Baha’i Citizen Dori Amri Begins One-year Prison Term

Posted on: November 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) On Wednesday, November 14, 2018, Baha’i Mashhad resident Dori Amri began serving her one-year prison sentence in Mashhad’s Vakilabad Prison.

May Kholousi and her daughter Saghi Fadaei, Amri’s Baha’i co-defendants, turned themselves in October 31st to begin serving their own one-year sentences.

The verdict in Amri, Kholousi, and Fadaei’s case was recently upheld in Khorasan Razavi Appeals Court.

Update on Arrested Shirazi Baha’is

Posted on: November 6th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Baha’i citizen Bahareh Ghaderi, who was arrested September 15th, was released Saturday, November 3rd on a bail of 200 million tomans [approximately $13,500 USD] pending completion of her investigation.

On October 18th, Niloufar Hakimi and Ehsan Mahboob Rahvafa also went free on bail. Their fellow Baha’is Nora Pourmoradian, Soudabeh Haghighat, and Elaheh Samizadeh were released October 10th.

Two Baha’i prisoners remain in the custody of Shiraz Intelligence Ministry detention center No. 100.

Shiraz, the capital of Fars province located 425 miles south of Tehran, is the birthplace of Ba’b, who formulated the Baha’i religion there in the 19th century. It is home to one of the largest Baha’i communities in Iran.

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.

Baha’i Mother and Daughter Begin Prison Term

Posted on: November 2nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – At 5 p.m. on October 31st, a Baha’i mother and daughter turned themselves in to begin serving one-year prison sentences.

Mashhad resident May Kholousi, her daughter Saghi Fadaei, and their fellow Baha’is Shayan Tafazzoli and Dori Amri were all sentenced February 2018 by Judge Soltani of Mashhad Revolutionary Court Branch 3 on charges of propaganda against the regime. Appeals court upheld their sentences on August 26, 2018.

Security forces arrested all four in Mashhad in June 2014. Two court sessions met for the defendants while they were free on bail, on December 17, 2014, and June 17, 2017.

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.

Baha’i Citizen Zabihollah Raoufi Begins Prison Term in Sanandaj

Posted on: October 31st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On the morning of Wednesday, October 31st, Baha’i Sanandaj resident Zabihollah Raoufi, age 69, went to Sanandaj Prison to begin his one-year prison sentence.

In July, Branch 4 of Sanandaj Appeals court — for the charge of “propaganda against the regime” — sentenced Raoufi to one year in prison and one year of exile to Minab County, Hormozgan Province.

An informed source told HRANA that Raoufi was escorted to prison this morning by an entourage of his loved ones.

Raoufi’s wife Parvaneh Rahmani faces one year in prison on the same charge. Her case is currently under review in Kurdistan Province Appeals Court.

On September 8, 2015, Raoufi was arrested in his home by security forces and released on a bail of 300 million Rials [approximately $2,000 USD] six days later. He was also detained in 2009 and sentenced to a year in prison, again on charges of propaganda against the regime. This sentence was appealed to a six-month term of exile to Tuyserkan, Hamedan Province.

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.

Still no Answers for Sequestered Baha’is of Karaj

Posted on: October 25th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Thirty days have passed since security forces first swept through Karaj and began arresting its Baha’i residents, sending eight of them to prison after inspections of their homes between September 16th and October 17th.

From the walls of Evin Prison, these eight await definitive answers to why, and for how long, they will have to stay there. They were previously identified as Parvan Manavi, Elham Salmanzadeh, Hooman Khoshnam, Payam Shabani, Peyman Manavi, Maryam Ghaffarmanesh, Jamileh Pakrou (Mohammad Hossein) and Kianoush Salmanzadeh.

“The Baha’i detainees said over the phone that they had been transferred to Evin Prison […],” an informed source told HRANA. “Despite inquiries from their families, no information is currently available regarding their status.”

Parvan Manavi and Elham Salmanzadeh became the seventh and eighth Baha’is to be arrested in Karaj after authorities confiscated some of their books and personal belongings during a raid of their homes Tuesday, October 16th. Khoshnam and Shabani were arrested on September 25th and 26th of this year, and Peyman Manavi, Kianoush Salmanzadeh, Ghafarmanesh, and Pakrou were arrested September 16th.

The threat of arbitrary detainment loomed larger than ever over Iran’s Baha’i religious minority this past month, as Iran’s security and judiciary establishment whisked away a number of its members in a surge of arrests that has yet to be explained. HRANA also reported on the arrests of Baha’i citizens in the central cities of Shiraz and Isfahan over this time period.

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.

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 Crackdown Intensifies with Three More Arrests in Karaj

Posted on: September 23rd, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mehran Bandi Amirabadi

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

Based on unofficial sources, more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. Iran’s Constitution, however, only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Consequently, the rights of Baha’is are systematically violated in Iran.