IRAN : News Digest about Baha’is and Christians in Iran in July (02.08.2021)
Touraj Amini released from jail in Karaj
Hrana / Sens Daily (29.07.2021) – https://cutt.ly/gQjjjJs
Baha’i researcher and author Touraj Amini was released from Karaj Prison on July 28 after serving a six-month prison sentence. In June, 2020, he was sentenced by the Revolutionary Court in Karaj to one year in prison and two years of exile from the city, but this was reduced to a six-month sentence by the Review Court. He was charged with “propaganda against the regime.”
On August 4, 2019, security forces searched his home, seizing books and notes and a laptop. Mr. Amini was previously detained for a short time, in March 2008. His books include one on the role of religious minorities in the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911, “The Hidden Awakening”, on the relationship between Iranians intellectuals and the Babi and Baha’is Faiths, and a five-volume collection of source documents relating to the Baha’is in Iran.
Four Baha’is sentenced by a Revolutionary Court in Yazd
Hrana/ Sens Daily (21.06.2021) – https://cutt.ly/uQjkq9Y – A Revolutionary Court in Yazd, presided over by Judge Reza Javad Musavi has sentenced four Baha’is to two years and eight months in prison for membership of anti-regime groups, and to eight month in prison for propaganda against the regime.
Amin Dhulfaqaari was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on May 21, and released on bail on June 23. He was accused of teaching the Baha’i Faith. Mahbubeh Mithaaqiyaan-Dehqaan was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on June 1, and bailed on June 16, 2020. Mitra Bandi-Amirabaadi-Baaghi and Heyva Yazdaan-Mahdiabaadi-Bahifar were arrested on May 30, and released on bail on September 1 after three months of detention.
Mrs. Bani-Mahdiabadi and Mrs Yazdaan-Mahdiabaadi had also been arrested in late November, 2017, for teaching music to children. The report says that both were given suspended sentences, which have expired, but does not indicate when this occurred.
Sina Kamali Sarvestaani bailed in Shiraz
Hrana/ Sens Daily (11.07.2021) – https://cutt.ly/yQjkSr6 – Sina Kamali Sarvestaani, who was arrested in Shiraz on June 15, was released on bail on July 11. After his arrest, he was taken first to a detention centre run by the intelligence arm of the Republican Guard. A short time later he was transferred to Adelabad prison. On July 3 he was permitted telephone contact with his family from Adelabad prison.
Four Bahais released in Bushehr
Hrana / Sens Daily (05.07.2021) – https: https://cutt.ly/TQjlif0 – Mrs. Minou Reyaazati, Ehteraam Shakhi, Farideh Jaaberi and Mr. Asadollah Jaaberi, Baha’i prisoners in Bushehr prison, were recently given furlough and have now been told they will not be required to return to prison. They were among seven Baha’is sentenced to three years in prison and a two-year ban on leaving the country by a Revolutionary Court in May 2019. These four Baha’is began their sentences on January 25, 2020. They were charged with “membership in the Baha’i group and sect with the intent of disrupting national security.”
All seven were arrested in raids on Baha’i homes in Bushehr on February 2018. They were released on bail six weeks later, and tried by the Revolutionary Court in May, 2019. Their sentences were confirmed by the Provincial Review Court in November, 2019.
Christian convert begins prison sentence for ‘propaganda against Islamic Republic’
Article 18 (28.07.2021) – Christian convert Hamed Ashouri has begun his 10-month prison sentence for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”.
The 31-year-old submitted himself to Karaj’s Central Prison yesterday.
Before doing so, he recorded a short video, in which he explained that he had been arrested for his Christian activities.
Hamed was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents two and a half years ago as he left his home in Fardis on the morning of 23 February 2019.
He was then taken to Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj, where he was held in solitary confinement for 10 days, before being transferred to Ghezel Hesar Prison, also in Karaj, for another two days.
During interrogations, Hamed was offered a large monthly salary if he “cooperated” by becoming an informant against other Christians.
When he refused, he was beaten.
Hamed was finally released on bail after submitting guarantees in the form of payslips.
Hamed and another family member were then forced to attend “re-education” sessions with an Islamic cleric.
After four such sessions, Hamed refused to participate in any more, and it was then that the court proceedings against him began.
He was summoned to begin his prison sentence after the failure of his appeal on 26 June.
Hamed was initially told to submit himself to prison within 10 days of his failed appeal, but he was later given a few weeks longer.
Christians summoned to answer charges of ‘propaganda against the Islamic Republic’
Article 18 (23.07.2021) – Eight Christian converts in the southwestern city of Dezful have been summoned to answer charges of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
The eight Christians – Hojjat Lotfi Khalaf, Esmaeil Narimanpour, Alireza Varak-Shah, Mohammad Ali (Davoud) Torabi, Alireza Roshanaei Zadeh, Masoud Nabi, Mohammad Kayidgap, and Mohsen Saadati Zadeh – were summoned on Tuesday, 20 July, to appear at the 4th branch of the prosecutor’s office of the Civil and Revolutionary Court of Dezful within five days.
Four of the men – Hojjat, Esmaeil, Davoud, and Alireza Varak-Shah – were arrested in April and released two days later, after signing statements pledging to appear when summoned.
The charges against the eight men fall under Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code, one of two articles controversially amended earlier this year.
It is not yet clear whether the charges against the eight Christians will contain the new phrasing of Article 500, but this was the case when three Christian converts in Karaj were given the maximum sentences of five years in prison last month for “engaging in propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam”.
Christian convert Reza Zaeemi (40) from Karaj turned himself in at Karaj Central Prison
Article 18 (16.07.2021) – An Iranian human rights lawyer says the latest move by the judiciary to stifle the independence of lawyers shows the presence of “even a small number of human rights defenders is intolerable for the judiciary”.
Hossein Ahmadiniaz, who now lives and works in Europe, was speaking to Article18 after new regulations were introduced last month, giving the judiciary the power to issue and revoke lawyers’ licenses – a power until now held by Iran’s independent Bar Association.
“For 42 years, the Iranian judiciary has been trying to undermine the relative independence of the Bar Association and gain more control over it,” Mr Ahmadiniaz explained.
“All the efforts and goals of the Iranian judiciary are to suppress independent lawyers and human rights defenders. The judiciary itself has become a tool of repression and violation of the law of advocacy.”
‘Just because I’m Christian, I’m deprived of any promotion’
Article 18 (13.07.21) – An Iranian-Assyrian Christian claims he was denied a promotion and received much less compensation than he was entitled to after an injury at work – only because he is a Christian.
“Farough” told IranWire that after losing three fingers due to a lack of safety provisions at his factory, “they were supposed to do an expert examination and pay me [compensation], but when I was paid, I realised that the amount I received was much lower based on the fact that I was a religious minority”.
He added that when he returned to work, he was offered an office job due to his injury, so he decided to get a university degree to further his career; but after gaining a degree in business management – in an attempt to secure a promotion – Farough says a Muslim colleague was promoted instead of him.
Iran’s recognised Christians – the unlikely allies of the Islamic Republic
Article 18 (06.07.21) – The Iranian state propaganda machine continues to use the country’s recognised Christian minority groups – of Armenian and Assyrian descent – as tools to speak out against the rise of evangelical Christianity in Iran.
The latest example is a video published yesterday by Roshangar Media – which introduces itself as a “centre for the study of religions and sects” – in which senior Armenian and Assyrian representatives distance themselves from Iran’s burgeoning house-church movement, denounced by the regime as “enemy groups” of a “Zionist cult”.
“We do not encourage people to change their religion,” says Iranian-Armenian Catholic archbishop Sarkis Davidian in the video. “People must remain in their religion.”
Further reading about FORB in Iran on HRWF website