IRAN: A machinery of hate: increasing propaganda raises concern for Baha’is

A machinery of hate: increasing propaganda raises concern for Baha’is

Bahá’í International Community (08.07.2021) – https://bit.ly/36rYLSO – The Baha’i International Community is calling for the Iranian government to be held accountable for its campaign of hate speech against the Baha’is in Iran. In recent months, the four-decades long state-sponsored campaign of hate speech and propaganda has reached new levels, increasing in both sophistication and scale. This has provoked fresh concerns for the rights of the Baha’is in Iran, as history shows that flagrant violations of human rights often take place in a climate of hate and disinformation.

The Baha’i International Community has been tracking anti-Baha’i propaganda in Iran over the decades and has, in recent months, witnessed an expansion in the machinery of hateful propaganda targeting the Baha’is. The unfolding strategy to demonize the Baha’i community is reflected in a growing and coordinated network of hundreds of websites, Instagram accounts, Telegram channels and Clubhouse rooms, with content such as “Baha’is are unclean and enemies of your religion”, “Associating with Baha’is is banned”, “Purchasing any goods from a Baha’i store is forbidden”, as well as “The modern ‘Human Rights’ is a big lie,” and many others. These platforms have been producing hundreds of thousands of pieces of disinformation reaching millions of Iranians. A BIC publication, “Inciting Hatred,” offers a more detailed analysis of this 40-year media campaign against the Baha’is.

The websites and social media channels are compounded by videosprint newspaper articles and other written mediabooksseminarsexhibitionsgraffiti and fatwas from both official outlets and others sponsored by the government but purporting to be independent.

“History is replete with the victims of grievous crimes incited by hate speech,” says Diane Ala’i, Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva. “We are concerned that the increasing spread of disinformation targeting the Baha’is may signal a severe increase in the persecution meted out against them.”

Spreading falsehoods has been a central weapon in the Iranian government’s assault against the Baha’is since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The goal is to demonize the Baha’is and to try to provoke public hatred for the community, thus justifying crimes against them, a very common tactic used by oppressive governments throughout history.

The Iranian government does not recognize Baha’is as a religious minority and, as such, Baha’is have neither the right to legally appeal against these statements nor are they permitted to respond and present their own case to their fellow Iranians.

António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, in his 2019 Plan of Action to Combat Hate Speech(link is external), says that “[h]ate speech is a menace to democratic values, social stability and peace. As a matter of principle, the United Nations must confront hate speech at every turn. Silence can signal indifference to bigotry and intolerance, even as a situation escalates and the vulnerable become victims.”

Incitement to hatred is prohibited under international treaties that Iran itself has ratified, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“Iran has consistently ignored its international obligations, and it is time that it is held to account for inciting hatred and committing countless human rights violations against the Baha’is with impunity.” says Bani Dugal, the Baha’i International Community’s Principal Representative to the United Nations. “Hate crimes always begin with words. Let us not allow history to repeat itself.”

Background

  • The Baha’is, Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, have been systematically persecuted by the Iranian government since the Islamic Revolution. More than 200 Baha’is were executed in the 1980s; today, they are denied public sector jobs, higher education, their livelihoods are often disrupted, their cemeteries desecrated, and they are vilified in state and semi-official media as well as from the pulpit and in schools and other educational institutions.

 

 

Further reading about FORB in Iran on HRWF website




IRAN: FORB digest: News about Baha’is and Christians in Iran in June (01.07.21)

IRAN: FORB digest: News about Baha’is and Christians in Iran in June (01.07.21)

Baha’is

Shahrzaad Nazifi retried: 8-year sentence upheld

Hrana / Sens Daily (29.06.2021) – https://cutt.ly/MmaJn4q

On June 8 this year, HRANA reported that Shahrzaad Nazifi, a well-known sportswoman and trainer in women’s motorcross, had been sentenced to eight years in prison, banned from leaving Iran for two years, and sentenced to three month’s community service, four hours per day, providing services to the intellectually handicapped. She was tried in absentia in a Revolutionary Court by Judge Eymaan Afshaari, and the sentence was communicated to her “defence” lawyer after the fact. That highly irregular trial has now been rerun by the same Judge with the same outcome. The ruling cited her “bad motives and desire to destroy the religious system.” It is not clear whether she was this time allowed to know the evidence and present a defence.

 

Dorsa Dehqaani arrested in Shiraz

Hrana/ Sens Daily (14.06.2021) – https://cutt.ly/DmaKd7f – Late in the day of June 14, security forces arrested Dorsa Dehqaani at Shiraz railway station. They took her to her home in Shiraz, which they searched. They seized some personal effects mobile phones and Baha’i books, pictures and artifacts, and took her away. It is not known where she is being detained. I assume that this is the same Dorsa Dehqaani who, in 2014, was barred from entering university because of her Bahai Faith ~ can someone confirm that? From the photographs then and now, it seems she is getting younger!

 

Home raid and arrest in Shiraz

Hrana/ Sens Daily (13.06.2021) – https://cutt.ly/ZmaKKkG – On June 15, security forces arrested Sina Kamali Sarvestaaniin front of his home in Shiraz. They searched his home and seized personal effects such as books, as well as all the electronic- devices belonging to his family. It is not known where he is being detained.

 

Shahrzaad Nazifi sentenced: 8 years

Hrana / Sens Daily (08.06.2021) – https://cutt.ly/4maLklX – A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced Shahrzaad Nazif, a well-known sportswoman and trainer in women’s motorcross, to eight years in prison. She was also banned from leaving Iran for two years, and sentenced to three month’s community service, four hours per day, providing services to the intellectually handicapped. The trial was held recently and the sentence was communicated to her “defence” lawyer after the fact. The charge is said to be “managing illegal groups and gangs with the aim of disrupting national security.” The ruling cited her “bad motives and desire to destroy the religious system.”

Her home was first raided on November 10, 2018. She was arrested at a motocross track on November 18, 2018. Security forces then raided her home again and siezed all the family’s awards, titles and prizes, as well as documents related to motorcycle races. They also seized mobile telephones, laptops and books. She was released on bail 15 days later. Bail was set at 700 million tumans (147,000 euros ; $US 164,000). She and the other members of her family — who also participate in motorcross — have been banned from being present at motorcross tracks, participating in competitions, and practicing or teaching motorcross sport.

 

Sa`id `Aabadi and Vahid Daana bailed in Shiraz

Hrana / Sens Daily (01.06.2021) – https://cutt.ly/OmaZy4T – The Review Court for Tehran Province had confirmed the 3-year sentences of Mrs. Mona Mehraabi, Elhaam Karam-Pisheh, Afsaaneh Yaadgaar-Ardestaani and Mr. Ehsaan-Allah Yaadgaar-Ardestaani They were charged with membership in an illegal organization with the aim of disrupting national security. The Judge of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran who handed down the 3-year sentences, Judge Muhammad-Reza Amouzad, said that the accused identified impoverished people and children who were abused or deprived of schooling, and gave them education, and that they made brochures for the Red Crescent (Red Cross) and International Children’s Day. Before the trial by Judge Muhammad-Reza Amouzad, in September or October 2018, they had been sentenced by a revolutionary court in Tehran in a secret trial without a hearing or defence, to five years in prison. Two other Baha’is were sentenced to five years in the secret trial of 2018: Safa Forqani-Araani and Mehrdaad Forqani-Araani. I have no information about what happened to them.

Mrs. Elhaam Karam-Pisheh and Mona Mehraabi were arrested on February 16, 2015, in a raid on a meeting in Tehran where six Bahais were present. Mr. Ehsaan Yaadgaar was arrested in a neighbouring home at the same time, and again religious materials were seized, along with some gold coins. He was told to present himself to the public prosecutor’s office in Varamin (the capital of Varamin County in Tehran Province). He did so, and was released after several hours. He was again arrested in early March, 2015, and taken to Evin Prison for questioning before being released.

 

Christians

 Hamed :10 months in prison for ‘propaganda against the regime’ upheld on appeal

MEC (28.06.2021) – On 26 June, the court of appeal upheld the 10-month prison sentence of Hamed for ‘propaganda against the regime’.

Hamed, a Christian convert, was arrested in Karaj on 23 February 2019. Security agents raided his home, confiscating Bibles, Christian literature and a computer. Hamed was detained for 12 days – 10 of which in solitary confinement. During interrogation, he was offered money to become an informant and was physically assaulted when refused.

According to rights group Article Eighteen, Hamed was forced to undergo Islamic ‘re-education’ classes but afterwards he refused to attend more. Court proceedings were initiated against him.

On 7 March 2021 Hamed was summoned to Karaj Revolutionary Court to answer charges of ‘propaganda against the regime.’ His prison sentence was announced on 12 April. Hamed has been given 10 days to present himself to Karaj Central Prison to begin his sentence.

 

Three converts put on trial for anti-state propaganda

MEC (23.06.2021) – Friends of Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi are charged with “propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam” under a recently amended version of Article 500 of the penal code.

The Article states that those found guilty “will be severely punished.” It allows prison sentences of between two and five years; deprivation of civil rights, such as voting, for up to 15 years, and heavy monetary fines. Rights organisations have warned that the amendments, which came into effect in March, could be used to further restrict the freedoms of religious minorities and criminalise their activities, including those online. ​​​​​​​

On 11 November 2020 Iranian intelligence agents raided the homes of several converts in Fardis (near Karaj), including those of Amin, Milad and Alireza, confiscating Bibles, cell phones and computers. No-one was arrested at that time, but the converts continued to face harassment and were ordered to abstain from Christian activities (they all refused to comply).

On 5 May Amin, Milad and Alireza were summoned to court, but were later released on bail of 250 million tomans each and told that for the next six months they must report weekly to the intelligence branch of Iran’s police force. Another seventeen converts from the same church denomination were taken in for questioning and threatened.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that the presiding judge, Mehdi Zeinali, of the 4th Branch of the Revolutionary Court of Karaj, prevented the defendants’ lawyer from attending the trial, claiming he had not been registered as their lawyer. The defendants had to represent themselves in a hearing that lasted less than an hour.

 

Christian convert Reza Zaeemi (40) from Karaj turned himself in at Karaj Central Prison

MEC (07.06.2021) – On 2 June, Reza Zaeemi started serving a nine-month sentence at Karaj Central Prison.

 In November 2020, Reza was arrested by plainclothes security agents. He was blindfolded, handcuffed, and interrogated for four hours, then held in a detention centre belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and in Ghezel Hesar Prison for a total of 17 days before being released on bail of 60 million tomans.

On 25 January Reza was sentenced to 18 months’ prison for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic by promoting evangelical Christianity.” He was also given a two-year travel ban.

On 25 April, the conviction was upheld, but the prison sentence reduced to nine months.

According to human rights organization Article Eighteen, Reza initially reported to prison at the end of May but there was no judge present to process his admission.

An Iranian pastor, who was himself imprisoned in Karaj Central Prison for several years, requests prayer for Reza, saying that especially during the first days of imprisonment there is significant mental pressure.

Further reading about FORB in Iran on HRWF website




IRAN: Iran expels Italian nun who has spent her life for the poor of the country

Iran expels Italian nun who has spent her life for the poor of the country

Seventy-five-year-old Sister Giuseppina Berti is denied a visa renewal.

Vatican News (11.06.2021) – https://bit.ly/3Agj17Q – Seventy-five-year-old Sister Giuseppina Berti, who has worked for 26 years in the leprosarium of Tabriz and now lives in Isfahan in the house of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, will have to leave Iran in the coming days. In fact, her visa has not been renewed and she has received a travel order. Her departure will make it difficult for her fellow nun, Sister Fabiola Weiss, a 77-year years old Austrian, who has dedicated 38 years to the poor and the sick in the leprosy hospital, and whose residence permit has been renewed for another year.

 

The two religious nuns, who have dedicated their lives to the country’s sick without distinction of religious or ethnic affiliation, are forced to abandon the Congregation’s house, built in 1937. In Isfahan, the Daughters of Charity had dedicated themselves for years to the education and training of young people. Their commitment to hundreds of Polish children, refugees and war orphans, who arrived in Iran in the spring of 1942, should also be remembered. In fact, the sisters ran a large school in the city, which was confiscated after the 1979 revolution. In recent years, the two sisters did not carry out any outside activities, to avoid being accused of proselytizing.

 

The house of the sisters is currently the only reality of the Latin Catholic Church in Isfahan and their chapel, built in 1939, serves as the parish of the “Powerful Virgin”, which is occasionally made available to visitors for the celebration of Mass.

 

This is the current reality of the Catholic Church in Iran: two Assyrian-Chaldean archdioceses of Tehran-Ahwaz and Urmia-Salmas, which have one bishop and four priests (in the summer of 2019, the patriarchal administrator of Tehran of the Chaldeans, Ramzi Garmou, was also denied a visa renewal and could no longer return to the country); an Armenian diocese in which there is only a bishop and the Latin archdiocese which currently has no priest and is awaiting the arrival of its newly appointed pastor, Archbishop Dominique Mathieu.  As for the religious presence, the Daughters of Charity operate in the country, with three sisters in Tehran and two sisters in Isfahan. There are also two consecrated laywomen. The faithful number about 3,000.

 

With the departure of the nuns, the presence of the Latin Catholic Church in Isfahan would be permanently lost. In 2016, the house of the Lazarist Fathers in the city of Isfahan had also been confiscated. It is to be hoped that the Iranian authorities will retrace their steps and reconsider their decision, allowing the sisters to continue in the country that they have loved so much and served with sacrifice and dedication.

 

Photo : Vatican News

Further reading about FORB in Iran on HRWF website




IRAN: Presidential election (Video interview with Dr Majid Golpour)

IRAN: Presidential election

 

Video: HRWF s’est entretenu avec le Dr Majid Golpour, sociologue et chercheur associé à l’Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

 

Click here

 

Presidential elections are scheduled to be held in Iran on 18 June 2021. It will be the thirteenth presidential election. Under the Iranian constitution, Hassan Rouhani, the incumbent president, is ineligible to run for re-election as he was limited to two terms or eight years in office.

 

 

 

Thèmes abordés dans la video:

 

Situation économique et politique en Iran

L’élection présidentielle satisfait-elle aux normes internationales?

Quel impact sur la politique des USA et de l’UE?

Quel impact sur les droits humains en Iran: le droit pour la femme de ne pas porter le voile, liberté d’expression, minorités ethniques et religieuses…

 

 

Read more on 

human rights in Iran here

religious freedom in Iran here

our documented cases of Iranian believers of all faiths in Iran here

66 Baha’is – 14 Protestants – 7 Sufis – 1 Shia – 1 Anglican

 

See also Dr Majid Golpour on French television in 2020:

 

ENGLISH: https://www.france24.com/en/video/20200117-majid-golpour-the-polarization-of-iranian-society-is-much-more-important-than-yesterday

FRANCAIS: https://www.france24.com/fr/video/20200117-majid-golpour-la-république-islamique-n-est-plus-capable-de-subvenir-aux-besoins-de-ses-citoyens

 




IRAN: News about the persecution of Baha’is in Iran in May

News about Baha’is in Iran in May

HRWF Digest

 

Sentences confirmed for 4 Baha’is from Varamin

 

Hrana / Sens Daily (30.05.2021) – https://cutt.ly/fnxe6fw – The Review Court for Tehran Province had confirmed the 3-year sentences of Mrs. Mona Mehraabi, Elhaam Karam-Pisheh, Afsaaneh Yaadgaar-Ardestaani and Mr.Ehsaan-Allah Yaadgaar-Ardestaani. They were charged with membership in an illegal organization with the aim of disrupting national security. The Judge of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran who handed down the 3-year sentences, Judge Muhammad-Reza Amouzad, said that the accused identified impoverished people and children who were abused or deprived of schooling, and gave them education.

 

Before the trial by Judge Muhammad-Reza Amouzad, in September or October 2018, they had been sentenced by a revolutionary court in Tehran in a secret trial without a hearing or defence, to five years in prison. Two other Baha’is were sentenced to five years in the secret trial of 2018: Safa Forqani-Araani and Mehrdaad Forqani-Araani.

 

Mrs. Elhaam Karam-Pisheh and Mona Mehraabi were arrested on February 16, 2015, in a raid on a meeting in Tehran where six Baha’is were present. All were separately interrogated in the house, and the two women were arrested in accordance with a warrant and taken away in a car from the Ministry of Intelligence. During the search, which lasted five hours, all the books, pictures and religious symbols of those present, as well as computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, were seized. Mr. Ehsaan Yaadgaar was arrested in a neighbouring home at the same time, and again religious materials were seized. Mrs. Safa Forqani-Araani was arrested in a raid on her home [apparently in Tehran] on February 17, 2015, and her father Mehrdaad was arrested at his home in Varamin an hour later.

 

 

Six Baha’is sentenced in Borazjan: 10 years in prison

 

Hrana/ Sens Daily (26.05.2021) – https://cutt.ly/Knxr3Gi – A Revolutionary Court in Borazjan, the chief city of Dashtestan county, Bushehr Province, has sentenced Borhan Ismaa`ili, Maryam Bashir, Faraanak Shaykhi, Haayedeh Raam, Minu Bashir and Darna Ismaa`ili.

 

Mr. Borhan Ismaa`ili was sentenced to eleven years on the charge of “propaganda against the regime by spreading the beliefs of the Baha’i sect and acting against security by disseminating Baha’i ideas.” The five women were sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison on the charge of “Supportion propaganda against the regime by spreading the beliefs of the Baha’i sect.

 

The court findings cited the accused’s involvement with child education and membership of the counter-revolutionary web site, Facebook. If the Review Court upholds these sentences, the accused will serve ten years in prison.

 

 

Tehran review court confirms sentences of 3 years and 7 months

 

Hrana/ Sens Daily (25.05.2021) – https://cutt.ly/2nxtWNF – Mrs. Marvash `Adaalati `Ali-Abaadi, Mrs. Sepideh Keshaavarz and Mr. Farid Ismaa`ili have been sentenced to three years and seven months in prison by the Review Court for Tehran Province. They were charged with “collusion intended to undermine national security by conducting Baha’i activities.” The Revolutionary Court, under Judge Muhammad-Reza Amouzad, had also given them concurrent sentences of eight months in prison for “promoting the Baha’i Faith.” The Review Court has not confirmed those sentences, but it makes no practical difference.

 

 

Six more detainees bailed in Baharestan 

 

Hrana / Sens Daily (24.05.2021) – https://cutt.ly/tnxtK0Y – Five more of the Baha’i women recently arrested in, or in relation to, the city of Baharestan in Isfahan Province were bailed on May 22. They are Noushin Hemmat, Shouraangiz Behaamin, Saara Shakib, Azita Rezvaani and Sho`lah Ashuri. Bail was set at 200 million tumans (39,000 euros ; $US 47,000). Previously, Saanaaz Raasteh and Firouzeh Rastinejaad were bailed on May 20; Ruya Azaadkhush and Nasreen Khaademi were bailed on May 18, and Maryam Khursandi on May 17. All were released from Dawlatabad prison in Isfahan city.

 

According to a separate HRANA report, Mozhgaan Pourshafi` was bailed on May 23. The arrests and home raids across Baharestan began on April 25.

 

 

Eight Baha’is return to prison in Bandar Abbas

 

Hrana / Sens Daily (18.05.2021) – https://cutt.ly/7nxusYm – In Bandar Abbas, eight Baha’i prisoners who were granted furlough on April 14 returned to prison on April 24. Previous reports did not indicate how long the furlough would be, but ten days is quite normal. The prisoners are Arash Raasekhi, Omid Afaaqi, Mehrollah Afshaar, Nasim Qanawaateyaan, Adib Haqq-pazhuh, Farhaad Amri, Maaraal Raasti and Mahnaaz Jaan-Nethaar. They began their one and two-year sentences in late February and early April, and the report does not indicate why they would be granted furlough so soon.

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