Fifteen Baha’i Women Face Indictment in Isfahan

The Isfahan Courthouse has indicted 15 Baha’i residents from Baharestan City in Isfahan County.

Among those indicted are Mojgan (Mozhgan) Pourshafee, Nasrin Khademi, Azita Rezvani-Khah, Shola Ashouri, Mojdeh Bahamin, Bashra Motahar, Sara Shakib, Samira Shakib, Roya Azad Khosh, Noushin Hemmat, Shurangiz Bahamin, Sanaz Rasteh, Maryam Khorsandi, Firoozeh Rastinejad, and Farkhandeh Rezvan Pay.

These women have been charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “assisting in education and propaganda activities against Islamic Sharia.” The indictment was issued on April 8, 2024. Among them, Pourshafee, Khademi, Rezvani-Khah, Azad Khosh, Shakib, Raseh, Ashouri, Bahamin, Rastinejad, Khorsandi, and Hemmat were previously arrested in 2021 and later released on bail.

Furthermore, Bahamin, Rezvan Pay, Motahar, and Shakib’s residences were subjected to raids and searches by Intelligence agents.

Baha’is are subjected to violations of their religious rights, comprising 82% of reports on infringements against religious minorities, according to HRA’s 2023 annual report.

The Baha’i faith is not recognized as a legitimate religion by Iranian authorities, leading to systematic and longstanding violations of the rights of Baha’is in the country. This includes the denial of their fundamental right to practice their religion, which constitutes a clear breach of both Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

Baha’i citizen Vesal Momtazi Arrested in Rasht

On December 6, security forces arrested Baha’i citizen Vesal Momtazi in Rasht and took him to Lakan Prison.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, Baha’i citizen Vesal Momtazi was arrested by security forces.

According to an informed source, the agents searched his house. In recent weeks, he was summoned and interrogated several times.

The reason for his arrest is still unknown.

 

Growing Concerns about Baha’i Prisoner Badi Khazei Following Evin Prison Fire

Since the Evin Prison fire, Baha’i prisoner Badi Khazei has not yet contacted his family. His family’s frequent inquiry has remained unanswered by prison officials.

An informed source told HRANA that, last week, Khazei travelled to Tehran from Bandar Abbas for some administrative work. On October 7 or 8, several plainclothes agents arrested him in the street and took him to Great Tehran Penitentiary. They transferred him to Evin prison once they realized he was a Baha’i. Since the Evin Prison incident on October 15, he has not contacted his family.

Baha’i Individual Fariba Ashtari Arrested in Yazd

On September 7, 2022, the intelligence agents arrested Fariba Ashtari and transferred her to Yazd Prison.

An informed source told HRANA that Ashtari has been arrested to start her five-year sentence. She had a heart disease for which she had undergone surgery two times last year.

On December 2, 2019, the intelligence agents arrested Ashtari at her house and on February 2019, she was released on bail.

On June 20, 2020, the Revolutionary Court of Yazd sentenced Ashtari to five years on the charge of “membership in an anti-regime group” and one year in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the regime”. Based on Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, five years imprisonment for the first charge is enforceable to her.

Previously, Ashtari and her husband and son had also faced arrests and convictions. Between 2014 to 2016, she had been imprisoned in Yazd Prison. Her husband, Naser Bagheri was imprisoned for nine months. Her Son, Faez Bagheri was arrested in March of 2015, when he was 17 years old. He was released on bail after five months. Later, he was sentenced to three years in prison but the verdict was commuted to a one-million-toman fine on appeal.

Three Baha’i Citizens Arrested to Serve Sentences Without Prior Notice

On March 7, three Baha’i citizens, Sedigheh Aghdasi, Behrooz Farzandi and Ghasem Masoomi, were arrested and transferred to Adel-Abad Prison to serve their sentences. The arrest occurred without any notice and followed summons by the Revolutionary Court under the pretext of answering questions. Initially, these citizens had been each sentenced to 39 months in prison. On appeal, the sentence against Farzandi and Masoomi was upheld, while 25 months of Aghdasi’s sentence term was suspended.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, an informed source stated that during a court appearance, they were arrested and transferred to prison from the back door of the court without informing their families, who were waiting for them in front of the court building.

On April 6, 2021, they were arrested along with three other citizens by security forces. They were detained in solitary confinement cells of a police detention centre in Shiraz City. In May of 2021, they were released on bail until the end of legal proceedings.

In November of last year, the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz sentenced each to seven months and 16 days in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the regime” and 31 months and 16 days on the charge of “membership in anti-regime groups.” On appeal, 25 months of Aghdasi’s sentence was suspended and the sentences against two others were upheld.

Regarding the prosecution and the harassment of Baha’i people by Iran’s regime, HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator Skylar Thompson stated that HRA strongly condemned these discriminatory acts against religious minorities in Iran. She asked that the regime take action to ensure Iranian people, and particularly Baha’i citizens, are entitled to the freedom of religion and can perform religious acts freely.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

The deprivation of the freedom to practice religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations Covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

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Baha’i Citizen Saba Sefidi Released from Evin Prison

On February 23, Baha’i citizen Saba Sefidi, a resident of Tehran, was released on temporary bail pending legal proceedings.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Sefidi was released on a bail of 1.5 billion tomans.

On January 11, she was arrested after an appearance at Branch 2 of Evin Courthouse in Tehran City. The reason for her arrest and the charges against her are still unknown.

Regarding the prosecution and the harassment of Baha’i people by Iran’s regime, HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator Skylar Thompson stated that HRA strongly condemned these discriminatory acts against religious minorities in Iran. She asked that the regime take action to ensure Iranian people, and particularly Baha’i citizens, are entitled to the freedom of religion and can perform religious acts freely.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

The deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

One Year Imprisonment Against Baha’i Citizen Shiva Khalili Upheld on Appeal

Recently, the Court of Appeal of Mazandaran Province upheld the initial verdict of one year in prison against Baha’i citizen Shiva Khalili. Moreover, in this verdict, her cell phone, which they ruled has been used as a “crime tool”, will be confiscated.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, November 16, 2021, she was arrested after being summoned and appearing at Branch 1 of the Public and Revolutionary Court of Babol. The day after, she was released on bail.

The Revolutionary Court of Babol City sentenced her to one year imprisonment and confiscation of her cell phone on the charge of “propaganda against the regime.”

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’i live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

This deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

Baha’i Citizen Saba Sefidi Still in Detention After More Than a Month

After 33 days, Baha’i citizen Saba Sefidi, a resident of Tehran, is still in detention pending legal process. On January 11, she was arrested after an appearance at Branch 2 of Evin Courthouse.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, despite family frequent inquiry, judicial officials at Evin Courthouse have not yet provided any clear information about the reason for the arrest or her whereabouts, which is raising concern about her condition.

Since her arrest, she has been only allowed to make a few short calls to her family.

Regarding the prosecution and harassment of Baha’i people by Iran’s regime, HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator Skylar Thompson stated that HRA strongly condemned these discriminatory acts against religious minorities in Iran. She asked that the regime take action to ensure Iranian people, and particularly Baha’i citizens, are entitled to the freedom of religion and can perform religious acts freely.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

The deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

Anti-Baha’is Workshop Set up By The Regime in Karaj City

Following increasing pressure on Baha’i citizens by security and judicial institutions, the regime ran the second round of a three-day workshop to spread hate against Baha’i citizens. In this workshop, which was organized in Karaj City (the first round was run in Shiraz City) by the Islamic Propagation Office and an institution known as Mofaz, participants are encouraged to design posters with anti-Baha’i contents. This workshop is a blatant example of spreading hate against religious minorities.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the Iranian regime held a workshop known as “Moghaddas-Nama” (pseudo-sacred) from January 28 to 30. The workshop is designed to spread posters featuring anti-Baha’i propaganda. The first round of this workshop was held in December of last year.

This workshop, which is financially supported by the regime, aims to induce hatred and violence against religious minorities and Baha’i believers in particular. Participants were incentivized lavishly by rewards to create graphic artworks such as posters featuring anti-Baha’i propaganda. This is while Baha’is are under systematic suppression and deprived of civil rights and freedom of religion. Dozens of Baha’i citizens have been imprisoned due to their faith.

In response to this hate-spreading workshop, the spokesperson for the Baha’i International Community, Padideh Sabeti, stated that:

“Anti-Baha’i propaganda from the regime in the form of a cultural festival, which should show Iranian cultural values and achievements, is deplorable. The Baha’i community is well-known worldwide for its activities for the cause of humanitarian aid. In recent years, Iran’s regime has not bothered to support their accusations against Baha’i people with one single piece of evidence…These lies expose only the liars and merely damage the regime’s credibility both inside Iran and on the international scene. Based on our experience, this propaganda proves the opposite. Having learned about the falsity of these accusations, more and more Iranians show respect to the Baha’i community.”

Regarding these anti-Baha’i workshops, HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator Skylar Thompson stated that it is deplorable that the regime has chosen to induce hatred against religious minorities in society, rather than promote mutual respect and the freedom of expression and religion. Iranian Baha’i citizens have been subjected to oppression and discrimination for decades.

Baha’i Citizen Sina Shahri Arrested By Agents of Ministry of Intelligence

Baha’i citizen Sina Shahri, resident of Tabriz, was arrested by intelligence agents and transferred to an unidentified location. Agents arrested him at his home, searched his house and confiscated some of his personal belongings including documents and books about the Baha’i faith.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the reasons for his arrest and his whereabouts are still unknown at the time of writing.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

The deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.