Two Baha’i Citizens Released from Detention in Shiraz

Posted on: October 2nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Pezhman Shahriari and Mahboob Habibi, two Baha’i residents of Shiraz who were arrested by security forces on August 17th and detained in a Shiraz Intelligence Detention Center known as Plaque 100, have been released pending their court hearings.

As of the date of this report, no details were available about their charges.

HRANA previously reported on the coordinated arrests of Baha’i citizens Koroush Rouhani, Dorna Isma’ili, Hooman Ismaeili, and Negar Misaghian by Shiraz security forces. All were released later that day but Kourosh Rouhani, who was released on bail 37 days later.

On Sunday, September 16th, HRANA reported on the arrest and transfer to Shiraz Intelligence Detention Center of five other Baha’i residents of Shiraz: Noora Pourmoradian, Elaheh Samizadeh, Ehsan Mahbub-Rahvafa, and married couple Navid Bazmandegan and Bahareh Ghaderi.

Baha’is in Iran do not have freedom of religion. This systematic repression is in violation of Article 18 of the International Declaration of Human Rights as well as Article 18 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights. These documents assert the rights of every individual to freedom of religion, religious conversion, and expression of their religious belief as individuals or groups, publicly or privately.

Unofficial reports indicate that there are over three hundred thousand Baha’is living in Iran. Meanwhile, the Iranian constitution only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism as permissible religions, effectively rendering the Baha’i faith illegal. This loophole allows the Iranian government to systematically violate the rights of Baha’is with impunity.

Harassed by Authorities, Christian Former Prisoner Stages Sit-in Across From Evin

Posted on: September 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Fatemeh Mohammadi, a Christian convert who was released from Evin Prison earlier this year, has staged a sit-in across from her former prison to protest what she referred to as the prison authorities’ “campaign of verbal harassment” against her.

Mohammadi was initially detained last November, and sentenced to six months in prison by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. She was released from Evin Prison’s women’s ward after completing her sentence. Now, she claims authorities are contacting her family to insult and harass them.

“After I was released from Evin Prison, I was contacted by the prison’s interrogation team,” Mohammadi told HRANA. “They called me all sorts of vulgar words. Last night, September 26th, 2018, Evin Prison again called my home. The person on the phone said [unpleasant] things to my family and told them, ‘It is best that you stop your daughter from her activities as the path she is on leads to corruption.’”

She said she was prompted to begin her protest when her home was contacted once again on Thursday, September 27th, 2018.

“They repeated their words,” Mohammadi said. “Afterwards, I went to Evin to find out what was wrong, but no one offered an explanation. For this reason, I am protesting and staging a sit-in across from Evin Prison, and will continue to do so until they process my complaint.”

Mohammadi previously published a letter in which she spoke of the anguish she endured during her interrogation.

Last November, Mohammadi was detained in Tehran and transferred to Evin prison along with Majid Reza Suzanchi Kashani, another recent Christian convert. On April 7th, 2018, Mohammadi, who was 19 years old at the time, was sentenced by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, presided by Judge Ahmadzadeh, to six months’ imprisonment on charges of “membership in proselytizing groups,” “christian activity,” and “acting against national security through propaganda against the regime.”

Per Iranian law, Mohammadi’s sentence should have been reduced by a quarter when she consented to the verdict; however, she served a month and a half longer than anticipated per the law. She was released May 14th, 2018.

Baha’i Arrests in Iran; 20 and Counting

Posted on: September 28th, 2018

UPDATE: Hooman Khoshnam was released from prison on bail on October 29, 2018.

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Hooman Khoshnam, a Baha’i resident of Karaj, became the sixth Baha’i citizen to be arrested by Ministry of Intelligence security forces in the city on September 25th, 2018.

In addition to arresting him, security forces also sealed the door to Khoshnam’s workplace. Khoshnam’s arrest is the latest in a series intensified persecution of Baha’i citizens, thus far affecting 20 citizens in Karaj, Shiraz, and on the outskirts of Isfahan.

Before Khoshnam’s arrest, Payam Shabani, another Baha’i resident of Karaj, was arrested by security forces only one day earlier on September 24th. HRANA also reported on the arrest and transfer to Evin Prison of four other Baha’i Karaj residents on September 16th: Peyman Maanavi, Maryam Ghaffaramanesh, Jamileh Pakrou, and Kianoush Salmanzadeh.

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

The source said that after the search of Sedghi’s personal property, including his hard drive, pamphlets, and religious materials, agents moved on to search Pakrou’s residence. Ghaffarmanesh, Pakrou, and Salmanzadeh were then 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.

HRANA reported on the arrest of six Baha’i Shiraz residents on September 15th and 16th: Sudabeh Haghighat, Noora Pourmoradian, Elaheh Samizadeh, Ehsan Mahbub-Rahvafa, and married couple Navid Bazmandegan and Bahareh Ghaderi.

HRANA also covered the arrests of eight Baha’i residents of Baharestan, a newly-built city about 18 miles south of Isfahan, on September 23rd and 24th. The detainees were Saham Armin, Afshin Bolbolan, Anush Rayneh, Milad Davardan, Farhang Sahba, Bahareh Zeini (Sobhanian), Sepideh Rouhani and Fuzhan Rashidi.

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. 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.

Authorities Raid Home of Detained Baha’i Citizen Noora Pourmoradian, Arrest her Parents

Posted on: September 28th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – The aggression against Baha’is in Iran was still palpable Thursday, September 27th when Shiraz-based Security forces raided the home of Shirazi Baha’i prisoner of conscience Noora Pourmoradian, seizing her personal belongings and temporarily detaining her mother and father.

Claiming that the search was necessary to the completion of Noora’s case, security forces threatened the Pourmoradian family with “severe consequences” if they leaked photo evidence or publicly disclosed information about the incident.

“To intimidate them, they handcuffed Mr. Saeid Pourmoradian (Noora’s father) and took him into the car, menacing him [about what would happen] if he didn’t keep quiet,” a close source told HRANA.

On Sunday, September 16, 2018, HRANA reported on Noora Pourmoradian’s arrest and transfer to a Shiraz Intelligence Detention Center known as Plaque 100. Four other Shirazi Baha’is were arrested the same day: Elaheh Samizadeh, Ehsan Mahbub-Rahvafa, and married couple Navid Bazmandegan and Bahareh Ghaderi.
 
In recent weeks, HRANA reported on the arrest of several Baha’i citizens by security forces in the cities of Shiraz and Karaj, so many instances of increasing pressures on this religious minority community from judicial and security institutions. In recent weeks, HRANA reported on the arrest of eight Baha’i residents of Baharestan, a newly-built city about 18 miles south of Isfahan: Saham Armin, Afshin Bolbolan, Anush Rayneh, Milad Davardan, Farhang Sahba, Bahareh Zeini (Sobhanian), Sepideh Rouhani and Fuzhan Rashidi. Meanwhile, six Baha’i residents of Karaj were arrested and transferred to Evin Prison: Hooman Khoshnam, Payam Shabani, Peyman Maanavi, Maryam Ghaffaramanesh, Jamileh Pakrou, and Kianoush Salmanzadeh.

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. 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.

Baha’i Student Shaghayegh Shoghi Expelled from University for Religious Beliefs

Posted on: September 28th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In her sixth semester of study at the Isfahan University of Technology, Baha’i student Shaghayegh Shoghi has been expelled for her religious beliefs.

While Shoghi is among the few Baha’i students to have made it past the systemic barriers blocking most Baha’i students from enrolling in the first place, she has been denied the right to continue to the culmination of her degree.

In the past two weeks, the following 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.

Throughout the month of September, HRANA reported on 58 Baha’i students who were rendered ineligible to apply to college when their results on the 2018 National University Entrance Exam, known as “Konkur,” were flagged “deficiency on file” on the National Organization for Educational Testing website. 
 
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.

UN special rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran have continuously protested against the Iranian authorities’ anti-Baha’i policies and practices – in particular barring Baha’i students from university education – and deemed these practices as instances of the Iranian authorities violating their international commitments.

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.

Fifth Baha’i Karaj Resident Detained

Posted on: September 28th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The crackdown on Iran’s Baha’i community continued September 24th with the arrest of Payam Shabani, a Baha’i resident of Karaj, a northwest suburb of Tehran.

Shabani became the latest Baha’i citizen to be arrested by authorities at his home in Karaj, bringing to five the total number of Baha’i Karaj resident arrested so far. On September 16th, HRANA reported on the arrest and transfer to Evin Prison of Peyman Maanavi, Maryam Ghaffaramanesh, Jamileh Pakrou, and Kianoush Salmanzadeh.

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

The source said that after the search of Sedghi’s personal property, including his hard drive, pamphlets, and religious materials, agents moved on to search Pakrou’s residence. Ghaffarmanesh, Pakrou, and Salmanzadeh were then 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.

Baha’i citizens in various cities of the country in recent weeks have faced increasing pressure from the Iranian judiciary and security establishment. In recent weeks, HRANA also reported on the arrests of Baha’i citizens by security forces in the central cities of Shiraz and Isfahan.

In Shiraz, HRANA reported on the September 15th and 16th arrests of Baha’i residents Sudabeh Haghighat, Noora Pourmoradian, Elaheh Samizadeh, Ehsan Mahbub-Rahvafa, and married couple Navid Bazmandegan and Bahareh Ghaderi.

HRANA also reported on the arrest of eight Baha’i residents of Baharestan, a newly-built city about 18 miles south of Isfahan, on September 23rd and 24th: Saham Armin, Afshin Bolbolan, Anush Rayneh, Milad Davardan, Farhang Sahba, Bahareh Zeini (Sobhanian), Sepideh Rouhani and Fuzhan Rashidi.

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. 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.

Shirazi Baha’i Arrestee Released on Bail

Posted on: September 26th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – After 37 days in the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center, Baha’i Shiraz resident Kourosh Rouhani was released Monday, September 24th on 1 billion rials (approximately $6000 USD) bail, and now awaits trial. As of the date of this report, no further information is available on his charges or the reasons behind his arrest.

According to HRANA reports, Rouhani was among a group of six Baha’is arrested August 18th by security forces in Shiraz: Pezhman Shahriari, Dorna Esmaili, Hooman Esmaili, Negar Misaghian, and Mahboob Habibi.

Notably, Negar Misaghian, Dorna Esmaili, and Hossman Esmaili were released within hours of their arrest, while Rouhani, Shahriari, and Habibi were transferred to the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center in Shiraz.

Shiraz has seen a notable increase in the arrests of Baha’i citizens this month, including the arrest and detention of Noora Pourmoradian, Elaheh Samizadeh, Ehsan Mahboob Rahvafa, Navid Bazmandegan, and his spouse Bahareh Ghaderi on September 15th and 16th. [2]

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 Continue Pursuit of Baha’i Citizens in Isfahan Province

Posted on: September 26th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On Sunday, September 23rd, Saham Armin became the eighth Baha’i citizen to be detained by Ministry of Intelligence forces after having his home searched in Baharestan, a city 12 miles southeast of Isfahan on the route to Shiraz.

HRANA previously reported on the arrest of Afshin Bolbolan, Anoosh Rayeneh, Milad Davardan, Farhang Sahba, Bahareh Zeini (Sobhanian), Sepideh Rohani, and Fojan Rashidi by security forces in the same city [1]. As of the date of this report, no further information was available on their location or the reasons behind their arrest.

A close source to the group previously confirmed to HRANA that Bolbolan’s books, laptop, tablet, and mobile phone were seized by authorities during a search of his home.

In recent weeks, members of the Baha’i religious minority have faced increased pressure from Iranian security and judiciary establishments all over Iran, resulting in several arrests on specious grounds. In the last month, HRANA published reports on the arrests of Baha’i residents of Shiraz and Karaj who were swept up in this trend: Maryam Ghaffarmanesh, Jamileh Pakrou (Mohammad Hossein), Kianoush Salmanzadeh, and Peyman Manavi were arrested and transferred to Evin Prison from Karaj on September 16, 2018. Shiraz security forces arrested Soudabeh Haghighat, Noora Pourmoradian, Elaheh Samizadeh, Ehsan Mahboob Rahvafa, Navid Bazmandegan, and his wife Bahareh Ghaderi on September 15th and 16th.

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.

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.