A Baha’i citizen in Tabriz, Sina Shahri, was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents on January 17, at about 1pm, and taken to an unknown location. The agents also searched Shahri’s home and workplace and confiscated personal belongings relating to his religious beliefs.
No other information is available regarding Shahri’s case. He is the fifth Baha’i to have been arrested in the past week. The others, Ali Ahmadi, Saba Sefidi, Samira Ebrahimi and Natoli Derakhshan, were detained in Ghaemshahr, Tehran and Sari. All of them except Samira Ebrahimi are still under arrest.
A court in Mazandaran province, meanwhile, just west of Tabriz, has ordered the confiscation of a Baha’i citizen’s property, citing a “fatwa issued by sources of emulation” [senior Shia clerics] stating that “Baha’i property is illegitimate.”
According to a report published on the HRANA human rights new website, the Special Court of Article 49 of the Constitution, in Mazandaran, confiscated the Baha’i citizen’s property in favor of the Imam’s Executive Command Headquarters.
The Executive Headquarters of Imam Khomeini is a quasi-governmental organization that operates under the control of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and was established in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The body controls thousands of lands and properties confiscated after the 1979 Islamic Revolution from political opponents and others targeted by the new authorities. In 2013, Reuters reported that the value of the headquarters’ assets amounted to $95 billion.
The HRANA report also says that a secret meeting, held in the Mazandaran governor’s office with security officials in September of last year, saw a decision made to put more pressure on the Baha’i religious minority in the province.
Baha’i-owned assets and properties have been confiscated from Iranian Baha’is on many occasions over the past 40 years – in some cases displacing large numbers of families from their ancestral lands.
And in recent days, a letter sent to IranWire detailed the oppression of the Baha’is of the village of Ivel, in Mazandaran. The letter was written by Baha’i villagers to the legal authorities after the confiscation and announcement of the sale of their agricultural lands.