- Iran and human rights: a new landscape
- September 18th, 2012
The Iranian president’s forthcoming visit to the United States is an opportunity to highlight the continued repression under his regime, says Omid Memarian.
In late September 2012, the United Nations in New York will host Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his annual visit as president of Iran – the last such occasion, since the election of June 2013 in Iran will see Ahmadinejad’s successor take office. Much attention will, understandably,focus on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the danger of an armed attack on Iran. But it is important also to register the current conditions inside Iran, including the condition of human rights in the country, an issue that has been relatively neglected since the widepread protests against the declaration of Ahmadinejad’s victory in the election of June 2009. Read Full Story
- Banned from making their mark
- September 10th, 2012
[BWNS, 6 Sep 2012] — In practically any other country of the world, a teenage chess champion, a national judo standout and a talented pianist would be valued as contributors to their society.
- Education Under Fire: Announcing the Fall 2012 Campaign Launch!
- August 28th, 2012
NOW ANNOUNCING THE FALL 2012 CAMPAIGN LAUNCH!
Dear Partners and Friends,
Thanks to each and every one of you, in a few short months, the Education Under Fire campaign has achieved a significant measure of success in the two areas which, according to the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) itself, are of the utmost importance:
1. Raising awareness among as many individuals as possible of the plight of the Iranian Baha’i community and the despicable policies of the Iranian government with regards to higher education.
2. Calling upon the government of Iran to respect the right to education as a universal human right and disallow any discriminatory policy in higher education.
- PETITION: Allow the free practice of the Baha’i Faith in the World
- August 28th, 2012
To: Islamic Republic of IranThere is injustice in the World with the Baha’is. Several have been Tortured and Killed. The inhumane acts of The IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran) will not go unheard of. They believe the Baha’i Faith is not recognized as a Religion and therefore shall not be tolerated. The construction of the Baha’i; Well, except Iran. The Religious and Political situation is too Hostile to ensure a safe and harmless construction. Please help create a world where all belief can be free and made a choice to the people.—
- First They Came for the Bahá’í …
- August 28th, 2012
- A dark picture of religious freedom in Iran
- August 28th, 2012
[BWNS 2 Aug 2012]
- letter by Rayyan Hessami, Faran’s sisteR
- July 31st, 2012
A week had passed, and Artin did not say his mom’s name even once. When I told him on the phone that I am coming from Shiraz to go to visit Faran at Evin prison he said, “No! We will write a letter instead and send it to her!”
We arrived at the Evin prison’s waiting room at 11:30am on July 22nd. We were hoping to get a visit appointment that same day, but were not sure if we could get it. At about 20 minutes to 1 pm we were called to go through the entrance door of the meeting room.
Before that, Artin was holding me tightly and only occasionally lifting up his head from my shoulder and to ask why they had not called our name? (Note that this child is not even 3 years-old yet and even though he is always waiting for his mom, he does not usually mention her name.)
As we approached the door, Artin brought forth his small innocent hand to be stamped to enter the prison, and that was when the wall of my resistance collapsed and I moved into tears.
Mrs. Rahimian (Faran’s mother-in-law) explained to the shocked officer, who was stamping hands, that Artin is used to this from Rajayi-Shahr Prison (where he had gone several times to see his father) and he knows that they are going to stamp the palm of his little hands.
We went in. Faran was amongst the last prisoners who came. She ran towards Artin as if she did not see anyone else in the room except her little son, and Artin pulled out of my embrace and ran to his mom.
I wish I could upload for you that one-hour visit and all the feelings, like a short movie.
It was all tears and kisses and smiles that were exchanged between the mother and her little son. When Faran was trying to put Artin on the table in front of her, to, as she said, see him better, he was tightly attached to his mom like a kitten.
Amongst all our numerous questions and answers to Faran, she and her son were holding and kissing each other. When the kind and smiling officer warned that the time is over, Artin calmly kissed her mom and said goodbye to her, without even the slightest cry. What a great soul there is in that little body that even I, as his aunt, cannot fully comprehend.
Faran is in the same cell with other Bahai imprisoned women. We wish for authorities to agree with her freedom until Kamran (Faran’s husband) serves his four-year imprisonment. This way at least it would be less harmful for Artin.
Faran Hesami, a Bahai citizen who was previously sentenced to four years in prison, was arrested on Sunday, July 15, and transferred to Evin Prison to start serving her sentence.
Hesami was arrested when she went to Evin Prison’s Sentence Enforcement Unit to verify a power of attorney form belonging to her husband, Kamran Rahimian, who is already serving his four-year term at Rajaee Shahr Prison.
On January 3, Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Salavati sentenced the couple who were both lecturers at the Bahai Institute for Higher Education (Bahai Online University), to four years in prison on charges of “membership in the Bahai community,” and “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security.”
- Aziz Samandari jailed in Iran for 5 years
- July 21st, 2012
Aziz Samandari jailed in Iran for 5 years –
Accused of protecting Baha’i students’ right to higher education
Geneva and New Delhi, 17 July 2012 – Aziz Samandari, a 40 year-old Baha’i IT specialist, was arrested on 7 July 2012 in his home in Tehran and is now incarcerated in the sadly notorious Evin prison. The Islamic Revolutionary Court Branch 28 had condemned him to a five-year prison sentence in October 2011 after a 10 minute kangaroo trial, where the only question asked to the accused was whether he belonged to the Baha’i community. The verdict was confirmed by the Court of Appeal of Tehran in February 2012. The very short judgment – which was only read out but not handed over – speaks about the “active membership” of Aziz Samandari “in the misguided Baha’i sect” and his association with the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education. The entire legal process was a mockery of justice violating all aspects of the basic right to a fair trial guaranteed by international treaties ratified by Iran. Read Full Story
- HRANA: Demolition of dam and confiscation of livestock of Bahá’í farmers in Sangesar
- July 7th, 2012
HRANA, Human Rights Activists News Agency – The intelligence ministry of the province of Semnan has been putting pressure on the Bahá’í residents of Dazgareh-Afshar, a neighboring hamlet of Sangesar, over the past few months. According to reporters from HRANA, the news agency of the Association of Human Rights Activists in Iran, pressure has been applied since 2006 to destroy the area and force its residents to evacuate the place. A few years later it became clear that all this pressure has been orchestrated by intelligence ministry agents from Semnan. The pressure has increased in recent months.
The report further adds that over the past few years, security forces destroyed the water supply, cut off electricity, issued warnings from the water department about filling wells which were under construction, and initiated schemes for demolishing residential homes there. Read Full Story
- Imprisoned Baha’i Refused Medical Leave After Surgery
- June 18th, 2012
66-year old Riaz Sobhani, currently in prison for financially assisting the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), was refused medical leave after his recent heart surgery. His son, Naim Sobhani, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that his father was transferred to the hospital for his surgery in chains.
Naim Sobhani told the Campaign that two days after his surgery, his father was transferred back to Rajaee Shahr prison on 27 May, after being denied medical furlough. Read Full Story
- Iran’s calculus of terror includes Syrian response
- June 18th, 2012
- Factory closures highlight economic strangulation of Iran’s Baha’is
- June 18th, 2012
[BWNS, 14 June 2012] — A recent intensification of attacks on Baha’i-owned businesses in Iran further demonstrates the Iranian authorities’ determination to suffocate the economic prospects of the Baha’is of that country, solely on account of their religious beliefs.
- “My Father Was Charged With Helping The Baha’i University”
- June 8th, 2012
[iranhumanrights.org, 13 Oct. 2011] In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Naim Sobhani, son of Riaz Sobhani, an Iranian Baha’i imprisoned at Evin Prison for the past four months on the charge of providing financial assistance to the Baha’i University in Iran, spoke about his father’s case. Naim Sobhani told the Campaign that following his father’s arrest, his bank accounts have been blocked. According to his son, at his 1 October trial, Riaz Sobhani accepted the charge of providing financial assistance to the Baha’i University. “I did not commit a crime. I just helped the young students who are not permitted to get an education by the government,” Riaz Sobhani told the court. Read Full Story
- Children of Arrested Baha’is: “We Have No Recourse”
- June 8th, 2012
[iranhumnrights.org, 2 Nov. 2012] Following the sentencing of seven Baha’is associated with the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, their families’ only hope is that the Appeals Court will change the ruling. They were each sentenced to four or five years in prison and were all transferred from Evin Prison to other prisons several days after the lower court ruling.
Naim Sobhani, son of Riaz Sobhani, who was sentenced to four years in prison by the lower court on the charge of providing financial assistance to the Baha’i University, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that, “We have no recourse other than trying to change the judicial ruling [at the appeals stage]. Even though we know the Judiciary does whatever it wants on an arbitrary basis. We can’t even believe my father was sentenced to four years in prison for no crime or wrongdoing. Only for the reason of having helped the Baha’i University. Our father is very ill and may not last even one year in prison. He has heart problems and is under medical treatment, he also has digestive problems, and his eyesight is weak. He’s an old man after all.” Read Full Story
- The Plight of Iran’s Baha’is
- June 4th, 2012
by KAMIAR ALAEI *
* Arash and Kamiar Alaei, physicians specializing in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, were found guilty in 2009 of “cooperating with an enemy government” and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. Kamiar was conditionally released after spending two and a half years in prison. Arash was granted final release after more than three years in prison.
I spent two and half years of my life unjustly imprisoned in Iran. I’m fortunate I was released in the fall of 2010. But for my former cellmates, members of Iran’s imprisoned Bahá’í leadership group, freedom has proved elusive.
In 2008, my brother, Dr. Arash Alaei, and I were serving sentences in Iran’s notorious Evin prison after being accused of trying to overthrow the government. In reality, we were running a public health program for HIV/AIDS patients and drug addicts. We had been doing this not only with government approval but also government funding. However, the government’s priorities changed, and my brother and I soon found ourselves in prison for doing what had been praised in the past. Read Full Story
- The Epic, Secret Struggle to Educate Iran’s Bahais
- June 2nd, 2012
[chronicle.com, 13 May 2012] By Sohrab Ahmari
- Baha’is in Brampton host meeting
- June 1st, 2012
[bramptonguardian.com, 24 May 2012]A Brampton organization wants Canada to use diplomatic pressure on the Iranian government and help stop the systemic and relentless prosecution of Baha’is, a religious minority group.
The Baha’is of Brampton will hold a public meeting, Friday, May 25 at the Century Gardens Recreation Centre (Room 3) located at 340 Vodden St. at 7:30 p.m. Gerald Filson, director of external affairs for the Baha’i Community of Canada, is the keynote speaker. Read Full Story
- Letter from Bashir Ehsani, a Baha’i student at BIHE.
- June 1st, 2012
I would like to draw your attention to a letter that my friend Bashir Ehsani wrote, upon my request to be read in our Education Under Fire Campaign in the Bay Area, California. Bashir is an education and children’s rights activist. Last year, he was sentenced to two years in prison and three years suspended sentence. He is a member of PCED (Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination) [see here and here] and is a senior at BIHE (Bahai Institute for Higher Eduction) majoring in computer engineering.
Last year, education and children’s rights activist Bashir Ehsani was sentenced to two years in prison and three years suspended sentence. Ehsani is a member of PCED (Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination) and is a senior at BIHE (Bahai Institute for Higher Eduction) majoring in computer engineering. He wrote this letter.
For years, we as Baha’is have been deprived of the right to education as part of our everyday lives. It is as if our foreheads were all branded at birth with a stamp of discrimination.
It has not been uncommon to hear swear words yelled at us in the classrooms, to be expelled from grade schools and universities and to have the word “incomplete”, mysteriously written on our transcripts – a word hundreds of us have heard as the excuse for our expulsion. Read Full Story
- The Bahá’í Threat to Iran’s National Security
- May 31st, 2012
[emadtalisman.com, 31 May 2012, by Emad Talisman] The Islamic Republic of Iran’s (IRI) nuclear ambitions have been the recent focus of both the popular news media and western foreign policy agendas; however, for a great number of Iranians and sympathizers around the world, human rights violations are of primary concern. Specifically, Iran’s largest religious minority, the Bahá’ís, have been persecuted since the inception of their faith 169 years ago. A number of governmental and non-governmental organizations such as theUnited Nations (2011), Amnesty International (2012), and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH; 2010) have voiced their concerns over Iran’s repressive policies towards the Bahá’ís and other minority groups. Numerous petitions, rallies, and non-partisan campaigns such as “United4Iran, “Can You Solve This?” and “Education Under Fire” have been launched all over the world, raising public awareness about the Bahá’í situation. Esteemed individuals and scholars have also spoken out vehemently against Iran’s discriminative policies. For example, Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire has described the systematic victimization of Iran’s Bahá’í community as “ideological genocide” (2011); similarly, Wendi Momen illustrates how the Bahá’í situation in Iran is in a state of “suspended genocide” (2005). To this list of voices we can add the names of Nobel Laureates, thousands of highly qualified academics, leading international lawyers, and artists, but one voice that is often ignored is that of the Iranian government. Indeed, the discourse around the Bahá’í situation has been fiercely one-sided as it has placed Bahá’í rights in either the context of cultural liberty or international standards. Read Full Story
- 17 NGOs Call on Iran to Uphold the Right to Education and Academic Freedom
- May 31st, 2012
[democracyinaction.org] Washington, D.C. – Today 17 non-governmental organizations published a joint statement calling upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to uphold the right to education and immediately address the alarming state of academic freedom in Iran, in particular the violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly on university campuses.
“Each year, hundreds of students are deprived of education because of their religion, belief or social and political activities,” said Puyan Mahmudian, a former student activist and researcher at United for Iran who spent nearly 80 days in solitary confinement for peaceful activism. Read Full Story
- Calls for Iran to uphold right to education intensify
- May 31st, 2012
[BWNS, 31 May 2012] — The Baha’i International Community has joined with 16 other non-governmental organizations to call upon the government of Iran to urgently address the state of higher education in the country.
- New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof to Visit Iran
- May 30th, 2012
[Education Under Fire] New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof is visiting Iran this June and is requesting “themes and topics to ask about” during his time there. He’s not been to Iran for six years and plans to travel the country talking to ordinary people.
Let’s join this conversation. Subscribe to his Facebook page to keep updated, leave brief comments and ‘Like’ others urging him to look into the condition of the Baha’i community in Iran, including, among other things, its imprisoned leaders and educators and young people seeking to educate themselves.
- For What Sin?
- May 29th, 2012
Iran Press Watch received this open letter form an individual. It is translated form its original Persian into English and presented here for general interest. In reading the letter I couldn’t help but thinking of a tree in a meadow.
My words are addressed to you — you who see yourself as the noblest of creation, you who take pride in your status of being called human. My words are addressed to you, who call yourself Iranian, who are an inheritor of a rich and exalted culture. My words are addressed to you, who are proud to believe in the holy Faith of Islam, who follow the Holy Prophet Mohammad. My words are addressed to you, regardless of where you reside on this earth, who observe a variety of beliefs and insist on your system of belief.
I am also a human, of your kind; I am Iranian, your fellow-countryman. I also believe in the One True God, as do you. I also respect that which is held sacred in this world, as you do. Read Full Story
- Report reveals “grim picture” of human rights in Iran
- May 27th, 2012
[BWNS, 27 May 2012] Iran’s human rights record continued to display “many negative trends” last year, according to a US government spokesman.
- Canada Remains Concerned by Iran’s Continued Persecution of Bahá’ís and Other Religious Minorities
- May 26th, 2012
“Canada remains deeply concerned by Iran’s ongoing, persistent and pervasive persecution of religious minorities.
“Today, on the fourth anniversary of the arbitrary arrest and detention of seven Iranian Bahá’í community leaders, we are again reminded of the troubling state of human rights in Iran.
“Iranian authorities continually undermine the right to freedom of religion by tolerating and even encouraging persecution of Baha’is, Christians and members of other minority religious communities. Freedom of religion is a universal human right.
“Canada is a vigorous defender of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law around the world.
“We urge Iran to uphold its international obligations and allow for freedom of religion, and to respect the fundamental rights of its people.”
Tonight, May 14, 2012, members of Parliament from all parties will participate in a debate in the House of Commons on Iran’s horrific human-rights record.
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