relies on a pacemaker.
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Another nine Bahais sentenced in Birjand

HRANA, April 23, 2020. –

Nine Bahais whose homes were raided in October 2017 in connection with the birth of Baha’u’llah 200 years previously have been given long sentences by Judge Hojjat Nabavi (قاضی حجت نبوی), in a Revolutionary Court in Birjand. Atieh Saalehi (عطیه صالحی), `Ataa’ollah Maaleki (عطاالله ملاکی), Farzaaneh Dimi (فرزانه دیمی), Nasrin Qadiri (نسرین قدیری), Banafsheh Mokhtaari (بنفشه مختاری), Arzo Mohammadi (آرزو محمدی), Sa’id Maaleki (سعید ملاکی) and Ru’ya Maaleki (رویا ملاکی) were sentenced to six years in prison, while Rahmat’ollah Dimi (رحمت الله دیمی), in view of his advanced age, was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison. The charges were “membership of the misguided Bahai sect, which is an illegal organisation undermining national security,” as well as “propaganda on behalf of the Bahai organisation, a group and enterprise opposed to the sanctified regime of the Islamic Republic.”

Around the time of the bicentennial of the birth of Baha’u’llah, Bahais were arrested and Bahai-run businesses were sealed in many places across Iran. The houses of these Bahais in Birjand were searched and some of their belongings were seized, but they were not arrested, and their names were therefore not previously reported on Sen’s Daily. They were summoned for interrogation twice in 2019-2020 (سال ۹۸), and tried on April 20. They were informed of their sentences next day, and the information was published on a web site on April 22.

Mrs. Nasrin Qadiri is not a resident of Birjand. She is 60 years old and lives in Mashhad. However from 2014 to early 2018 she often stayed in Birjand to care for her father, who was ill. When the Bahai homes in Birjand were searched in October 2017, she was in Mashhad, but the security agents seized some of her belongings when they searched her father’s house. She was previously imprisoned in 1983 and 2010. In the latter case, she was sentenced to two years in prison, 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.

A report on the previous group of nine Bahais sentenced in Birjand is on Sen’s Daily here.
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Iranian news agency accuses ٍBahais of genetic warfare research, links to Covid-19

Editorial, March 29, 2020. –

State-sponsored media in Iran have been repeating a story that appears to have been invented by the Islamic Republic News Agency, TNews and popularized by the Young Journalists Club
a government agency affiliated with the state broadcaster. Their report is dated March 26, 2020. It was repeated the following day by Enqelaab News, Ghatreh News, Khabar Farsi, Mosalas Online, Mashreq News and others.

The story is a bit of a hodge-podge, which I will paraphrase. In the first place, Bahais at Stanford are supposed to be preparing biological weapons. This follows a story on March 23 (in English), citing the coordinator of the fight against Covid-19, General Nasrollah Fathian: “There is even speculation that this virus has been created to specifically target the Iranian population given their genetic traits. But for now, these theories are all being examined.”

Another story from the same government agency (YJC) a few days earlier, claiming that the Corona virus was probably an American weapon, linking this to an ‘Iranian Genome Project’ at Stanford University. The project actually exists and is studying the genomes of Iranian-Americans in the United States.

Thus far, we have a bit of absurd anti-American propaganda being repurposed by bringing in Bahais working at Stanford, “who are likely to be of Jewish origin” (احتمال اصالت یهودی‌شان بالاست) which “makes it likely that the Corona (Covid-19) pandemic is a biological attack.”

But what if there are no Bahais or Jews working in the Stanford project? The YJC authors have thought ahead, and insert here a long history of the crypto-Jews of medieval Europe and Iran, who were forced to convert to Christianity or Islam but retained their Jewish identities in secret. This is true, but how is it relevant? The implicit argument is that the lack of evidence to support the YJC story is because the Jews involved are hiding their identities. And being Jews they must be Bahais.

The next part of this rambling story refers to large-scale Jewish conversions to the Bahai Faith in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and claims that most Iranian Bahais are of Jewish origin. The latter claim is not true, and not new here: it is one of the links between anti-bahaism and anti-semitism. The JYC story quotes something from Khomeini about the dangers of “falling into the hands of a few Jews who have become Bahais.” (“ما را زیر دست یک مشت کلیمی که خود را به‌صورت بهایی درآورده‌اند پایمال ننماید”)

Then there’s a section on supposed Bahais in senior levels of the Pahlavi government (the Shah deposed by the 1979 Revolution). These often-recycled claims have been debunked thoroughly by Adib Masumian in ‘Debunking the Myths.’ But even without that historical knowledge, any reader is bound to ask, if Bahais were so prominent in the Shah’s government, why were Bahais so persecuted under the Shah’s government? Why were their schools closed, why were pogroms allowed? How could Bahais be at once so powerful and powerless in Iran?

One of these supposed Bahais was Parviz Sabeti, head of one of SAVAK’s divisions and the child of Bahai parents, who became a Muslim while in secondary school. SAVAK, the secret police, was one of the Shah’s tools in monitoring and suppressing the Bahais. Parviz Sabet left Iran at the time of the Revolution, and according to the JYC has a daughter, Pardis, who is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard. Pardis Christine Sabeti, daughter of the SAVAK official, is indeed a brilliant geneticist and the author of ‘Outbreak Culture: The Ebola Crisis and the Next Epidemic.’

So now it all comes together: Stanford University has a project sequencing the genes of Iranian Americans. Harvard University has a geneticist whose grandparents on her father’s side were Bahais in Iran, so clearly, Iranian Bahais are preparing biological weapons to target themselves…. I mean, to target Iranians. Or Jews. Or they are Bahais but really Jews targeting Iranians, or something like that
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Thirty Bahais summoned in Shiraz

HRANA (English), March 17, 2020. –

On March 14, 2019, 30 Bahais were summoned to Branch 10 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz in relation to a case opened by the Intelligence Ministry in 2016. They were charged with “membership in an opposition group” and “propaganda against the state”. They were identified as Noushin Zanhari, Esmail Rousta, Behnam Azimpour, Saeed Hasani, Ramin Shirvani, Marjan Gholampour, Mojgan Gholampour, Farid Shademan, Farzad Shademan, Parisa Rouhizadegan, Shamim Akhlaghi, Sahba Farahbakhsh, Sahba Moslehi, Ahdyeh Enayati, Mahyar Sefidi, Shadi Sadegh Aghdam, Vargha Kaviani, Soroush Ighani, Maryam Eslami, Yekta Fahandaj Saadi, Nabil Tahzib, Samar Ashnaei, Rezvan Yazdani, Lala Salehi, Nasim Kashani, Bahareh Norouzi, Niloufar Hakimi, Farzan Masoumi, Shahnaz Sabet, and Farhad Sabet

Background

Marjan Gholampour, Mojgan Gholampour, Farid Shademan, Farzad Shademan, Parisa Rouhizadegan, Shamim Akhlaghi, Sahba Farahbakhsh, Sahba Moslehi, Ahdyeh Enayati, Mahyar Sefidi, Shadi Sadegh Aghdam, Vargha Kaviani, Soroush Ighani, and Maryam Eslami were arrested in 2016 and were transferred to Ministry of Intelligence Detention Center in Shiraz known as the No. 100 Detention Center.

On October 3, 2016, Bahareh Norouzi and her husband, Siamak Honarvar were arrested and after their house was searched and their belongings were confiscated. They were also transferred to the No.100 Detention Center.

On October 10, 2016, Vargha Kaviani, Shamim Akhlaghi, Farid Shademan, Soroush Ighaei, Farzad Shademan, and Mojgan Gholampour were released from Adel Abad Prison on 200 million Tomans bail.

On October 11, 2016, Marjan Gholampour, Maryam Eslami, and Parisa Rouhizadegan were released from prison on 200 million Tomans bail.

Moreover, Noushin Zanhari, Esmail Rousta, Behnam Azimpour, Saeed Hasani, and Ramin Shirvani were arrested along with several other Bahais in June 2016. They were released on 200 million Toman bail after a month.
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Elaheh Sami`zaadeh faces new charge in Shiraz

HRANA, March 16, 2020. –

Elaheh Sami`zaadeh (الهه سمیع زاده) was summoned last week, and charged with “membership of the Bahai organisation.” One charge is “forging a document,” because she holds a degree from the Bahai Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). The others are “propaganda against the regime,” and “contact with unrepentant groups.” Her original arrest also related to education. She was arrested on September 15, 2018 and released on bail on October 12. On July 11, 2019, she was summoned again in relation to her BIHE degree, and after questioning her bail was increased.
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Samin Maqsudi free on furlough

HRANA, March 15, 2020. –

Samin Maqsudi (ثمین مقصودی), a Bahai from Tehran, was released on furlough from Evin Prison on March 15. Her furlough is to last [at least] until April 3. She began her sentence on November 9, 2019. 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 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 2019.
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Peyman Kushkebaaghi free for furlough

HRANA, March 17, 2020. –

Peyman Kushkebaaghi ( پیمان کوشک باغی ) was released from Evin Prison on furlough on March 17. He is serving a five-year sentence for his work for the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE). He began his sentence on February 29, 2016, when he was arrested just outside Evin Prison, where he was visiting his wife Azita Rafizadeh (آزیتا رفیع‌زاده), who is serving a four-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison for her own work in educating Bahai youth. The couple have a son, who was with his father and was six years old at the time of his arrest.

Azita Rafizadeh was tried by Judge Moqisseh (قاضی مقیسه ) of Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court in June 2014, and Peyman Koushk-Baghi was separately tried by the same judge in May 2015. Moghisseh sentenced them respectively to four and five years in prison for “membership in the illegal and misguided Baha’i group with the aim of acting against national security through illegal activities at the BIHE educational institute.” The Appeals Court upheld their prison sentences. Azita Rafizaadeh was released from Evin Prison at the end of her sentence on October 9, 2019.
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Farhaad Fahandezh on furlough from Rajai Shahr prison

HRANA, March 16, 2020. –

Farhaad Fahandezh, a Bahai from Gorgan who is serving a ten-year sentence for his religious beliefs, has been granted furlough for the first time. He was released on March 16. He has been in prison, initially in Gorgan and Evin, and since then in Rajai Shahr, for about seven and a half years. He was one of about 20 Bahais who were detained in a wave of arrests about October 17, 2012. The charges against the group were “organising and running an illegal organisation, membership of an illegal organisation, and propaganda against the regime.” The judge was the notorious Judge Muhammad Maqiseh (قاضی محمد مقیسه).

He is now 60 years old. He was first arrested in 1983, when he was 24 years old. On that occasion he served six years in prison, which left him with digestive disorders.

It appears that his furlough may be connected to a measure announced to reduce the prison population during the Covid-19 epidemic, although that has led to release mainly for those convicted of economic crimes and serving sentences of five years or less. If this furlough is connected to the Covid-19 epidemic, it is a sign of hope for prisoners of conscience in Iran, who have not been released under that measure.
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Mitra Badrnezhad released in Ahvaz

HRANA, March 5, 2020. –

Mrs. Mitra Badrnezhad-Zahdi (میترا بدرنژاد زهدی) was released from from Sepidar prison in Ahvaz on March 5, at the end of her one-year sentence. She was charged with membership of the Bahai organisation. Initially sentenced to five years in prison by a Revolutionary Court, her sentence was reduced to one year by the Review Court for Khuzestan Province. She began her sentence at the Sepidah Prison in Ahvaz on September 21, 2019, and was granted one 10-day furlough ending on January 2 this year. The circumstances of her arrest and interrogation are outlined here.
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Covid-19 & the missing masks of Iran

Editorial, February 26, 2020. –

I won’t try to cover the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Iran: it needs a daily review and there are other media doing that. However I note that the BBC has reported a shortage of masks in Iran. Face masks are not effective in protecting the wearer, but that’s not the point. Masks are what people want, and if there are not enough to go round, what will the regime do?

They will blame the Bahais. Government-sponsored media (in Persian) are relaying a story that ring of Bahai mask-hoarders has been uncovered and broken up. See the story here, and here and here.

The problem for the regime is: now they have reported the seizure of all the masks that Bahais were hoarding, how will they explain that there are still no masks to be had? Those Iranians who believe the story of Bahai mask hoards in the first place will have to conclude that now the security forces are hoarding the seized hoards …

It’s a tough life, being a totalitarian regime and thick as two bricks at the same time.

The actual causes of the shortage include lack of foresight — but then, who saw Covid-19 coming? — and sanctions which do not stop medical imports but do limit the funds available and the means of transferring money, and the general evils of a centrally-planned economy run by the least capable.
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One arrest in Mazandaran Province

HRANA, February 4, 2020. –

On January 25, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Firouzeh Shafi’zaadeh (فیروزه شفیع زاده), in her home in Khotbeh Sara, a village near Talesh, in Mazandaran Province. The agents searched her home and seized some personal effects, including books and photographs, a mobile phone and laptop. She has been denied access to her lawyer, and it is reported that her lawyer has been threatened by security forces. It is not known where she is being held, or why. She is a former student of the Bahai institute of higher education (BIHE), a virtual university for students excluded from tertiary education in Iran because of their religious beliefs. She went on to do a seven-year course in Pharmacy in India, and then returned to Iran.
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Four Bahais begin 3-year sentences in Bushehr

HRANA, January 26, 2020. –

HRANA, January 26, 2020. –

On January 25, Mrs. Minou Reyaazati (مینو ریاضتی), Mrs. Ehteraam Shakhi(احترام شخی), Asadollah Jaaberi (اسدالله جابری) and Mrs. Farideh Jaaberi (فریده جابری) began their sentences in Bushehr prison. They were among seven Bahais sentenced to three years in prison and a two-year ban on leaving the country by a Revolutionary Court in May 2019. Farideh Jaaberi was not named in earlier reports for that group of arrests. Earlier reports also omitted the two-year ban on leaving Iran. All seven were arrested in raids on Bahai homes in Bushehr on February 13, 2018 (or February 15, in other reports). Their homes were thoroughly searched, and personal effects such as laptops, books, flash drives, external hard drives, and family photograph albums were seized. They were released on bail six weeks later, and the Revolutionary Court confirmed their sentences in November, 2019. They were charged with “membership in the Bahai group and sect with the intent of disrupting national security.”
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Four Bahais in Karaj sentenced to one year in prison

HRANA, January 26, 2020. –

Abu-Fadl Ansaari (ابوالفضل انصاری), Ruhollah Zibaa’i (روح‌الله زیبایی), u’in Kohansaal (روئین کهنسال) and Muhammad-Sadeq Reza’i (محمدصادق رضایی) have been sentenced to one year in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Karaj. Mr. Reza’i’s arrest was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and supporting the Bahai Faith. The sentence was announced to them by text message on January 26. They went to the court office to see the text of the court ruling, which they were allowed to transcribe. The trial was conducted on January 18, without the presence of a defence lawyer, and the defendants, in protest, did not speak. The Revolutionary Court’s verdict refers to the claim that “Bahai propaganda” is a religious matter [not a crime]. This arises from the finding of the Review Court for Alborz Province, 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. The Revolutionary Court in Karaj takes note of the views of these “colleagues” (more senior judges) “who were not familiar with security issues, or were ignorant of religious and doctrinal matters, or knew nothing of the Israel-based House of Justice, the English-born bastard of this old fox [England],” but finds the facts in the file sufficient to convict the four men under “article 500” of the Penal Code (i.e., propaganda against the regime).

Ruhollah Zibaa’i and Ru’in Kohansaal were arrested in Karaj, on August 3 and 4, respectively, and released on bail on September 2. At the time, government-sponsored media claimed that Mr. Zibaa’i’s arrest was in relation to a scheme to tighten the economic sanctions against Iran. He requires constant medical supervision because of wounds suffered in the Iran-Iraq war, requiring the amputation of one foot and the loss of one kidney and part of his liver, and various other injuries and ailments (I cannot make out which are war injuries ~Sen).

Abu-Fadl Ansaari was arrested at his home in Karaj on August 3, 2019, and held in Raja’i Shahr prison. He was released on bail in Karaj on September 8. He has a heart condition and relies on a pacemaker.
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Two arrests in Qaemshahr

Iran Wire and HRANA, 26 Janury, 2020. –

Faraaneh Mansouri ( فرانه منصوری) and her husband Saamaan Shirvaani (سامان شیروانی), two Bahais from Qaemshahr, were arrested on January 23 while visiting the home of an old friend in the same city. The arrest was made by agents from the Intelligence Arm of the Revolutionary Guards. The agents came unnanounced over the wall of their friend’s house and forced their way inside. They showed an arrest warrant, and filmed the whole process. The agents searched the house and seized some belongings including a laptop computer, hard drive and mobile telephone, and arrested both the couple and the friend they were visiting. The friend was released a few hours later. The agents took Mr. Shirvaani with them to the couple’s home, which they also searched, but it is not known whether they seized any belongings since only Mr. Shirvani was with them, and he is being held incommunicado.

It is not known why this couple were arrested, or where they are being held. Their families have not been successful in obtaining further information. [Reading between the lines of these reports, it is possible that they were visiting a Muslim friend, and the security forces took action because they seek to minimize contacts between Bahais and Muslims. Some years ago, a Bahai named Faraaneh Mansuri was expelled from university in Tabriz because of her Bahai beliefs. I do not know whether it is the same person. ~ Sen]
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Shiraz city Councillor, Mehdi Haajati, released with a surety

HRANA, January 23, 2020. –

Mehdi Haajati (مهدی حاجتی), a member of Shiraz City Council in Iran who was imprisoned for trying to help Bahai constituents, has been released from Shiraz Prison after posting a surety. It is not clear from the report whether this ends his prison term. He began serving a one-year sentence on June 2, 2019, so he has served nine months, but a surety is not required if a prisoner is released before serving his full term.

His legal trouble started in September 2018, when, as 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 Bahais, and sentenced to one year in prison and two years in exile in Tabas, a small city 800 km North-East of Shiraz.
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Review court in Kerman cuts sentences of four Bahais

HRANA, January 22, 2020. –

Over two years ago, a Revolutionary Court in Kerman sentenced Amrullah Khaalqiyaan (امرالله خالقیان), Ehasaanullah Amiri-niya (احسان الله امیری نیا), Nima Rajab-zaadeh (نیما رجب زاده) and Armaan Bandi (آرمان بندی) to five years in prison. The provincial Review Court has reduced that to four months in prison, on a charge of undermining internal security by teaching the Bahai Faith. The Review Court’s decision was signed by Muhammad Mohaqqeq (محمد محقق) and (Majid Zaynaldini-Neya جید زین الدینی نیا). It appears that the hearing of the Review Court was held on April 28, 2019, but the finding has only just been announced.
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Nine Bahais begin prison terms in Birjand

HRANA, Janury 16, 2020. –

On January 15, nine Bahais whose arrest and sentencing was reported previously began their sentences, ranging from two to four years, in Birjand Prison.
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Wahda Silaani bailed in Kerman

HRANA, January 15, 2020. –

Wahda Silaani (وحدا سیلانی) was freed on bail from Kerman Prison on January 15. Her bail was 100 million tumans (21,000 euros ; $US 24,000). She was arrested in her home in Kerman by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on December 29. The agents also seized some of her belongings. The charges against her are not yet known.
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`Ali Ahmadi’s 11-year sentence confirmed

HRANA, January 14, 2020. –

The Review Court for Mazandaran Province has upheld the 11-year sentence for Mr. `Ali Ahmadi (علی احمدی), a Bahai from Qaemshahr. Mr. Ahmadi was charged with propaganda against the regime and administering Bahai activities, and sentenced by the Revolutionary Court of Qaemshahr. He was informed of his sentence on December 2, 2019, The Review Court confirmed the sentence two weeks later, without holding a sitting, based on the file provided by the Revolutionary Court. Earlier reports said that the Revolutionary Court considered the possession of Bahai religious texts as sufficient to justify the sentence.

Mr. Ahmadi 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 held in solitary confinement at the Kachou’i Detention Centre in Sari. 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. Another states that he is 60 years old, and works as a rice trader.
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Sahba Farnoush sentenced to 16 years in prison

HRANA, January 11, 2020. –

A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced Sahba Farnoush (صهبا فرنوش) to 16 years in prison. The verdict, from Judge Emaan Afshaari (قاضی ایمان افشاری), was announced to him in recent days. Mr. Farnoush, a Bahai from Tehran, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on November 15, 2015, and was freed on bail from Evin Prison in late December that year. Bail was set at two million rials (60,000 euros, $US 66,000). Mr. Farnoush is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on that day. Agents from the Ministry of Intelligence also closed down Bahai-run businesses in the Province of Mazandaran. The Ministry of Intelligence actions apparently related to Bahais commemorating the birth of Baha’u’llah, but the charges are not stated, and it is not clear why the court decided to issue a judgement on the case four years after Mr. Farnoush was bailed. He is now about 45 years old. His father was arrested and executed following the 1979 Revolution in Iran, and his property was confiscated. At that time, Sahba was five years old.
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Bahais in Iran denied new ID cards

Iran Wire, January 8, 2002. –

Since 2015, Iran has been progressively introducing a ‘smart’ form of the national ID card, with biometric data and a holographic photograph. At some point — apparently a few months ago — the application form for this card was changed, to remove the ‘other religion’ option, and anecdotal reports appeared of individual Bahais being denied a card unless they called themselves Muslims, Christians, Jews or Zoroastrians. Iranian ID cards are valid for seven years, but individuals with pre-2015 cards may need to apply for a smart ID to open a bank account or other specific transaction. I have not reported these individual stories because, as the Iran Wire report says:

It is unclear when or why the change came into effect or the reason – though at least one Iranian politician has taken credit for the development.

The Member of Parliament for Khomeini Shahr, Mohammad Javad Abtahi, said in January last year that he had called on the Interior Ministry to remove the option to list “Other Religions” on the national smart ID application form. Abtahi claimed that including “Other Religions” allowed “stray sects” to be treated as official.

The Iran Wire report gives examples of Bahais being denied ID cards, one of which says:

A Baha’i citizen from Shiraz told IranWire: “I went to a government service counter to register [for an ID card]. The cashier asked me for personal information such as name, surname, date of birth, name of father, mother, and so on, and filled out my registration form in the computer. Then he printed it out and gave it to me to sign. In the personal information column in the Religion section it was written: Islam. When I told him that I was not a Muslim, and to please state ‘Other Religions’ in my registration form instead of Islam, he replied the only religions in the form are Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. He said he was allowed to choose only one of these four.”

When the Baha’i citizen protested, the official said: “It’s not a problem; this is just for registering, it’s just a formality. No one will notice that you wrote Islam! … The new guidelines state that if the applicant does not choose one of these options, his or her registration will not be accepted.”

This change excludes non-religious persons, Bahais, and Iranian residents of Buddhist, Hindu and other backgrounds from opening bank accounts, and perhaps from obtaining a passport, and obtaining documents for the military draft. There are conflicting reports as to whether the matter may be corrected when new software is installed in a few months, or is deliberate policy change by the National Registration Office. The full Iran Wire report is here in English and here in Persian.
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Mitra Badrnezhad granted prison furlough in Ahwaz

HRANA, January 2, 2020. –

Mrs. Mitra Badrnezhad-Zahdi (میترا بدرنژاد زهدی), a Bahai serving a one-year sentence in Ahwaz, returned to prison on January 2 after a 10-day furlough. She began her sentence at the Sepidah Prison in Ahvaz on September 21, 2019. She was charged with membership of the Bahai organisation. Initially sentenced to five years in prison by a Revolutionary Court, her sentence was reduced to one year by the Review Court for Khuzestan Province. The circumstances of her arrest and interrogation are reported here.
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Kaamraan Shahidi sentenced : 5 years and confiscation of assets

HRANA, December 31, 2019. –

A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced Kaamraan Shahidi (کامران شهیدی), a Bahai from Karaj, to five years in prison and the confiscation of his assets. The Judge was Muhammad Moqayesseh ( قاضی محمد مقیسه) a notorious abuser of human rights and legal procedures. Mr. Shahidi was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on September 25, 2017. His business, as a gold trader, was also shut down, and its entire holdings of gold — about 2 kilograms — were seized, along with some currency. The arresting agents also went to the home of his sister and daughter and seized all the gold, along with books and pictures relating to the Bahai Faith. He was held in solitary confinement for 21 days and interrogated closely. was released on bail from Evin Prison in Tehran on October 18, 2017. Bail was set at 500 million tumans (123,00 euros ; $US 145,000).
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One arrest in Kerman: Wahoda Silani

HRANA, Decmber 29, 2019. –

Wahoda Silani (حدا سیلانی), a Bahai from Kerman, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on December 29. The agents came to her home, which they searched. They seized some of her belongings, and took her away. It is not clear where she is being detained, or why she was arrested.
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Shahnam Jadhbani free in Gonbad

HRANA, December 2019. –

Shahnam Jadhbani ( شهنام جذبانی ), a Bahai from Minudasht, was released from Gonbad prison on December 28, much earlier than anticipated. He and his wife Shohreh Samimi ( شهره صمیمی ) were arrested in Minudasht in October 2012. Around the same time, 20 other Bahais were arrested in Golestan Province by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, acting without warrants. Many Bahai homes homes were searched, with the seizure of computers, books and family photo albums. Mr. Jadhbani was sentenced to eleven years in prison by Judge Mohsen Qadbari (قاضی محسن قنبری), on charges of “membership in the Bahai organisation, and propaganda against the regime and in favor of the Bahai Faith by participating in the Ruhi programme in Golestan province.” His wife was sentenced to nine years in prison by the same judge. The other Bahais arrested at that time were initially given very long sentences, but these were all reduced by the Review Court to less than two years, except that the Review Court did not at that time announce its decision on the cases of Mr. Jadhbani and his wife. Later the Review Court reduced his sentence to 15 months, on the charges of membership of the Bahai organisation and six months for participating in Ruhi classes. Sentences are normally served concurrently, so the longer sentence applies, but Mr. Jadhbani as served not fifteen but rather 19 months. The report does not indicate why neither this “section 134” rule regarding concurrent sentences, nor the provision for release after serving half of one’s sentence, was applied in his case.
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Sentences reduced for nine Bahais in Birjnand

HRANA, December 24, 2019. –

The Review Court for South Khorosan Province has reduced the long sentences handed down by a Revolutionary Court to nine Bahais. Behman Saalahi (بهمن صالحی), Khalil Malaaki (خلیل ملاکی), Bizhan Ahmadi (بیژن احمدی) and Saagher Mohammadi (ساغر محمدی) have been sentenced to four years in prison. Shayda Abedi (شیدا عابدی) has a three-year sentence. Firuz Ahmadi (فیروز احمدی), Simin Mohammadi (سیمین محمدی) and Maryam Mokhtaari ( مریم مختاری) have been sentenced to two years in prison. The ninth person in this report is Sohrab Malaaki (سهراب ملاکی), sentenced to three and a half years in prison. But in HRANA’s previous report on July 8 this year, the ninth person was Rafa’at Taalebi-fard (رفعت طالبی فرد). There is no explanation of why the name of the ninth person has changed.

The Revolutionary Court had sentenced all nine 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 Revolutionary Court also ordered the confiscation of donations they had collected [from Bahais] during the 19th-day Feast for the affairs of the Bahai community in Birjand. The Review Court confirmed this confiscation.

Eight of the defendants were arrested in raids of 15 Bahai homes on the morning of October 21, 2017, but Shayda Abedi was arrested in Birjand on October 29. They were freed on bail individually, from November 18 to November 24. 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.
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Noushin Hakimi to be bailed

HRANA, December 21, 2019. –

Noushin Hakimi-Noahnezhaad (نوشین حکیمی نوح نژاد), a Bahai from Bandar Lengeh, a port city near the straits of Hormuz, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on December 14, and detained in the Ministry’s detention facilities. On December 20, she was transferred to prison in Bandar Abbas, and contacted her family by telephone saying that bail had been authorized. There is no information so far as to what she will be charged with.
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For older news, see the “old news” archive on Sen’s Daily blog.

 
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