Denial of Access to Higher Education Surges for Baha’i Citizens in Iran

Since the beginning of this year, HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, has documented 16 cases of Baha’i citizens being barred from higher education due to their faith.

As in previous years, many examinees of the nationwide university entrance exam encountered the message either “Rejected” or “Rejected due to general ineligibility”, indicating that they have been identified as Baha’i and hence barred from higher education.

According to HRANA, each year, numerous Baha’is examinees are rejected as the results of exams for various excuses by the official website of the National Organization of Educational Testing (NOET), an organization for holding the nationwide entrance exam.

Following the call of one of these citizens, NOET mentioned the intervention of the intelligence police as the reason for the rejection and in case an objection is filed, they can pass the written objection on to the intelligence police for further assessment.

In a written response to another citizen, NOET stated, “This message is shown when the intelligence office or any other security institution has an open case regarding the examinee or they have not approved his/her ineligibility. Your objection will be passed on the intelligence office, but until you identify yourself as Baha’i, the objection will not be taken into account.”

After taking exams many times, Some of these citizens are still facing various excuses such as “document defect” and therefore, they are barred from continuing their education due to being Baha’i.

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.

Baha’i citizens are denied the right to exercise their religion. This systematic deprivation stands in violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which both affirm that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

According to unofficial reports, there are more than 300,000 Baha’is in Iran. While the constitution recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism as accepted religions (People of Book, as articulated in Sharia law), it denies recognizing Baha’i faith, which conclusively leads to the systematic violation of their rights.

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.

 

Baha’i Citizens Moin Misaghi and Negareh Ghaderi Arrested in Shiraz

On Wednesday, September 22, Baha’i citizens Moin Misaghi and Negareh Ghaderi, both natives of Shiraz, were arrested by security forces and taken to an unknown location.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, security forces searched the homes of the citizens and confiscated a number of their belongings during the arrest.

Security forces also visited the home of Hayedeh Mosallanejad, another Baha’i citizen, to arrest her but she was not detained as she was not home.

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.

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.

Security Forces Arrest Three Christian Converts in Rasht

On Sunday, September 5, Christian converts Ahmad Sarparast, Ayub Pour Rezazadeh, and Morteza Hajeb Mashhoud Kari were arrested by security forces in Rasht and taken to an unknown location.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activist, Mr. Sarparast and Mr. Pour Rezazadeh were detained in a house church. Security forces raided the homes of these citizens and confiscated some of their belongings, including cell phones, books, and pamphlets related to Christianity. According to an informed source, the agents behaved violently and insultingly and refused to show arrest or search warrants.

Relatives of these citizens are said to have been threatened by IRGC intelligence agents for providing information about the condition of their loved ones. Also, one of their relatives along with several other members of the house church were summoned to the Rasht IRGC Intelligence Office and interrogated.

According to a source close to the families of these citizens, after their families went to Branch 4 of the Rasht Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office to follow up on the case, they were not given any answer and were told, “Do not follow up. They will not be released any time soon. They do not deserve freedom and must stay.”

25-year-old Ahmad (Yohanna) Sarparast, 28-year-old Ayub (Farzin) Pour Rezazadeh, and 38-year-old Morteza Hajeb Mashhoud Kari are residents of Rasht.

Even though Christians are recognized as a religious minority under Islamic law, the security services nevertheless pursue the issue of Muslims converting to Christianity with particular sensitivity and deal harshly with activists in this field.

The Iranian regime targets Christian converts despite Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which state that every individual has the right to freedom of religion and belief and freedom to express it openly or secretly.

As of this writing, the reasons for the arrest, the charges against them, and the whereabouts of these citizens are unknown.

Appellate Court Upholds Prison Sentence for Baha’i Citizens Abbas Taef and Ataollah Zafar

Branch 26 of the Tehran Court of Appeals recently upheld the primary court’s sentence for Baha’i citizens Abbas Taef and Ataollah Zafar.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, on July 6, Branch 26 of the Tehran Court of Appeals, presided by Judge Seyed Ahmad Zargar, had sentenced each of these citizens to one year in prison on charges of “acting against national security through the administration and activity in the Baha’i sect”.

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 beeen 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.

Below is the picture of the AppealsCourt verdict.

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Baha’i Citizen Arsalan Yazdani Arrested in Tehran

On Wednesday, September 1, Bah’ai citizen Arsalan Yazdani was arrested and transferred to an unknown location by security forces in Tehran.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, security forces searched Mr. Yazdani’s home and confiscated some of his personal belongings at the time of the arrest.

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 beeen 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.

No information is available on the detainee or his whereabouts as of this writing.

 

Christian Convert Hamed Ashouri Sent to Karaj Central Prison

On Tuesday, July 27, Christian convert Hamed Ashouri was sent to Karaj Central Prison to endure his sentence.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting the website Article 18, the Court of Appeals upheld Ashouri’s ten-month prison sentence the previous day.

Hamed Ashouri had been arrested by security forces in Fardis city in Karaj, in March 2017, and transferred to Ghezel Hesar Prison in Karaj for interrogation. He was temporarily released after ten days. It is alleged that security forces raided Mr. Ashouri’s home while he was in custody.

A hearing on the charges against this citizen was held in February 2020 in Branch 4 of the Revolutionary Court of Karaj. Finally, in April of this year, Mr. Ashouri was sentenced to 10 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime.

Despite the fact that Christians are recognized as a religious minority under Iranian law, security forces nevertheless pursue the issue of Muslims converting to Christianity with particular sensitivity.

The Iranian regime targets Christian converts despite Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which state that every individual has the right to freedom of religion and belief and freedom to express it openly or secretly.

The Continued Detention of Baha’i Citizens Vahid Dana and Saeed Abedi in Shiraz 

After three weeks, Bahai citizens Saeed Abedi and Vahid Dana are still detained in Shiraz in the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center known as No. 100. Following mass arrests and home searches of Bahai citizens in Shiraz, Abedi and Dana were arrested by intelligence agents on April 28th.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Vahid Dana has an acute type of chronic hypertension, and was under supervision of a specialist doctor prior to the arrest due to symptoms of angina pectoris. According to a source close to his family, Dana’s heart problems started in 2014, during a previous detention. The continued detention of the two citizens during the COVID-19 outbreak, coupled with the failure of officials to provide any update on their condition, has raised concern among their families.

Abedi and Dana were arrested in their homes by intelligence agents and then transferred to the detention center. Officers searched their homes and confiscated some of their personal belongings, including cell phones, personal computers, books, and images related to the Baha’i faith.

With the beginning of the wave of pressure on Baha’i citizens, 7 additional Baha’i citizens from Shiraz, (Saeed Ittihad, Qasem Masoumi, Siamak Honarvar, Soroush Abadi, Sedigheh Aghdasi, Alieh Foroutan, and Behrooz Farzandi Ardakani) were also arrested by agents in March. Their houses were searched, and some personal belongings seized by security forces. They were gradually released on bail after about a month.

Vahid Dana and Saeed Abedi had been previously arrested and charged in August of 2018. Each were sentenced to one year in prison and one year in exile, in absentia and without their or their lawyers’ information, by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz. These sentences were then reduced to 6 months imprisonment each by Branch 17 of the FarsProvince Court of Appeals. Later that year, they were both pardoned on the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

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 during recent  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.

It is unclear when Dana and Abedi will be released.

 

Dervish Woman Handed Prison Sentence on National Security Charges

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) When 324 members of the Dervish Muslim minority [1] were arrested February 3, 2018, Sepideh Moradi was among them. According to Human Rights Watch, a sense of injustice over intensified government surveillance of their spiritual leader prompted Moradi and her comrades to organize a protest, which flagged them as threats in the eyes of authorities.

Sure enough, Dervish news agency Majzooban Noor reported that when a detained Moradi–in protest of a lack of due process and legal representation for Dervishes–refused to attend her trial on July 28th, she was sentenced in absentia by Judge Salavati and is now beginning a five-year sentence at Gharchak Varamin Prison [2] for “Collusion to Act against National Security.”

Salavati leaned on section 23 of the Islamic Penal Code to stiffen Moradi’s sentence with two-year bans on travel, membership in political groups and parties, and media or cyber activity. She had already been barred from pursuing her master’s degree in Computer Science on a prior charge.

“The accused is the daughter of Hamidreza Moradi, an extremist figure and one of the directors of the Majzooban Noor website,” her verdict read. “She was raised in a dogmatic Dervish family, and joined the Gonabadi Dervish sect under the influence of their deviant beliefs.”

Moradi and her fellow women Dervishes reportedly endured mistreatment and torture over the course of their interrogation and detention. At one point Moradi went on hunger strike to protest a violent raid conducted June 13th by the Special Guard Force of the prison. HRANA previously published the identities of these attackers.

She received medical care from an outside facility on July 25th after weeks of follow-ups; as of the date of this report, no further information was available on her health condition.

Tehran General Prosecutor Jafari Dolatabadi announced on July 24th that 330 sentences had thus far been handed down in Dervish cases. He added: “In the cases of those 25 who refused to attend their court sessions in attempts to thwart trial proceedings, the court […] followed through with procedure. Their verdicts were delivered in person.”

[1] There are various divisions among Dervishes in Iran; those featured in this article are Nematollahi Gonabadis who consider themselves followers of Twelver Shia Islam, the official state religion in Iran. According to Human Rights Watch, Noor Ali Tabandeh, spiritual leader of the Nematollahi Gonabadi Dervish faith, published a video on March 8th stating that he is not allowed to leave his residence in Tehran.

[2] For more information on deplorable conditions in Gharchak prison, please refer to pages 18 to 20 of the following document compiled by UK Home Office:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/565834/CIG-Iran-Prison-Conditions-v1-February-2016.pdf

A citizen is arrested for connections with Christians

HRANA News Agency – On Wednesday, August 20, 2014, Yosef Hassanzadeh was arrested for his connections with Christian organizations abroad.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), security forces detained Hassanzadeh, a resident of Tehran, at a pharmacy where he had gone to purchase medicine. Continue reading “A citizen is arrested for connections with Christians”