Seven Baha’is Arrested in Isfahan Province

Posted on: September 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – At least seven Baha’is were arrested by plainclothes forces Sunday morning and taken from Baharestan, Isfahan province to an undisclosed location. Baharestan is situated 12 miles southeast of Isfahan on the route to Shiraz.

HRANA has identified the arrestees as Afshin Bolbolan, Anoosh Rayeneh, Milad Davardan, Farhang Sahba, Bahareh Zini, Sepideh Rohani, and Fojan Rashidi.

A close source said that Bolbolan’s house was searched upon his arrest and that authorities seized some of his personal belongings, including books, a laptop, a tablet, and a mobile phone.

Bolbolan, Rayeneh, Davardan, Sahba, Zini, Rohani, and Rashidi join the numerous Baha’i citizens who have been arrested for unclear reasons in recent weeks.

Bulletin on September 2018 Baha’i Crackdown

Posted on: September 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – An intense wave of human rights violations has seriously undermined the Iranian Baha’i community over the past two weeks.

For years, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution has kept a firm hand on the upward mobility of Baha’i citizens by barring them from government employment and placing myriad obstacles on their paths to higher education.

A toll of some of the campaign’s most recent victims underlines its widening scope: fifty-eight Baha’i students, after successfully passed this year’s National University Entrance Exam, stopped short of enrolling; at least four Baha’i students, at different stages university of study, expelled; ten Baha’i citizens, for unclear reasons, arrested by security forces; five Baha’i citizens sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment; Baha’i-owned businesses forcibly sealed and kept out of commission by security forces and agents of the Bureau of Public Places.

As the state-run media ramps up a multimedia anti-Baha’i propaganda campaign in the background, directives of social and political pressures on citizens look nowhere near relenting. HRANA details the instances of Baha’i human rights violations that have characterized these past two weeks:

Konkur Results Invalidated

As in previous years, a large number of Baha’i students who participated in the 2018 National University Entrance Exam, known as “Konkur,” have had their applications flagged “deficiency on file” on the National Organization for Educational Testing website. According to an informed source, the “deficiency on file” flag has been utilized by design and used as a scapegoat to prevent Baha’i students from enrolling in college since 2006.

Many of the disqualified applicants achieved high rankings on this year’s admission test, or have participated in the test for several consecutive years in hopes of one day passing muster and moving on to the application stage.

HRANA continues to monitor the number of Baha’i students who have passed Konkur only to be barred from enrollment because of their religious beliefs. Thus far in the current test cycle, fifty-eight Baha’i students were met with the telltale “deficiency on file” flag when checking their test results online:

1.Farhoud Bashi, 2. Sahba Imani, 3.Arman Golzar, 4. Nariman Movafaghi Eiveli, 5. Faran Talaei Khalajabadi, 6. Sina Talei Joshaghani, 7. Mahsa Sotoudeh, 8. Nima Amini, 9. Hanan Hashemi Dahaj, 10.Hasti Maleki, 11. Aria Ehsani, 12.Tina Hamidi Fard, 13.Rozhan Khooniki, 14.Foroozan Noordel, 15.Parsa Sheikh Zavareh, 16.Hoda Hedayati, 17.Arian Baghaei Amrei, 18.Vafa Nobakht, 19.Adib Rahmani, 20.Parviz Rahmani, 21.Kiana Rastak, 22.Negar Iqani, 23.Hooman Zarei Kadavi, 24.Arsham Hashemi, 25.Nabil Bashi Ardestani, 26. Tara Bahamin, 27.Bita Charkh Zarrin, 28.Nona Ghadiri, 29.Sayeh Aghaei, 30.Pegah Siroosian, 31.Sadaf Misaghi Seysan, 32. Parham Mokhtari, 33. Basir Zeinali Baghini, 34.Yahya Mousavi Tangrizi, 35.Anita Rastegar, 36.Shamim Idelkhani, 37.Farnia Iliyazadeh, 38.Parmida Hosseinpooli Mamaqani 39.Sarvin Azarshab, 40.Parand Misaghi, 41.Shahrzad Tirgar, 42.Melina Ghavaminik, 43.Tarannum Mu’tamedi Broujerdi, 44.Faran Abbaspouli Mamaghani, 45.Sahand Ghaemi, 46.Vahid Sadeghi Seysan, 47.Shaghayegh Ghassemi 48.Vahed Kholousi, 49.Sahar Mohebpour, 50.Seyed Koosha Hashemi, 51.Saba Fazli, 52. Fahim Agahi Najafabadi, 53.Ava Kargar, 54.Nava Kargar, 55.Sama Mohebbi Kordsalafi, 56.Alhan Safajoo, 57.Pouria Emami, 58.Helia Khademi Deljoo

Sudden Expulsions from Degree Programs

While many Baha’i students find themselves held back from ever pursuing post-secondary studies, some are admitted into institutions of higher education only to be blackballed later.

In the past two weeks, at least four Baha’i students have been expelled from their universities, denied the right to obtain degrees they have earned, or prohibited from furthering their studies: Anahita Horr and Shaghayegh Zabihi Amrie, associate’s students of architectural drafting at Rasam non-profit University in Karaj on the western outskirts of Tehran; Nikan Shaydan Shidi, third-semester student of industrial mold-making at Tehran Technical University; and Misagh Aghsani, student at Payame Noor University in the northwestern city of Urmia.

Arbitrary Detainments

At least 10 Baha’i citizens were recently arrested by security forces in the cities of Shiraz and Karaj.

HRANA reported on the arrest of six Baha’i residents of Shiraz on September 15th and 16th: Sudabeh Haghighat, Noora Pourmoradian, Elaheh Samizadeh, Ehsan Mahbub-Rahvafa, and married couple Navid Bazmandegan and Bahareh Ghaderi. Meanwhile, Peyman Maanavi, Maryam Ghaffaramanesh, Jamileh Pakrou, and Kianoush Salmanzadeh were detained in the city of Karaj.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, arrests, detentions, and sometimes prolonged imprisonment on various pretexts have been among the most common methods of persecuting Baha’is.

Imprisonment and Exile on Dubious Grounds

In recent days, pursuant to trials convened in absentia without informing the defendants or notifying their attorneys, Farhad Sarafzar, Shahram Mansour, Vahid Dana, Saeid Abedi and Adib Haghpajou were sentenced to terms of imprisonment and exile by Branch One of the Shiraz Revolutionary Court.

An informed source told HRANA that the above five were charged with “propaganda against the regime.” In addition to one year in prison, each was doled a punishment of exile in a different remote detention center: Sarafraz was sentenced to one year of exile to Jahrom, Mansour to one year of exile in Eghlid, Dana to one year of exile in Arsanjan, Abedi to one year of exile in Darab, and Haghpajouh to one year of exile in Larestan.

On August 5, 2014, HRANA reported the arrest of Haghpajouh, Abedi, and Dana. On September 1, 2014, it covered the arrest of Mansour and Sarafraz by Shiraz security forces.

Anti-Baha’i Propaganda

A booth entitled “Gooy Publication” dedicated to the sale of books aimed at inciting hatred against the Baha’i faith and its followers was on display at the recent Urmia book fair this year, one instance of an increase in Baha’i-focused literature at this year’s fairs–for better or for worse.

This year’s hosting of the Tehran International Book Fair in May saw a significant increase in the number of anti-Baha’i publications, with such titles for sale as “The Perverse Bahaist Sect.” The Center for Undisclosed Documents of the Islamic Revolution presented a book promising to help the reader understand “various dimensions of the Baha’ist Sect,” while the Center for Baha’i Research, which had two booths in this Fair, has also dedicated almost all of its books to this topic.

The publishers of anti-Baha’i books are financed principally by governmental or religious entities. The increase of such material at the Tehran International Book Fair coincides with an increased blowback against Baha’is even passively expressing their religious belief, e.g. on their university enrollment forms. Baha’is are forbidden from developing a congregation or observing their rites, as evidenced by dozens of Baha’i citizens currently serving prison terms for practicing their faith or seeking to implement administrative structure to their faith community.

Iran thus stand in conflict with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it has signed. The article states that “no individual has the right to insult or attack another individual because of a different ideology or thought.”

Freezing of Baha’i Business

While no new business closures have been reported in the past two weeks, previously shuttered shops have yet to be brought back into commission, keeping their Baha’i owners out of work and placing significant financial burdens on their families.

HRANA previously reported on security agents and local Offices of Public Places sealing Baha’i-owned business across several Iranian cities.

In observance of their beliefs, Baha’i shop owners close their places of business on particular days of the year in order attend religious services. According to paragraph B of Article 28 of guild system law, owners can close their shops up to 15 days per year without informing authorities. Now, despite legal and civil protections against it, security forces have forcibly closed many of these businesses indefinitely.

To little effect, the administration of President Hassan Rouhani has made promises to roll back these business closures. On December 3rd, Rouhani’s special deputy on citizenship rights Shahindokht Molaverdi told the state-run media that his team was consulting with the President’s legal deputy about the “closing down of commercial places and the barring Baha’is from practicing their trade,” adding, “we will address this through legal means to arrive at a solution.”

No End in Sight
United Nations special rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran have repeatedly protested the anti-Baha’i initiatives of the Iranian regime. In their mistreatment of Baha’is, Iranian authorities blatantly flout their public commitments to the human rights community at large.

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.

18 Dervishes starving to death; prison warden says “So what?”

Posted on: September 23rd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In the past month alone, eighteen hunger striking Gonabadi Dervish prisoners in Iran have been beaten with batons, tased, and electrically shocked – and now, the prison’s warden has outwardly stated that it is not his concern if they die.

The prisoners were first beaten by prison guards at Great Tehran Penitentiary on August 29th, after they held a sit-in to protest the beating of female members of their religious minority in Gharchak Prison in Tehran’s east. After guards violently broke up the sit-in, 18 Dervishes were transferred to solitary confinement, and all 18 went on hunger strike in protest. To date, they have not had a single meal, or any food at all, in more than 30 days.

When some of their fellow cellmates expressed concerns about the physical conditions of some of the hunger strikers, the prison’s warden, known only as Farzadi, responded thusly: “So what if they die?”

According to Majzooban Noor, a news website that focuses on Dervish issues, the hunger strikers are suffering from vertigo and reduced blood pressure. Specifically, the physical condition of Mojtaba Biranvand has been described as critical. He had previously been sent to a clinic due to severe physical weakness. Refusing to break his hunger strike, he has rejected supplemental injections.

Abbas Dehghan, another hunger striker held in the same penitentiary, has only one kidney and is greatly suffering from the toll the strike has taken on him.

The August 29th attack targeted Dervishes in ward 3 of the prison. Eighteen Dervishes from Section 4 who protested the treatment of their fellow prisoners were also sent to solitary.

Previously, on September 1st, HRANA reported that three Dervishes had gone on hunger strike: Ali Bolboli, Salehodin Moradi and Mohammad Reza Darvishi. On September 2nd, Majzooban Noor added six more hunger strikers to the list: Abbas Dehghan, Ali Mohammad Shahi, Mojtaba Biranvand, Ali Karimi, Jafar Ahmadi, and Ebrahim Allahbakhshi, On Monday, three more people joined them: Heydar Teymoori, Majid Yarahmadi, and Saeed Soltanoor. On Tuesday, five more dervishes joined the hunger strike: Babak Taghian, Ehsan Malekmohammadi, Sekhavat Salimi, Reza Bavi and Akbar Dadashi. The last Dervish to join was Majid Rashidi.

The Dervishes demand the end to the house arrest of their spiritual leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh. Their other demands include releasing female dervish prisoners from Gharchak Prison and reuniting all imprisoned dervishes in one single section of the GTP.

All of the Dervishes were arrested in relation to what has become known as the Golestan Haftom incident, named after the street on which it occurred. The incident occurred when a gathering of several hundred Gonabadi Dervishes was violently confronted by Iranian police and plainclothes members of the Revolutionary Guard’s Basij faction outside the residence of their spiritual leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh. The Dervishes had gathered to prevent his possible arrest.

In the violence that followed, hundreds were injured and many arrested. Though Iranian judicial authorities estimate that around 300 people have been arrested in connection with Golestan Haftom, HRANA has thus far published the names of 324 arrestees and estimates that the actual number is considerably higher.qqqgonabado

Baha’i Crackdown Intensifies with Three More Arrests in Karaj

Posted on: September 23rd, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Crackdowns on Iran’s Baha’i community continued this week with the arrest of three residents of the northwestern Tehran suburb of Karaj, who were transferred to Evin Prison on Sunday, September 16th and are now being held on approximately $23,000 USD (3 billion IRR) bail.

Maryam Ghaffarmanesh, Jamileh Pakrou, and Kianoush Salmanzadeh–participants in an environmental education session led by Ghaffarmanesh and hosted in the private residence of Ramin Sedighi–were arrested when intelligence agents showed up demanding their cell phones and pressing them to fill out personal information forms.

After confiscating Sedighi’s hard drive, pamphlets, and religious materials, the agents moved on to search Pakrou’s residence, a close source told HRANA.

Ghaffarmanesh, Pakrou, and Salmanzadeh were transferred to Evin Prison. Ghaffarmanesh’s family learned of her bail some 20 hours later, on a call with her from ward 209 of the prison.

The same day, HRANA reported that intelligence ministry agents had arrested and searched the homes of six Baha’i residents of the central Iranian city of Shiraz: Soudabeh Haghighat, Noora Pourmoradian, Elaheh Samizadeh, Ehsan Mahboob Rahvafa, and a married couple, Navid Bazmandegan and Bahareh Ghaderi.

Shiraz had already seen a string of Baha’i arrests one month earlier that landed a number of its residents in an intelligence ministry detention center.

On the morning of September 19th, Baha’i Yazd resident Mehran Bandi Amirabadi was released after being held in custody for 43 days without a warrant. After being tried with six other Baha’i citizens in Branch 3 of Yazd Appeals Court, located in central Iran, Amirabadi was sentenced to one and a half years in prison and one year in exile to be served in Divandareh, a remote city in Iranian Kurdistan.

Mehran Bandi Amirabadi

Iranian Baha’i citizens are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, in contravention of international treaties including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Based on unofficial sources, more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. Iran’s Constitution, however, only recognizes 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.

After Attending Funeral of Executed Political Prisoner, Sunni Preacher Answers to Special Clerical Court

Posted on: September 22nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Pursuant to a phone summons he received one week earlier, Sunni preacher and activist Hashem Hossein Panahi was arraigned in the Special Clerical Court of Hamedan (Western Iran) on Tuesday, September 18th, presumably for participating in the funeral of executed political prisoner Ramin Hossein Panahi.

Hashem Hossein Panahi, who is also the Sunni Shariah judge and Mufti of Kurdistan province and a member of the office of Sheikh Hassan Amini, faces charges of “Propaganda Against the Regime” and “Disturbing the Public Opinion.”

A close source to Panahi told HRANA, “Hashem Hossein Panahi attended the funeral ceremony of the executed political prisoner Ramin Hossein Panahi in Gharochay village, Kurdistan province. After paying his respects and delivering a speech at the service, the Kurdistan Ministry of Intelligence office filed a complaint against him in the Special Clerical Court.”

Panahi has denied the charges leveled against him, countering that his speech at the ceremony addressed prisoner rights in a more general sense, and included reference to prisoners’ rights to choose their own attorneys.

An instructor at the Imam Bokhari Religious School in Sanandaj, Panahi was sentenced to a six-month imprisonment sentence and thirty lashes by Special Clerical Court in 2013. He was also a former employee of the Judiciary who was dismissed in 2010 after 12 years of tenure due to his religious activism and vocal support of Sunni Muslims rights in Iran.

*Special Clerical Court is under the direct control of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and functions independently of Iran’s greater judicial framework.

Baha’i Arrests Persist in Karaj

Posted on: September 22nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Iranian authorities continued in their raid of the Iranian Baha’i community with the arrest of another Baha’i resident of Karaj, a northwest suburb of Tehran, on Sunday, September 16th, 2018.

An informed source told HRANA that Ministry of Intelligence agents raided the Andisheh Karaj residence of Peyman Manavi on Sunday, September 16th, confiscating his mobile phones, personal computers, and books before taking him into custody at an unknown location. The source observed more than 10 arrest warrants listed on papers the agents were holding.

In last few hours, HRANA reported on the arrest and transfer to Evin prison of three other Baha’i Karaj residents: Maryam Ghaffaramanesh, Jamileh Pakrou, and Kianoush Salmanzadeh.

Misagh Aghsani Becomes Latest Baha’i to be Denied Educational Opportunity

Posted on: September 22nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Misagh Aghsani, a Baha’i student at Payam Noor University in the northwestern Iranian city of Urmia, has become the latest member of Iran’s Baha’i religious minority to be denied access to education due to his faith.

An informed source confirmed the news to HRANA, adding that Aghsani, who is currently enrolled, “was barred from receiving his degree or advancing his studies.”

The source added that Aghsani’s father Fardin, who fought and was taken prisoner in the Iran-Iraq war, has suffered financial losses due to his faith.

“His business, along with that of Misagh’s 83-year-old grandfather Fereydoun Aghsani, was forcibly closed for the second time 14 months ago, because they are Baha’is,” the source said. “To make ends meet, the father and grandfather are forced to peddle in front of the sealed door of their store, in the cold of winter and heat of summer.”

In July, HRANA reported on the continued closure of Aghsani family businesses and those of 21 other Baha’is in cities across the country.

In direct violation of the law, Baha’is are prevented from pursuing degrees or employment in government offices, per under-the-table directives from the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. Every year, a new cohort of Baha’is is either barred from higher education altogether or thwarted before culminating their degrees.

Baha’i students can be prevented from enrolling in college during the processing stage of results from the nationally-competitive college entrance exam known as “Concours.” Over the past few weeks, more than 51 Baha’i students were stopped short of applying to universities, purportedly due to “deficiencies” in their admissions files, announced via flags on their e-dossiers when checking their test results online. In its close coverage of these most recent cases, HRANA published specimens of the documentation used to block these Baha’i student files from further processing.

HRANA reported on circumstances similar to Aghsani’s on September 18th, when another Baha’i student, Nikan Shaydan Shidi, was expelled while pursuing an associate’s degree in industrial mold making from Tehran Technical University. On September 15th, HRANA reported on the expulsion of Baha’i architectural drafting student Shaghayegh Zabihi Amrie from a university in Karaj.

Since the 1979 revolution, the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Iran has repeatedly protested the Iranian government’s animosity towards its Baha’i population, particularly in preventing these citizens from furthering their studies. According to the UN, such directives demonstrate a blatant disregard of multiple international treaties.

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.

Based on unofficial sources, more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. However, Iran’s Constitution only recognizes 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.

Intensified Muharram Rituals Becoming Unbearable for Residents

Posted on: September 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Muharram in Iran has so far delivered on its annual promise of month-long public dirges and processionals in honor of the 3rd Shiite Imam Hossein, who died in battle in the 7th century AD. Filling side streets and alleyways with self-flagellation, drumbeats, and wailing, observers of this religious holiday have more recently come to serve the additional purpose of encroaching on religious minority groups.

If noise pollution, traffic jams, and road blockades don’t seem major issues on their face, religious-minority citizens and eyewitness reports describe Muharram as a month-long “psychological persecution” that has enjoyed a history of strong government sponsorship, especially in non-Shiite locales [1].

Ararat, Tehran resident and member of a religious minority he preferred not to name, told HRANA that the eve of Muharram this year turned “ghastly” when the ceremonies reached his home on Ejarehdar Street and jolted his pregnant wife from her sleep.

“Suddenly, the windows started to tremble from the incessant drumming. You cannot imagine how she was woken up, and how she was shaking,” Ararat said. “Worried that something could have happened to the baby, we decided to go to the hospital.”

Making their way through streets clogged with parades, the route to the hospital that night was a long one.

“We moved in with my wife’s parents in Jajroud [north of Iran]. We were worried something terrible could happen, so we escaped for the safety of our baby.”

The Muharram rituals, according to Ararat, were bearable until a few years ago. Over the past decade, due in part to the failing economy, religious hubs have multiplied in tandem with a decreased public interest in worship. To address waning public participation, Ararat said, congregations have purchased audio equipment to broadcast their Muharram lamentations across greater distances.

“Most congregations consist of only a dozen people with flags and drums, slapping their chests or engaging in self-flagellation,” Ararat said. “They are led by a van carrying loudspeakers blasting the monodies [melodic laments].”

Revelations last year that the city of Tehran had given $14 million USD (55 billion IRR) to religious congregations caused such a stir among Iranians that the current mayor and city council have made clear that such funding would not be available this year. According to HRANA reports and eyewitness accounts, however, the disproportionate national and municipal budgets allocated to associations funding Muharram rituals has already mobilized the practice of such rites into a deliberate and systematic violation of religious minority rights.

Through its construction projects alone, city administrators seem to harbor a wish to maintain Shiite presence in neighborhoods where very few of them live. As one Isfahan tourist put it, Christian, Jewish, and other minority localities look deceivingly like the most Shiite-dominated areas of the city. Shiite congregations dot the map of Tehran’s Felestin (Palestine) neighborhood, which is home to many Jewish residents; the Villa neighborhood in Tehran, predominantly inhabited by Christian Armenians, is home to three Shiite mourning congregations; and several Shiite religious associations are housed in Tabriz’s Barnava district, as well as in the Christian-Armenian neighborhoods of Julfa and Isfahan’s Sangtarashha quarter.

As eyewitnesses attest to a growing fervor in sectarian rituals this year, and as religious-minority neighborhoods become host to some of the largest, most cacophonous dirges in the city, the slight against minority residents is twofold: their local taxes are not only being funneled away from projects that would otherwise benefit them, they are also being pooled into the government’s ideological propaganda campaign. Not to mention the noise.

“You cannot believe the horrendous conditions of our street,” said Ararat, who lives on an arterial sidestreet of Tehran’s Imam Hussein Square, one of many feeder streets into a larger collective mourning ceremony that brings loudly-wailing passersby, at all hours of the day and night, to the square. “I tried to reason with the parade administrators, but they told us it was all for Imam Hussein. They claimed there was nothing we could do, and advised us to stay up these nights to reap our benefits in the afterlife!”

An atheist Tabriz resident told HRANA that in order to escape the 24/7 stream of noise this year, he retreated to a vacation home and took a 10-day leave from work.

“Perhaps those who are religious won’t believe me, but I can’t stand even a second of monodies and chest slapping. We have seen enough of this on TV, at school, and at our universities. Every year, the number of congregations [that carry out these activities] increases. It is as though, by virtue of not being Muslim Shiites, we have no rights, and we do not even exist.”

Government backing of these observances not only violates the rights of religious minorities acknowledged in the Constitution–namely Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians–but also infringes on the rights stipulated in constitutional articles 19 [2] and 20 [3] pertaining to all Iranian citizens, including Baha’is, Dervishes, Yareshan, Mandayis, and others not expressly protected by law.

[1] Heya’at, religious associations or congregations, are formed via municipal permit process prior to Muharram, the Islamic month in lunar calendar marked by rituals commemorating Imam Hossein. The rituals include the broadcast of loud monodies broadcast through loudspeakers and processions held in the streets, where participants clad in black walk the streets while slapping their chests and chanting.
[2] Article 19: The people of Iran enjoy equal rights, regardless of the tribe or ethnic group to which they belong. Color, race, language, and other such considerations shall not be grounds for special privileges.
[3] Article 20: Members of the nation, whether men or women, are equally protected by the law. They enjoy all the human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights that are in compliance with the Islamic criteria.

Expulsion of Baha’i University Student Nikan Shaydan

Posted on: September 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Just shy of obtaining his associate’s degree in industrial mold making, Baha’i student Nikan Shaydan Shidi has been expelled from Tehran Technical University for refusing to denounce his faith.

An informed source told HRANA that Shidi was unceremoniously summoned at the end of his third term and asked, given his professed religion, “why he had registered at the university at all.”

“He was told that the university was no place for Baha’is and that the three terms he had spent there was three terms too many. They told him to change his professed religion at the registrar’s office if he wanted to carry on with his studies.”

According to the source, when Shaydan Shidi refused to do so, the security office summoned his father, but the two were unable to gain ground in negotiations with university officials. “No matter how hard [they] tried–writing letters to the education office of the university and visiting the dean–the university wouldn’t give him the necessary credentials to take his final exams. In the end, he was expelled.”

While Iranian Baha’is are routinely banned from pursuing higher education, some manage to surpass initial barriers to enrollment, only to be thwarted before culminating their degree. On September 15th, HRANA reported on the expulsion of Baha’i architectural design student Shaqayeq Zabihi Amrii from Rassam Private University of Karaj.

Baha’i students are often prevented from enrolling in college altogether during the processing of their results on the nationally-competitive college entrance exam known as “Concours.” Over the past few weeks, more than 51 Baha’i students were stopped short of applying to universities, purportedly due to “deficiencies” in their admissions files. In its close coverage of these most recent cases, HRANA published specimens of the documentation used to block these Baha’i student files from further processing.

In direct violation of the law, Baha’is are prevented from pursuing degrees or employment in government offices, per under-the-table directives from the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. Every year, a new cohort of Baha’is is barred in this way from the university enrollment process.

Since the 1979 revolution, the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Iran has repeatedly protested the Iranian government’s animosity towards its Baha’i population, particular in preventing these citizens from furthering their studies. According to the Rapporteur, such directives demonstrate a blatant disregard of multiple international treaties.

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.

Based on unofficial sources, more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. However, Iran’s Constitution only recognizes 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.

Five More Baha’i Citizens Arrested in Shiraz

Posted on: September 19th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Authorities associated with Iran’s intelligence ministry arrested five Baha’i citizens this weekend – September 15th and 16th – in the central Iranian city of Shiraz.

The first three Baha’i citizens – Elaheh Samizadeh, and married couple Navid Bazmandegan and Bahareh Ghaderi – were arrested and taken to an undisclosed location on Saturday. On Sunday morning, Baha’i citizens Ehsan Mahboob Rahvafa and Noora Pourmoradian were arrested and taken to a detention center run by the city’s intelligence department.

Bazmandegan was arrested at 6 p.m. while teaching a psychology class, a credible source told HRANA. According to the source, while Bazmandegan was being interrogated in different room, authorities filmed the students, taking their identification cards, computers, flash drives, mobile phones, and the passwords to their mobile devices. All those present were asked to sign a document they were prohibited from reading in its entirety, and told to clear the area within 10 minutes.

Bazmandegan was subsequently escorted to his home, where authorities conducted a search and seized his personal belongings. His wife Bahare was also arrested and transferred to an undisclosed location.

Last month, HRANA reported on the arrest of a number of Baha’i Shiraz residents who were taken to the same detention center.

Baha’is are Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority and are systematically persecuted by the government.