Monday 16 November 2015 Kian Sabeti
On the morning of Sunday, November 15, Iranian Intelligence Ministry agents carried out the arrest of 20 Baha’is in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad. As part of a massive operation, they also closed down Baha’i-run businesses in the province of Mazandaran.
Among those detained was Nakisa Hajipour, who was detained at Mashhad railway station after Intelligence Ministry agents arrived at her home with an arrest warrant and were told she was traveling. According to an informed source who spoke to IranWire, she was prevented from boarding the train and arrested. Also arrested in Mashhad were Nika Pakzadan, Faraneh Daneshgari, Sanaz Eshaghi and Naghmeh Zabihian. They were also arrested at their homes.
In Isfahan, agents arrested Yeganeh Agahi, Adib Janamian, Keyvan Nikaeen, Parvin Nikaeen, Vahid Karami, Arshia Rouhani and Zarin Agha-Babaee. They also arrested Sahab Rouhani and Matin Janamian, but released them after several hours. In Tehran, agents arrested Helia Moshtagh, Negar Bagheri-Tari, Sahba Farnoush, Nava Monjazeb, Yavar Haghighat and Navid Aghdasi.
Navid Aghdasi is a cousin of Attaollah Rezvani, murdered two years previously in the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas. Navid Aghdasi has actively pursued his cousin’s case and talked to the media about it. As a result, he has been threatened a number of times, including in recent months, when vandals have posted threatening graffiti on the walls of his house.
So far, no information has been made available about the charges against the Baha’is. Their families have not been informed of their whereabouts. According to reports, it is likely that the prisoners have been taken to detention centers run by the Intelligence Ministry in their respective cities.
On the same day of the arrests took place, the Bureau of Public Places in the province of Mazandaran sealed and shut down 23 businesses belonging to Baha’is, including in the cities of Sari, Ghaem Shahr, Tonekabon and Babolsar.
This followed the businesses being closed on Saturday, November 14, a religious holiday for Baha’is. Authorities have in the past objected to Baha’i businesses observing holidays, threatening them with closure if they failed to keep the same business hours as non-Baha’i shops and services.
Two days prior to the closure of Baha’i businesses in Mazandaran, authorities also closed all Baha’i businesses in the city of Rafsanjani in the southeastern province of Kerman. Among the businesses closed were shops selling cosmetics, health products, musical instruments, eyeglasses, clothes, tires and toys, and businesses offering refrigerator maintenance, photography and photocopier services.
Shop and office owners were given no prior notice of the closure or that their business doors had been sealed shut. In some cases, they were not even aware of the operation until some hours later. The town of Babolsar was the only exception, and Baha’i businesses remained open there. The nature of the simultaneous arrests and closure suggests a planned operation, ordered and organized by President Rouhani’s Intelligence Ministry.
According to reports, Baha’i businesses shut down include those belonging to the following individuals:
– Sari: Zekrollah Rahimian, Farid Alavi, Behzad Zabihi and Bozorgmehr Hor (eyeglasses), Ehsanollah Sanaei (cosmetics), Aramesh Zohouri and Houshmand Goli (clothing)
– Ghaem Shahr: Nima Miri and Changiz Darakhshanian (cosmetics and health products), Bijan Nokhah (toys), Zekrollah Babaee (groceries), Soheil Haghdoost and Zahra Golabian (eyeglasses), Farzad Sabeti (tires) and Shahin Sanaei (photocopier services).
– Tonekabon: Omid Ghaderi (home security equipment), Farhad Taghipour, Michele Esmaeelpour and Armin Esmaeelpour (air conditioning) and Ruhollah Ighani (refrigerator repairs).
– Babolsar: Misagh Laghaee (musical instruments), Nasser Mir Mohammadi (photography) and Barzoo Rafati (toys).