Civil Activists Petition for Political Prisoner Payam Shakiba

Posted on: October 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Dozens of civil activists issued a statement October 18th advocating for due process in the case of political prisoner Payam Shakiba.

Held in Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj since his arrest in February 2018, Shakiba was sentenced to 11 years in prison by Judge Ahmadzadeh. The sentence was later upheld in an appeals court.

Shakiba is a former member of the University of Zanjan’s Islamic Student Association, and prior to his persecution by authorities was a graduate student of political science at Allameh Tabatabai University.

The full text of the activists’ statement, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

Payam Shakiba, a former member of the Islamic Student Association at the University of Zanjan, was first arrested in July 2008 along with several other students protesting against the [sexual] assault of a female student by a university vice-president. All of the protesters were convicted. Payam was released on bail after 40 days and sentenced one year later to a year in prison.

Upon completion of his compulsory military service, he was hired as a teacher in September 2010 at a semi-private school in Tehran. In November of that year, he went to prison to serve his sentence. After his release, the Ministry of Education halted his employment proceedings.

Mr. Shakiba passed the entrance exam for master’s programs in applied science at both a public institution and Azad University. However, the public university barred him from enrolling in the program, given his status as a “starred” student [i.e. a student whose file is marked with an asterisk to indicate previous disciplinary action for political activity]. He had no choice but to enroll in the Sciences and Research Branch at Azad University. In the final days of his first semester, however, he was expelled and banned from returning to his studies.

Payam, however, didn’t stop there: he took the entrance exam again in 2013 and was accepted to the political science program at Allameh Tabatabai University. He had spent years in the meantime earning his living in industrial workshops.

Payam Shakiba was arrested for a second time on February 19, 2017, on charges of “acting against national security by assembling and colluding against the regime.” After a search of his workplace in the industrial park of Golgoun, in Shahriar, he was transferred to solitary confinement in Ward 209 of Evin Prison, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Intelligence. During this time he was denied access to a lawyer or visitation from family members. When his interrogation period had finished, he was illegally exiled to Rajai Shahr prison where he spent 17 months in legal limbo. It was then that he was faced with a judicial conundrum: first the appeals court informed one of his lawyers that Shakiba’s 11-year sentence had been reduced to six; a week later, another one of his lawyers was summoned to court, where he learned that the 11-year sentence had been upheld, and that the five-year reduction was no longer valid.

A glance at the processing of Mr. Shakiba’s cases, and at his sentence as it stands, reveals a flagrant injustice and lack of due process. What kind of judicial system takes employment opportunity away from a student and future teacher because they protested a sexual assault? In what kind of fair process can an interrogator rule in lieu of a judge to reverse an already-appealed sentence? Why are the basic minimums of amenities and living space withheld from Payam Shakiba and from other political prisoners? Why don’t they have access to adequate hygiene and nutrition, or even to a cooling system in the summer?

It is common knowledge nowadays that these deprivations serve to break a prisoner’s spirit and resolve. Yet as we also know, our grand and unflappable Payam cannot be broken. Anyone close to him knows him as an altogether reasonable, kind, humble, generous person, courageous and defiant in the face of injustice.

We the undersigned protest the illegal arrest and incarceration of this student activist. We consider the trial unfair and believe that his human and civil rights have been disregarded at all stages of the legal process, through the interrogation and investigation to the preliminary and appeals court proceedings.

Blindfolding, solitary confinement, and denial of access to a lawyer are violations of a defendant’s rights. Furthermore, the objectivity of the preliminary trial was compromised by the interference of a Ministry of Intelligence representative. By a flagrant act of interference [by non-judiciary authorities], his sentence was increased on appeal.

As friends, civil activists, and fellow students of Payam Shakiba, we object to his sentence and the unfair process to which he was subjected.

We ask for the immediate, unconditional release of Payam Shakiba so that he may defend himself in a fair trial before a jury. This self-evident legal and human right cannot be denied and ignored for perpetuity.

We ask human rights organizations and activists to carry out their duty, regardless of their political allegiances. The writing off of certain political prisoners is tantamount to abetting the suppression of their voices, and those guilty of it should be held accountable before history.

Ahmad Barani, Ahmad Biglari, Ahmad Jabbari, Ahmad Zahedi Langroudi, Ahmad Mohammadi, Ahmad Madadi, Ahmad Mirzaei, Ahmad Yazdi, Arsalan Beigi, Esmaeil Sarahandi, Asghar Dehghan, Asghar, Bahram Mahmoudi, Abolfazl Samadi, Aboozar Beheshti, Ehsan Rezaei, Ahmad Ebrahimi, Ahmad Barani, Ahmad Biglari, Ahmad Jabbari, Aazam Yari, Afshin Pourjam, Afshin Hyrtyan, Akbar Amini Armaki, Akbar Naseri, Akbar Hashemi, Mohammad Ebrahimi, A. Nasirian, Elham Motalebi, Omid Madani, Amir Bagheri, Anwar Farajzadeh, Ulduz Hashemi, Ivaz Hashemi, Adindeh Beigi, Azar Gilani , Amanj Amini, Avat Razavi, Bahera Alamdari, Bahram Aghdasi, Behzad Delshad, Feshdeh Fereydouni, Bahman Golali, Bahman Nouri, Behnam Farzaneh, Bijan Najafi, Parsa Krmanjyan, Parvaneh Ghasemian, Parvun Tavakoli, Parvin Mohammadi, Parvin Nokhostin, Parisa Sarai, Soraya Ghobadi, Jafar Ebrahimi, Jafar Hosseinzadeh, Javad Lal Mohammad, Jahangir Kas Nzany, Habib Beigi, Hassan Elmi, Hassan Noorzad, Hossein Ramezani Sarajari, Hossein Shah Pari, Hossein Sadeghi, Hossein Mousavi, Hamid Reza Kamayebarf, Hamid Zanganeh, Hamid Shabani, Hamid Shabani, Hamid Azimi, Hamid Noori, Hooria Farajzadeh, Dariush Rezaei, Dariush Faraji, Rahele Farajzadeh Tarani , Raheleh Ghodsi, Rahman Beigi, Rahim Hosniyatabar, Rahim Zakeri, Rahim Shams, Rasoul Heshmati, Reza Ahmadi, Reza Hosseini, Reza Abbasi, Rouhollah Hedayati, Ruzbeh Ekradi, Roshan Hashemi, Romina Mohseni Rajai, Zahra Rahimi, Ziba Omidi, Zainab Sepehri, Zhaleh Rouhzad, Sarah Beheshti, Sarah Siahpour, Sarah Barakat, Saeed Rezaei, Saeed Naimi, Saeedeh Maasoumi, Samaneh Abedini, Sorna Hashemi, Soheil Siri, Soheila Dalwand, Siamak Farid, Siavash Montazeri, Sima Salmani, Simin Javandideh, Sharareh Aram, Shahrzad Ghadiri, Shahnaz Akmali, Shadi Mohammadi Shiva, Ameli Rad, Saber Molaei, Sadegh Rezaie, Sedighe Zeitouni, Soghari Noor, Salah Sorkhi, Taher Hamedi, Tahere Ghobadi, Abed Tavancheh, Aliyeh Aghdoost, Abbas Shahbazi, Abbas Safari, Abdul Rahman Azim, Aziz Qasemzadeh, Esmat Taa Ali Ebrahimi, Ali Ahmadi, Ali Asghar Zolghodar, Ali Bagheri, Ali Rangipour, Ali Zarei, Ali Samad, Ali Azimi, Ali Masoumi, Ali Mirfatah, Alireza Behdarvand, Alireza Firoozi, Alireza Ghadiri, Enayat Vosoughi, Gholamreza Maleki, Gholamreza Hezaveh, Fatehmeh Ahmadi, Faezeh Almasi, Farzin Rezaei Roshan, Forough Sami Nia, Forough Fereydouni, Farhad Salamatkhah, Farideh Moradkhani, Fahimeh Badkoobehi, Kaveh Mozaffari, Kiandokht Nikbakht, Keyvan Rezaei, Laleh Abbasi, Madeh Alavi, Mojtaba Asadi, Majid Hassani, Majid Rahmati, Majid Masoumi, Mahboobeh Farahzadi, Mohsen Omrani, Mohammad Azami, Mohammad Hossein Rafiei, Mohammad Saeed Ahmadi, Mohammad Karim Beigi, M Hamad Karimi, Mohammad Ali Rostami, Mahmoud Didani, Mahmoud Mojdehi, Morteza Asadi, Morteza Nazari, Marzieh Dorood, Marzieh Mahmoudi, Maryam Haghighi, Maryam Mohammadi, Masoud Hosseini, Masoud Heydariyan, Masoud Saki, Masoud Kouhi, Masoud Hashemi, Masoumeh Dehghan, Mansour Soleimani , Mansoureh Farahzadi, Manijeh Foruzandeh, Mehdi Rahmati, Mehdi Arabshahi, Mehrnoush Heidarzadeh, Mahshid Rouhani, Milad Janat, Minoo Keykhosrowi, Naser Rashidi, Nahid Ebrahimi, Narges Ahmadi, Narges Zafari, Nasrin Ahmadi, Nasrin Amiri, Nasrin Saifodini, Niloofar Kadokhodayi, Vahid Zandi, Vahsa Safi, Hagar Karami, Homayoun Panahi, Salah Azadi, Ali Jafari, Roozbeh Rezaei, Amir Hossein Sa’ad , Ali Abu Torabi, Maryam Qalychyha, Humayun Madani, Mir Hamid Salek, Azita Rezvan, Amir Hossein Saadat, Naveed Kamran, Jelveh Javaheri, Sepideh Saghafian, Forough Azizi, Sarah Hemmati, Laleh Mohammadi, Fatemeh Mohammadi, Nastaran Eshghi, Ali Reza Tarkashvand, Zohreh Asadpour, Abbas Shahbazi, Reza Ansari, Masoumeh Abbasian, Abbas Shahrabi, Alireza Kaviani, Morteza Zarrin, Mahsa Yazdani, Zahra Ghaeninejad, Ahmad Rezaei, Afshan Davari.

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Rajai Shahr Prison is located in Karaj, approximately 30 miles west of Tehran.

The University of Zanjan is located in Zanjan, approximately 180 miles northwest of Tehran.

Teachers’ Association Sounds Call to General Strike on October 14th & 15th

Posted on: October 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI) has issued a statement critical of the Ministry of Education, drawing public attention to a trend of paltry compensation for teachers.

The statement calls for teachers and other pedagogical staff to stage sit-ins in the administrative offices of schools this coming October 14th and October 15th [the work week in Iran runs from Saturday to Thursday]. It also asks teachers to sensitize students by explaining to them in advance the civic impetus behind the sit-ins to come.

The full text of their letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

Dear Iranian teachers,
Cherished students,
Esteemed parents,

Teachers both active and retired have been scraping by on painfully low wages for years. They protest cuts to school budget allocations and the unconstitutional shift of educational duties from the shoulders of schools to the shoulders of the people. Teachers have stood their ground in civic and community actions [on behalf of concerns] that officials never deign to acknowledge. No, it seems they are preoccupied with staying in power, defensively clutching their spoils. They think only of their own interests, those of their small inner circle, and those of some citizens in other countries.

Out-of-control inflation and climbing prices have gripped the country, and the purchasing power of teachers, like that of many other hard-working classes, has fallen significantly. What’s more, the cost of education is on the rise, and the Iranian government and parliament have failed to answer to teachers’ faltering quality of life and the ailing education system. The time has come for us to protest this systemic disorder.

All have come to feel that the Ministry of Education, as the face and custodian of this system encompassing millions of people, is without a practical program or vision for improving our educational infrastructure. Instead of attending to the quality of formation and to teachers’ livelihoods, the ministry opts increasingly for monetizing education and impoverishing teachers.

The Public Service Law, which was passed in 2007, has yet to be implemented 10 years later.

The bill on teacher ranking is postponed month after month.
The Teachers’ Savings Fund has been looted, and according to the Fund’s inquiry committee, 18 million tomans [approximately $1,200 USD] is missing from each teacher’s share.

Teacher’s salaries have not kept up with the rate of inflation, and in practice, a majority of teachers live below the poverty line. At the same time, there are fewer and fewer public schools, and those still in operation [depend on separate funding] to run.

The security apparatus and judiciary, rather than pursuing those responsible for corruption and the robbery of our society, prefer to threaten, exile, fire, and imprison teachers who express their needs and pursue justice.

On behalf of workers in the education system both active and retired, CCTSI has exhausted available paths for bettering our current conditions. Teachers have voiced their demands in meetings and letters to officials, published them in statements, launched them as campaigns, and hosted syndical rallies for them. But the regime and the government refuse to take even a single step towards addressing those issues.

Honorable People of Iran,
Imprudent Iranian officials,

We are going to stage sit-ins because teachers can’t go to class in these conditions. In any case, classes held in makeshift camps, overcrowded to the extreme, can hardly be put to any use.

For the reasons discussed above and the many others we have voiced before, CCTSI calls on educational staff of all levels across the country to stage sit-ins in the offices of their schools on Sunday, October 14 and Monday, October 15. We ask that they refuse to go to classes and that they raise students awareness on the factors compelling this initiative.

We ask the school principals to join in and to refrain from harsh treatment of our colleagues. We warn security offices and institutions not to retaliate against the teachers taking part in demonstrations. We have tasted detention and incarcerations, and some of our brave colleagues are still in chains today. We ask that you lay down your weapons of repression.

This October sit-ins are only the beginning: if we don’t see swift, constructive, and concrete changes to the pay slips of active and retired educational employees, and to per-capita funding of students, we will escalate our general strikes come November.

We ask our retired comrades to come visit their local colleagues carrying a flower. Employed colleagues who are off on [the strike days] must also join in, at a school close to their home or in the school where they work.
Teachers believe in the common right to a dignified life, and in access to free, fair, and quality education for all children.

The Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran
October 10th, 2018

January Protestors: Appellate Court Reduces Sentence of Teacher Activist

Posted on: October 9th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Schoolteacher and University of Tehran student Ruhollah Mardani, who was arrested earlier this year in connection to nationwide protests and sentenced to six years in prison and a 2-year ban on travel and civic activities, has had his sentenced reduced to two years in an appeals court.

For his participation in the 2018 January protests, Mardani was arrested on February 17th, detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison, and convicted of propaganda against the regime and gathering and colluding to commit crimes against domestic security.

A source previously told HRANA that Mardani taught in Karaj schools, and was among a group of college classmates demonstrating solidarity with the January protestors by gathering together and blocking security forces from entering Tehran University.

Mardani started a hunger strike on April 24th to protest his arrest and chronically cliff-hanging case status. On May 21, he ended his strike after 27 days when judicial authorities promised to expedite his trial.

According to the source, an intervention from the Ministry of Education has effectively frozen Mardani’s payroll.

Kurdish Student Massoud Karimi Barred from Education

Posted on: September 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – After placing among the nation’s top 20 on the competitive college entrance exam, Kurdish student Massoud Karimi, from the city of Javanrood in Kermanshah province, has been barred from continuing his studies due to a purported deficiency in his student file. Karimi was pursuing a master’s degree in political science.

A week before the examination results were released, Kermanshah’s Intelligence Office had summoned Karimi and interrogated him about his student activism, a source told HRANA. He was then told that he wouldn’t be allowed to study, so that “others could learn.”

After several follow-ups, the National Examination Office — which first claimed not to know the reason for Karimi’s disqualification — confirmed that he was rendered ineligible for political reasons.

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.

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.

Iran: UK-Based Art Philosophy Student Detained on Charges of Threatening National Security

Posted on: September 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Aras Amiri, an Iranian citizen and 10-year resident of the UK who was released on bail for national-security-related charges in March, was summoned to Evin Prison, read her charges, and transferred to the women’s ward on September 7, 2018.

Iranian intelligence officers apprehended the Kingston University graduate student on March 14, 2018, just prior to the Iranian New Year. She had been out of custody since posting a bond of $120,000 USD (500 million IRR) bail on May 21.

A source close to Amiri confirmed the news of her recent summons, and told HRANA that she is being pursued on charges of “action against national security.” “However,” the source added, “we are still in the dark about how she responded to that charge since the case file has yet to be sent to court.”

Prior to her arrest, Amiri–who studies the philosophy of art–was working to launch joint exhibition projects between Iranian and British artists, collaborating with bodies like the British Council and a UK-based charity with satellite offices worldwide. The British Council had its own office in Tehran until February of 2009, when security agents prompted the Council to cease its in-country operations by excessively questioning the employees there.

One of Amiri’s family members previously told the media that her cultural activities have been in concert and alignment with the various branches of the Iranian Ministry of Culture. During the ten years of her residence in the UK, she had repeatedly traveled to Iran without issue.

In recent years, a number of Iranian nationals residing outside of the country have been detained and imprisoned upon returning to Iran. Abbas Edalat, an Iranian-British dual citizen and professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Imperial College in London, was traveling to Iran for an educational workshop when he was detained and sent to Evin Prison in April 2018.

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.

University of Tehran Student Soha Mortezaei Sentenced to Six Years’ Imprisonment

Posted on: September 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Graduate student in humanities and Secretary of Tehran University Central Student Union Soha Mortezaei– who was among those arrested amid the 2018 “January protests”– has been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and a two-year ban on membership in political parties, groups, and gatherings by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, presided by Judge Ahmadzadeh.

Mortezaei’s name figured in HRANA’s January 6, 2018 report on citizens apprehended during the aforementioned protests, which gained countrywide momentum and were met with considerable violence form authorities. She was detained for her inquiries into the status and wellbeing of detained fellow students who had participated along with her in the demonstrations.

Mortezaei had a previous run-in with authorities, in a wave of arrests that took place in January of 2015. She was arrested along with Amirkabir and Allameh Tabatabai University student activists Zahra Khandan, Fershteh Tusi, and Parastou Biranvand. One month later, she was released.

The January Protests led to large number of arrests and interrogations across the country. While the protests began on December 29, 2017 in the city of Mashhad, the unrest quickly spread to other cities. Thousands were detained and at least 25 died in skirmishes between protesters and security forces.

An Imprisoned Student Digs in his Heels as More than 50 Baha’i College Applicants are Denied September Enrollment

Posted on: September 19th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Four more Baha’i youth anticipating results from their national university entrance exam have received notifications of “deficiency” on their application dossiers, deflating their hopes for enrollment this year. But for one of these four–Rajai Shahr prisoner and human rights activist Vahed Kholousi–this rejection has come to symbolize a tradition of resistance.

Kholousi doggedly reapplies to the entrance exam every year from prison, in continued protest of having been denied higher educational opportunity for 15 consecutive test rounds.

It was Kholousi’s peaceful reclamation of Baha’i educational rights that originally brought him into authorities’ crosshairs, resulting in a five-year prison sentence on charges of “gathering and collusion with intent to commit crimes against national security,” “membership and activity in the Baha’i community and its widespread propaganda,” and “membership and activity in the Right to Education Committee.”

The above ruling from his June 2011 trial, held in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, was presided by Judge Moghiseh and later upheld in an appeals court. Pursuant to the sentence, he was summoned to Branch 3 of Evin Prison court that August, arrested there the same day, detained for 21 days in Ward 2A of Evin Prison (jurisdiction of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)), and finally exiled to Rajai Shahr Prison, where he has since remained.

Kholousi is contesting a larger anti-Baha’i discrimination policy administered by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, by which the e-dossiers of himself, Sahar Mohebpour from Shiraz (ranked # 7000, studying English Literature), Seyed Koosha Hashemi from Shiraz (ranked #6295), and Saba Fazli from Karaj have recently been flagged “deficiency on file,” bringing to 51 the number of Iranian Baha’is being denied college-enrollment eligibility despite successfully passing the national admissions test, according to HRANA cumulative reports.

HRANA previously revealed the identities of 47 Baha’i applicants who were met by the flag “deficiency on file” when checking their test results online:

1. Farhoud Bashi, from Tehran, 2. Sahba Imani, 3.Arman Golzar, 4. Nariman Movafaghi Eiveli from Sari, 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 from Tehran (ranked #15000), 13. Rozhan Khooniki (ranked #9477), 14. Foroozan Noordel from Tabriz, 15.Parsa Sheikh Zavareh, 16.Hoda Hedayati, 17.Arian Baghaei Amrei from Sari, 18.Vafa Nobakht from Sari, 19.Adib Rahmani from Sari (ranked #960, studying Mathematics), 20.Parviz Rahmani, 21.Kiana Rastak, 22.Negar Iqani from Shiraz, 23.Hooman Zarei Kadavi, 24.Arsham Hashemi, 25.Nabil Bashi Ardestani, 26. Tara Bahamin, 27.Bita Charkh Zarrin, 28.Nona Ghadiri, 29.Sayeh Aghaei from Tabriz, 30.Pegah Siroosian, 31.Sadaf Misaghi Seysan of Tehran, 32. Parham Mokhtari from Saravan ranked # 397, studying mathematics; 33. Basir Zeinali Baghini from Bandar Abbas ranked # 1506; 34.Yahya Mousavi Tangrizi from Karaj, 35.Anita Rastegar, 36.Shamim Idelkhani, of Ardebil, ranked #139; 37.Farnia Iliyazadeh of Tehran, studying Mathematics; 38.Parmida Hosseinpooli Mamaqani, ranked #4500, studying Mathematics; 39.Sarvin Azarshab of Tehran, studying business,ranked #19000; 40.Parand Misaghi; 41.Shahrzad Tirgar; 42.Melina Ghavaminik, from Tehran, studying mathematics, ranked #10545, 43.Tarannum Mu’tamedi Broujerdi from Shahin Shahr of Isfahan, 44.Faran Abbaspouli Mamaghani from Tehran, 45.Sahand Ghaemifrom Shahin Shahr of Isfahan, 46.Vahid Sadeghi Seysan, 47.Shaghayegh Ghassemi