Thirteen Baha’is Have Been Barred From Higher Education So Far This Year

Tehran resident Negar Sobhani Azabadi has become the 13th Baha’i citizen this year to be barred from higher education on the grounds of her faith.

HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, has identified one more examinee of the university entrance exam who has been rejected due to her belief in the Baha’i faith.

Azabadi received the rejection message when visiting the school website to view her exam results. It read “Rejected due to General ineligibility”, indicating that she had been identified as Baha’i and was thus ineligible to enter the university.

Each year, there are numerous reports about Baha’is who are barred from higher education once detected as Baha’is even on the verge of graduation.

At odds with Iran’s law clarifying the rights to education indiscriminately for all citizens, the enactment of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution of Iran, which oversees to ensure that education and culture remain Islamic, barres Baha’is from taking an occupational position as well as tertiary education.

 

Family Expresses Growing Concern Over Condition of Baha’i Citizen Sina Kamali in Adelabad Prison

Baha’i citizen Sina Kamali Sarvestani is still being held in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz 24 days after his arrest, and his family has expressed growing concern over his condition.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Humen Rights Activists, Kamali Sarvestani informed his family during his last phone call on July 4 that he is in a very unfavorable mental condition. Kamali Sarvestani expressed that that he is anxious, in need of consultation, and worried that he will be sent back to the IRGC’s intelligence detention center.

Kamali Sarvestani’s family delivered the medications he needs to the prison following the call, but do not know if they were ever given to him. Kamali Sarvestani’s poor condition and the lack of transparency about the delivery of the drugs, coupled with recent cancellations of visit time by the authorities have raised concern among his family.

According to unofficial sources, 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.

This deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a violation 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.

Despite his family’s inquiries, officials have still given no reason for Kamali Sarvestani’s arrest or the charges against him.

Baha’i Mother and Daughter Begin Prison Term

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.

Tyranny on Prisoners of Conscience at Rajai Shahr

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- This past August, Rajai Shahr Prison authorities ordered the transfer of political prisoners to Ward 10, where prisoners’ already-tight rations on climate control, fresh air, and nutrition have reportedly been cut even slimmer.

It is a running suspicion that prison authorities seek to dismantle the political ward, breaking down these prisoners’ spirits so that they will be more amenable to being dispersed among different wards.

Ward 10 currently houses 18 prisoners charged with political and security-related crimes. Four more political prisoners are being held in lateral sections. Of these 22, seven are in need of medical care.

A cold chill is already creeping through the walls of the hillside prison, boding the incoming flu season from which political prisoners stand unprotected, a close source told HRANA. “The need for heating equipment is felt all across the prison, but on [Prison Head] Gholamreza Ziayi’s orders, the political prisoners can’t have access to heaters. While prisoners pay for heaters out of their own pockets, the director has forbidden their delivery or use in the political ward.” Prison authorities have reportedly even gone as far as banning heaters in common areas that political prisoners might flock to for refuge, i.e. the prison library, gym, or store.

A letter underlining the dire need for climate control addressed to Ziyai from a previous prosecution assistant responsible for overseeing prison affairs, did nothing to change his mind, the source said.

Political prisoners got the brunt of the opposite heat extreme this past summer when they were denied access to any form of a cooling system. While their repeated requests managed to obtain three refrigerators for the ward, Ziyai underlined that they would have access to more equipment and amenities if they requested to be transferred to different wards.

Political detainees have thus far held fast to regulations requiring prisoners charged with different offenses to be housed in separate wards. Their resistance against integrating with prisoners accused of petty theft, drug-related crimes, or violent offenses has contributed to continued daily frictions between authorities and their cohort.

Meanwhile, the assessment of food provided to these political prisoners is even more scathing than the Rajai Shahr usual. Sources say that prisoners eat vegetarian by default, limited to plain rice with soy or lentils at lunchtime. Though the dinner menu promises to be more substantial — bean or lentil stew, or Ash [a thick Iranian soup] — sources say that the dishes hardly live up to their names, and prisoners in the cohort are rarely, if ever, served produce.

Deprivation of fresh air is also being leveraged against them, sources say. The regular 2-to-5:30 recreation period previously enjoyed by political prisoners in mixed groups has been eliminated entirely since their transfer to Ward 10. “Fresh airtime has been denied [to them] on direct orders from Ziayi, despite the fact that the recreation area is empty between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”, an anonymous source said.

Warden and Internal Director Vali Ali Mohammadi has abdicated from addressing prisoners’ complaints, stating that he defers to the authority of Ziayi and his secretary/chauffeur. “In other words,” a source said, “the slightest request, like for food or stationary, has to pass by Ziayi and his secretary.”

Though seasoned in-group attrition tactics, authorities at Rajai Shahr have not shied away from more targeted brutality to get their point across. Multiple sources have reported aggressive body searches, harassment and verbal abuse of prisoners’ families, and the placement of arbitrary, extreme restrictions to wear down individual inmates. In one such instance, Supervising Prosecution Assistant Rostami placed a long-term prohibition on visits between Hassan Sadeghi and his imprisoned wife; in another, medical attention to the bone cancer and infected surgery site of Arash Sadeghi were repeatedly postponed and denied. Deprivations like Sadeghi’s may become more widespread: two weeks ago, an official prison order came into effect, invalidating all approved transfers of ailing prisoners to [outside] medical facilities.

The respective situations of a number of Rajai Shahr prisoners of conscience are compiled in the lists below

1. Majid Assadi, accused of assembly and collusion [against national security]. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 6 years. Anticipated release date: 2021. Has been incarcerated for two years without furlough.

2. Afshin Baimani, accused of Moharebeh [enmity against God] through cooperation with the MEK. Arrested in 2000, sentenced to life. Currently in 18th year of incarceration without furlough.

3. Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi, accused of being a MEK sympathizer, and of assembly and collusion against the regime. Arrested on 2016, sentenced to 11 years. Anticipated release date: 2027. Has been incarcerated for two years without furlough.

4. Ebrahim Firouzi, accused of assembly and collusion and propaganda against the regime. Arrested in 2013, sentenced to 7 years. Anticipated release date: 2019. Currently in 5th year of incarceration without furlough.

5. Abolghassem Fouladvand, accused of Moharebeh through supporting the MEK. Arrested in 2013, sentenced to 15 years. Anticipated release date: 2028. Currently in 5th year of incarceration without furlough.

6. Gol Mohammad Jonbeshi, accused of cooperation with the Taliban. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 3 years. Anticipated release date: 2019. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

7. Latif Hassani, accused of forming an illegal group to act against national security. Arrested in 2012, sentenced to 8 years. Anticipated release date: 2020.

8. Saeed Massouri, accused of Moharebeh through membership in the MEK. Arrested in 2000, sentenced to life. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

9. Mohammad Ali (Pirouz) Mansouri, accused of Moharebeh through support of the MEK. Arrested on 2007, sentenced to 22 years. Anticipated release date: 2028. Currently in 11th year of incarceration without furlough.

10. Asghar Pashayi, accused of espionage. Arrested in 2008, sentenced to 10 years. Anticipated release date: 2018. Release pending his payment of a fine. Currently in 10th year of incarceration without furlough.

11. Farhang Pourmansouri, accused of hijacking a plane. Arrested in 2000, sentenced to life. Currently in 18th year of incarceration without furlough.

12. Shahram Pourmansouri, accused of hijacking a plane. Arrested in 2000, sentenced to life. Currently in 18th year of incarceration without furlough.

13. Houshang Rezaei, accused of Moharabeh through membership in Komele [Kurdish opposition group]. Arrested in 2010, sentenced to death. Currently in 8th year of incarceration without furlough.

14. Arash Sadeghi, accused of propaganda against the regime, assembly and collusion, insulting the supreme leader, and disseminating lies. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 11.5 years. Anticipated release date: 2027. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

15. Hassan Sadeghi, accused of Moharebeh through cooperation with the MEK. Arrested in 2013, sentenced to 11.5 years. Anticipated release date: 2028. Currently in 5th year of incarceration without furlough.

16. Hamzeh Savari, accused of moharebeh and acting against national security. Arrested in 2005, sentenced to life. Currently in 13th year of incarceration without furlough.

17. Payam Shakiba, accused of assembly and collusion against national security and propaganda against the regime. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 11 years. Anticipated release date: 2027. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

18. Saeed Shirzad, accused of assembly and collusion against national security, damaging prison property, and disrupting prison order. Arrested in 2014, sentenced to 6.5 years. Anticipated release date: 2020. Currently in 4th year of incarceration without furlough.

Baha’is incarcerated in Ward 11:

1. Vahed Kholousi, accused of assembly and collusion against national security, Baha’i membership, activism, and proselytizing, propaganda against the regime, and activism in defense of Baha’i student rights. Arrested in 2015, sentenced to 5 years. Anticipated release date: 2020. Currently in 3rd year of incarceration without furlough.

2. Afshin Seyyed Ahmad, accused of assembly and collusion and propaganda against the regime. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 3 years. Anticipated release date: 2019. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

3. Farhad Fahandoj, accused of Baha’i proselytizing and involvement in Baha’i associations. Arrested in 2012, sentenced to 10 years. Anticipated release date: 2022. Currently in 6th year of incarceration without furlough.

4. Afif Naimi, accused of assembly and collusion, blasphemy, and propaganda against the regime. Arrested in 2008, sentenced to 10 years. Anticipated release date: 2018.

Ailing prisoners deprived of medical care:

1. Majid Assadi: gastrointestinal disease, duodenal ulcers
2. Shahram Pourmansouri: herniated disc, syringomyelia requiring immediate surgery (per doctor)
3. Mohammad Banazadeh Amir Khizi: joint pain
4. Hassan Sadeghi: joint pain
5. Aboulghassem Fouldadvand: arterial plaque requiring hospitalization (per doctor)
6. Arash Sadeghi: chondrosarcoma, surgical site infection in the right arm
7. Saeed Shirzad: herniated disk, lower back spasm

Baha’i Arrests Persist in Karaj

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Iranian authorities continued in their raid of the Iranian Baha’i community with the arrest of another Baha’i resident of Karaj, a northwest suburb of Tehran, on Sunday, September 16th, 2018.

An informed source told HRANA that Ministry of Intelligence agents raided the Andisheh Karaj residence of Peyman Manavi on Sunday, September 16th, confiscating his mobile phones, personal computers, and books before taking him into custody at an unknown location. The source observed more than 10 arrest warrants listed on papers the agents were holding.

In last few hours, HRANA reported on the arrest and transfer to Evin prison of three other Baha’i Karaj residents: Maryam Ghaffaramanesh, Jamileh Pakrou, and Kianoush Salmanzadeh.

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24 Bahais Appeal Court Held in Golestan Province

HRANA News Agency – The court session of 24 Baha`is was held in Golestan province. Due to the high number of defendants, continuation of the session was adjourned until next week. These civilians have been sentenced to between 6 to 11 years in prison in the primary court. The previous session was cancelled due to suspicion of the court regarding its eligibility, on Wednesday July 13.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), the appeal court session of 24 Baha’is in Golestan province was held on September 16 and the continuation of the session was scheduled for September 29. Continue reading “24 Bahais Appeal Court Held in Golestan Province”

Fresh Graffiti against Bahais in Tehran

HRANA News Agency – On the night of July 25-26, a Bahai home in the Shahrak-e Gharb district in North-west Tehran was defaced with the usual unimaginative slogan: “Death to Baha’i.”

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), the house on Sazman Barnameh Avenue, in a modern and prosperous neighbourhood near Eram Park, has been occupied by the Aqdasi family for many years. Continue reading “Fresh Graffiti against Bahais in Tehran”

Iran’s Apartheid Rules for Bahais Clarified

HRANA News Agency – Saham News has published an order from the chief of police, dating from April 8, 2010, which clarifies which economic sectors are forbidden for Bahais. Because Bahais in Iran are excluded from employment in the civil service, education and health, and other major sectors, many of them start small shops or workshops in sectors where this is permitted, but the rules they must obey have been kept secret.

This order from the chief of police to police bureaus all over the country instructs them to constrain, limit and police the activities of Bahais in the specified fields, and ensure the Bahais do not constitute a significant presence in society. Continue reading “Iran’s Apartheid Rules for Bahais Clarified”

Ministry of Intelligence Pressures Muslims of Rasht to Cut Ties with Bahais

HRANA News Agency – In the past two months over 20 Muslim residents of the city of Rasht, in Northern Iran, have been summoned and threatened by the Ministry of Intelligence because of their relationships with Bahais.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Muslims who have some sort of relation with Bahais are frequently summoned and interrogated. Continue reading “Ministry of Intelligence Pressures Muslims of Rasht to Cut Ties with Bahais”

Bahais Banned from the Optometry Sector in Tehran

HRANA News Agency – The Association of Optometry Manufacturers and Sellers in Tehran held its eighth trade fair, the Optics Exhibition, in Wessal Avenue on December 16 to 19.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), eighty business took part. Not only were Bahai-run optometry importers and sellers barred from the exhibition, participants were also told to dismiss any Bahai employees they might have. Continue reading “Bahais Banned from the Optometry Sector in Tehran”