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IRAN: FORB digest: News about Baha’is and Christians in Iran in June (01.07.21)

Baha’is

Shahrzaad Nazifi retried: 8-year sentence upheld

Hrana / Sens Daily (29.06.2021) – https://cutt.ly/MmaJn4q

On June 8 this year, HRANA reported that Shahrzaad Nazifi, a well-known sportswoman and trainer in women’s motorcross, had been sentenced to eight years in prison, banned from leaving Iran for two years, and sentenced to three month’s community service, four hours per day, providing services to the intellectually handicapped. She was tried in absentia in a Revolutionary Court by Judge Eymaan Afshaari, and the sentence was communicated to her “defence” lawyer after the fact. That highly irregular trial has now been rerun by the same Judge with the same outcome. The ruling cited her “bad motives and desire to destroy the religious system.” It is not clear whether she was this time allowed to know the evidence and present a defence.

 

Dorsa Dehqaani arrested in Shiraz

Hrana/ Sens Daily (14.06.2021) – https://cutt.ly/DmaKd7f – Late in the day of June 14, security forces arrested Dorsa Dehqaani at Shiraz railway station. They took her to her home in Shiraz, which they searched. They seized some personal effects mobile phones and Baha’i books, pictures and artifacts, and took her away. It is not known where she is being detained. I assume that this is the same Dorsa Dehqaani who, in 2014, was barred from entering university because of her Bahai Faith ~ can someone confirm that? From the photographs then and now, it seems she is getting younger!

 

Home raid and arrest in Shiraz

Hrana/ Sens Daily (13.06.2021) – https://cutt.ly/ZmaKKkG – On June 15, security forces arrested Sina Kamali Sarvestaaniin front of his home in Shiraz. They searched his home and seized personal effects such as books, as well as all the electronic- devices belonging to his family. It is not known where he is being detained.

 

Shahrzaad Nazifi sentenced: 8 years

Hrana / Sens Daily (08.06.2021) – https://cutt.ly/4maLklX – A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced Shahrzaad Nazif, a well-known sportswoman and trainer in women’s motorcross, to eight years in prison. She was also banned from leaving Iran for two years, and sentenced to three month’s community service, four hours per day, providing services to the intellectually handicapped. The trial was held recently and the sentence was communicated to her “defence” lawyer after the fact. The charge is said to be “managing illegal groups and gangs with the aim of disrupting national security.” The ruling cited her “bad motives and desire to destroy the religious system.”

Her home was first raided on November 10, 2018. She was arrested at a motocross track on November 18, 2018. Security forces then raided her home again and siezed all the family’s awards, titles and prizes, as well as documents related to motorcycle races. They also seized mobile telephones, laptops and books. She was released on bail 15 days later. Bail was set at 700 million tumans (147,000 euros ; $US 164,000). She and the other members of her family — who also participate in motorcross — have been banned from being present at motorcross tracks, participating in competitions, and practicing or teaching motorcross sport.

 

Sa`id `Aabadi and Vahid Daana bailed in Shiraz

Hrana / Sens Daily (01.06.2021) – https://cutt.ly/OmaZy4T – The Review Court for Tehran Province had confirmed the 3-year sentences of Mrs. Mona Mehraabi, Elhaam Karam-Pisheh, Afsaaneh Yaadgaar-Ardestaani and Mr. Ehsaan-Allah Yaadgaar-Ardestaani They were charged with membership in an illegal organization with the aim of disrupting national security. The Judge of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran who handed down the 3-year sentences, Judge Muhammad-Reza Amouzad, said that the accused identified impoverished people and children who were abused or deprived of schooling, and gave them education, and that they made brochures for the Red Crescent (Red Cross) and International Children’s Day. Before the trial by Judge Muhammad-Reza Amouzad, in September or October 2018, they had been sentenced by a revolutionary court in Tehran in a secret trial without a hearing or defence, to five years in prison. Two other Baha’is were sentenced to five years in the secret trial of 2018: Safa Forqani-Araani and Mehrdaad Forqani-Araani. I have no information about what happened to them.

Mrs. Elhaam Karam-Pisheh and Mona Mehraabi were arrested on February 16, 2015, in a raid on a meeting in Tehran where six Bahais were present. Mr. Ehsaan Yaadgaar was arrested in a neighbouring home at the same time, and again religious materials were seized, along with some gold coins. He was told to present himself to the public prosecutor’s office in Varamin (the capital of Varamin County in Tehran Province). He did so, and was released after several hours. He was again arrested in early March, 2015, and taken to Evin Prison for questioning before being released.

 

Christians

 Hamed :10 months in prison for ‘propaganda against the regime’ upheld on appeal

MEC (28.06.2021) – On 26 June, the court of appeal upheld the 10-month prison sentence of Hamed for ‘propaganda against the regime’.

Hamed, a Christian convert, was arrested in Karaj on 23 February 2019. Security agents raided his home, confiscating Bibles, Christian literature and a computer. Hamed was detained for 12 days – 10 of which in solitary confinement. During interrogation, he was offered money to become an informant and was physically assaulted when refused.

According to rights group Article Eighteen, Hamed was forced to undergo Islamic ‘re-education’ classes but afterwards he refused to attend more. Court proceedings were initiated against him.

On 7 March 2021 Hamed was summoned to Karaj Revolutionary Court to answer charges of ‘propaganda against the regime.’ His prison sentence was announced on 12 April. Hamed has been given 10 days to present himself to Karaj Central Prison to begin his sentence.

 

Three converts put on trial for anti-state propaganda

MEC (23.06.2021) – Friends of Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi are charged with “propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam” under a recently amended version of Article 500 of the penal code.

The Article states that those found guilty “will be severely punished.” It allows prison sentences of between two and five years; deprivation of civil rights, such as voting, for up to 15 years, and heavy monetary fines. Rights organisations have warned that the amendments, which came into effect in March, could be used to further restrict the freedoms of religious minorities and criminalise their activities, including those online. ​​​​​​​

On 11 November 2020 Iranian intelligence agents raided the homes of several converts in Fardis (near Karaj), including those of Amin, Milad and Alireza, confiscating Bibles, cell phones and computers. No-one was arrested at that time, but the converts continued to face harassment and were ordered to abstain from Christian activities (they all refused to comply).

On 5 May Amin, Milad and Alireza were summoned to court, but were later released on bail of 250 million tomans each and told that for the next six months they must report weekly to the intelligence branch of Iran’s police force. Another seventeen converts from the same church denomination were taken in for questioning and threatened.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that the presiding judge, Mehdi Zeinali, of the 4th Branch of the Revolutionary Court of Karaj, prevented the defendants’ lawyer from attending the trial, claiming he had not been registered as their lawyer. The defendants had to represent themselves in a hearing that lasted less than an hour.

 

Christian convert Reza Zaeemi (40) from Karaj turned himself in at Karaj Central Prison

MEC (07.06.2021) – On 2 June, Reza Zaeemi started serving a nine-month sentence at Karaj Central Prison.

 In November 2020, Reza was arrested by plainclothes security agents. He was blindfolded, handcuffed, and interrogated for four hours, then held in a detention centre belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and in Ghezel Hesar Prison for a total of 17 days before being released on bail of 60 million tomans.

On 25 January Reza was sentenced to 18 months’ prison for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic by promoting evangelical Christianity.” He was also given a two-year travel ban.

On 25 April, the conviction was upheld, but the prison sentence reduced to nine months.

According to human rights organization Article Eighteen, Reza initially reported to prison at the end of May but there was no judge present to process his admission.

An Iranian pastor, who was himself imprisoned in Karaj Central Prison for several years, requests prayer for Reza, saying that especially during the first days of imprisonment there is significant mental pressure.

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