HRWF (29.01.2020) – Baha’is in Iran have continued to be arrested, sentenced to prison terms and sometimes released on bail after a period of pretrial detention without criminal charges being dropped. The official charges are usually: forming an illegal cult, membership in the deviant Baha’i sect, membership in an anti-Islamic group, participation in illegal assemblies, propaganda against the regime, posing a threat to the holy regime of the Islamic Republic by teaching Baha’i ideas, acting against national security, espionage, and so on. Many Baha’i women are behind bars in Iran.
Four Baha’is begin three-year sentences in Bushehr
Sen’s Daily (26.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/315ZzJB – On January 25, Mrs. Minou Reyaazati, Mrs. Ehteraam Shakhi, Asadollah Jaaberi and Mrs. Farideh Jaaberi began their sentences in Bushehr prison. They were among seven Bahais sentenced to three years in prison and a two-year ban on leaving the country by a Revolutionary Court in May 2019. Farideh Jaaberi was not named in earlier reports for that group of arrests. Earlier reports also omitted the two-year ban on leaving Iran. All seven were arrested in raids on Bahai homes in Bushehr on February 13, 2018 (or February 15, in other reports). Their homes were thoroughly searched, and personal effects such as laptops, books, flash drives, external hard drives, and family photograph albums were seized. They were released on bail six weeks later, and the Revolutionary Court confirmed their sentences in November 2019. They were charged with “membership in the Bahai group and sect with the intent of disrupting national security.”
Four Baha’is in Karaj sentenced to one year in prison
Sen’s Daily (27.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/312LUDl – Abu-Fadl Ansaari, Ruhollah Zibaa’i, u’in Kohansaal and Muhammad-Sadeq Reza’i have been sentenced to one year in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Karaj. Mr. Reza’i’s arrest was not previously reported on Sen’s Daily. They were charged with propaganda against the regime and supporting the Baha’i Faith.
The sentence was announced to them by text message on January 26. They went to the court office to see the text of the court ruling, which they were allowed to transcribe. The trial was conducted on January 18, without the presence of a defence lawyer, and the defendants, in protest, did not speak. The Revolutionary Court’s verdict refers to the claim that “Baha’i propaganda” is a religious matter [not a crime]. This arises from the finding of the Review Court for Alborz Province, in the case of Liza Tebyanian Enayati, that teaching the Bahai Faith is not equivalent to “propaganda against the regime” and is not a crime.
The Revolutionary Court in Karaj takes note of the views of these “colleagues” (more senior judges) “who were not familiar with security issues, or were ignorant of religious and doctrinal matters, or knew nothing of the Israel-based House of Justice, the English-born bastard of this old fox [England],” but finds the facts in the file sufficient to convict the four men under “article 500” of the Penal Code (i.e., propaganda against the regime).
Ruhollah Zibaa’i and Ru’in Kohansaal were arrested in Karaj, on August 3 and 4, respectively, and released on bail on September 2. At the time, government-sponsored media claimed that Mr. Zibaa’i’s arrest was in relation to a scheme to tighten the economic sanctions against Iran. He requires constant medical supervision because of wounds suffered in the Iran-Iraq war, requiring the amputation of one foot and the loss of one kidney and part of his liver, and various other injuries and ailments (I cannot make out which are war injuries ~Sen).
Abu-Fadl Ansaari was arrested at his home in Karaj on August 3, 2019 and held in Raja’i Shahr prison. He was released on bail in Karaj on September 8. He has a heart condition and relies on a pacemaker.
Two arrests in Qaemshahr
Sen’s Daily (26.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/36wYSdC – Faraaneh Mansouri and her husband Saamaan Shirvaani, two Bahais from Qaemshahr, were arrested on January 23 while visiting the home of an old friend in the same city. The arrest was made by agents from the Intelligence Arm of the Revolutionary Guards. The agents came unannounced over the wall of their friend’s house and forced their way inside. They showed an arrest warrant and filmed the whole process. The agents searched the house and seized some belongings including a laptop computer, hard drive and mobile telephone, and arrested both the couple and the friend they were visiting. The friend was released a few hours later. The agents took Mr. Shirvaani with them to the couple’s home, which they also searched, but it is not known whether they seized any belongings since only Mr. Shirvani was with them, and he is being held incommunicado.
It is not known why this couple were arrested, or where they are being held. Their families have not been successful in obtaining further information. [Reading between the lines of these reports, it is possible that they were visiting a Muslim friend, and the security forces took action because they seek to minimize contacts between Bahais and Muslims. Some years ago, a Bahai named Faraaneh Mansuri was expelled from university in Tabriz because of her Baha’i beliefs. I do not know whether it is the same person. ~ Sen]
Shiraz city councilor, Mehdi Haajati, released with a surety
Sen’s Daily (25.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/2Ry1Vha – Mehdi Haajati, a member of Shiraz City Council in Iran who was imprisoned for trying to help Bahai constituents, has been released from Shiraz Prison after posting a surety. It is not clear from the report whether this ends his prison term. He began serving a one-year sentence on June 2, 2019, so he has served nine months, but a surety is not required if a prisoner is released before serving his full term.
His legal trouble started in September 2018, when, as he tweeted, “In the past ten days I have knocked on many doors to get two Baha’i friends released from detention, without success. As long as we face foreign enemies, our generation has a duty to reform the judicial and other procedures that endanger social justice”. He was charged with assisting Baha’is and sentenced to one year in prison and two years in exile in Tabas, a small city 800 km North-East of Shiraz.
Review court in Kerman cuts sentences of four Baha’is
Sen’s Daily (23.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/2RQ27Y0 – Over two years ago, a Revolutionary Court in Kerman sentenced Amrullah Khaalqiyaan, Ehasaanullah Amiri-niya, Nima Rajab-zaadeh and Armaan Bandi to five years in prison. The provincial Review Court has reduced that to four months in prison, on a charge of undermining internal security by teaching the Bahai Faith. The Review Court’s decision was signed by Muhammad Mohaqqeq and Majid Zaynaldini-Neya. It appears that the hearing of the Review Court was held on April 28, 2019, but the finding has only just been announced.
Nine Baha’is begin prison terms in Birjand
Sen’s Daily (16.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/36yjx0I – On January 15, nine Baha’is whose arrest and sentencing was reported previously began their sentences, ranging from two to four years, in Birjand Prison.
Wahda Silaani in Kerman
Sen’s Daily (15.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/38JK8cL – Wahda Silaani was freed on bail from Kerman Prison on January 15. Her bail was 100 million tumans (21,000 euros; $US 24,000). She was arrested in her home in Kerman by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on December 29. The agents also seized some of her belongings. The charges against her are not yet known.
Ali Ahmadi’s 11-year sentence confirmed
Sen’s Daily (15.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/3aP8HXE – The Review Court for Mazandaran Province has upheld the 11-year sentence for Mr. `Ali Ahmadi, a Baha’i from Qaemshahr. Mr. Ahmadi was charged with propaganda against the regime and administering Bahai activities and sentenced by the Revolutionary Court of Qaemshahr. He was informed of his sentence on December 2, 2019, The Review Court confirmed the sentence two weeks later, without holding a sitting, based on the file provided by the Revolutionary Court. Earlier reports said that the Revolutionary Court considered the possession of Bahai religious texts as sufficient to justify the sentence.
Mr. Ahmadi was arrested on November 20, 2018, by agents who insulting his religious beliefs and calling him “unclean” and “Bahai dog.” They also seized some religious books mobile phone and computer. He was held in solitary confinement at the Kachou’i Detention Centre in Sari. He was freed on bail on January 2, 2019, after posting bail of 150 million tumans (31,000 euros; $US 35,000).
This is the fifth time he has been arrested in the past ten years: On the first occasion he was sentenced to 10 months in prison, and on the second occasion he was acquitted. In 2011 he was arrested with two others and charged with participation in Bahai activities. A previous report said that he is also known as Cheragh-`Ali Ahmadi. Another states that he is 60 years old and works as a rice trader.
Sahba Farnoush sentenced to 16 years in prison
Sen’s Daily (11.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/2O7rROz – A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced Sahba Farnoush to 16 years in prison. The verdict, from Judge Emaan Afshaari, was announced to him in recent days.
Mr. Farnoush, a Baha’i from Tehran, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on November 15, 2015 and was freed on bail from Evin Prison in late December that year. Bail was set at two million rials (60,000 euros, $US 66,000). Mr. Farnoush is one of 20 Bahai’s who were arrested in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on that day. Agents from the Ministry of Intelligence also closed down Baha’i-run businesses in the Province of Mazandaran.
The Ministry of Intelligence actions apparently related to Baha’is commemorating the birth of Baha’u’llah, but the charges are not stated, and it is not clear why the court decided to issue a judgement on the case four years after Mr. Farnoush was bailed. He is now about 45 years old. His father was arrested and executed following the 1979 Revolution in Iran, and his property was confiscated. At that time, Sahba was five years old.
Mitra Badrnezhad granted prison furlough in Ahwaz
Sen’s Daily (03.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/313XNsl – Mrs. Mitra Badrnezhad-Zahdi, a Baha’i serving a one-year sentence in Ahwaz, returned to prison on January 2 after a 10-day furlough. She began her sentence at the Sepidah Prison in Ahvaz on September 21, 2019. She was charged with membership of the Baha’i organisation. Initially sentenced to five years in prison by a Revolutionary Court, her sentence was reduced to one year by the Review Court for Khuzestan Province. The circumstances of her arrest and interrogation are reported here.
Kaamraan Shahidi sentenced: 5 years and confiscation of assets
Sen’s Daily (01.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/37CRHSy – A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced Kaamraan Shahidi, a Baha’i from Karaj, to five years in prison and the confiscation of his assets. The Judge was Muhammad Moqayesseh, a notorious abuser of human rights and legal procedures.
Mr. Shahidi was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on September 25, 2017. His business, as a gold trader, was also shut down, and its entire holdings of gold — about 2 kilograms — were seized, along with some currency. The arresting agents also went to the home of his sister and daughter and seized all the gold, along with books and pictures relating to the Bahai Faith. He was held in solitary confinement for 21 days and interrogated closely. was released on bail from Evin Prison in Tehran on October 18, 2017.
Bail was set at 500 million tumans (123,00 euros; $US 145,000). A source said that prior to his initial arrest, Mr. Shahidi was making jewelry with Baha’i symbols. A woman who claimed to be a Baha’i approached him and drugged him using fruit juice so that he became unconscious. The woman then stole gold and cash. When Mr. Shahidi reported the theft to police, they arrested him.