[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]

 

[Adapted from website:] Cheragh-e Bidari

[Date:] 11 Azar 1387 [1 December 2008]

 

Arrest of Baha’is in Qaemshahr and Sari

In less than a week, three other members of the Baha’i community, Masoud Ataeian, Soheila Motallabi, and Anvar Moslemi, were arrested in Qaemshahr and Sari and were sent to the Intelligence Detention Centre.

Masoud Ataeian, a member of the Baha’i community in Qaemshahr, was arrested on 17 November 2008.

On 27 Aban 1387 [17 November 2008], a person named Movahhed, who, for many years, has been directing the torment and persecution of the Baha’is in the Sari Intelligence Office, went to his [Masoud Ataeian] house with four other people without a prosecutor’s warrant. While tearing up religious photos, they confiscated all religious books, writings, papers and computers, and took Masoud Ataeian along with them. His family did not hear from him for two weeks.

Since the beginning of this year, when six members of the Baha’i community were arrested, the Baha’is of Mazandaran have also come under increasing pressure, and it appears that the Iranian government has put infringement upon the rights of Baha’is on its national and local level agendas.

At the local level, large-scale arrests were made in areas with larger Baha’i populations, such as Sari, Qaemshahr, Shiraz, and Isfahan.

In Qaemshahr, Simin Gorji is currently awaiting a court ruling after spending six months in detention.

Ali Ahmadi is currently serving a nine-month sentence in Qaemshahr Prison, after which he will be exiled to the City of Khalkhal in Ardabil Province, for one year.

Changiz Derakhshan was another detainee, who has now been released after serving six months in prison.

Arrests continue in the City of Sari. Less than a week after the arrest of Masoud Ataeian in Qaemshahr, Soheila Motallabi and Anvar Moslemi were arrested in Sari and sent to an Intelligence detention centre. Tarazollah Allahverdi and Sonia Tebyanian, who were arrested in late Aban 1387 [mid-November 2008], were transferred to the Sari Intelligence Office and are at the disposal of Movahhed, the head of the office. Foad Naimi has been serving a 30-month sentence in Sari Prison since last year, after which he will be exiled to Eghlid Fars for two years. Siamak Ebrahimi from Tonekabon, after being interrogated at the Sari Intelligence Office by Movahhed, is currently serving a six-month prison sentence in Tonekabon, Mazandaran, before being exiled to Zabul for two years. In Shiraz, 54 Baha’i youth were arrested for participating in charity work, three of whom remain in prison. In addition to the arrests, other local measures include the destruction of the Baha’i cemetery.

In Qaemshahr and Isfahan, bulldozers overturned graves and hundreds of trees were cut down. In some Iranian cities, Baha’i homes were set on fire. Baha’i girls were attacked on the streets in Isfahan, and even in Farvardin of this year [April], some self-proclaimed soldiers of Imam-i-Zaman[1] tried to pour petrol on a Baha’i in the street and set him on fire in Shiraz.

At the national level, various plans are being designed and implemented, such as spreading lies and widespread propaganda against this minority in the newspapers, refusing to issue business licences and closing Baha’i shops, and spreading torment and persecution in schools. In the last two months alone (since the beginning of October), about 60 articles, stories and news items have been published on IRNA, Kayhan, Fars News, ISNA, Raja News, Etemad, Tabnak, Kargozaran, etc., against the Baha’i minority. This year, after nearly 30 years of deprivation of university education and continuous pursuit of the international community, the project of expelling Baha’i students who were able to enter the university in 1384-1385 [2005-2006], was also completed.

Other achievements of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s government include collecting scrolls against Baha’is during Friday prayers to incite the masses against this minority, as well as establishing a new, coherent administrative mechanism called the “Minorities Committee” to control and impose more restrictions.

 

 

[1] [Imam-i-Zaman:  The Lord of the Age]