NEW YORK — 21 July 2022 — More than 20 Baha’is in Shiraz, Tehran, Yazd and Bojnourd, have been arrested, jailed or subjected to home searches and business closures since the beginning of July. Last month 44 Baha’is were arrested, arraigned or imprisoned, suggesting an escalating crisis in the Iranian government’s systematic campaign against the country’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, and the Baha’i International Community (BIC) believes that this month’s cases now confirm the crisis.
“The Baha’is have experienced continuous persecution for their beliefs over the last 44 years,” said Bani Dugal, the BIC’s Principal Representative to the United Nations. “But the present acceleration is beyond troubling: dozens of Baha’is have been arrested or tried or jailed over the last few weeks and there is no end in sight. The warnings that we have been issuing for many months are now coming to pass. Iran’s government must immediately honor its human rights obligations, and their responsibilities to all Iranians, by ceasing this persecution without delay.”
In Yazd, on 20 July, it was reported that Mr Nematollah Shadpour, Mr Nima Shadpour and Mr Shafigh Eslami, were arrested after being summoned to the judicial authorities and taken to an unknown place. The homes and places of business of the three were searched and some personal belongings were confiscated.
In Shiraz, on 19 July, it was reported that Ms Niloufar Hoseini, Ms Bahiyyeh Manavipour [Moeinipour], Mr Misagh Manavipour, Ms Alhan Hashemi and Ms Hanan Hashemi were arrested by the security forces and taken to an unknown place. Agents also searched their homes. The sister of Misagh Manavipour was also summoned by the authorities.
In Tehran, on 16 July, Mrs Haleh Gholami was sent to Evin Prison to serve a two-year prison term after appearing at the Judgment Enforcement Unit of the Evin Prosecutor’s Office. Mrs. Gholami had previously been sentenced to two years in prison under tazir law – at the discretion of the judge – by Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court on the charges of “activity against national security of the country”. The sentence had been appealed but upheld by Branch 26 of the Court of Appeal of Tehran Province.
In Bojnourd, on 13 July, three Baha’is, Mrs Sholeh Shahidi and her two sons Mr Faran Sanaie and Mr Shayan Sanaie were arrested, and their relatives have heard nothing of their whereabouts or situation for almost a week. Agents searched the homes of these Baha’is and some belongings, including religious books, laptops and phones, were confiscated. A fourth Baha’i’s home in Bojnourd was also searched and religious books were seized.
Six Baha’i-owned businesses in Tehran and Karaj were shut down and sealed by the authorities for no apparent reason.
And in recent weeks Baha’is in Arak have been told by the authorities that they are no longer permitted to bury their dead in the city’s Baha’i cemetery.
The BIC also reported last month that some of the Shiraz arrests and sentences – which have condemned 26 people to a combined total of 85 years in prison – would separate children from their parents. Many of the Iranian government’s recent attacks have focused with persistent severity on Baha’is living in Shiraz – including several from the past month.
“The Baha’i Faith began in Shiraz, with the declaration in 1844 by the Bab, one of the founders of the religion,” said Ms Dugal. “Persecuting Baha’is there strikes at the very heart of Baha’i history and identity: indeed one of the first acts of the Islamic Republic in 1979 was to destroy the historic home of the Bab in Shiraz. The Iranian authorities may be using the significance of Shiraz to send a brutal message to the Baha’i community. But whatever their reasons, in Shiraz and across Iran, the government must stop persecuting Baha’is. History will catch up.”