Baha'is as a Middle East Controversy

Discussion in 'Baha'i' started by smkolins, May 20, 2006.

  1. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    Very good! :)

    Since you're so close, if you're a singer, you're cordially invited to sing with the Metropolitan Washington Baha'i Chorale! :)

    We rehearse Sunday afternoons 1:30-3:30 at the DC Baha'i Center, and you don't need to be Baha'i to sing in the chorale! Our season will start the Sunday after Labor Day. (I'm in a Car pool, and we'd have room for you, too.)

    Regards, :)

    Bruce
     
  2. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Imprisoned Baha'is may face deportation...

    BAHA'IS IMPRISONED IN YEMEN MAY FACE DEPORTATION TO IRAN

    NEW YORK, 27 August 2008 (BWNS) -- Three Baha'is currently imprisoned in Yemen are facing the possibility of imminent deportation to Iran, where Baha'is are intensely persecuted and they would likely face imprisonment or torture.

    "We are gravely concerned about the fate of these three Baha'is, who are being held without charges in a case that is clearly based on religious persecution," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

    "Although the three have lived in Yemen for more than 25 years, they hold Iranian passports and we have come to believe that the Yemeni government may be planning to deport them to Iran, where the government is waging a systematic campaign against Baha'is.

    "While calling for their immediate release, our primary concern today is to ask that the Yemeni government resist any impulse to deport these three Baha'is to Iran - or any other country. Deportation to any country for three individuals with well established businesses and families for their religious beliefs would be grossly unjust, but deportation to Iran, where they face the possibility of torture, would be a clear violation of international human rights law," said Ms. Dugal.

    The three Baha'is were arrested in June, apparently in relation to their belief in and practice of the Baha'i Faith, along with a Baha'i of Iraqi origin.

    The three Baha'is of Iranian origin who were arrested are Mr. Zia'u'llah Pourahmari, Mr. Keyvan Qadari, and Mr. Behrooz Rohani. A fourth Baha'i, Mr. Sayfi Ibrahim Sayfi, was also arrested and faces the possibility of deportation to Iraq.

    The three Baha'is of Iranian background all have successful businesses in Yemen, and their families are well established there.

    The arrests occurred in the capital, Sana'a, on the night of 20 June 2008, when some 20 armed security officers carried out raids at several Baha'i homes. During the raids, papers, CDs, photographs and a computer were also confiscated.

    Although no formal charges have been filed, government officials have indicated that the Baha'is were arrested on the suspicion of "proselytizing" in a manner against Yemeni law, which the Baha'is deny.

    Since their arrest, the Baha'i International Community has been working through diplomatic channels to obtain their release.

    "Our hope has been to prevent this case from becoming a major human rights matter, over the issue of religious persecution. Deportation to Iran would certainly be a matter for international concern, and such an action would be out of character with the Yemeni government's past record on human rights issues.

    "Under international laws on the freedom of religion, there is no question that Baha'is - and others in Yemen - should be free to practice their faith. While the situation is still unfolding, we stand by the right of Baha'is in Yemen and elsewhere to practice their religion in all aspects, without the fear of being forced to leave their adopted country," said Ms. Dugal.

    There are approximately 250 registered Baha'is in Yemen, and the community has enjoyed relative freedom for its members to quietly practice their faith.



    To view the photos and additional features click here:
    http://news.bahai.org

    --
    8-pok-080827-1-YEMENDEPORTATIONS-651-S
     
  3. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Fresh reports of repression of Baha'is in Iran:

    There are fresh reports of Baha’is being dismissed from jobs or prevented from operating their businesses – reports that confirm the government continues enforcing work restrictions against Baha’is throughout Iran:
    • Various measures are being taken to cancel the work permits of Baha’is.
    • Workplaces are being sealed off.
    • Baha’i businesses are being reported to authorities with an aim of having them blacklisted.
    • Pressure is being exerted on landlords to evict Baha’is who lease business space, and on employers to fire their Baha’i employees.
    In one recent example, a Baha’i working at a real estate agency in Shiraz was fired from his job when a group of agents met and decided that dealing with Baha’is is against Islamic law. At the meeting, a number of baseless allegations were made against the Baha’i – allegations he strongly denied – and an anti-Baha’i leaflet published by local authorities was distributed.
    Another example: A young Baha’i in Ghaemshahr was fired from his job in a food store on instructions from the Public Places Supervision Office. The office specifically told the employer that the reason was simply that the man was a Baha’i.
    Other recent reports from Shiraz show the multifaceted nature of the campaign against the Baha’is:
    • Three different versions of an anti-Baha’i brochure titled “Baha’ism: A Colonial Dance” were widely circulated in the city. The brochure included common false accusations about the Baha’i Faith.
    • A number of Muslim neighbors of Baha’i families have received “visits” from people who attempt to distort their perception of the Baha’i Faith and discourage them from associating with Baha’is.
    • A Baha’i youth who was a national judo champion was expelled from the national team before the team traveled to international competitions. After appeals were lodged, it was learned that there is a general directive prohibiting Baha’is from competing, coaching, or refereeing on national teams.
    Other recent examples of attacks and harassment:

    • Two Baha’is in Mashhad were killed and one seriously injured when they were run over by a car, apparently on purpose. All three had earlier received threatening telephone calls.
    • After authorities first suggested that the fire that destroyed the home of the Shaaker family in Kerman had been caused by an electrical problem, the fire department of that city has now confirmed that arson was the cause. The fire was reported last month by the Baha’i World News Service as one of a string of apparent arson attacks against Baha’is. (See BWNS article.)
    • Another arson attempt occurred in Rafsanjan in Kerman province when a burning tire was wedged in the door of a home, blocking the exit for the Baha’i family living there. Neighbors ran to their rescue, thus averting injury or serious damage.
    • The official Islamic Republic News Agency published a special report on 13 August claiming that Bahá’ís were planning to plant a bomb at the Tehran International Exhibition a few months ago. Seyyed Kazem Mousavi, a historian on modern Iran, claimed to have uncovered and put a stop to a criminal plot that may have resulted in a great human catastrophe. The Baha’i International Community categorically denies that Baha’is planned any such attack.
    • More cemetery desecrations have been reported, and, in addition, three Baha’is who participated in a burial in a Baha’i cemetery that has been in use for 15 years were arrested and convicted of “taking part in the illegal occupation and use of government property.” The three were fined and ordered to “cease their occupation of the said property” (the cemetery) and to “return it to its prior condition” (that is, exhume the interred Baha’i).
    • Baha’i students continue to be barred from university, and new evidence indicates that they are being identified as Baha’is early in the application process and are being blocked even from going online to check their test scores.
    Source:
    Iran Update - Bahá'í World News Service
     
  4. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    EU Presidency concerned about situation in Iran:

    EU: Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the situation of people belonging to religious minorities in Iran

    The European Union is very concerned at the deterioration in the exercise of freedom of religion or belief, and especially the freedom of worship, in Iran, where the pressure on people belonging to religious minorities has worsened in recent months.
    The European Union is deeply disturbed by the arrests since April of Iranian converts to Christianity and members of the Baha'i community. It calls for their immediate and unconditional release and the cessation of all forms of violence and discrimination against them.
    There have been many reports that people belonging to the Christian, Baha'i, Sufi and Sunni minorities in Iran are regularly suffering forms of persecution such as confiscation of property, desecration of their places of worship, imprisonment and numerous acts of violence, including some life threatening.
    The European Union is concerned at the Iranian parliament's decision to consider a draft law making apostasy one of the crimes punishable by death. If adopted, that law would be a serious infringement of the freedom of religion or belief, which includes the right to change religion and the right to have no religion. It would violate Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was freely ratified by Iran, and would threaten the lives of a number of Iranians who have been arrested and held without trial for several months on account of their religious beliefs.
    The European Union urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to reconsider its decision to examine the law in question, release all those who have been imprisoned because of their religious affiliation and allow all its citizens to exercise their freedom of religion or belief in full.
    The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Montenegro and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
    view original source


    EU: Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the situation of people belonging to religious minorities in Iran
     
  5. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Higher education in Iran still closed to Baha'is:

    Iran’s new school year again excludes Baha’is

    3 October 2008
    NEW YORK — </SPAN>As the new academic year got under way, young Baha'is in Iran again found the door to higher education closed.
    Although in its public stance the Iranian government maintains that Baha'is are free to attend university, reports over the past few weeks indicate that the policy of preventing Baha'is from obtaining higher education remains in effect.
    Baha'i students attempting to gain admittance to universities and other institutions this fall found that their entrance examination results were frozen and their files listed as “incomplete” on the Web site of the national testing organization.
    Baha’is who had successfully enrolled in universities in previous years continue to be expelled.
    And those who have sought redress through the courts have been disappointed, their cases rejected.
    “As has been the case for the last four years, the Iranian government continues to use a series of devious ploys to prevent young Iranian Baha’is from receiving higher education,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.
    “The effect of the government’s policies is to close the doors of universities to Baha’is, despite Iran’s supposed commitment to international laws upholding the right to education.
    “Our plea to the international community, and especially to professors, administrators and students everywhere, is that they raise their voices on behalf of Iranian Baha’i students,” said Ms. Dugal.
    According to reports from Iran, the principal method this year by which authorities are preventing Baha’is from enrolling in university is by blocking their examination results and declaring their files “incomplete.”
    The tactic was used last year, too, but this year it became evident that many of the Baha’i students had been identified earlier in the application process. When they tried to log on to the national university examination Web site, rather than seeing their exam results, they got a Web page with the words “Error – incomplete file.” (See screen shot in Persian, and English translation.)
    The Web page to which they were automatically directed had a URL (Internet address) ending with the words “error_bah” – an apparent reference to the fact that their files were declared in “error” because they were Baha’is. (The complete address was search sanjesh)
    The error message is displayed despite the fact that Baha’i students had dutifully filled out all required information and successfully sat for the examination.
    Last year, for the 2007-2008 academic year, of the more than 1,000 Baha’i students who sat for and satisfactorily completed the entrance examination, nearly 800 were excluded because of "incomplete files."
    Without complete files, enrollment in all public and most private universities in Iran is impossible.
    Students who have contested the fact that their files were improperly listed as incomplete have so far met a deaf ear in Iranian courts.
    In a ruling last April in Branch 1 of the Court of Administrative Justice, a Baha’i student who filed a grievance against the national Education Measurement and Evaluation Organization (EMEO) had his case dismissed.
    “In light of the fact that the (EMEO) does not recognize the plaintiff as having fulfilled the requirements, the plaintiff’s case has no merit and is thus dismissed,” the court ruled. (See court document in Persian, and English translation.)
    The same court rejected the claim of another Baha’i university student who had been expelled because of his religious belief and had approached the court seeking readmission.
    In rejecting that case, the court made a reference to the 1991 Golpaygani memorandum which outlines a broad plan to block the “progress and development” of the entire Iranian Baha’i community, including by expelling Baha’i university students.
    The court wrote, “Considering that the plaintiff meets the criteria as defined by the (1991 Golgaypani memorandum) ratified by the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution and is thus considered to have failed and has no valid argument to prove that there has been a violation of the guidelines in order to justify his claim, his grievance is not recognized.” (See court document in Persian, and English translation.)
    Recent reports also indicate that Baha’is who are enrolled in universities – and there are now very few such Baha’is – continue to be expelled as their religious beliefs become known.
    In August, for example, a student at Fazilat University was just three weeks from graduation when she was brought before authorities; when she refused to recant her faith, she was dismissed from the university.
    Despite a record of deceitful dealings by the government, there is increasing evidence of support for Bahá'í students by many Iranians, both inside and outside of Iran.
    Notable among them was an article by Ahmad Batebi, a prominent human rights activist now in exile. That article, “The Bahá’ís and Higher Education in Iran,” published 2 September 2008 in Rooz Online, protests the denial to Bahá’ís of access to higher education and the persecution of the Bahá’ís of Iran generally. (See article in English and Persian.)

    Source:
    Iran?s new school year again excludes Baha?is
     
  6. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    US State Department Report:

    Aside from persecution of Christians and Sufis in Iran along with antisemitic rhetoric the US State Department report has the following about Baha'is there:

    The State Department report notes that over the past year the Baha’i community, the largest non-Muslim religious group in Iran, experienced increasing persecution. Baha’is were not allowed to teach or practice their faith, and their religious tenets were condemned on government-controlled radio and television broadcasts. More than seventy Baha’is were arrested and more than two dozen are still in prison. Public and private universities continued to deny admittance to or expel Baha’i students. In addition, the Iranian government repeatedly pressured Baha’is to accept relief from mistreatment in exchange for recanting their religious beliefs.

    Source:

    VOA News - Iran's Abuse Of Religious Liberty

    So pressure to recant their Faith is what is occuring in Iran.

    - Art
     
  7. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    "error bah" message from Iran:

    Iranian authorities to Baha’i students: Scrap your dreams

    Author: Kawthar (Sudan) - October 5, 2008

    Every year, millions of students worldwide prepare excitedly for a new academic year - a journey that will equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to become active and productive citizens. But instead of worrying about homework, pop-up quizzes and detention, Baha’i students in Iran worry about being admitted to academic institutions in the first place.
    Iranian authorities constantly deny that they discriminate against Baha’i students, citing a recent policy change that allowed students to enrol in universities for the first time in almost 3 decades. Although students were no longer forced to declare their religious affiliation when applying for the national university entrance examination, a memo revealed last year exposed their hypocrisy. The memo, sent from Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, instructed all institutions to expel any student discovered to be a Baha’i.
    Over the past two years a new tactic was employed: namely, denying Baha’i students admission by alleging their files are incomplete. Last year, almost 800 (of over 1,000) students had their dreams shattered this way. But this year, when trying to login to the national university examination website, Baha’i students were redirected to: http://82.99.202.139/karsarasari/87/index.php?msg=error_bah
    Whether the Iranian authorities were caught in the folly of their ways, or “error_bah” was intentional is a tough call. But should the authorities want to upgrade their message for the next academic year, we have a fitting suggestion:

    We have a handy response for them to use, should they run out of excuses:

    “How can we be accused of denying Baha’is access to education when we do not recognize their existence? The accusations are baseless!”


    Source:

    Iranian authorities to Baha’i students: Scrap your dreams - Mideast Youth - Thinking Ahead
     
  8. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    UN Secretary-General expresses concerns....

    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) –

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday expressed concerns about possible human rights abuses in Iran and urged the country to do more to combat discrimination against women and minorities.

    While praising Tehran for strides made in fields such as education and the provision of health services, Ban used a new report on human rights in Iran to list a number of areas where progress was needed.
    One of the minority groups suffering discrimination in Iran was the Baha'i community, Ban said.

    Baha'is regard their faith's 19th-century founder as the latest in a line of prophets including Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammad. Iran's Shi'ite religious establishment considers the faith a heretical offshoot of Islam.

    Baha'is say hundreds of their followers have been jailed and executed since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. Tehran denies it has detained or executed people for their religion.

    The Baha'i faith originated in Iran and claims 5 million adherents worldwide, including 300,000 or more in Iran.

    There have also been reports of "an increase in rights violations against women, university students, teachers, workers and other activist groups," Ban said in the report, which was issued to all 192 U.N. member states.
    He also reiterated U.N. concerns about the death penalty, including the execution of juveniles.

    "There were at least some cases of stoning and public execution, despite moves by the authorities to curb such practices," Ban said.
    "Cases of amputation and flogging and suspicious deaths and suicides of prisoners while in custody were also reported."

    The Iranian constitution prohibits torture but the country's penal code lacks a clear definition of torture as a criminal offense, Ban said in his report.

    Regarding the place of women in Iranian society, the report said criminal and civil laws contained "discriminatory provisions that are in urgent need of reform." Ban also said that gender-based violence was "widespread" in Iran.
    "Concerns have been expressed over an increasing crackdown in the past year on the women's rights movement," he said. One problem is that Iranian authorities sometimes link women's rights activists to "external security threats."
    A spokesman for the Iran's U.N. mission did not respond to a request for comment.
    (Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)

    Source:

    U.N. concerned on Iran human rights - Yahoo! News
     
  9. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Report exonerates Baha'is:

    Iranian report confirms innocence of Shiraz Baha'is




    [​IMG]







    24 October 2008
    NEW YORK —

    </SPAN>An Iranian inspector who examined the 2006 arrests of a group of young Baha’is in Shiraz, Iran, filed a confidential report dated June 2008 confirming what Baha’is have said all along: that their activities were strictly humanitarian in nature and did not involve the “illegal” teaching of the Baha’i Faith.

    The report, signed by an “inspector and legal advisor” named Rustami, was published by the Human Rights Activists of Iran on 23 October. The report was addressed to the “esteemed representative of the supreme leader in the province” and states that it was done at his request.
    Three of the 54 Baha’is who were arrested were later sentenced to four-year prison terms and are still incarcerated in Shiraz.

    The report states that not only was there no mention of religion in their activities, but that youths who attended the classes told him they wanted to continue. “They stated ‘We … truthfully learned a lot from this group and would like them to come back to us again,’” the investigator said in his report.
    A Baha’i spokeswoman said the report underscores the injustice perpetrated against the Baha’is.
    “It is a manifest injustice that the young Baha’is of Shiraz continue to remain in prison when even an internal investigation has essentially proved their innocence, even under the twisted terms that define criminality in Iran,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations. “The government’s lies are indefensible,” she added.
    The arrests in May 2006 garnered international news media attention and prompted expressions of concern by many governments.
    1. 1
    2. 2
    • [​IMG]
      This report dated 16 June 2008 says that three young Baha'is who are still in prison in Shiraz were involved only in nonreligious educational activities. They… »
    • [​IMG]
      The confidential report came to light on 23 October 2008 when it was published on the Web site of the Human Rights Activists of Iran.
    Enlarge images

    The group, composed of 54 young Baha’is and a number of Muslim friends, had been engaged since 2004 in a series of humanitarian projects to promote literacy and moral empowerment among underprivileged youth in and around Shiraz, mostly through small-group classes organized on Friday mornings in poor neighborhoods.
    Members of the group were rounded up by government agents on 19 May 2006. While their Muslim colleagues and one Baha’i among them were released immediately, 53 Baha’is were held for periods ranging from several days to more than a month.
    Then, in mid 2007, they were convicted on spurious charges, apparently relating to accusations that they had been engaged in the “indirect teaching” of the Baha’i Faith, considered illegal in Iran despite international laws upholding freedom of religion. Later, in January 2008, while speaking to journalists about the imprisonment of three of the group, a government spokesman said they had been engaged in anti-government "propaganda.”
    However, the confidential report, issued 16 June 2008 and addressed to the “representative of the Supreme Leader in the province (of Fars) and the Imam Jum’ih of Shiraz,” states that all of those interviewed for his investigation indicated there was no mention of the Baha’i Faith during the classes – essentially contradicting the government’s claim.
    The investigator states, for example, that he interviewed local young people who participated in classes led by the Baha’is, as well as a retired police colonel, and all stated that the classes were strictly educational in nature.
    “‘From the beginning of their activities…, these individuals held these charitable, humanitarian classes once a week, helping junior youth and youth,’” the report says, quoting a retired police colonel by the name of Jeddi. “‘The activities of these classes were writing, drawing, and teaching hygiene and moral values, and there was no mention of religious or political matters. There was never any mention or any statement regarding Bahaism.’”
    Inspector Rustami also said he interviewed eight of the young people who participated in the classes. “They stated that this group had been involved in activities such as teaching moral education, drawing, calligraphy, social skills, and that there had been no discussion concerning politics, or discussions which were against religious, legal and cultural standards.”
    The three Baha’is in prison are Haleh Rouhi, Raha Sabet, and Sasan Taqva. Last January, Amnesty International issued an action alert on their behalf, suggesting they were prisoners of conscience, held solely for their religious beliefs.

    Read more at:

    Iranian report confirms innocence of Shiraz Baha'is
     
  10. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Iran challenged on Human Rights:

    UK Foreign Policy Centre challenges Iran on human rights

    LONDON, 30 November (BWNS) - The Foreign Policy Centre, a leading foreign affairs think tank in Britain, has published a new report on Iran titled "A Revolution Without Rights: Women, Kurds and Baha'is Searching for Equality in Iran."

    The report concludes that, although the world is focusing on Iran's nuclear issue, the rights of women and minorities must not be overlooked.

    Published as a pamphlet, the report was presented at a public program at the Houses of Parliament on 25 November, coinciding with United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

    The document evaluates the Iranian government's compliance with its own constitution and looks at how the country's treatment of women and minorities measures up to the international agreements it has signed.

    UK Foreign Office Minister Lord Mark Malloch-Brown wrote the preface, describing the report as an "important contribution to the debate, and an important part of ensuring that improving Iran's human rights record stays firmly on the agenda worldwide."

    "Iran consistently fails to meet the international commitments that it is signed up to," he wrote. "It ignores its own laws and terms of its own constitution such as arbitrary arrest and the denial of due process. And it is increasingly - and worryingly - using vague, national security-related charges such as 'acting against state security' and 'propaganda against the system' against individuals who are exercising their right to peaceful protest."


    For the complete article as well as photographs, go to http://news.bahai.org/story/674
     
  11. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Baha'is detained by "security agents" in Mazandaran:

    The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran expressed serious concern today about the recent detentions of three Baha’is in the province of Mazandaran and called on Iranian authorities to account for them.
    [​IMG]
    Security agents detained Masoud Ataian, Soheila Motallebi, and Anvar Moslemi during a six-day period in November in Qa’emshahr and Sari in the Northern province of Mazandaran.
    “These detentions are consistent with a pattern of persecution and arbitrary arrest of members of the Baha’i minority in Iran, and give cause to fear for the health and safety of those in custody,” said Hadi Ghaemi, Campaign spokesperson. “The government has yet to account for the detentions earlier this year of six Baha’i leaders, contributing to an alarming trend.”
    Ataian was detained in his home in Qa’emshahr by Intelligence Ministry officials on 17 November 2008. Led by an agent called Mr. Movahhed, the officials searched his home, destroyed sacred pictures and confiscated holy texts, his computer and business documents. He has not been allowed to see a lawyer and has had only brief contact with his family.
    Motallebi was detained in her home in Sari on 21 November also by Intelligence Ministry officials. They presented no warrant but searched her home and confiscated documents and books relating to the Baha’i Faith. She is being held in the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center in Sari and has been denied contact with her family. Human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani has agreed to take on her case, but has not been allowed to see her. Anvar Moslemi was detained two days later on 23 November in Sari.
    Within the past year four other Baha’is have been taken into custody in Mazandaran. Tarazollah Allahverdi and his wife Sonya Tebyanian were detained on 17 October in Behshahr. Siamak Ebrahimi, detained and released two years ago, was again detained on 4 November in Tonekaban. He was sentenced to six months in prison and two years exile in the city of Zabol, over 1100 km away from his home. Ali Ahmadi, another Baha’i detained earlier this year in Mazandaran, is still being held in prison.
    The Campaign urged on members of the international community to protest the continued harassment of Iran’s Baha’i community and called on the Iranian authorities to cease the unjust targeting and detention of members of the Baha’i community throughout Iran.
    Source: http://www.bahairights.org/2008/12/17/concern-raised-over-detention-of-bahais-in-mazandaran/
     
  12. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Iranian government closes Rights Center in Teheran:

    GENEVA, 23 December (BWNS)-

    The Baha'i International Community today expressed grave concern over the closing by the Iranian government of Shirin Ebadi's Defenders of Human Rights Center in Tehran and called for its reopening.

    "The closing of Mrs. Ebadi's office is a blow to human rights for the whole of Iran," said Diane Ala'i, a representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.

    "The spokesperson of Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has indicated that the reason behind the closure was that the Center has no license. But it would be a simple matter to give them one. Otherwise, the fact that the Iranian government would shut down the office of its most famous human rights defender, who is Iran's only winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the first Muslim woman so recognized, can only be perceived by the world at large as further evidence that the government has no regard for rights and freedoms.

    "Mrs. Ebadi and her colleagues are engaged in defending numerous individuals and groups in Iran, and the closure of the Center will certainly interfere with their efforts and impede the adequate legal representation that they are committed to providing," she said.

    Among those being defended by Mrs. Ebadi and her organization are the seven Baha'i leaders who are currently being held without charge in Evin prison in Tehran. The seven were arrested in March and May in an ominous sweep that was reminiscent of when Baha'i leaders in the 1980s were rounded up and executed.

    "Regardless of the attempts against human rights defenders in Iran, Mrs. Ebadi and her colleagues are courageously pursuing their work. For the good of the country, we call upon the Iranian authorities to resolve the administrative issue, and to allow the Center to reopen immediately," said Ms. Ala'i.



    To view the Baha'i World News Service homepage, go to:
    http://news.bahai.org
     
  13. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Six Baha'is arrested in Iran:

    Six Baha'is arrested in Iran

    GENEVA, 15 January (BWNS) - At least six Baha'is were arrested in Iran yesterday, including a woman who worked at human rights organizations connected with Nobel prize winner Shirin Ebadi.

    According to reports received from Iran, the six were arrested after government security agents raided the homes of at least 11 Baha'is. During the raids, they also confiscated Baha'i books and other items, such as computers and photographs.

    Among those arrested was Jinous Sobhani, who worked as an assistant for the Organization for Defending Mine Victims and also for the Defenders of Human Rights Center. Both were founded by Mrs. Ebadi.

    In an interview with CNN, Mrs. Ebadi said today that Ms. Sobhani had been laid off from both organizations after government agents raided Mrs. Ebadi's offices and shut them down in December.

    While some reports indicate that more than six Baha'is were arrested yesterday in Tehran, those confirmed so far include Ms. Sobhani, Mr. Shahrokh Taefi, Mr. Didar Raoufi, Mr. Payam Aghsani and Mr. Aziz Samandari. Mr. Golshan Sobhani was also arrested but was released a few hours later. It is unclear whether he is related to Ms. Sobhani.

    "The arrest of these individuals reflects not only the grave situation facing Baha'is in Iran but also the overall human rights situation there," said Diane Ala'i, a representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.

    "As far as we know, all of these people were arrested primarily because they are Baha'is," said Ms. Ala'i.

    But she confirmed the fact that Ms. Sobhani worked for the two organizations founded by Mrs. Ebadi.

    "The connection of Ms. Sobhani to the work of Mrs. Ebadi's organizations points to the gravity of the situation in Iran, where the government seems intent on stifling any expression of the importance of human rights or religious freedom," said Ms. Ala'i.

    In December, the Baha'i International Community condemned the closing of Mrs. Ebadi's Defenders of Human Rights Center in Tehran and called for its reopening. (See Baha?is call for reopening of human rights center in Iran)

    For home page of Baha'i World News Service, go to: http://news.bahai.org
     
  14. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Australian PM speaks out...

    Australian MP speaks in support of Yaran

    March 22, 2009
    [​IMG]Editor’s Note: In the ongoing struggle for civil and human rights of the Baha’is in Iran, Australian Member of Parliament Andrew Robb delivered a speech calling on the Australian government to urge the release of the now-dissolved Yaran and to implore the Iranian government to allow Baha’is the right to ‘freedom of thought, conscience and religion’. The speech was delivered in the House of Parliament on the 12th of March, 2009. Readers may note that Australian MP Luke Simpkins had raised the same issue at the end of February, also in the House of Representatives. (See Luke Simpkins’ speech - PDF)
    The Baha’i community acknowledged the speeches: “We appreciate that these MPs have spoken out so strongly on this shameful abuse of human rights in Iran,” said Tessa Scrine, a spokesperson for the Australian Baha’i Community. “The whole world, and the Iranian authorities themselves, know the charges are false”. Three of the Baha’is falsely charged with offences in Iran have close relatives in Australia.
    To the House of Representatives
    I rise to speak on the persecution of people of the Baha’i faith in Iran-in particular, the seven believers who have been incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin prison for eight months. Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion …
    Here in Australia, section 116 of our Constitution prohibits the government controlling or mandating a particular religion. However, such is not the case in Iran. On 18 February this year, I met with two representatives of the Bayside and Glen Eira Baha’i communities, Mr Murray Davies and Ms Niloufar Zamani. Mr Davies and Ms Zamani shared with me what they called ‘the continuing abuse of the fundamental human rights of the Iranian Baha’i community’ and what they saw as ‘a renewed wave of persecution and control similar to that which occurred in the 1930s in Nazi Germany’.
    Founded in 1844, the Baha’i faith is the youngest of the world’s independent religions. Today the faith has more than five million believers. The largest population of Baha’is live in India, numbering around 2.2 million. The next largest population exists in Iran, at roughly 350,000 people. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, the Baha’i community has suffered the effects of a systematic campaign orchestrated by the Iranian government. The government’s aim is to eliminate the Baha’i community as a viable entity in Iran, despite Iran being the birthplace of the faith. To begin, the Iranian constitution does not recognise the religion. Baha’is are not permitted to meet, to hold religious ceremonies or to practise their religion communally. Holy places, shrines and cemeteries have been confiscated and demolished. According to Amnesty International, hundreds of Baha’is have been executed for refusing to recant their faith and embrace Islam. Since the election of President Ahmadinejad in 2005, dozens more have been arrested.
    Amongst those who have been recently arrested are seven leaders of the Baha’i organisation known as Friends of Iran. The organisation is believed to have served as an ad hoc coordinating body representative of Baha’is in Iran, apparently to the full knowledge of the Iranian government. Recently, however, the government labelled the organisation illegal and arrested its seven leaders-one in March 2008 and the other six in May 2008. They are expected to go on trial shortly on charges of espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the system. Amnesty International considers the charges to be politically motivated and those held to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely because of their conscientiously held beliefs or their peaceful activities on behalf of the Baha’i community.
    The accusation of spying has been used as a pretext to persecute Baha’is for more than 75 years. They have been accused of being tools of Russian imperialism, British colonialism, American expansionism and, most recently, Zionism. The seven imprisoned leaders are being held in section 209 of Tehran’s infamous Evin prison, run by the Iranian ministry of intelligence. After eight months, no evidence has been brought to light by the prosecutors. The five male detainees are said to be held together in one cell of about 10 metres squared without any beds. All have been permitted access to relatives but none has been granted access to their lawyer. The lawyer is said to have been harassed, intimidated and threatened since taking on the case. The trial is expected to take place shortly in the Iranian revolutionary court. If convicted, the seven will face lengthy prison terms or even the death penalty.
    This is not the first time the plight of the Baha’i community in Iran has been raised in this House. In 2006, the members for Macmillan, Boothby and Stirling, with strong support from the other side of the House, spoke with heavy hearts as they recounted stories of persecution passed on to them from their local communities. As they did then, I today call on the Australian government to continue to raise this matter with the Iranian embassy and urge the immediate and unconditional release of the seven prisoners. I appeal to authorities to ensure that the seven prisoners are protected from torture and other ill treatment and to ensure that they are given regular access to their relatives and lawyer. Finally, I implore the Iranian government to stop persecuting the Baha’i people and allow their citizens the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
    [Source: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/genpdf/chamber/hansardr/2009-03-12/0108/hansard_frag.pdf]
     
  15. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Two Baha'i prisoners in Mashhad:

    « Why the Ideals of the Iranian Revolution were Condemned to Failure


    Update on two Baha’i Prisoners in Mashhad

    March 28, 2009
    [​IMG]Iran Press News reported the following on Saturday, March 28, 2009:
    Two Baha’i citizens by names of Jalayer Vahdad and Sima Eshraqi were arrested on January 26, 2009, in Mashhad and as of this writing (March 28) continue to be incarcerated in solitary confinement.
    So far, the authorities have given no reason for the arrest of these individuals to their families. During this period, a period exceeding 60 days, Mr. Vahdad has not been allowed to meet with his family at all.
    The other prisoner is Ms. Sima Eshraqi and she was allowed only a single meeting with her family on March 10. The legal case and charges against her also remain completely obscure.
    [Source: http://www.iranpressnews.com/source/056695.htm. Translation by Iran Press Watch. The story was also covered at HRA Iran at http://hra-iran.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=783:34&catid=84:502&Itemid=219]
     
  16. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Baha'is attacked in Egypt:

    Groups: Villagers attack homes of Baha'is in Egypt
    April 2nd, 2009 @ 1:03pm
    By MAGGIE MICHAEL
    Associated Press Writer

    CAIRO (AP) - Dozens of Muslim villagers have attacked the homes of members of the minority Baha'i religion in southern Egypt, hurling firebombs and denouncing them as "enemies of God," human rights groups said Thursday.

    The attacks began Saturday after a prominent Egyptian media commentator denounced a Baha'i activist in a television appearance as an "apostate" and called for her to be killed.

    The Baha'i religion was founded in the 1860s by a Persian nobleman, Baha'u'llah, whom the faithful regard as the most recent in a line of prophets that included Buddha, Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad. Muslims reject the faith because they believe Muhammad was God's final prophet, and Baha'is have been persecuted in the Middle East.

    In Egypt, where the majority of the country's nearly 80 million people are Sunni Muslim, the Baha'i faith is not recognized as an official religion. The head of Al-Azhar, Egypt's dominant religious authority, has also declared it a "sacrilegious dogma."

    After five days of violence, calm returned Wednesday to the village of Shouraniya, located about 215 miles south of Cairo. No one was injured in the attacks.

    The village's 15 Baha'i residents were forced to leave, and police have prevented them from returning, rights groups said.

    Egypt's Interior Ministry confirmed the attacks and said police have made arrests. But it denied that police stopped the Baha'i residents from returning to their village.

    "This is just an incident, and we are investigating," ministry spokesman Gen. Hamdi Abdel-Karim said. He declined to provide more details.

    During the violence, the attackers shouted "No God but Allah" and "Baha'is are enemies of Allah" as they hurled stones through windows, a group of six Egyptian human rights organizations said in a joint statement. On Tuesday, assailants also threw fire bombs, damaging five homes, they said.

    Abdel-Sameia el-Sayyed, one of the Baha'i villagers, said a mob looted his house and destroyed his possessions. He said he fled the village Tuesday with his wife and five children.

    "I have lived there for 45 years _ all my life _ and I had to leave it for the sake of my children's safety," he told The Associated Press.

    Source:

    http://ktar.com/?nid=46&sid=1113997
     
  17. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Anti-Baha’i columnist refuses to apologise

    Matt Bradley, Foreign Correspondent
    • Last Updated: April 05. 2009 8:34PM UAE / April 5. 2009 4:34PM GMT
    [​IMG] Ahmed al Sayyid Abdul Ela, a Baha’i leader whose talk show appearance was followed by the torching of Bahai’s homes. Victoria Hazou for The National

    Cairo // A newspaper columnist accused of inciting attacks last week against members of the Baha’i faith in an Upper Egyptian village said yesterday he remains unapologetic for his controversial comments.

    Six Egyptian human rights groups have called on public prosecutors to investigate Gamal Abd al Rahim, a writer for the state-run Al Gomhurriya newspaper, for “incitement to felonies and misdemeanours”.

    They say Mr al Rahim’s statements against Baha’is on a popular talk show led directly to an attack that saw villagers in the town of Al Shuraniya torch five homes known to belong to Baha’is.

    The attacks in Al Shuraniya, in which eight homes were damaged but no one was injured, struck Egypt’s tiny Baha’i community only weeks after a decision by a constitutional court that will allow Egypt’s Baha’is to leave the religion section of their identity cards blank.

    Baha’is had celebrated the verdict, which they hope will give their long-disenfranchised community equal citizenship status to Muslims and Christians. But if the court victory pointed to improvements in religious tolerance, the violence in Al Shuraniya revealed the latent communal tensions that persist in Egyptian society.

    In an interview in his Cairo office, Mr al Rahim said the statements aired last Saturday, in which he said that a Baha’i leader who was a guest on the same programme “should be killed”, did not incite villagers in the town of Al Shuraniya to attack the homes of their Baha’i neighbours.

    “I’m responsible for every word I said, and I don’t owe anyone any apologies,” said Mr al Rahim, who added that he condemns the attacks.

    Instead, he said, the villagers were merely reacting to “disgraceful” statements by one of the show’s other guests, a Baha’i named Ahmed al Sayyid Abdul Ela, who boasted that his hometown of Al Shuraniya, about 400km south of Cairo, was “full of Baha’is”.

    “The Egyptian people know how Sharia [Islamic jurisprudence] views this religion. They felt disgrace because of this man. And because of the strong customs and traditions of Upper Egyptian society, they attacked this man’s house.”

    Mr Ela’s brothers were among those who appeared at a courthouse yesterday in Assiut, a governorate near to Al Shuraniya, to present their statements to police. On the evening of the attacks, police ordered all of Al Shuraniya’s Baha’i residents to leave the city before they could return to their homes to collect belongings. Most of them fled to Cairo.

    “It was so painful to see all the children scared. It would have been better to have died than to have watched that,” said Abdul Bassit, Mr Ela’s brother, whose house was destroyed during the riots last Sunday night. “The police were there, but they were just watching. They didn’t take any of the kind of action that you would expect from police. This incident was such proof of ignorance and barbarism I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
     
  18. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    24-year old Baha’i Seized in Hamadan

    April 11, 2009
    [​IMG]Iran Press Watch has learned that a young Baha’i has been seized, possibly either arrested or kidnapped, in Hamadan. The source of this troubling news is Khabar Navard on Friday, April 10, 2009. Following is a translation of this news:
    On Saturday morning, April 4, 2009, while on her way to her sister’s house in Hamadan, Sahba Khademi was seized by several plain-cloth persons.
    When Miss Khademi was getting out of her car, she was stopped and questioned by several individuals and then taken to an unknown destination. So far, no news of her has been received and her whereabouts remains unknown.
    It should be noted that some time ago, agents of the Ministry of Intelligence called her and asked that she would present herself at the Ministry, but she refused to go. And prior to that call, officers of the same Ministry had raided her home and confiscated some personal properties, including books, but since Sahba Khademi was not in Hamadan at that time, they were not able to arrest her.
    Undoubtedly, the arrest of a 24-year old young lady and taking her to an unknown destination under suspicious circumstances is a source of deep worries for her family - and is yet another shameful act by those who instead of bringing security and tranquility to the nation, are causing stress and insecurity for the citizens of Iran.
    [Source: http://khabarnavard.blogspot.com/2009/04/blog-post_10.html. Translation by Iran Press Watch.]
    Related posts
     
  19. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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  20. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Good news from Egypt...

    Egypt changes rules for ID cards

    CAIRO, 17 April (BWNS) - Egypt's Ministry of Interior this week published a decree that allows individuals to obtain government documents without identifying themselves as belonging to a particular religion.

    The decree is the result of a recent Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court ruling - in a case involving Baha'is - that on government ID cards and other documents, individuals may put a dash in the field denoting religious affiliation.

    "We are very pleased that the Egyptian government has moved to officially change the regulation that prevented Baha'is and others from realizing their rights of citizenship," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

    The computerization of ID cards introduced by the government had locked out all religious classifications except Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. This had meant that Baha'is were unable to get documents essential to day-to-day life.

    The decree was signed by General Habib al-Adly, Egypt's Interior Minister, and dated 19 March 2009, and was published on 14 April in the official gazette. According to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), which represented Baha'is in many of the recent court cases concerning religious affiliation on government documents, the decree amends the Implementing Statutes of Egypt's Civil Status Law of 1994. It specifically instructs officials to place a dash (--) before the line reserved for religion in the official documents of citizens who can show that they, or their ancestors, were followers of a religious belief other than the three recognized by the state.



    To see the Baha'i World News Service home page, go to:
    http://news.bahai.org
     

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