Baha’i Crackdown Continues with Two More Arrests in Karaj

Posted on: October 19th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Two Baha’i residents of Karaj, a northwestern suburb of Tehran, became the latest victims of the Iranian authorities’ crackdown on the Baha’i community when they were arrested October 16, 2018.

Parvan Manavi and Elham Salmanzadeh became the seventh and eighth Baha’is to be arrested in their city after authorities confiscated some of their books and personal belongings during a raid of their homes.

A close source told HRANA that security forces first searched the workplace of Manavi, a greenhouse operator, before escorting him to his home where they carried out a search and seizure. “They raided Elham Salmanzadeh’s home at the same time, and then arrested her afterward too,” the source added.

On September 16th, HRANA reported on the arrest and transfer to Evin Prison of four Baha’i Karaj residents: Peyman Manavi, Maryam Ghaffaramanesh, Jamileh Pakrou, and Kianoush Salmanzadeh. HRANA also reported on the arrest of two more Baha’i Karaj residents, Hooman Khoshnam and Payam Shabani, on September 24 and 25, 2018. In recent weeks, HRANA also reported on the arrest of a number of Baha’i citizens in Shiraz and Isfahan.

Over the past month, members of Iran’s Baha’i religious minority have faced increased pressure across the country from Iran’s security and judiciary establishment.

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, recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Consequently, the rights of Baha’is are systematically violated in Iran.

Under Pressure from Security Forces, Samsung Company Fires Baha’i Employee

Posted on: October 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In continued efforts to marginalize the Iranian Baha’i community, Yazd security officials put pressure on the administrator of a Samsung subsidiary to fire marketing representative Sahar Rouhani on the grounds of her faith.

An informed source told HRANA that Rouhani was already being commended by Samsung executives as one of the best employees in the company after working there for little more than a year.

Rouhani’s university photography studies were cut short for the same reason in 2009, the source added. “She was expelled from the university in the middle of the fourth semester, after paying full tuition fees, because of being Baha’i.”

In August of this year, HRANA reported on the sudden and permanent dismissal of Baha’i Shiraz residents Sabah Haghbin, Samira Behinayeen, and Payam Goshtasbi from their private companies. Their company’s executives, like those at Samsung, had been harried by security agents to fire them.

Ever since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when Baha’is were fired from public-sector positions en masse in a process known as Paksazi (cleansing), state authorities have consistently quashed the efforts of Baha’i citizens to improve their social status, shuttering their bodegas, confiscating their property, blackballing them from schools, and pulling strings to terminate their employment.

UN Human Rights Rapporteurs have repeatedly objected to Iran’s history of repressing Baha’is, citing it as a token example of the regime’s neglect of human rights treaties.

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.

High Arrest Risk for Shirazi Baha’is

Posted on: October 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Baha’i Shiraz resident Niloofar Hakimi was arrested by Shiraz Intelligence agents October 6th and transferred to a local detention center, continuing a recent wave of arrests of Baha’i locals, according to an informed source.

HRANA reported on the arrest of five other Baha’i Shirazis on September 15th and 16th: Noora Pourmoradian, Elaheh Samizadeh, Ehsan Mahbub-Rahvafa, and married couple Navid Bazmandegan and Bahareh Ghaderi.

Bazmandegan was arrested 6 p.m. on September 15th while teaching a psychology class, a source told HRANA. Authorities reportedly confiscated the identification cards, flash drives, email addresses, mobile devices, and mobile device passwords of all those present. Bazmandegan was subsequently escorted to his home, where authorities conducted a search and seized his personal belongings. His wife Bahareh Ghaderi was also arrested and transferred to an undisclosed location. Samizadeh was arrested the same day in Shiraz, and Mahbub-Rahvafa was arrested September 16th in his home. After searching Mahbub-Rahvafa’s house, authorities transferred him to Shiraz Intelligence Office Detention Center No. 100.

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.

Open Letter: Baha’i Prisoner Hopeful Amid Fraught Traditions of New Academic Year

Posted on: October 2nd, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA)- As a new academic year unfolds in Iran, Baha’i prisoner Azita Rafizadeh speaks out in an open letter about the systemic barriers between post-secondary education opportunities and the country’s Baha’i citizens.

HRANA has reported on several cases over the past few weeks of students whose hopes of attending college have been eliminated by nothing more than the insidious alert of “deficiency on file.” Since 2006, this message has been a common method for disqualifying Baha’i students from university enrollment.

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.

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.

Rafizadeh reacts to these prohibitions in the letter below, translated into English by HRANA:

It is the third year that I’ve languished in the corner of a jail cell as schools and universities reopen their doors. I’m kept far from the thrills of a new academic term, from seeing the bright-eyed university students excited to pursue their higher education, and from seeing upperclassmen resume their course.

Over the past few years, I have tried to preserve in my heart the warm glow of that atmosphere, and pray sincerely that all those who are striving, serving, and studying will succeed. Even still, these days, when news reaches me of those students who love learning yet get ‘deficiency on file’ for their 2018 results from Konkur [a nationally-competitive college entrance exam], the bitterness of discrimination and prejudice comes flooding back, and my hopes for doing away with these measures is diminished. To be sure, [this pattern] at least confirms the perseverance of hope and love for learning in young people who, despite a life of deprivation, still do their best to enter universities by participating in Konkur in hopes of gaining knowledge, the greatest virtue of the human world.

It is the existence of these hopeful and eager-to-learn youth that has, over the years, helped the Free Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) to thrive in spite of the pressures and systematic attempts to dissolve it. This institute continues to steadfastly serve young Baha’is who are deprived of continuing their education.

When I heard the happy (albeit delayed) news of Holaku Rahmanian’s graduation from Santa Cruz University, my heart brimmed with happiness and resolve. I was certain that although I have been forbidden from serving the youth of my country, better and more qualified individuals will graduate from this institute every year, who are well-versed in the sciences of the day and whose hearts beat to serve the institute and their countrymen.

Hoping for the day when the cloak of discrimination is lifted from the country’s youth, so that they may serve each other and build our country’s future side by side.

Azita Rafizadeh
Evin Prison
October 2018

***

Azita Rafizadeh is an Iranian Baha’i whose spouse Peyman Kushak Baghi is also imprisoned at Evin. Prisoners of conscience, both were sentenced to 4 and 5 years in prison, respectively, on charges of “membership in the illegal and misguided Baha’i group with the aim of acting against national security through illegal activities at the BIHE educational institute.”

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.

Baha’i Arrests in Iran; 20 and Counting

Posted on: September 28th, 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.

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.