IRAN: Monthly news about Baha’is and Christians in August (31.08.2022)
Sepideh Rashno was released on an 800-million-tomans bail after being indicted.
Hrana (30.08.22) – According to #HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, artist Sepideh Rashno was indicted and then released on bail until the end of the legal proceeding.
On August 29, Branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court indicted Rashno on the charge of “assembly and collusion to act against national security”, “propaganda against the regime”, and “promotion of impurity and indecency.”
On July 16, security forces arrested Rashno after a quarrel on a city bus with a woman who harassed and assaulted her for what she deemed as improper hejab. Such incidents are on the rise in public places as the government has tightened the hejab enforcement.
On July 30, Official media outlets inside Iran released a forced confession video of Rashno. HRANA revealed that prior to this confession, Rashno had been hospitalized due to the risk of internal bleeding indicating she had been tortured to make the confession.
Rashno, age 28, is a student of Tehran University and a resident of Khorramabad.
Bahiyyeh Manavipour bailed in Shiraz
Sens’s daily (27.08.2022) – Bahiyyeh Manavipour has been released on bail. She is one of five young Baha’is arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on July 19. They were taken to the Ministry of Intelligence’s “Facility 100” for interrogation. Their homes were searched at the time of their arrest. The charges against her are not yet known.Prejudiced courts aiding land grabs of Baha’i properties in Iran
Center for human rights in Iran (24.08.2022) – An ongoing campaign of religious persecution by the Iranian government has so far resulted in more than 1,000 members of the Baha’i minority faith awaiting jail sentence announcements, confiscation of Baha’i-owned lands and properties, raids on dozens of Baha’i homes, as well as the destruction of Baha’i properties.
More than 60 Baha’is have meanwhile been banned from attending university despite passing the country’s prequalifying and highly competitive national entrance exams.
Stop ruthless attacks on persecuted Baha’i religious minority
Amnesty (24.08.22) – The Iranian authorities’ persecution of the Baha’i religious minority has increased in intensity with a recent flurry of raids, arbitrary arrests, home demolitions and land grabs, Amnesty International said today.
Since 31 July 2022, Ministry of Intelligence agents have raided and confiscated dozens of Baha’i properties and arrested at least 30 members of the Baha’i community on account of their faith in various cities throughout Iran. The authorities have subjected many more to interrogations and/or forced them to wear electronic ankle bracelets. The Ministry of Intelligence announced on 1 August that those arrested were “core members of Baha’i espionage party” who “propagated Baha’i teachings” and “sought to infiltrate various levels of the educational sector across the country, especially kindergartens”.
Baha’is expose ‘Propaganda ploy’ to incriminate community with fake videos and hate speech
Iran Press Watch (22.08.2022) – The Baha’i International Community (BIC) today reported news of an effort to incriminate the Baha’is in Iran through a staged video production, filmed in a kindergarten, designed to produce proaganda footage that would show Baha’is teaching their religion in educational establishments.
On 31 July, according to the latest BIC statement, and the same day that intelligence agents were invading Baha’i homes and arresting pre-school teachers, agents also entered a kindergarten in a major city in Iran and distributed Baha’i books and pamphlets to its teachers, none of whom were Baha’is. The agents reportedly instructed and forced the kindergarten staff to say, on camera, that Baha’is had brought these materials and distributed them to the teachers.
At least 90 Iranians of Baha’i faith denied university this year
Iran Press Watch (22.08.2022) – Informed sources tell Iran International that at least 90 Iranian Baha’i students have been barred from universities this year due to a secret government policy.
The United States-based Human Rights Activists’ News Agency (HRANA) reported Thursday that so far It has identified 62 Baha’i students who took the university entrance examination this year and were rejected for their faith.
Home raid in Qazvin
Hrana / Sens Daily (14.08.22) – On August 9, security agents raided the home of Gulriz Nouraani and Mehrzaad Zahraa’i, a Baha’i couple living in Qazvin. They seized digital devices, books and works related to the Bahai Faith, a gold ring with religious motifs, and some of their personal pictures. Mr. Zahraa’i was not home, and the agents did not not have a female officer with them.
Hanaan Haashemi pressured for a “confession”
Sens Daily (11.08.2022) – Hanaan Haashemi, who was arrested in Shiraz on July 19 and is held by the Ministry of Intelligence, has informed her family in a telephone call that she is under pressure from interrogators to make a forced confession. It is not known what she is supposed to confess to, or why she was arrested, apart from her Baha’i beliefs. Interrogators have told her that her release from prison will only happen if she makes a confession as they instruct.
On July 19, 2022, security forces arrested her with four other Bahai’s: Nilufar Hosseini, Bahiyyeh Manavipour, Mithaaq Manavipour and Elhan Haashemi. Nilufar Hosseini and Elhan Haashemi have been released on bail.
Treatment of Baha’i in Iran: FCDO minister’s statement
Gov.UK (05.08.2022) – The UK is deeply concerned by increasing arrests of the Baha’i in Iran, including recent reports that the Iranian government has demolished houses and confiscated land in Roushankouh, Iran. Former spiritual leaders of the Baha’i in Iran are also reported to have been detained.
FCDO Minister responsible for Human Rights and Freedom of Religion and Belief, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, said:
The persecution of religious minorities cannot be tolerated in 2022. We strongly condemn the increasing detention of members of the Baha’i community in Iran, as well as reports of forced closures of their businesses and land seizures. The persecution of religious minorities is a serious violation of international human rights law.
We are working closely with our international partners to hold Iran to account and continue to raise human rights concerns regularly with the Iranian government.
UN should condemn renewed crackdown on persecuted Baha’i faith in Iran
Center for human rights in Iran (05.08.2022) – Increasing arbitrary arrests of members of the persecuted Baha’i faith in Iran, and an intensifying government-sponsored campaign of destruction and confiscation of their properties should be internationally condemned, said the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, should demand accountability for the state’s ruthless and systematic persecution of the minority religion.
Spain: a letter to the Iranian ambassador about the case of four sentenced Christians
Aricle 18 (01.08.2022) – The Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE) has sent a letter to the Iranian embassy in Spain regarding the case of four Christians who have recently been sentenced to prison terms in the Persian country.
The document, signed by the organisation’s secretary general, Emilio Carmona, sets out the cause of the four believers in question.
“These people were simply exercising their freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as their freedom of expression, as defined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by their country”. Carmona adds: “I am deeply shocked by this news because I believe that freedom of religion or belief is very important”.
Moreover, the document expresses clear concern not only for the situation of the sentenced believers, but also for that of Christians in Iran as a whole.
A couple of converts under threat of deportation from Belgium
HRWF (23.08.2022) – Hamid Reza Hossein Khani (42) and Mariam Soltani (38), two converts from Shia Islam to Protestantism, have recently been denied asylum by the Belgian authorities and are under threat of being sent back to Iran where they are at risk of being arrested and sentenced to a prison term for apostasy.
They converted to Christianity about three years ago and are now attending a Protestant Church in Belgium (the United Protestant Church of Belgium recognized by the state). They run a website in Farsi language (http://www.lightsindarkness.com) through which they spread the message of the Bible to their fellow citizens in Iran and the diaspora. Their website enjoys such an audience that VOA News has mentioned it in one of its programs in Farsi.
Malihe Nazari, Joseph Shahbazian and Mina Khajavi
Article 18 (17.08.2022) – Joseph, Mina and Malihe were among at least 35 Christians arrested or interrogated by intelligence agents belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in a coordinated operation over two days and across three cities in the summer of 2020.
The arrests took place on the evening of 30 June and the morning of 1 July in Tehran, its sister city Karaj, and Malayer, 400km southwest of Tehran.
Dozens more Christians were ordered to provide their contact details and told they would soon be summoned for questioning.
The first arrests took place at around 8pm on the evening of 30 June, in western Tehran’s Yaftabad district.
Christians lose appeal against imprisonment and fines for house-church activities
Article 18 (17.08.2022) – An Iranian court of appeal has upheld the sentences of five Christians facing a total of 22 years in prison and the equivalent of $2,225 in fines for their involvement in house-churches.
Joseph Shahbazian, 58, a “recognised” Christian of Armenian descent, faces 10 years in prison, and Christian converts Mina Khajavi, 59, and Malihe Nazari, 48, six years.
Meanwhile, mother and daughter Masoumeh Ghasemi and Somayeh (Sonya) Sadegh, who are also converts, must pay fines of 24 million ($950) and 40 million ($1,275) tomans respectively.
Germany denies refuge to Christian convert – after family member tortured, killed for his faith
Adf international (11.08.2022) – A 44-year-old Iranian cabinetmaker who converted to Christianity has been denied protection in Europe, facing likely imprisonment or death upon return to his home country. The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed his attempt to appeal the decision on the basis of his right to freedom of religion. The 44-year-old is now threatened with deportation to Iran.
“No one should be persecuted for their faith. Iran is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians, and converts are particularly at risk. In the last year, religious persecution has greatly worsened. So-called “religious deviants” can be given prison sentences, national security charges are continuously used to target religious minorities. The courts in Germany must take this into account when processing asylum applications,” said Lidia Rieder, Legal Officer at ADF International
Iranian Christian converts struggle to get asylum in Germany
Evangelical focus (05.08.2022) – According to human rights activists, asylum applications by Iranians who have converted to Christianity have less and less chance of success in Germany.
“Human rights violations on religious grounds are an everyday reality in the country”, said Martin Lessenthin, board spokesman of the International Society for Human Rights (IGFM), in a press conference about the situation of Christian converts from Iran in Germany.
At the IGFM’s press conference, pastor Gottfried Martens called the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) “a political authority that is not concerned with the individual case of an asylum application”.
Supreme Court denies Christians retrial
Article 18 (03.08.2022) – Three Iranian Christians have been informed that the Supreme Court has refused to review their sentences of prison and exile for “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam”.
Anooshavan Avedian, a 60-year-old Iranian-Armenian, faces 10 years in prison, while Christian converts Abbas Soori and Maryam Mohammadi, who are both in their mid-forties, must spend two years in internal exile, outside their home province of Tehran or any adjacent provinces.