Incredibly Mahvash Sabet, Fariba Kamalbadi, and Afif Naimi who have already been sentenced and spent 10 years in prison have been detained again! The world needs to take notice and speak out against this unlawful arrest of the innocent Bahai’s in Iran. These are citizens who just want to live in peace and be free to practice their Faith. They have not broken any laws nor have they taken any action to protest their own incarceration.

Bahai’s in Iran are not permitted to attend university, their business are forced to close. They are not even permitted to bury their dead. The corrupt Islamic clergy confiscate any meager sums of money the Bahai’s possess and use the money for their own selfish use. In the past few weeks 44 more innocent Bahai’s have been arrested under false charges. Many disappear into the prison system and their families are not informed of the whereabouts nor are the the prisoners given any medications. Anyone going to the prison to search for their loved one are also unlawfully arrested and detained!

July 17, 2022 , editor , Leave a comment


On July 13, three Baha’i individuals, Sholeh Shahidi and her two sons Faran and Shayan Senai, were arrested in Bojnurd, North Khorasan Province. The agents searched their house and confiscated some of their personal belongings.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, on July 13, 2022, Baha’i individuals, Sholeh Shahidi and her two sons Faran and Shayan Senai were arrested and transferred to an unidentified location.

An informed source told HRANA that another Baha’i citizen’s house, whose identity remains unknown, has also been searched and some of her belongings have been confiscated.

The reason for these arrests, the charges and the individuals’ whereabouts are unknown so far.

Freedom of religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations Covenant holds that every person has the right to practice religion freely, freedom of converting to a religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively, openly or secretly.

Posted in ArrestArrestsBojnordBojnurd.

Her Crime? She is a Baha’i ! She is scheduled to serve a two year sentence.

Baha’i Children’s Rights Activist Samin Ehsani Imprisoned

June 17, 2022 , editor , Leave a comment


On Wednesday, June 15, 2022, Baha’i children’s rights activist Samin Ehsani was arrested and taken to Evin Prison to serve a five-year sentence.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, Baha’i children’s rights activist Samin Ehsani was taken to Evin Prison for sentencing.

Earlier, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced Ehsani to five years in prison on the charges of “propaganda against the regime”, and “membership in the heretical Baha’i sect”. The verdict was issued on July 1, 2012. The verdict was upheld on appeal.

Samin Ehsani has been active in running educational courses for Afghan children who do not have access to education in Iran. During the trial, her activities were presented as an example of the charges.

Freedom of religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations Covenant holds that every person has the right to practice religion freely, freedom of converting to a religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively, openly or secretly.

After Six-Year Trial, 26 Baha’is Sentenced To Prison In Iran

June 14, 2022 , editor , Leave a comment


Ardeshir Tayebi

The group of 26 Iranian Baha’is were sentenced to 85 years in prison altogether.

A court in Iran has sentenced 26 followers of the Baha’i faith to prison terms ranging from two to five years, as well as other measures, on charges of “conspiracy to disrupt internal and external security” in what the religion’s leaders say is another sign of the persecution they face.

According to reports received by Radio Farda, the verdict issued by the Revolutionary Court of the southern city of Shiraz is related to a series of arrests of Baha’is in Shiraz between July 2016 and December 2016.

Several unspecified problems in the case had drawn the proceedings out for six years.

Five men and six women were handed five-year prison sentences, and will also be subject to various travel restrictions once they are free.

In addition, nine women and six men received two-year prison sentences, as well as travel restrictions upon release.

The Baha’i International Community has repeatedly rejected the charges, calling them completely “baseless” and prompted solely because of their religious beliefs and activities.

Baha’is — who number some 300,000 in Iran and have an estimated 5 million followers worldwide — say they face systematic persecution in Iran, where their faith is not officially recognized in the constitution.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has on several occasions called the Baha’i faith a cult and in a religious fatwa issued in 2018 forbade contact, including business dealings, with followers of the faith.

Since the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979, hundreds of Baha’is have been arrested and jailed for their beliefs. At least 200 have been executed or were arrested and never heard from again.

Thousands more have been banned from receiving higher education or had their property confiscated, while vandals often desecrate Baha’i cemeteries.

New Details Emerge on Shock Arrest of Baha’i Designer

September 5, 2021 , editor , 1 Comment


Maryam Dehkordi

On Wednesday, September 1, Arsalan Yazdani, a Baha’i citizen living in Tehran, was arrested by security agents and taken to an unknown location. His wife Samira Ebrahimi has told IranWire about the shocking violation of their rights as Baha’i citizens in the course of the arrest, which also led her to suspect security agents had previously burgled their home. Arsalan Yazdani’s whereabouts, and his condition, are currently unknown.


Samira Ebrahimi is panic-stricken. Her concerns have only intensified in the period between the arrest of her husband, Arsalan Yazdani, this week and the time of writing; she still has no idea where he is or if he’s alright. Her efforts to obtain any information on his case have so far come to nothing.

“On Wednesday, September 1, 2021,” she said, “at about 11.45 am, they knocked on our door. When my son and I went to open it, a female officer in chador called my name. When I confirmed I was Samira Ebrahimi, she forced her way into our house and said there was a complaint against me. This wasn’t true; there was no complaint against me. And Arsalan has never been arrested or summoned before.”

A large number of officers then swarmed into the house, turning it upside down and detaining her husband. “Behind two female agents, eight male ones entered the house. They showed an arrest warrant for Arsalan and said that they intended to search the house. In addition to my husband’s stuff, my husband’s workplace, they went through the safe in our apartment and our car.

“We have two children, aged 12 and six. I asked the officers not to begin searching the house until my father-in-law came to pick them up. When I insisted, an officer approached me and told me loudly: ‘You’re abusing our kindness!’ Eventually, they began their search inside one of the rooms.”

In the aftermath of Arsalan Yazdani’s arrest, some social media users claimed the officers were armed. Ebrahimi isn’t sure where this came from: “I don’t know if the officers were armed or not. If they did have weapons, they didn’t use them or show them to us.”

Yazdani’s father came to the Baha’i couple’s house to take the children away. When he saw the situation, Ebrahimi says, he got very stressed: “My father-in-law was so weak I suggested a car be called for him to take the children home. An officer who seemed more violent than the rest said one of them would accompany him.”

The officers confiscated many of her husband’s personal possessions. Throughout the search they never specified which institution had sent them. Ebrahimi says she and her husband were not even allowed to see the arrest warrant or informed of the details: “We don’t know at all why Arsalan was arrested. Even on the insistence of my son, they only said they had ‘a few questions’ for him because of his job.

“They only said the [official] reason for Arsalan’s arrest was ‘acting against national security’, ‘propaganda against the regime’, and ‘forming communities against national security’. Of course, they added that there were other things that would be explained to him later.

“Aside from my husband’s laptop, they took his mobile phone, the books and all the religious pictures in the house. Despite the fact that my name was not on the warrant and no arrest warrant had been issued for me, my mobile phone and iPad, and my son’s mobile phone and laptop, were also taken.”

The search of Arsalan Yazdani’s home lasted until around 2pm, after which officers took him to inspect his workplace. In addition to the 10 officers who entered the apartment, another team had been stationed outside the building, and a third team took him away.

“My husband is a graphic designer and he had rented a room in a building to work in,” she said. “At the moment, due to the spread of the coronavirus, he was only going there for business appointments and generally worked from home. He explained as much to the officers, but they said they needed to see it.”

Samira Ebrahimi then received an email on Thursday, September 2, informing her that all the information on her personal pages had been downloaded and her email password had been changed: “This is a clear violation of privacy. Why should all my personal account information, along with my family photos, be available to officers without permission?”

She went to the prosecutor’s office to follow up on her husband’s case. But the office turned out to be closed on Thursdays. A lawyer the family consulted told them nothing would be done until at least Saturday. “We don’t even know where the detention facility is. It’s only based on the experiences of mutual friends, who have already been detained, that we think it’s likely he has been detained by the Ministry of Intelligence.”

For years before Arsalan Yazdani’s arrest, the family had received a variety of threats from the security forces because they were Baha’is. They have also mysteriously been stolen from five times in a single year. “Our house was burgled once, our car three times, and once my husband was extorted and they took his mobile phone,” Ebrahimi says. “But now that I think about it, the theft of our house on August 7 last year was very suspicious.

“Surprisingly, they didn’t take the dollars or the Parsian gold coin that were in the house; just my husband’s laptop and some jewelry. Yesterday, I mentioned to the agents searching the house that we didn’t own anything of great value, and that we’d been robbed before. They said they were aware of that. I was shocked. ‘Perhaps it was your job?’ I said. They replied, ‘You accuse people that easily?’. I pointed out they were making baseless accusations against my husband.

“I can’t say with certainty the robbery was part of the campaign of pressure against Baha’is, but the attitude of the agents reinforced that theory.”

The arbitrary detention of Baha’i citizens is part of a decades-long drive by the Islamic Republic to marginalize this religious minority group. Last week, the Baha’i International Community published an open letter urging the international community not to remain silent over the Iranian regime’s blatant abuse of Baha’is.

August 27, 2021 , editor , Leave a comment


As the Iranian authorities move to confiscate properties belonging to six Baha’is in the province of Semnan, a fresh wave of attacks on businesses is being unleashed on the Baha’is of Iran. The Baha’i International Community (BIC) has submitted formal letters of concern United Nations Special Rapporteurs on this development, calling on the UN and other international actors to engage with Iran’s government to ensure Baha’is are not further dispossessed of their properties.

In the past four decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Islamic Republic has repeatedly used confiscation of property as an additional means of marginalizing Baha’is. Recently the judiciary published a notice on its website informing six Baha’i property owners in Semnan of an imminent seizure. It followed a co-ordinated series of raids on Baha’i-owned properties across Iran by security forces in November 2020.

Then February 2021, IranWire reported on the confiscation of no fewer than 27 homes owned by Baha’is in the village of Ivel in Mazandaran province. A special court in Mazandaran, and subsequently the Court of Appeal, ruled that the confiscation of these homes by the Headquarters of Imam’s Directive (Setad), a parastatal foundation under the control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, were entirely legal.

Notices served on Baha’is who have been dispossessed generally state that the properties have been confiscated because they belonged to “Baha’i institutions”. In fact, during the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, all the real Baha’i institutions were promptly shut down and formally dissolved in 1983. Consequently, the BIC’s communiqué emphasizes, “no properties currently belong to Baha’i institutions in Iran”: they are all personal homes and commercial premises.

According to the judiciary’s notice, the confiscated properties in Semnan will also be handed over to Setad. The BIC points out that these confiscations are justified by a “discriminatory interpretation of Article 49” of the Iranian Constitution, which states: “The government has the responsibility to confiscate all wealth accumulated through usury, usurpation, bribery, embezzlement, theft, gambling, misuse of endowments, misuse of government contracts and transactions, the sale of uncultivated lands and other resources subject to public ownership, the operation of centers of corruption, and other illicit means and sources, and restoring it to its legitimate owner; if no such owner can be identified, it must be entrusted to the public treasury.”

This article was not meant to be used as a justification to persecute people for their religious beliefs – nor to enrich the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic personally. The BIC writes: “Semnan has previously been used as a ‘laboratory’ by the authorities to execute systematic campaigns of persecution against the Baha’is in Iran. Attacks on Baha’is in Semnan have been notable for their particular intensity, for the mobilization and coordination of official and unofficial elements including police, courts, local authorities and the clergy, and for persecution ranging from hate speech to economic strangulation, arrests and physical attacks.”

Tehran Court of Appeals Upholds Conviction of Baha’i Citizens Abbas Taif and Ataullah Zafar

August 30, 2021 , editor , Leave a comment


Translation by Iran Press Watch

HRANA News Agency – Branch 26 of the Tehran Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Abbas Taif and Ataullah Zafar, Baha’i citizens. These citizens had previously been sentenced by the Tehran Revolutionary Court to a one-year prison term.

The verdict, issued on 6 July 2021 by Branch 26 of the Tehran Court of Appeals, presided over by Judge Seyed Ahmad Zargar and Counselor Abbas Ali Hozan, upheld the original sentence handed down by the Tehran Revolutionary Court. These citizens were each charged with and convicted on “acting against national security through the administration and active activity in the organization of the Baha’i sect”.

Abbas Taif and Ataullah Zafar were arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents on 27 September 2019.  At the time of the arrest, officers searched the house, confiscated some of their personal belongings and took them with them. Abbas Taif was released from Evin Prison on 25 November 2019, and Ataullah Zafar in October of the same year, on bail, until the end of the trial.

According to unofficial sources, there are more than 300,000 Baha’is in Iran, but Iran’s constitution only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism and does not recognize the Baha’i faith. For this reason, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated over past years.

Baha’i Groom Returned to Jail Three Days After His Wedding

August 26, 2020 , editor , Leave a comment


Kian Sabeti

He was born in the 1980s, in prison, because his mother was a Baha’i. He was denied a university education because he believed in a religion the rulers of Iran consider “forbidden”. He was sent to prison for the first time when he was 23, and he was 32 years old when he married while on a five-day leave of absence.

This is the story of Ardeshir Fanaian, a young Baha’i in Iran who was not even allowed to attend his father’s funeral, but still hopes for a future in which nobody is harassed because of their faith.

On August 18, after a five-day leave of absence, Ardeshir Fanaian returned to Semnan Prison to serve the remaining 4.5 years of his sentence.

His earlier requests for furlough had all been denied. But finally, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Fanaian was granted this brief taste of freedom from August 13 to 18. During these five days, a pivotal event in his life took place: on August 16, he married his beloved, Golrokh Firouzian.

When the five days were up, the young Baha’i couple asked for just a few more days together. But Semnan’s Intelligence Bureau rejected their request and the groom returned to prison.

Born in Prison, Arrested at 23

Fanaian was born on December 9, 1988 in Semnan Prison. His parents were arrested in 1983 on the charge of being members of the Baha’i Community Council of Mehdi Shahr (formerly Sangsar), a city in Semnan province. They, and other arrested Baha’is, were held in Semnan Prison for six months and were then transferred to Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Mohammad Ali Fanaian, Ardeshir Fanaian’s father, was first sentenced to death but, after three years, he was released from Evin Prison without a specific court ruling. His mother, Rezvanieh Jazbani, was sentenced to death twice but the last court of appeals reduced her sentence to 10 years in prison. After four years, Rezvanieh was transferred back to Semnan Prison.

In early 1989, the government of the Islamic Republic ordered the release of a number of imprisoned Baha’is. After five years in prison, Rezvanieh Jazbani and her three-month-old baby son were free.

Fanaian went through his primary and secondary education in Semnan but, after receiving his high school diploma, he was unable to go to college. Baha’is in Iran have been barred from entering higher education for four decades. This prohibition was passed into law on February 25, 1991, by the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution. If Baha’is are caught being admitted into universities, they are expelled.

Instead, Fanaian continued his higher education in civil engineering at the underground virtual Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) until he was arrested, for the first time, in 2012.

Betrothed Couple Arrested on the Same Day

On the morning of February 15, 2012, agents from Semnan’s Intelligence Bureau raided Fanaian’s family home, arrested him, ransacked the house and confiscated his computer and all the religious books and pictures that they could find.

On the same day, Golrokh Firouzian, Fanaian’s future bride, and her sister Shidrokh were arrested at their home as well. The two sisters were physically injured during their brutal interrogations by Mohammad Reza Hashemian, an agent of the Intelligence Bureau. Their father Hazhir Firouzian lodged a complaint but, as a result, he himself was sentenced to 40 days for “libeling a government agent” and served his sentence in 2013.

Ardeshir Fanaian was released on bail on April 20, 2012. In August of the following year, Semnan’s Revolutionary Court tried these three young Baha’is on the charge of “proselytizing Baha’ism”. The court sentenced Ardeshir to one year in prison and Golrokh and Shidrokh Firouzian to nine months each.

Three months later, on December 28, 2013, the court of appeal reduced Fanaian’s sentence to eight months and those of the two sisters to six months each. Two weeks later, on January 12, 2014, prison agents abruptly arrested Fanaian without a summons at a bank and took him to Semnan Prison to begin serving his sentence.

Six months later, in June 2014, taking into account the two months that he had already been held under arrest, Fanaian was released from prison.

Arrested a Days After Release

Just a few days after his release, Ardeshir was arrested once again by the order of Judge Zamani. As part of his release, he was forced sign a pledge that he would enter compulsory military service. But Semnan Military Draft officials then told his family that the law for arresting absent draftees had been revoked several years earlier, and Fanaian and a number other Baha’is in Semnan had been arrested on the orders of “another authority”: meaning the Intelligence Ministry.

In early 2015, Fanaian began his military service. But a few months later, the government included a clause in its budget for the year which levied a fine on draftees who have been absent for more than eight years. These people could pay the fine and in exchange, be exempted from the military service. Fanaian paid up and came back to Semnan.

From Harassment to Arrest – Again

On exiting the military, Fanaian took a few different jobs to make a living. But his main source of income was translation from English. In the years that followed, he was repeatedly threatened on the phone by security agents or by unknown callers. He also received text messages on the same theme, with one reading: We are closer to you than the vein in your neck. Be careful what you do!”

On one occasion a threatening note was thrown through the air vent into his room and, on another occasion, all of his paperwork was stolen from inside his car.

Eventually the threats became a reality. At 7am on April 30, 2019, agents of Semnan’s Intelligence Bureau, posing as workers from the water company, rang the doorbell of the Fanaian family home. When Ardeshir’s brother opened the door, masked agents rushed inside and made straight for Ardeshir’s room to arrest him while he was still asleep. They were at the house for an hour, confiscating Fanaian’s personal items, books, pictures, and anything with any connection to the Baha’i faith, before taking Fanaian away.

On the same day in Semnan, two other young Baha’is by the name of Behnam Eskandarian and Yalda Firouzian were also arrested. Ardeshir Fanaian’s arrest took place at a time when the family were still in a state of shock over the loss of his mother, Rezvanieh, who had been killed a few months earlier in a traffic collision.

Pushing for the Forced Exile of the Baha’is

An Iranian Baha’i told IranWire that the principal motive behind the Intelligence Bureau’s abuse of Ardeshir Fanaian is to force him to leave Semnan. The verdict of the lower court, which sentenced him to two years in exile, appears to confirm this.

“For more than 10 years Semnan has been one of the main centers of harassment against the Baha’is,” the source said. “Most of the Baha’is in this city have experienced imprisonment. For the past few years nobody has been conducting any business with us because of the threats of the Intelligence Bureau. Baha’is are eihter unemployed or do temping jobs, or work hidden from public view. Many of the men of the families have to go to neighboring provinces to work. In the past few years, pressures here have forced many Baha’i families, especially the young ones, to migrate to other cities to make a living.”

Despite all of these difficulties, Ardeshir Fanaian was among the young Baha’is who had tried to stay on in Semnan. According to a relative, he tried his best to be helpful and spent a good amount of time teaching mathematics and other subjects to local children and adolescents. Although many of their relatives live in Norway and the US, and always encouraged him to emigrate from Iran, he reportedly always answered that he loved his country and preferred to remain in Iran and serve its people.

Losing a Father While Behind Bars

After his last arrest, Fanaian spent 75 days in solitary confinement and was then transferred to Semnan Prison. For several months he was denied the right to receive visits from his family or even speak to them on the phone. The only time that he was allowed to meet them was after his father was taken to hospital.

In early June, Fanaian’s father had been hospitalized due to kidney disease. “After the death of his mother, Ardeshir took care of his father,” says an acquaintance. “But after he was sent to prison, his father’s health had deteriorated. His family called the prison and asked them to allow Ardeshir to visit his father. Intelligence agents took him [to the hospital] twice, under guard.”

But on the second visit, Fanaian’s father passed away minutes before their arrival. The Intelligence Bureau did not allow him to attend the funeral.

Long-Term Prison Sentences for Young Baha’is

After Fanaian’s last arrest, agents of the Intelligence Ministry arrested one of his neighbours and her 15-year-old son, and pressured them into signing a statement against him. Their names are listed in the indictment signed by Reza Zamani, Semnan’s assistant prosecutor.

According to this indictment, a copy of which has been seen by IranWire, the three arrested Baha’is were charged with the following crimes: “Membership in an association, known as the deviate Baha’i sect, that acts against the national security of the Islamic Republic (Article 499, Book 5 of the Islamic Penal Code), participation in creating and the management of an illegal group inside the country with the aim of harming national security (Article 498, Book 5 of the Islamic Penal Code) and participation in activities against the sacred system of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Article 500, Book 5 of the Islamic Penal Code.”

Evidence cited to support these charges included their setting up “consulting groups” among the members through two WhatsApp groups, nicknamed “Pears” and “Amazon Jungle Travelers”. The indictment also said they had been organizing and holding memorial services for the Baha’is executed in the 1980s, and had obtained “a printer set up to reproduce pamphlets.”

Based on this shoddy indictment, Branch 1 of Semnan Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Mohammad Ali Rostami, sentenced Ardeshir Fanaian, the prime defendant in the case, to 10 years in prison. And because of his previous record, the judge also sentenced him to one year of exile, to be spent in the arid city of Khash in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan.

In late 2019, a month after the trial at the lower court, Branch 2 of Semnan Revolutionary Court of Appeal, presided by Judge Mohammad Ghasem Einolkamali, took up the case of these three young Baha’is. Here Fanaian’s sentence was reduced to six years.

Ardeshir Fanaian and his co-defendant Behnam Eskandarian have been in prison for more than 15 months. Their families say that the morale of these two young men is high and they still hope for a future in which nobody is punished for their beliefs, and no young groom has to spend his honeymoon inside a prison cell.

Posted in prisonSemnan.