The Revolutionary Court of Birjand Sentenced Nine Baha’is to 54 Years Imprisonment

Posted on: July 10th, 2019

On July 6, 2019, the revolutionary Court of Birjand sentenced nine Baha’i residents of this city to 54 years imprisonment, combined. According to this verdict, each of them was sentenced to six-year prison term. Also, the funds raised during a religious ceremony by the Baha’i community for needs of Baha’i residents of Birjand, was confiscated by the court’s order. Their court hearing was on July 3, 2019 without their lawyer, Mazdak Etemadzadeh, because of the article 48 of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran and he is not in the list of government-approved lawyers. These Baha’i citizens were arrested earlier in 2017 and were released on bail after a while.

Sheida Abedi, Firouz Ahmadi, Khalil Maleki, Simin Mohammadi, Bijan Ahmadi, Maryam Mokhtari, Saghar Mohammadi, Sohrab Malaki, and Bahman Salehi were sentenced to six years imprisonment, each for the charges of “membership in illegal and against the national security Baha’i group” and “propaganda against the state by promoting Bahaism”.

Between 9-15 June 2019, the houses of nine Baha’i families were searched by security forces with warrant in Shahin Shahr. Cell phones, laptops, tablets, satellite devices, books, photos, pictorial carpets, identification documents, and working tools were confiscated. These citizens, along three other Baha’i citizens, were summoned by the judicial authorities.

Iranian Baha’i citizens are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, everyone is entitled to freedom of religion and belief, and the right to adopt and manifest the religion of their choice, be it individually, in groups, in public, or in private.

More than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. Iran’s constitution, however, recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Consequently, the rights of Baha’is are systematically violated in Iran.

 

Searching Houses, Confiscating Belongings, and Summoning 12 Baha’is in Isfahan

Posted on: July 3rd, 2019

Between 9-15 June 2019, the houses of nine Baha’i families, Arshad Afshar, Aziz Afshar, Peyman Imani, Mahboubeh Hosseini, Bahram Safaei, Mehran Yazdani, Mesbah Karambakhsh, Sirous Golzar, and Naieem Haghiri were searched by security forces with warrant in Shahin Shahr. Cell phones, laptops, tablets, satellite devices, books, photos, pictorial carpets, identification documents, and working tools were confiscated. These citizens, along three other Baha’i citizens, were summoned by the judicial authorities.

The search had been going on, on different days, from 9 am to 2 pm by a group of seven security agents. They searched 11 Baha’i citizens’ houses and confiscated about 100 million Toman [approximate 7,000 USD] worth of belongings from these citizens. The agents didn’t provide any response to these families’ queries.

These 11 Baha’i citizens were summoned to the Intelligence Office. In addition, Naeem Haghiri was fired from his job under pressure of the intelligence office while Mitra Tashakori, Baha’i resident of Shahin Shahr, was summoned and threatened. Within the last two weeks, several previously licensed Baha’i businesses were shut down.

Iranian Baha’i citizens are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, everyone is entitled to freedom of religion and belief, and the right to adopt and manifest the religion of their choice, be it individually, in groups, in public, or in private.

More than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. Iran’s constitution, however, recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Consequently, the rights of Baha’is are systematically violated in Iran.

Sofia Mobini, Baha’i Citizen was Sentenced t 10 Years in Prison

Posted on: June 25th, 2019

A Baha’i resident of Tehran, Sofia Mobini, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. She was arrested by the agents of the Ministry of Intelligence on October 26, 2017, during the ceremony of the 200th birthday of Baha’u’llah, religious leader and the founder of the Baha’i Faith, and was transferred to the Evin prison from which she was later released on bail. She was accused of “establishing and organizing an illegal Baha’i group with intentions to threaten the national security” and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, according to the Article 499 of the Islamic Penal Code, the maximum executable penalty for such charges is no more than five years imprisonment.

Negin Tadrisi, another Baha’i citizen who was arrested at the same ceremony sentenced to five years in prison on June 19, 2019 according to the aforementioned article with the charge of “membership in an illegal Baha’i organization”. She was later released on bail.

Heart Failure and Deprivation of Medical Treatment for Hasan Momtaz Savestani, Baha’i Prisoner of Evin Prison

Posted on: May 23rd, 2019

Hasan Momtaz Sarvestani, a Baha’i prisoner of Evin prison and a citizen of Shiraz, was transferred to hospital on Tuesday for medical checkup. Although his physician has recommended hospital bed rest to undergo medical treatments, he was returned to the prison after a day. He has been sentenced to five years in prison on the charge of teaching Persian literature at the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE). He began his sentence on December 28, 2017 in Shiraz’s Adelabad prison and was transferred to Evin prison about a year later.

Baha’i citizens of Iran are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all people are entitled to freedom of religion, belief, and changes thereof, as well as the right to express and practice those beliefs as individuals or collectives, in public or in private.

Though unofficial sources estimate the Baha’i population of Iran at more than 300,000, Iran’s Constitution officially recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. As a result, the rights of Baha’is in Iran are systematically violated.

Thirteen Gonabadi Dervishes Released From Great Tehran Penitentiary

Posted on: November 17th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Thirteen Gobanadi Dervishes walked free from Great Tehran Penitentiary Tuesday, November 13th after finishing their prison terms.

The group were among a larger cohort arrested and sentenced in Tehran Revolutionary Court for their participation in the Golestan Haftom incident in February of last year.

The freed prisoners were identified as Armin Abolfattahi, Mostafa Zaman, Nourali Mousavi, Hojjat Zamani, Ebrahim Rezaie, Hashem Avazeh, Alborz Rostami, Mohammad Ghanadzadeh, Ali Ghanazadeh, Shahab Bakhshian, Majid Shayegh, and Hossein Haj Mohammadi.

Baha’i Citizen Dori Amri Begins One-year Prison Term

Posted on: November 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) On Wednesday, November 14, 2018, Baha’i Mashhad resident Dori Amri began serving her one-year prison sentence in Mashhad’s Vakilabad Prison.

May Kholousi and her daughter Saghi Fadaei, Amri’s Baha’i co-defendants, turned themselves in October 31st to begin serving their own one-year sentences.

The verdict in Amri, Kholousi, and Fadaei’s case was recently upheld in Khorasan Razavi Appeals Court.

Iran: Prisoner Updates as of November 14, 2018

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Iranian citizens and legal residents, once placed behind bars or accused of a crime, have seen their lawful rights and dignities abruptly revoked. Below are a few of their stories.

Sunni Kurdish Prisoner Slapped with “Propaganda” Charge Whilst Behind Bars

Sardar Osman Bakr, a Sunni Kurdish prisoner serving a five-year sentence in Urmia Central, has been charged with “propaganda against the regime” and will now be serving six.

An Iraqi national who has held legal residence in Iran for the past 10 years, Bakr was arrested, charged, and sentenced in 2016 on charges of “membership in anti-regime groups with religious ideologies.” He was held in solitary confinement for 10 days in a Ministry of Intelligence Detention Center earlier this year, before being transferred back to Urmia Central Prison to be interrogated on the “propaganda against the regime” charge.

Branch 3 of Urmia Revolutionary Court convicted Bakr of the new charge in September 2018, compounding his prison term by an additional year. He is currently being held in Ward 12 of Urmia Central.

Ulduz Ghasemi (Center)

Azerbaijani Activist Sentenced in Absentia

On November 10th, Azerbaijani activist Ulduz Ghasemi was sentenced in absentia to one year in prison by Urmia Revolutionary Court Branch 1.

Ghasemi is from Urmia, in Iran’s northwest. Read more about Ghasemi’s activism and legal ordeals here.

Sentence Upheld for Sunni Prisoner

West Azerbaijan Appeals Court Branch 13 has upheld a five-year prison sentence for Sunni prisoner Eslam Mostafaie, of Mirabad. He has been in Urmia Central Prison for the past three months.

Charged with “membership in Salafi groups,” a close source said, Mostafaie was denied a lawyer throughout judicial proceedings that ended with his August 2018 conviction in Urmia Revolutionary Court Branch 2.

According to the source, he was held in solitary confinement in a Ministry of Intelligence detention center for 17 days after his arrest and is now being held in Ward 12 of Urmia Central.

Mirabad is a city in West Azerbaijan Province.

Conditional Release Denied to Urmia Prisoner

Judge Ali Sheikhloo of Urmia Revolutionary Court Branch 2 has denied the conditional release request of political prisoner Azad Mohammadi, currently being held in Ward 12 of Urmia Central prison. The court’s decision was dictated to Mohammadi on Tuesday, November 13th.

Mohammadi had previously stopped hunger striking when prison authorities verbally engaged to negotiate with the Judiciary for his conditional release. Mohammadi was among a group of prisoners swayed to end their coordinated hunger strike on October 23rd by similar promises from prison authorities.

Upon his arrest in 2015, Mohammadi spent three months in an IRGC Intelligence detention center. Without ever having access to a lawyer, he was sentenced to five years in prison for “Cooperation with the Kurdistan Democratic Party.” He was subsequently transferred to Urmia Prison.

Mohammadi’s sentence was reduced by 15 months when he chose to not protest the charges. He is scheduled to be released in seven months.

Iran Update: Reports of Persecuted Baha’is October 24 – November 11

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) -Baha’i citizens of Iran have continued to face persecution this month, in the form of grave desecrations, business shutdowns, and interference by authorities in their places of employment. Meanwhile, one Baha’i prisoner has returned to prison after a furlough release.

Grave Desecration

Four days after her October 24th burial, the body of Shamsi Aghdasi Azamian, a Baha’i resident of Gilavand village near the city of Damavand, was found in the nearby rural outskirts of Jaban.

According to a close source, security forces called Azamian’s son that same day, informing him that her remains had been found and instructing him to rebury them in Tehran.

Security forces had previously forbidden Baha’i Gilavand residents from burying their dead locally, ordering instead that all deceased Baha’is be interred in the capital city, 50 miles west by mountain pass. Though Azamian’s son initially refused — citing Baha’i religious custom to lay believers to rest no more than one hour away from their place of death — the family ultimately complied under pressure from security forces.

Earlier this year, Iranian authorities issued a court order to lock down a Baha’i cemetery in the city of Kerman. Baha’is in Sanandaj, Ahvaz, Tabriz, and Sangesar have also been prevented from burying their loved ones in local cemeteries, and in the cases of Sangesar and Sanandaj, some Baha’i burial sites have been reported destroyed.

As of yet, no one has claimed responsibility for the desecration of Azamian’s grave.

Shutdown of Baha’i Businesses

Iranian Authorities have shut down the small businesses of five Baha’i Ahvaz residents and two Baha’i Abadan residents as of November 5th.

The businesses — which had been temporarily closed, in observance of Baha’i religious holidays — were court-ordered to remain sealed off to the public. Their owners were identified as Ahvaz residents Vargha Derakhsan, Behrouz Zohdi, Jahanbakhsh Afsharzadeh, Feizollah Ghanavatian, Sohrab Derakhsan, and brothers Arman Azadi and Aram Azadi of Abadan.

Having run their business for the past 38 years, the Azadi brothers had already experienced a forced shutdown on July 12, 2018. After a 14-day tug-of-war with security forces, the prosecutor’s office, and other municipal authorities, they managed to re-open their store on July 26th, only to be shut down again this month.

Despite trade union regulations protecting business owners from arbitrary closures, Baha’i citizens regularly face unexplained restrictions on their commercial activity. And while Iranian businesses are legally permitted to close up shop for a maximum of 15 days per year — for any reason — some have been forced to stay closed after briefly pausing their operations for Baha’i holidays.

On December 3, 2017, Rouhani aide Shahindokht Molaverdi said that Iranian authorities were looking into a legislative solution to this issue.

HRANA reported on the forced closure of 11 Baha’i-owned business in Ahvaz in July of this year, and previously published a story on the same trend in Abadan.

Baha’i Prisoner Back in Rajai Shahr After Furlough

Afshin Seyed Ahmad, a Baha’i political prisoner serving a three-year sentence for “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the regime,” returned to prison on November 11th after eight days of furlough.

This was Ahmad’s first furlough release since beginning his sentence June 28, 2016, in Evin Prison. He has since been transferred to Rajai Shahr.

Ahmad previously spent 20 days in solitary confinement after a November 2012 arrest.

Educational Institution Shut Down

Two educational institutions in the city of Shiraz have been shut down by court order for employing recently-arrested Baha’i citizens Nora Pourmoradian and Elaheh Samizadeh.

HRANA reported on Pourmoradian and Samizadeh’s release on October 10th after spending more than three weeks in custody. The two were working in the field of music education for children.

A close source backed speculation that the institution’s shutdown was prompted by Pourmoradian and Samizadeh’s employment there.

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Baha’i citizens of Iran are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all people are entitled to freedom of religion, belief, and changes thereof, as well as the right to express and practice those beliefs as individuals or collectives, in public or in private.

Though unofficial sources estimate the Baha’i population of Iran at more than 300,000, Iran’s Constitution officially recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. As a result, the rights of Baha’is in Iran are systematically violated.

Authorities Impassive in Sunni Prisoner’s 49th Day of Hunger Strike

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In Rajai Shahr Prison, the effects of a 49-day-strong hunger strike have begun to take hold on Sunni prisoner Hamzeh Darvish: hypotension, a 29-pound weight loss, and chest and abdominal pains that have left him speechless.

A source close to Darvish’s family told HRANA that he would end his hunger strike on two conditions: that his reconsideration petition is tried in the Supreme Court, and he is granted legal representation. “No action has been taken on those demands yet,” the source said.

According to the source, Rajai Shahr Prosecution Representative Rostami deferred the reconsideration decision to the Ministry of Intelligence. Barring cooperation with them, Rostami reportedly said, Darvish’s sole recourse is “suicide.”

Hamzeh Darvish has not eaten since September 23rd. After announcing his hunger strike that day, he was reportedly held in solitary confinement for three days.

Residing far from Karaj, Darvish’s family is rarely able to afford the transport costs to see him. Meanwhile, Rajai Shahr authorities have placed restrictions on his extra-prison contacts.

In response to a prior hunger strike — protesting a lack of due process in his judicial proceedings — Prison Director Gholamreza Ziaei, Rajai Shahr Deputy Vice President Esmaeili, and Security Director Zolfali beat Darvish black and blue, sent him to the quarantine ward for three weeks, then transferred him to the coroner’s office in handcuffs and shackles.

Hamzeh Darvish was reportedly lured to Syria by ISIS (Daesh) agents in 2014, where he was transferred to the Islamic State’s prison in Raqqa before fleeing to Iran. In hopes of remaining free by posting bail or pledging allegiance to Iran — after which he planned to earn a living as a quail farmer — he turned himself in to the Iranian security forces. A short while later, however, he was back in custody facing an 18-year prison sentence.

Darvish told his story in an open letter published August 2017, in which he asked human rights advocacy groups for help.

He emphasized in his letter that his appeal request was essentially ignored and that Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code permits his release in year 15 of his 18-year sentence.

Furlough Granted to Bereaved Baha’i Prisoner Azita Rafizadeh

Posted on: November 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Authorities have granted a November 7th to November 10th furlough period to Baha’i prisoner Azita Rafizadeh, who will attend memorial services for her father, Seyed Yadollah Rafizadeh, who recently died in a car accident.

Azita Rafizadeh is serving a four-year sentence for her Baha’i affiliations, including the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education, as well as a charge of acting against national security.

The furlough request of her spouse Peyman Koushk-Baghi, who is currently serving a five-year sentence on the same charges, was denied.