Editor’s Note: The following report was written by one of the Baha’is of Shiraz, who was aware that Mrs. Haleh Hooshmandi-Salehi was summoned by Iranian government authorities on Monday. They told her to go home and that they would call when she was needed. They called on Tuesday and ordered her to appear before them yesterday, Wednesday March 18. They arrested and imprisoned her when she came to their offices. Yesterday was the last day before all government offices close for Naw-Ruz (the Iranian traditional New Year holiday, for which offices may close for as long as 2 weeks). It should be noted that Haleh Salehi was one of the 54 Baha’i youth and young adults who were arrested last year for participation in teaching virtues classes (with no explicit Baha’i religious content, and with the approval of parents) to underprivileged children. She has been serving a one-year suspended sentence.
Report from Shiraz:
On the morning of March 14, agents of the Ministry of Intelligence descended on Mrs. Salehi’s residence. Mr. and Mrs. Salehi were travelling at that time, so they forced, threatened and compelled Mrs. Salehi’s mother (who was house-sitting) to given them the key so they could enter. They confiscated all of books, computer, CDs, and a great deal of personal property, such as birth certificates, national ID cards, passports, and even the young child’s personal items.
They also had an arrest warrant for Haleh Hooshmandi-Salehi. Since the couple was not in Shiraz at that time, it was decided that she would present herself upon our return to the prison building of the Ministry of Intelligence in Shiraz, known as Plock 100.
At the same time, they had gone to the home of Farham Masumi and arrested him. However, he was released later that evening.
When Mr. and Mrs. Salehi returned from their trip, they went to Plock 100 and stated, “As instructed, we are presenting ourselves.” The authorities responded, “Return home and we will be in touch.”
They contacted the Salehis on March 17 and asked that Mrs. Salehi to appear at 8 a.m. the next morning at the prison facility of the Ministry of Intelligence.
On Wednesday, March 18, they returned to the prison building and saw that Mr. Farham Masumi had also been summoned as well. The officer that came by the door to take the two Baha’is inside [i.e. Mr. Masumi and Mrs. Salehi] stated, “They will come home by this evening.” However, when Mr. Salehi went back that afternoon, he was told that they would come home the next morning.
This morning [March 19, 2009], the family was told, “For now they are to remain here. If there is any news, or they are permitted to meet with you, or there are other matters, they will themselves call.”
When Mr. Salehi inquired about the charges against the incarcerated believers, the answer was, “They have been arrested for illegal activities.” When he further asked for details about these “illegal activities”, the authorities had no information and only responded, “You must go to the Information Office of the Ministry of Intelligence on Zand Avenue and ask.”
It is interesting to note that a few minutes earlier, the authorities had said to Mrs. Karami, whose husband has been incarcerated for about a month, “Whatever the Information Office tells you has no authority. You must come to us for information.”
It should be explained that Mr. Kayvan Karami was arrested after one of his Muslim friends was detained and charged with “change of belief in the traditional religion”. The Information Office had said to the family of Mr. Karami, “He has been arrested in connection with the arrest of his friend, though the friend has been released on surety.” They then told Mrs. Karami that the charge against Kayvan was something else, though.
When Mr. Salehi contacted the Information Office, they said, “Your wife is a Baha’i, and for now that is sufficient reason for arrest.” They said that if it was necessary, they would call him.