Religious persecution and issues – Monthly digest July


Over 50 Christians in five cities arrested in new crackdown

Article 18 (18.07.2023) – More than 50 Christian converts have been arrested in a rash of new incidents across five Iranian cities over the past seven days, with fears the number could rise much higher as fresh reports keep coming in.

At least 51 of those arrested at their homes or house-churches – in the cities of Tehran, Karaj, Rasht, Orumiyeh and Aligoudarz – remain in detention on unknown charges, while others have been released on bail.

Continue reading…


 Pastor transferred to prison 1,000 miles from home and family

Article 18 (10.07.2023) – An Iranian pastor who has spent most of the past four years behind bars has now been transferred to another prison on the other side of the country, 1,000 miles from his home and family.

 Abdolreza Ali-Haghnejad, who is known as Matthias, was flown yesterday morning from Rasht, northern Iran, to the remote southern city of Minab, where he has been told he must serve the remainder of his six-year prison sentence for “propagating Christianity”.

Matthias had been serving this particular sentence in his home city of Anzali, near Rasht, since January 2022, when he was detained just two weeks after being released following his acquittal from a separate five-year sentence for “promoting Zionist Christianity”.

 Continue reading…



Fariba Kamalabadi and Mahvash Sabet: A year in detention and counting

Iran Press Watch (31.07.2023) – In a coordinated and organized operation on July 31, 2022, agents of the Intelligence Ministry raided the homes of tens of Baha’is in cities across Iran and arrested a number of Baha’is including Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, two women who had already spend a decade in jail.

In a statement issued the day after the arrests, the Intelligence Ministry claimed that it had arrested “members of the central cadre of the Baha’i espionage party” and accused them, among other things, of “participating in groups to act against national security through teaching and preaching the Baha’i faith to children in kindergartens, [and] agitating against Islamic Sharia through holding coaching courses.”

Continue reading…


Baha’i citizen Rouya Malakooti arrested, eight others summoned in Mashhad

Iran Press Watch (31.07.2023) – On July 29, nine Baha’i women were separately summoned to appear at Mashhad Courthouse, with one among them, Roya Malakouti, ending up arrested after hours of interrogation.

The other eight citizens, Roya Ghaneh-Ezabadi, Shohreh Salekian, Golnoosh Nasiri, Azita Foroughi, Nooshin Mesbah, Soheila Ahmadi, Fardieh Moradi, and Nasim Sabeti, have had the addressing of their legal cases postponed until further notice.

The specific allegations against these individuals remain undisclosed, leaving uncertainty surrounding the reasons behind the summoning and the subsequent arrest. According to a reliable source who spoke to HRANA, the Prosecutor’s office investigator issued a one-month detention order for Roya Malakouti, and she was subsequently transferred to Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad.

Continue reading…


Baha’is in July: 123 years in prison and over $111,000 in fines

Iran Press Watch (24.07.2023) – Late June to late July of this year has been one of the more difficult months for the Baha’is in Iran. And even since March, in an escalating situation with a Ministry of Intelligence official, Baha’is in Tehran have been denied of the right to bury their dead in a Baha’i-owned cemetery in the city. After days and sometimes after weeks of being left in the morgue of the larger Behesht Zahra Cemetery, in the south of Tehran, the Baha’i dead have been buried in the mass graves of the victims of the 1980s mass executions without informing the families and without Baha’i religious rites and ceremonies.

The Baha’i International Community has condemned this situation in repeated statements as not only a violation of the rights of the Baha’i families in Iran – but also as a deep disrespect to those other Iranians buried in these mass graves. And earlier in July, Mehdi Khazali, a publisher close to the Iranian authorities, was filmed spreading disinformation about the Tehran Baha’i cemetery.

Continue reading…


Two Baha’i citizens arrested in Rasht

 Iran Press Watch (24.07.2023) – Reliable sources disclosed to HRANA that the Ministry of Intelligence was responsible for their arrests. Both were apprehended at their respective residences, with the agents conducting searches and confiscating some of their belongings.

While Samimi managed to call her family and inform them of her detention at Lakan Prison, Kashani-Nejad has not yet been granted the opportunity to contact her family, leaving her loved ones anxious about her whereabouts.

According to another source, Samimi is facing charges of “propaganda against the regime.”

Continue reading… 


Baha’i citizen Keyvan Rahimian arrested in Tehran

 Iran Press Watch (19.07.2023) – On July 18, 2023, security forces arrested Baha’i Citizen Keyvan Rahimian in Tehran and transferred him to Evin Prison.

A reliable source close to Rahimian’s family, who spoke to HRANA, revealed that he informed his family about his transfer to Evin Prison during a phone call following his arrest.

The grounds for this arrest and the allegation against him are unknown.

The specific reasons behind his arrest and the allegations against him remain unknown at this time.

Rahimian has a history of previous arrests and convictions related to his activism. Notably, he also serves as a lecturer at an online university affiliated with the Baha’i community. It is important to mention that Baha’is face exclusion from tertiary education in Iran.

Continue reading…


Baha’i Citizen Payam Vali face new charge while imprisoned

Iran Press Watch (15.07.2023) – Payam Vali, a Baha’i citizen currently serving his sentence in Qezel Hesar Prison, Karaj, is confronted with a fresh legal case.

The Karaj Revolutionary Court has accused Vali of “spreading falsehood on the Internet through the dissemination of unlawful content.” This case has been transferred from the court to a branch of the prosecutor’s office in Karaj, as it reportedly exceeds the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Court.

Continue reading…


Five Baha’i citizens arrested in Kerman

Iran Press watch (13.07.2023) – On July 12, 2023, in a concerning development, security forces in Kerman apprehended and detained five Baha’i citizens.

 The detainees, identified as Foad Shaker, Shahram Fallah, Yekta Fallah, Behnam Pour-Ahmadi, and Paridokht Shojaei, were subsequently transferred to an undisclosed location. During the arrest, agents conducted a search of the house and their vehicles and seized some of their personal belongings.

The exact reasons behind the arrests and the specific location of their detention remain unknown, deepening concerns about potential human rights violations. One reliable source, who spoke to HRANA revealed that these individuals were apprehended at the residence of Shahram Fallah, where they were guests.

Continue reading…


Fourteen Bahai citizens sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison

Iran Press Watch (05.07.2023) – In a concerning development, the Ghaemshahr Revolutionary Court has handed down a collective prison sentence of 31 years to 14 Bahai citizens.

The individuals affected by this ruling are Mani Gholinejad, Bita Haghighi, Sanaz Hekmat Shoar, Negar Darabi, Sam Samimi, Mahsa Fathi, Samieh Gholinejad, Majir Samimi, Anis Senaei, Afnaneh Nematian, Basir Samimi, Hengameh Alipour, Gulben Fallah, and Nazanin Goli.

Bita Haghighi and Sanaz Hekmat Shoar have received three years and paying a fine. The rest have been sentenced to two years and one month. All their confiscated belongings during the arrest have also been seized.

 The charges against these Bahai individuals revolve around allegations of engaging in “educational activities and propaganda at variance and against Islamic Sharia law.”

Continue reading…