IRAN: Special monthly FORB digest about Baha’is and Christians in July
14.07.2022 – USCIRF releases new report on religious repression in Iran
This country update reports on widespread religious repression in Iran. Baha’is, Christian converts, Sunnis, and Gonabadi Sufis in particular continue to face ongoing violations of their freedom of religion or belief. The Iranian government continues its widescale arrests of Baha’is, and despite a Supreme Court decision to the contrary, courts in Iran continue to convict Christians on national security charges for membership in house churches. The country update also notes the violation of religious freedom for women in Iran, including a recent crackdown on women not observing mandatory religious head covering laws, and lenient punishments rooted in religion for the perpetrators of so-called “honor killings.
22.07.2022 – USCIRF releases new report on Iranian propaganda against religious minorities
This report details efforts by Iran’s government to spread misinformation and cultivate derogatory public opinion about religious minorities. The report identifies major traditional and social media outlets responsible for disseminating this messaging, and reviews the major themes Iran’s government deploys against Jews, Sunni Muslims, Gonabadi Sufis, Christian converts from Islam, and Baha’is. It demonstrates Iran’s systematic campaign to deny freedom of religion or belief to groups that do not conform to the government’s singular interpretation of Ja’afri Shi’a Islam.
“Senseless cruelty”: Fresh wave of arrests and raids across Iran as Bahá’ís absurdly accused of “colonialism”
Baha’i world news service (01.08.22) – Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence issued an appalling statement of oppressive hate propaganda against the persecuted Bahá’í religious minority yesterday in an attempt to justify the raids on the homes and businesses of 52 Bahá’ís across Iran and the arrest or imprisonment of 13 individuals.
Afif Na’imi and Saamaan Ostavaar arested in Karaj
Hrana / Sens Daily (31.07.22) – Following on today’s previous report from Karaj, that the homes of Kaamyaar Habibi, Saamaan Ostovaar and Mozaffar Nabili were raided, HRANA now reports that `Afif Na’imi and Saamaan Ostavaar were arrested, and that the homes of Nasir Heravi and Saara Sha’baan were raided and and some of their personal effects, including mobile phones, electronic devices, and printed material relating to the Baha’i Faith were seized. Correcting the earlier report, it appears that only one workplace was searched and sealed: that of Kaamyaar Habibi. The home of `Afif Na’imi was raided in November 2020. In December 2018 he was released at the end of a ten-year prison sentence for his Baha’i beliefs. He was the last of the seven Yaran (national facilitators for the Baha’i community in Iran) to be released, although they all had 10-year sentences, because during his sentence he was granted two medical furloughs of several months, and had several periods of hospitalisation. He suffers serious heart problems, blood clots, lymph node problems and acute swelling of the throat.
Three Baha’is detained in Yazd: Community “suffering worst coordinated attack in years”
Iran Press Watch (25.07.22) – IranWire understands that three Baha’i citizens near the city of Yazd, – Nematollah Shadpour and his son Nima Shadpour, and another individual, Shafiq Eslami – were arrested after being summoned to appear before judiciary officials. The Shadpour family are farmers and cattle breeders outside Yazd.
A source told IranWire that security agents then searched the homes and places of business of these citizens and confiscated several of their belongings.
Persecution of Baha’is in Iran intensifies for second month in a row
Iran Press Watch (23.07.22) – More than 20 Baha’is in Shiraz, Tehran, Yazd and Bojnourd, have been arrested, jailed or subjected to home searches and business closures since the beginning of July. Last month 44 Baha’is were arrested, arraigned or imprisoned, suggesting an escalating crisis in the Iranian government’s systematic campaign against the country’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, and the Baha’i International Community (BIC) believes that this month’s cases now confirm the crisis.
Eight Baha’i Citizens Arrested in Shiraz and Yazd
Iran Press Watch (20.07.2022) – On July 19, security forces arrested three Baha’i residents of Yazd identified as Nematollah Shadpour, Nima Shadpour and Shafigh Eslami, searched their houses, and confiscated their personal belongings.
On the same day, five Baha’i individuals were also arrested in Shiraz, which HRANA has identified as Niloofar Hosseini, Bahyeh Manavipour, Misagh Manavipour, Elhan Hashemi, and Hanan Hashemi.
Baha’i citizen Haleh Gholami imprisoned
Iran Press Watch (19.07.2022) – According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, on July 16, 2022, Haleh Gholami was taken to Evin Prison for sentencing.
Earlier, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced Gholami to two years in prison on the charge of “acting against national security.” In her trial, membership in Baha’i organizations was presented as an act against national security.
On January 27, 2017, Gholami was arrested and transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison. On March 6, 2017, she was released on bail until the end of the legal proceeding.
Freedom of religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations Covenant holds that every person has the right to practice religion freely, freedom of converting to a religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively, openly or secretly.
Three Baha’i citizens arrested in Bojnurd
Iran Press Watch (17.07.2022) – A court in Iran has sentenced 26 followers of the Baha’i faith to prison terms ranging from two to five years, as well as other measures, on charges of “conspiracy to disrupt internal and external security” in what the religion’s leaders say is another sign of the persecution they face.
According to reports received by Radio Farda, the verdict issued by the Revolutionary Court of the southern city of Shiraz is related to a series of arrests of Baha’is in Shiraz between July 2016 and December 2016.
44 Iranian Baha’is arrested, arraigned or jailed in June as leading human rights figure says situation is “getting worse”
Bic (04.07.22) – The Iranian government’s systematic campaign to persecute the Baha’i religious minority accelerated again this past week with the arrest, court hearing or imprisonment of at least 18 more Baha’i citizens across the country, bringing the June total to 44 people. Hundreds of others, meanwhile, also await summonses to court or to prison.
‘Misinformation campaign’ used to justify ‘baseless’ charges – report
Aryicle 18 (01.08.2022) – Iran’s “misinformation campaign” against religious minorities, including Christian converts, is the focus of a new report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The report, written by Shahin Milani of the US-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC), says religious minority adherents are arrested and prosecuted on “baseless national security charges”, while propaganda is used “to justify the measures taken”.
Grandfather with cancer among four Christians arrested in Neyshabur
Article 18 (19.07.2022) – A grandfather in his late fifties who has cancer is one of four Christian converts still detained more than three weeks after their arrest at a house-church gathering in a conservative Shia Muslim region of northeast Iran.
Gholamreza Keyvanmanesh is being held in Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad, a holy city for Shiites, two hours’ drive from Neyshabur, where the arrests took place on Sunday 26 June.
The other three – two women and another man in their forties and fifties, whose names cannot be reported – are being held in Neyshabur Prison.
Converts face second trial on identical charges
Article 18 (11.07.2022) – Three house-church members already facing five years in prison for “engaging in propaganda and education of deviant beliefs contrary to the holy Sharia” have today been informed they must return to court next week to face a second trial on identical charges.
Ahmad Sarparast, Morteza Mashoodkari, and Ayoob Poor-Rezazadeh, who were only sentenced in April, were re-arrested in May, before their appeals in their initial case had even been rejected, and they remain in detention in Lakan Prison in Rasht, northern Iran.
Convert fined and deprived of social right for teaching others about christianity
Article 18 (08.07.2022) – A Christian convert has been fined and “deprived of social rights” for five years for “engaging in educational activities contrary to the holy religion of Islam by establishing house-churches”.
Rahmat Rostamipour, 49, must pay 6 million tomans (around $185) now and a further 18 million should he “re-offend” in the next two years.
He is the latest Iranian Christian to fall foul of Iran’s amended Article 500 of the penal code, which allows charges to be brought for educating others in a way deemed “contrary to Islam”.