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News about Baha’is in Iran in August

Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan returns to prison, three days after his wedding

 

Sen’s Daily (26.08.2020) – https://bit.ly/3jHHCt9 – Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan, a 32-year-old Bahai from Semnan who is serving a six year sentence for his beliefs, was granted a short prison furlough recently. During the furlough, he married Golrokh Firuzeyan, also from Semnan, who has also served two prison terms for her beliefs. He requested an extension to his furlough, but this was denied by the Ministry of ‘Intelligence.’

 

Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan was born in Semnan Prison. His parents were both imprisoned in 1983, for adhering to the Bahai Faith, and Ardeshir was born in the prison in 1988. He was arrested early in 2013 and sentenced to 8 months in prison. Golrokh Firuzeyan was among the young Bahais arrested and sentenced at that time, and was sentenced to 6 months in prison. They were charged with various offenses, but eventually sentenced for “propaganda against the regime.” Both began their sentences on January 10, 2014. When Ardeshir had completed his sentence, he was sent to do military service. Golrokh’s sisters, Yalda Firouzeyaan and Shidrokh Firuzeyan have also served six-month prison sentences. Yalda currently faces another sentence, of two years and six months. Their father, Hadjbar Firuzeyaan, served a 40-day sentence in 2014, charged with libel against an agent of the Ministry of Intelligence. He had complained to the judicial authorities that one of his daughters was beaten in prison. When they took no action, he wrote to the President of the Islamic Republic, describing the beating. He was charged with libel and fined, but refused to pay the fine and was sent to prison instead.

Two arrests in Vilashahr, Isfahan Province

Sen’s Daily (25.08.2020) – https://bit.ly/2QKDThZ – On August 23, Mazhdeh Eqteraafi and her husband Houshmand Taalebi were summoned and arrested in Vilashahr. After their arrest, officers went to the Bahai couple’s home and searched it, confiscating laptops, cell phones, books, and an acoustic “Dastgah” keyboard. Two cars and a truck belonging to the family have been confiscated.

 

Liza Tebyanian arrested again in Karaj

 

Sen’s Daily (20.08.2020) – https://bit.ly/31PhIxi – HRANA reports that Liza Tebyanian, a Bahai living in Karaj, was arrested by security forces on the evening of Saturday, August 16, and taken to an unknown location. The grounds for her arrest and the charges against her remain unknown.

 

She was previously detained on March 16, 2017, and was released on bail from Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj on April 26. In August 2017, she was sentenced to 7 months in prison by Branch 4 of the Karaj Revolutionary Court on charges of “propaganda activities against the regime.”

 

Branch 12 of the Alborz Court of Appeals acquitted Ms. Tebyanian of the charges against her, arguing that teaching the Bahai faith was not propaganda against the regime.

 

Farid Moqadam-Ziraki gets additional one-year sentence

 

Sen’s Daily (20.08.2020) – https://bit.ly/2Z0TrT4 – A criminal court in Birjand has sentenced Farid Moqadam-Ziraki, whose name is reported in this case as Farid Ziragi-Moqadam, to one year in prison. He was charged with “insulting the sanctities of Islam.” The judge was Mehdi Shiri Abbaasabaad. His judgement referenced internet postings, apparently referring to Telegram repostings that included Bahai interpretations of the Quran, the coming of the Mahdi, the “seal of the prophets” and other theological points.

 

Mr. Ziragi was notified of the new sentence on August 19. A Revolutionary Court has already sentenced him to five years in prison on a charge of “membership of the illegal Bahai organisation”, with a one-year concurrent sentence for “propaganda against the regime of the Islamic Republic.”

 

Nine Bahais from Karaj receive one-year sentences

 

Sen’s Daily (08.08.2020) – https://bit.ly/3gRrRxT – The Revolutionary Court in Shahriar, which lies between Karaj and Eslamshahr on the Western fringe of Tehran, has sentenced nine Bahais to one year in prison for ‘propaganda against the regime.’ They are Mr. Keyaanush Salmaanzaadeh, Mrs. Jamileh Paakrou, Mr. Paymaan Ma’navi, Mr. Payaam Sha’baani, Mr. Parvan Ma`navi, Mrs. Ilham Salmanzadeh, Mr. Houman Khoushnam, Mrs. Neda Shabaani and Mr. Soroush Agaahi. They were arrested in September and November, 2018, and are at present free on bail. The trial was held on July 27, and sentences were announced on August 6. The trial judge was Judge Panahi.

 

At the time of their arrest, agents searched the homes of some of these detainees and seized personal belongings, including books, computers, laptops and mobile phones. The business premises of some of them were also sealed after their arrest.

Volunteer firefighter barred in Shiraz, for Bahai beliefs

 

Sen’s Daily (01.08.2020) – https://bit.ly/34WjS01 – Kiarash Mo`ini, a 19-year-old Bahai from Shiraz, has been expelled from the volunteer firefighters because of his Bahai beliefs. The head of his team in the fire department informed him of this in a meeting on July 25, and told him to return his firefighting uniform. The team leader said he was acting under pressure from the Security Department [This is not a department of the fire service, but rather the Ministry of Intelligence presence within the fire service, analogous to the Political Commissars in the Soviet Union.] Mr. Mo`ini has been a volunteer for about two years, and has gained proficiency certificates in training courses. The voluntary firefighters are an auxiliary, used in emergencies or to fight exceptionally large fires.





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News about Baha’is in Iran in July

Review court cuts sentences for 11 Baha’is in Fars Province

 

Sen’s Daily (21.07.2020) – https://bit.ly/3gBoo7d – The Review Court for Fars Province (Shiraz) has sentenced Nilufar Hakimi to five years and nine months in prison. In May, Judge Sayyid Mahmud Saadaati, sitting in the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, had sentenced her to eight years in prison. Navid Bazmaandegaan and his wife Bahreh Qaderi, Sudabeh Haqiqat, Elaheh Sami`zaadeh and Noraa Pourmoraadian were sentenced to six years by Judge Saadaati: this has been reduced to two years and nine months. Ehsanollah Mahbub-Rahwafa was given a one-year sentence by Judge Saadaati, which the Review Court has changed to a fine of one million tumans (200 euros ; $US 240). All were charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of groups opposed to the regime.

 

Mrs. Sami`zaadeh has also been sentenced — in a criminal court — to one year in prison by Judge Fakhaarzaadeh on a charge of “misuse of scientific titles,” which refers to her studies at the Bahai Institute of Higher Education. In addition to the prison sentence, he added a 2-year suspension from holding all governmental and public jobs. This seems to be a bit of black humour on the part of the Judge: all Bahais in Iran are permanently barred from governmental and public jobs, and also from work in many economic sectors, and from tertiary education. According to this report, Nilufar Hakimi has also been sentenced to five years in prison by a criminal court, but the report does not give further details. The only additional charge against Mrs Hakimi that I know of, is one count of blasphemy.

 

In a separate story, HRANA reports that the Court of Review has given two-year sentences to Farhaam Saabet, Farzaan Ma`sumi, Shahnaaz Saabet and Soheila Haqiqat. Mr Saabet and Ma`sumi were previously sentenced to five years in prison (with an additional one-year concurrent sentence), while Mrs Saabet and Haqiqat were sentenced to six years in prison, by Judge Saadaati. They were charged with “propaganda against the regime and membership in anti-regime groups. The report also says that Soheila Haqiqat faces additional charges, but that no details are available.

 

The same Review Court recently confirmed Judge Saadaati’s 5-year sentence for Shahryaar `Ataareyaan.

 

Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani begins 6-month sentence

 

Sen’s Daily (11.07.2020) – https://bit.ly/30C8NPr – Mehrdaad Mousavi Khoulenjaani, a Baha’i from Shahin Shahr, was arrested in that city on July 9 after being summoned by telephone to the office responsible for the implementation of criminal (i.e., not ideological) crimes. He was taken the central prison in Dastgerd to begin a six-month sentence on what are apparently ideological charges : “propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith.” Shahin Shahr and Dastgerd are both towns just north of Isfahan City.

 

On June 10, the Provincial Review Court for Isfahan Province, headed by Judge Seyyed-Javaad Mansouri and Counsellor Mohammad Mohammadi Kalaal-Abaadi, confirmed his prison sentence.

 

Following a house raid and the seizure of personal effects in August/September 2018, he was summoned on November 27, 2018, arrested and taken to Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan. Some time later he was released on bail. He was acquitted [by the Review Court?] and the court ordered the return of confiscated items except those relating to the Bahai Faith.

 

However the Ministry of Intelligence then intervened to obtain a warrant sealing his place of business for “propaganda against the regime in the form of teaching the Bahai Faith.” On March 18, 2019, he was summoned, supposedly in relation to the return of confiscated items, and was again arrested — thanks to the intervention of the Ministry — on the charge. His case was then reopened.

 

Negin Qadamiaan granted early release

 

Sen’s Daily (07.07.2020) – https://bit.ly/39Z9wNm – Negin Qadamiaan, a Bahai prisoner who began a furlough from Evin Prison in Tehran on June 9, has been informed by telephone that she has been granted early release and will not need to return to prison. She began serving her 5-year sentence for educational crimes in relation to the Bahai Open University (BIHE) on December 16, 2017, and was granted a medical furlough April 22 to April 27, 2019. She was arrested, along with many others associated with the Open University, in May, 2011. On March 12, 2013, she and nine other Bahais associated with the Open University were tried, in absentia in a closed court, by Judge Moqiseh, a notorious abuser of human rights, and of judicial procedures, who was responsible for the imprisonment of the seven “Yaran.”





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Iranian news agency accuses Baha’is of genetic warfare research, links to Covid-19

Sen’s Daily (29.03.2020) – https://bit.ly/3cHuxfV – State-sponsored media in Iran have been repeating a story that appears to have been invented by the Islamic Republic News Agency, TNews and popularized by the Young Journalists Club, a government agency affiliated with the state broadcaster. Their report is dated March 26, 2020. It was repeated the following day by Enqelaab News, Ghatreh News, Khabar Farsi, Mosalas Online, Mashreq News and others.

The story is a bit of a hodge-podge, which I will paraphrase. In the first place, Baha’is at Stanford are supposed to be preparing biological weapons. This follows a story on March 23 (in English), citing the coordinator of the fight against Covid-19, General Nasrollah Fathian: “There is even speculation that this virus has been created to specifically target the Iranian population given their genetic traits. But for now, these theories are all being examined.”

Another story from the same government agency (YJC) a few days earlier, claiming that the Corona virus was probably an American weapon, linking this to an ‘Iranian Genome Project’ at Stanford University. The project actually exists and is studying the genomes of Iranian-Americans in the United States.

Thus far, we have a bit of absurd anti-American propaganda being repurposed by bringing in Baha’is working at Stanford, “who are likely to be of Jewish origin” which “makes it likely that the Corona (Covid-19) pandemic is a biological attack.”

But what if there are no Baha’is or Jews working in the Stanford project? The YJC authors have thought ahead, and insert here a long history of the crypto-Jews of medieval Europe and Iran, who were forced to convert to Christianity or Islam but retained their Jewish identities in secret. This is true, but how is it relevant? The implicit argument is that the lack of evidence to support the YJC story is because the Jews involved are hiding their identities. And being Jews they must be Baha’is.

The next part of this rambling story refers to large-scale Jewish conversions to the Baha’i Faith in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and claims that most Iranian Baha’is are of Jewish origin. The latter claim is not true, and not new here: it is one of the links between anti-bahaism and anti-semitism. The JYC story quotes something from Khomeini about the dangers of “falling into the hands of a few Jews who have become Baha’is.”

Then there’s a section on supposed Baha’is in senior levels of the Pahlavi government (the Shah deposed by the 1979 Revolution). These often-recycled claims have been debunked thoroughly by Adib Masumian in ‘Debunking the Myths.’ But even without that historical knowledge, any reader is bound to ask, if Baha’is were so prominent in the Shah’s government, why were Baha’is so persecuted under the Shah’s government? Why were their schools closed, why were pogroms allowed? How could Baha’is be at once so powerful and powerless in Iran?

One of these supposed Baha’is was Parviz Sabeti, head of one of SAVAK’s divisions and the child of Bahai parents, who became a Muslim while in secondary school. SAVAK, the secret police, was one of the Shah’s tools in monitoring and suppressing the Baha’is. Parviz Sabet left Iran at the time of the Revolution, and according to the JYC has a daughter, Pardis, who is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard. Pardis Christine Sabeti, daughter of the SAVAK official, is indeed a brilliant geneticist and one of the authors of ‘Outbreak Culture: The Ebola Crisis and the Next Epidemic.’

So now it all comes together: Stanford University has a project sequencing the genes of Iranian Americans. Harvard University has a geneticist whose grandparents on her father’s side were Baha’is in Iran, who is dedicated to fighting epidemics, so clearly, Iranian Baha’is are preparing biological weapons to target themselves…. I mean, to target Iranians. Or Jews. Or they are Baha’is but really Jews targeting Iranians, or something like that.





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IRAN: News from Baha’is in jail in October

HRWF (31.10.2019) – Baha’is in Iran have continued to be arrested, sentenced to prison terms and released on bail without criminal charges being dropped. Their activities are considered by authorities to be “propaganda against the regime”, “membership of a group opposed to the regime”, “membership of the Baha’i community”, “membership to illegal Baha’i organizations with the intent to act against domestic security” and “propaganda against the regime by proselytizing Baha’ism.”

 

Three Baha’is in Semnan given long sentences

 

Sen’s Daily (29.10.2019) – https://bit.ly/2NqtS7t – The Revolutionary Court in Semnan has sentenced three Baha’is who were arrested on April 30 to ten years in prison on charges of “membership of illegal groups acting against national security” and “acting against national security through propaganda and organizational activities.” Ardeshir Fenaa’eyan, who is 30 years old, has been sentenced to ten years in prison and one year exile in the town of Khash in Sistan and Baluchestan Province; Behnaam Eskandreyan and Yalda Firouzeyaan, aged 20, have been sentenced to five years in prison and two years’ exclusion from the city of Semnan. They were arrested by teams of four to six masked agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Semnan, in simultaneous raids on their homes at 8 a.m. on April 30.

 

Ataa-ollah Zafar: 3 weeks in prison 

Sen’s Daily (20.10.2019) – https://bit.ly/2JkM8Oq – Mr. Ataa-ollah Zaffar was released from Evin prison “in recent days,” after about three weeks in detention. His family obtained his release following serious concerns about his health in detention.

 

On 27 September, security agents raided a number of Baha’i homes in Tehran and Karaj, seizing various personal effects. Behrouz Asadollah-zaadeh and Mr. Zafar are among those whose homes were searched. Mr. Zafar was then arrested. At least five other Baha’i homes were raided, and agents went to the home of Waliollah Qademiyaan  to search it, but found nobody home.

 

Fuzhaan Rashidi: conditional release after 1 year in jail

 

Sen’s Daily (16.10.2019) – https://bit.ly/2JjHD6J – Fuzhaan Rashidi has been granted a conditional early release after serving just over one third of her three-year sentence. She was released from Esfahan prison on 15 October. She and her recently-married husband Milaad Daavadaan were among a group of people arrested Baharestan, near Isfahan, on 23 September 2018, by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence. Milaad Daavadaan was sentenced to six years in prison. Fuzhaan Rashidi was sentenced in a Revolutionary Court to three years for “membership of the Baha’i organisation” with a concurrent one-year sentence for “propaganda against the regime.” This was confirmed by the Review Court.

 

Two Baha’is sentenced for internet postings

Sen’s Daily (14.10.2019) – https://bit.ly/2BCMj3g – On 21 September, Paymaan Damashqi, a Baha’i from Karaj, was sentenced to one year in prison by the Revolutionary Court. The trial, lasting less than 10 minutes, was held on 19 September. The trial is reported to have taken place at both the Prosecutor’s office and the revolutionary court, suggesting that the Prosecutor also acted as Judge, which would be highly unusual. A relative said that Mr. Damsashqi did not accept the charge of “propaganda against the regime” and did not know what it was based on. Therefore he has not, thus far, made any comment on it himself. He was initially summoned in writing by the Police in Karaj in February this year. When he went to the Police station, his mobile telephone was confiscated and he was questioned for half an hour. He was told that he had posted an article entitled “Justice” under the pen-name “A certain Baha’i”, and the use of this name constituted, indirectly, propaganda for the Baha’i Faith. When he asked to see the article attributed to him, the interrogator refused.

 

The Judge offered him release on bail of 50 million tumans, but he was not able to pay that amount. Two days later he was released when the business licence of a friend was accepted as bail.

 

In recent days, Sima Behrouzi was sentenced to three months in prison in the Revolutionary Court of Yazd, presided over by Judge Dashtipour. She was charged with membership of a group opposing the regime. She was summoned in writing by the Police in Yazd on 20 March this year, and questioned about her membership of Telegram groups. After some time she was summoned to Branch 4 of the Revolutionary Court, and charged with “membership of a group opposed to the regime” and “propaganda in support of a group opposed to the regime.” Bail was set at 250 million tumans, which she could not provide, but she was released on bail two days later. On 2 July 2019, she was summoned to a hearing on August 18 at the Revolutionary Court. The summons specified the charges as “membership of the Baha’i community,” and “Baha’i propaganda.” The sentence, of three months in prison, was announced in the last week of September.

 

In recent years, a number of Baha’is in Yazd have been sentenced for activities on internet.

Three Baha’is sentenced to three years imprisonment: temporarily released after 25 days behind bars

 HRANA (12.10.2019) – https://bit.ly/3629B0v – Three Baha’i residents of Abadan and Ahvaz, Neda Sabeti (Azadi), Forough Farzaneh, and Noushin Afshar were each sentenced to a one-year prison term for the charge of “propaganda against the state” by the Revolutionary Court of Abadan.

 

A closed source told HRANA that their case was opened by the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and during their interrogations, they were under pressure for forced confession. On 6 May 2019, they were arrested at their houses by six agents of the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Ahvaz and Abadan. They were released on 13 May but were rearrested for an unknown reason on the same day. They were released on bail on 30 May 2019.

 

Azita Rafizaadeh released at the end of her 4-year sentence

Sen’s Daily (10.10.2019) – https://bit.ly/2qKszZz – Azita Rafizaadeh has been released from Evin Prison after serving a four-year sentence for teaching online classes in computer engineering to members of the Baha’i Faith. Under Iran’s apartheid system, Baha’is are banned from gaining advanced qualifications in tertiary institutions in Iran, although there is no formal law against teaching one’s skills to others. Nevertheless, she was charged with “undermining national security” for teaching at the Baha’I Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). In January, 2018, she was offered prison furlough if she would sign a statement to repent for her work and promise that she will not work with the BIHE again. But she said she had done nothing to repent for.” Her husband Peyman Koushk-Baghi was also imprisoned in October 2015, for teaching at the BIHE.

 

In 2014, Judge Moqisseh of Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Rafizadeh to four years in prison and her husband to five years in prison on the charge of “membership in the illegal and misguided Baha’i group with the aim of acting against national security through illegal activities at the BIHE educational institute.”

 

The imprisoned couple’s son, Bashir Koushk-Baghi, has been raised by another Baha’i family.


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