Translation by Iran Press Watch
HRANA News Agency – Faramarz (Hooshang) Sabetrasekhi, a Baha’i citizen of Karaj, has been detained and transferred to prison.
According to HRANA, the news organization of Human Rights Activists in Iran, January 15, 2018, Faramarz (Hooshang) Sabetrasekhi, a Baha’i living in Karaj, was arrested and sent to prison by the Law Enforcement Office of the Governmental Sanctions Court of Alborz province. The arrest occurred when Mr. Sabetrasekhi appeared at the court, with his business associates and attorney, in attempt to inquire about payment of a 50 million touman fine ($15,000) which resulted following the unjustified forced closure and seal of his place of business, in November 2016, by government oversight officials. Upon his appearance, Mr. Sabetrasekhi was subjected to mistreatment by employees of the court and arrested.
Mr. Sabetrasekhi’s business has remained closed since November 2016; he and his business associates have not had the means to raise the funds to pay the fine.
A source informed of Mr. Sabetrasekhi’s situation, told the HRANA the following:
“In November 2016 ‘Negah Glasses’, the place of business of partners Iraj Sabetrasekhi, Houshang Sabetrasekhi and Ashkan Yousefi, located on the Second Fardis Circle in Karaj, along with more than thirty other businesses belonging to other Baha’i compatriots, was shut down by various governmental oversight officers with various excuses.”
“The business unit of Mr. Sabetrasekhi, with about 31 years of experience and a stellar reputation and no wrongdoings over the course of 31 years, was shut down and sealed in November of 2016, by the Office of Governmental Sanctions of Alborz Province. This, while Article 62, Paragraph A, B, and C of the Sanctions Law on smuggling of contraband states that the shutting down of the trade unit is illegal for the first offense and even for the second offense within a period of one year, even if the crime has been proven by the appropriate court, it is still illegal (to shut down the business). Considering that the (above) business unit was not a wholesale store, but was instead a retail business, and all of the goods at the place of business had a distinct price tag, and associated invoice from domestic suppliers, the incident of business closures are indicative of the existence of a setup.”
“Over the past year, invoices, which all were issued by domestic companies, were provided to the court. However, after about a year and a half of forced closure of the business with an inventory of 850 glasses frames, where all accompanying domestic purchasing receipts had already been provided (to the court), and although the owners were not even the importers of the goods, and contrary to Article 62, Paragraph C which states: ‘if the owner of the business unit has committed three violations within a year, only upon committing the third violation and after being proven guilty in the court, the place of business can be shut down for only 6 months’, the court unjustly ordered them to pay a fine of 50 million toumans. This verdict was confirmed in the Appeals Branch of the Sanctions Court of the Province of Alborz.”
Regarding the arrest of Mr. Sabetrasekhi, this source told HRANA, “Over the past year, Mr. Iraj Sabetrasekhi and Mr. Ashkan Yousefi, as business partners, have been in difficult economic situation along with their families, due to the closure of their business. The illegal nature of the court proceedings has been brought to the attention of the authorities of the province and the country, but unfortunately no response has been issued. January 15, 2018, with only five more days until the due date of the imposed fine, Mr. Houshang Sabetrasekhi as the business manager, and Mr. Ashkan Yousefi as his business partner, along with their attorney went to the office of Implementation of governmental sanctions to inquire about the method of payments of the fine, where they encountered harsh behavior of the authorities, and Mr. Faramrz Sabetrasekhi was detained due to his inability to pay the heavy fine imposed by the court.”
It should be noted that three members of the family of Mr. Sabetrasekhi were executed by the Iranian government during the early years of the revolution, due to their religious beliefs as Baha’is, including his brother, uncle and brother-in-law.
After the execution of the family members of Mr. Sabetrasekhi in the village of Fereydoun in the vicinity of Isfahan due to being Baha’i, all his family’s properties were confiscated by the Iranian government and he was ultimately forced to leave due to the threat to his life.
It has been an established method, particularly in recent years, to prevent Baha’is from engaging in economic activity as a force leveraged against the followers of this religious minority. Forced business closures continues to be used by law enforcement and security agencies.