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Persecution of Baha'is In Iran Update

Baha’is in Iran are deprived of freedom related to religion – a systematic exclusion – although in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights everyone should have the right to adopt a religion or belief, and freedom to manifest this religion or belief either individually or in community with others, in public or private.

According to unofficial sources in Iran, there are more than three hundred thousand Baha’is in the country, but the Iranian Constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism, and does not recognize the Baha’i Faith. For this reason, Baha’is’ rights in Iran have been systematically violated in recent years.

The ban on economic activity of Baha’is in Iran continues, even though under Article 77 of the Charter on Citizens’ Rights related to the Right to Employment and Decent Work, it guarantees “the right of citizens who, freely and without discrimination and in accordance with the law, choose and apply to the profession they are willing to pursue. No one can deny this right to citizens for reasons of ethnicity, religion, gender, or disagreement in political or social orientations.”

Based on their religious beliefs, Baha’is close their businesses on their religious holidays. However, police forces and Intelligence and Security agencies close and seal their businesses in response. This is in spite of the explicit legal and civil rights of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and manage their own businesses as they see fit.

Branch 28 of the Mazandaran Provincial Appeals Court sentenced Soheil Haghdoost, a Baha’i from Qaemshahr, to four months’ of prison. On April 18, 2018, the second Branch of the Revolutionary Court of the City of Sari sentenced this Baha’i to one year of prison, on a charge of propaganda against the regime. This charge was apparently because Mr. Haghdoost provided information about the forced closure of his business in 2016, and is continuing to follow up on this matter.

According to HRANA News Agency, the news arm of Human Rights Activists in Iran, on January 5, 2019, Baha’i Soheil Haghdoost, a resident of Qaemshahr, was sentenced to 4 months in prison by Branch 28 of the Appeals Court of Mazandaran Province.

In the proceedings issued by the appeals court, the charge against this Baha’i citizen was propaganda against the regime.

This Baha’i resident was previously sentenced to one year in prison for this crime by Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court of the City of Sari on April 18, 2018.

A source close to Mr. Haghdoost told the HRANA reporter: “After the closure of his place of business and those of a number of other Baha’is in Mazandaran Province, Soheil Haghdoost has been subjected to judicial pressure in various ways, including two arrests and the search and inspection of his house and confiscation of equipment and belongings.”

Soheil Haghdoost was arrested on July 25 2017 for disseminating information related to the forced closure of his place of business and that of other Baha’is in Mazandaran Province, and pursuing legal remedies on this matter; he was released on bail of 200 million Tomans ($60,000) after four days.

Soheil Haghdoost‘s optical store was closed and sealed on November 2, 2016, along with shops owned by a number of other Baha’is living in the Province of Mazandaran.

Following the forced closure of their businesses, Mr. Haghdoost, along with other Baha’is, took legal steps to follow up with the prosecution to break the seal and open their businesses; however, so far, after 27 months, no actions have been taken in this regard.

Atousa Ahamadayi (Khorrami), a Baha’i living in Tehran, who was arrested on 30 January 2019 by security forces after a search of her house and confiscation of some personal belongings, was taken to Evin Prison.

According to HRANA News Agency, the news arm of Human Rights Activists in Iran, on Monday, January 21, 2019, Atousa Ahmadayi (Khorrami), a Baha’i who was arrested in Tehran, was sent to Evin Prison.

A source close to this detained Baha’i said: “Today, a group of officials from the Ministry of Intelligence, comprised of seven men and a woman, went to Atousa Ahmadayi’s house and arrested her. In addition to the arrest, these Intelligence forces searched her house for personal items and confiscated them, including books, laptops and religious material. They did not tell the Ahmadayi family where she was being taken; they merely told her family “she will call you”. During her arrest, the agents accused her of being guilty of acting against national security.”

Atousa Ahmadayi has been arrested and transferred to Evin Prison at a time when she and her family are caring for her father, who had a stroke.

Baha'i Released from Prison
Neda Shabani, an Iranian Baha’i resident of the northern city of Karaj, embraces her husband outside of an Iranian prison after being released on bail Jan. 28, 2019

Iran has detained one of its Baha'i citizens and released another as part of a long-running crackdown on members of the religious minority in the Islamic republic.

Iran's Human Rights Activist News Agency published a report saying intelligence agents detained Farzad Rouhani Manshadi, a Baha'i man living in the central city of Yazd, on Monday while he was taking his child to school. It said the agents also searched Manshadi's home and seized some of his belongings. HRANA attributed the information to a source close to Manshadi's family.

An Iranian Baha'i community member sent a message to VOA Persian on Monday confirming that Manshadi had been detained.

The same source also told VOA Persian that Neda Shabani, a female Baha'i resident of the northern city of Karaj, was released on bail Monday after authorities detained her in Karaj on Nov. 28.

The source said Shabani had been charged with disseminating propaganda against the state and disrupting national security. HRANA also reported that Shabani had been released on bail.

On January 19, 2019 morning two Baha’is in Kerman were arrested by security forces and transferred to an unknown location.

According to HRANA News Agency, the Human Rights Activists news agency in Iran, on Saturday morning, December 22, 2018, two Baha’i citizens in Kerman were detained by the security forces of the city and transferred to an unknown location.

The identity of these two Baha’is, Kiana Rezvani and Kimia Mostafavi, has been discovered by HRANA.

Kiana Rezvani previously was told that her education file was “defective” after taking part in the national examinations in 2016. She was denied access to higher education because she is a Baha’i.

Baha'i Persecution
from right to left: Mahboub Habibi, Kourosh Rohani, Pejman Shahriari

Three Baha’is living in Shiraz, Mahboub Habibi, Pejman Shahriari and Kourosh Rohani, were sentenced to one year in prison by the First Branch of the Revolutionary Court of this city. The charge against these citizens is “propaganda against the regime.” They were arrested on 17 August 2018 and were released on bail in October.

According to the HRANA, Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran, on Sunday, January 20, 2019, three Baha’is in Shiraz were sentenced to a total of 3 years in jail.

According to the verdict issued by the first branch of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, headed by Judge Mahmoud Sadati, under Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code, Mahboub Habibi, Pejman Shahriari and Kourosh Rohani were each sentenced to one year in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime.”

Pejman Shahriari and Mahboub Habibi were released on September 30, after 43 days, and  Kourosh Rohani was released on bail on September 24, after 37 days, until the end of the trial.

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