Translation by Iran Press Watch
HRANA News Agency – On Monday, December 27th, 2021, seven Baha’i citizens of Mahshahr, were arrested by security forces. Jamal Afshar, Behzad Afshar, Farideh Farzaneh, Mehran Afshar, Azam Afshar, Kiomars Afshar and Golnoosh Afshar were arrested. Jamal Afshar and Behzad Afshar were transferred to a security detention center in Ahvaz, and the other five were released hours after their arrest. Security forces searched the house at the time of the arrests and confiscated a number of the citizens’ personal belongings.
According to the HRANA news agency, the news organ of the Iranian Association of Human Rights Activists, Jamal Afshar, Behzad Afshar, Farideh Farzaneh, Mehran Afshar, Azam Afshar, Kiomars Afshar and Golnoosh Afshar, Baha’i citizens living in Mahshahr, were arrested by security forces on Monday, December 27th, 2021. Farideh Farzaneh, Mehran Afshar, Azam Afshar, Kiomars Afshar and Golnoosh Afshar were released a few hours later. The following day Jamal Afshar and Behzad Afshar were transferred to a security detention center in Ahvaz and have remained in detention ever since. Security forces searched the house during the arrest and confiscated a number of the citizens’ personal belongings. In addition, Mehran Afshar, Azam Afshar and Golnoosh Afshar were summoned to a security facility the next day and released a few hours later.
Skyler Thompson, head of foreign relations for the Iranian Association of Human Rights Activists comment, “The organization strongly condemns acts of discrimination against religious minorities in Iran. We urge Iran to take concrete steps to ensure that Iranians, especially Baha’i citizens, can enjoy religious freedoms, including the freedom to practice their religion.”
Baha’i citizens in Iran are deprived of their religious freedom, a systematic deprivation that, according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, everyone has the right to freedom of religion and belief; Freedom to express it individually or collectively and in public or in private.
According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.
January 6, 2022 3:11 am
Baha’is know, as does all the world, that when a Baha’i is arrested in Iran it is always because of religion. Anyone would reasonably ask, why not just hide your religion? Why not just deny you are Baha’i? Then you would certainly stay out of prison and live another day to worship quietly and privately as you like. Why not just think what you want but deny you are Baha’i? Why not deny it to avoid prison? -or keep your job? or collect your pension or complete your education? or receive your health care? or keep your business? or hold on to your farm? It is because members of the Baha’i Faith are told to be truthful, and never deny what you believe, even if it costs all those things people hold dear. It is this conduct that Baha’is follow when the Koran says do not fear. Rely on God and be steadfast, as you are bidden. So, if dedication to God and to truthfulness is the high standard set by the Koran and also by the Baha’i Faith, what about the accusers? What about the people searching for books and making arrests? What about the courts? They claim that the Baha’is undermine the government and insult Islam. The accusers know claims are false, and yet those are the charges Baha’is face again and again. And in the many cities of Iran, courts always find the Baha’is to be guilty of these fabricated charges. As the Koran says, “…wherein ye differ, I will decide between you” then who would want to be in the shoes of those accusers of the Baha’is of Mahshahr when that decision comes down?