Iranian-Armenian pastor begins 10-year sentence for his ‘disturbing’ teachings

 Article 18 (18.09.2023) – As Iran’s president was flying to New York this morning, an Iranian-Armenian pastor was handing himself in to prison in Tehran to begin a 10-year sentence for engaging in “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam”.

Anooshavan Avedian, who is 61 years old, was sentenced more than a year ago, but had not been summoned to serve his sentence until he was visited last week by two plainclothes officers from the Ministry of Intelligence.

This visit took place last Wednesday, the same day that another Iranian-Armenian pastor, Joseph Shahbazian, was released from Evin Prison. 

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Iranian-Armenian pastor ‘pardoned’, released from prison

Article 18 (14.09.2023) – Iranian-Armenian pastor Joseph Shahbazian has been “pardoned” and released after just over a year in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

The 59-year-old was last year given a 10-year sentence for holding church services in his home, though this sentence was reduced to two years in May. 

Joseph then applied for furlough, or to be released to serve the remainder of his sentence at home with an electronic tag. But early yesterday evening, the pastor was summoned to the Evin Prison office and informed that he had been “pardoned”. 

He was then given an hour to collect his things, and then finally set free from Evin Prison and able to return home to be with his family, including a nine-month-old granddaughter – Joseph’s first grandchild – born during his imprisonment.

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 USCIRF releases report on religious freedom in Iran (12.09.2023) – Iran Country Update – This report provides an overview of religious freedom conditions in Iran in 2023. It enumerates various forms of repression that Iran’s government has used to target religious minorities and those whose views differ from the government’s religiously-grounded interpretations. These include state-perpetrated killings, imprisonment, torture, sexual and gender based violence, bodily injury, and enforced disappearances. The report concludes by urging policy makers to take seriously the grave nature of religious freedom violations in Iran, particularly as it pertains to supporting multilateral actions that include a United Nations Security Council referral of the matter of Iran to the International Criminal Court.

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Sina Shahri, a Baha’i citizen living in Tabriz, started serving his eight-month prison sentence


Iran Press Watch (27.09.2023) – According to HRANA news agency, Sina Shahri went to Tabriz prison today, Wednesday September 27, 2023.

This Baha’i citizen was previously summoned to serve the prison sentence.

Sina Shahri was arrested on the 17th of January 2022 by the agents of Tabriz Intelligence Department along with house search and confiscation of some personal belongings and then transferred to one of the detention centers of this security agency. He was finally released on bail on the 2nd of February of the same year.

Mr. Shahri was sentenced to eight months in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the regime”. The Court of Appeal of East Azarbaijan province confirmed the sentence later.

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Baha’i jailed after educational and humanitarian service projects

Iran Press Watch (27.09.2023) – Nahaleh Shahidi, a Baha’i citizen, was arrested on March 28 and taken to the Kerman Intelligence Department. 

After 37 days of detention in the Intelligence Department, she was transferred to Kerman prison. 

Since her transfer to prison, Shahidi has been held indefinitely, and her request for temporary release on bail has been denied.

According to one of her friends, the prolonged detention of Shahidi may be attributed, in part, to the lack of continuous monitoring of her condition by her family. 

Shahidi is single, and her parents died years ago. Some of her siblings live outside of Iran, and her only brother in Iran has been unable to consistently check on his sister’s situation, so he entrusted the case to a lawyer. 

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Four Baha’i women detained in Shiraz

Iran Press Watch (27.09.2023) – On September 26, 2023, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence apprehended four Baha’i individuals Sahar Moheb Pour (24), Roxana Vojdani (25), Setareh Ta’ami (57), and Bahareh Ghaderi (45), in Shiraz transferring them to an undisclosed facility.

A source intimately connected with one of the detainees’ families informed HRANA that Moheb Pour and Vojdani were taken into custody at their workplace, while Ta’ami and Ghaderi were apprehended at their Shiraz residences. During these arrests, authorities conducted thorough searches of their homes, confiscating various personal belongings.

Presently, the reasons behind their detentions, their current whereabouts, and the specific allegations against these Baha’i women remain shrouded in uncertainty.

It is worth noting that Bahareh Ghaderi had previously faced arrest and imprisonment due to her activist pursuits.


Iranian President Raisi disregards Human Rights and calls for religious respect despite 44-year record of religious persecution and rights abuses (21.09.2023) – The Baha’i International Community highlighted Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s disregard for human rights in his 19 September speech to the United Nations General Assembly

NEW YORK—20 September 2023—The Baha’i International Community (BIC) highlighted Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s disregard for human rights in his speech to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, on 19 September, even as the world remembers the Iranian government’s treatment of women and minorities as well as its yearlong crackdown against Iran’s Baha’i community.

Mr. Raisi’s speech ignored the persecution of the Baha’is, Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, a situation which has been condemned by UN member states and agencies. He also did not discuss the human rights concerns of other religious and ethnic minorities, women and prisoners of conscience. 

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Father imprisoned / Son deprived of education: report on violation of Human Rights of Baha’i family

Iran Press watch (15.09.2023) – Payam Vali, a Baha’i citizen, is in prison for openly talking about violations of Baha’i rights in Iran. Outside of the prison, Adib Vali, his son, has been denied from receiving the results of his National University Entrance Exam and is not being admitted to the university due to his belief in the Baha’i faith.

Adib Vali, an 18-year-old student, has been denied entry to university because he is a Baha’i. His father is Payam Vali, a Baha’i human rights activist who is currently imprisoned on charges including “spreading lies” and “collaborating with hostile countries through interviews with Persian-language satellite channels.” Payam Vali has spoken openly about violations of the rights of Baha’is, including denying Baha’i students’ entry to university because of their faith.

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 Iran continues its crackdown on Baha’i faith with arrests, 12 school closures

 Iran Press Watch (12.09.2023) – Iran’s judiciary says it has closed down 12 schools and educational centers and made several arrests in the northern Iranian city of Babol on charges of “promoting the Baha’i faith,” the country’s largest non-Muslim community.

Mohammad Sadegh Akbari, the chief justice of Mazandaran, said on September 10 that activities promoting the religion were carried out at two schools and several educational and sports centers by “employing Baha’i teachers and coaches.”

He added that as a result of the operation, intelligence forces arrested two individuals identified as “prominent Baha’i coaches in Iran.”

During the closing of the educational centers in Babol, “several books and brochures related to Baha’i magazines” were confiscated, he said.

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Baha’i woman in Iran handed 16-year prison term

Iran Press watch (07.09.2023) – A Baha’i resident of the central Iranian city of Semnan has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for alleged “propaganda activity” against the Islamic Republic and leading a group aimed at “destabilizing the country’s security.”

According to a report received by Iranwire, Branch 1 of the Semnan Revolutionary Court also fined Shahdaokht Khanjani 50 million tomans ($1,000) and deprived her of social rights for 17 years. 

The sentence was handed down in absentia. 

Khanjani was arrested in June and released on bail 10 days later.

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Saman’s School: Iranian authorities jail education pioneer for being a Baha’i

Iran Press Watch (08.09.2023) – “I cannot remember the exact moment when the idea of launching a school with a new system first took root in my mind; perhaps it began to start towards the end of my time in traditional schooling. By my second year of high school, I started feeling that attending school was nothing more than a waste of time and that one could acquire a comprehensive academic education in a significantly shorter period. I made the decision to leave high school and dive into the job market. I continued my high school education independently, taking approximately a month to pass the exams for each grade. It turns out my intuition was right.”

Saman Ostovar, a 55-year-old Baha’i in Iran, posted the above to Instagram. A month ago today he was jailed for trying to bring his educational vision to life.

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 Nafisa Saadatyar, Baha’i Citizen, fired from job due to pressure from Security Agencies

Iran Press Watch (05.09.2023) – HRANA News Agency – Nafisa Saadatyar, a Baha’i citizen living in Gorgan, was fired from her work due to pressure from security agencies.

According to HRANA news agency, the news organ of the Human Rights Activists in Iran, Nafisa Saadatyar, a Baha’i citizen living in Gorgan, lost her job when security agencies pressured her employer to fire her.

Nafisa Saadatyar and her husband Pouya Amri were arrested in January of 2023. After a period of detention each was released after posting a bail of 500 million tomans. Their arrests occurred as part of an ongoing campaign against Baha’i Citizens of Iran.

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