Arrest of a Young Baha’i Couple in Qaemshahr

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Source: iranwire.com

Kian Sabeti

Translation by Iran Press Watch

Baha’i couple Saman Shirvani and Faraneh Mansouri: on 23 January 2020 they were taken to an unknown location by Intelligence agents of the Revolutionary Guard.
Baha’i couple Saman Shirvani and Faraneh Mansouri: on 23 January 2020 they were taken to an unknown location by Intelligence agents of the Revolutionary Guard.

According to a news release from IranWire, on Thursday, 23 January, a Baha’i couple living in Qaemshahr, Saman Shirvani and Faraneh Mansouri, who had been visiting friends, were detained by intelligence agents of the Revolutionary Guard and taken to an unknown location. Up to the time of this publication, there has been no information on the whereabouts of this Baha’i couple.

“On Thursday, Saman and Faraneh had gone to the home of an old friend, when all of a sudden, around 10:30 in the morning, security agents jumped over the fence and stormed the house, and issued a warrant for their arrest,” a source told IranWire. Upon entrance, the agents begin filming the house and those present.  After an hour of searching the home and recording, they confiscated some personal items such as computers, laptops, hard drives, and cell phones, and arrested Saman Shirvani and his wife, Faraneh Mansouri, as well as the landlord.” The landlord was released after several hours of interrogation, but there is no word on Saman and Faraneh.

According to this Baha’i citizen, the agents, along with Saman Shirvani, went to Saman’s house and inspected the house. Since no one but Saman was present during the search of the house, it is unclear what items were taken from their home.

According to this person, they had probably been under surveillance by security forces on Thursday morning, so that they could be arrested at the appropriate time. After their stay at their friend’s house took longer than expected, the agents took the opportunity to storm the friend’s residence and arrest them.

In recent years, dozens of Baha’is living in Qaemshahr have been arrested and sentenced to short or long prison terms, on charges such as propaganda against the system, membership or administration of the Baha’i organization and acting against national security.

The latest of these convictions is the confirmation of the 11-year sentence of Ali Ahmadi, a Baha’i citizen of Qaemshahr, by the Second Branch of the Court of Appeals of Mazandaran Province. In December, this Baha’i citizen was sentenced to eleven years in prison by a lower court on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “administration of the Baha’i organization.” These charges were confirmed exactly as per the original sentence in the court of appeals.

Also, on November 26, another Baha’i resident of Qaemshahr, Farideh Ahmadzadeh (Fada’i), was tried and sentenced to six months imprisonment in the Qaemshahr Revolutionary Court for propaganda against the regime.

Other arrests include the arrest and conviction of another Baha’i resident of Qaemshahr, Soheil Haghdoost, last year. This Baha’i citizen was sentenced to one year in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime. Later, the lower court’s 11 month prison sentence was reduced to four months. The execution of his sentence was suspended in December of last year on the approaching occasion of Islamic Revolution Day (February 11th). Soheil Haghdoost was arrested on July 25, 2017 for disclosing information about the forced closure and sealing of his business and that of other Baha’i citizens in Mazandaran province and his pursuit of the forced closures within the judiciary system. He was prosecuted and released on bail of 200 million tomans (approx. $2,375) after four days. The lower court ruled that his disclosure of information about his business closure was considered propaganda against the regime, and determined the sentence accordingly.

The Baha’i Faith is not recognized as an official religious minority in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. For this reason, over the past forty years, the rights of Baha’i citizens have been consistently and systematically violated, the latest being the failure to issue a national identification card to Baha’is. Baha’is, like other Iranian citizens, nevertheless pay taxes and are required to perform military service.

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