Note: This report is provided as a service to news media and others desiring current information about the Baha'is in Iran. All details have been verified by the Baha'i International Community.
Words in italics have been altered or added since the previous update on 16 January 2013.
Since August 2004, some 677 Baha’is have been arrested in Iran. There are about 107 Iranian Baha’is currently in prison because of their religion. To date, the cases of some 550 Baha’is are still active with authorities. These include individuals in prison, those who have been released pending trial, those who have appealed their verdicts, those awaiting notification to begin serving prison sentences, and a few who are serving periods of internal exile.
Thousands more have been deprived of education, questioned, threatened, denied their pensions, or debarred from earning a livelihood.
Most of the detentions follow the familiar pattern of agents of the Ministry of Intelligence showing up at the homes of Baha’is, searching the premises and confiscating items such as computers and books, then arresting the residents.
Last month, 14 homes of Baha’is in Ghorveh, Sanandaj, were raided by government officials. Agents confiscated all Baha’i books, compact discs, computers, and other belongings. They also created problems for school students by taking their textbooks needed for exams during this period. The authorities positioned armed forces at the entrances to all of the homes and in the streets leading to them. Each house was searched by six officials from the police and Ministry of Intelligence.
Recently, a Baha’i man was contacted by Intelligence agents of Sanandaj by phone and told to get into their car. He was then driven around inside and outside of the city, threatened and intimidated. A week earlier, another Baha’i in Sanandaj was treated similarly by intelligence agents who had him get into their car and drove him around the citywhilst interrogating him.
Recently the Baha'i International Community has learned of three instances in which young babies have been imprisoned along with their Baha’i mothers. A five-month-old boy has been incarcerated with his mother in Semnan since 22 September 2012. He has recently been hospitalized outside of the prison suffering from a lung disease caused by unsanitary prison conditions. His mother is serving a 23-month sentence. His father is also behind bars. Another baby - the 10-month-old son of a Semnan woman who is serving a 30-month sentence - contracted an intestinal infection and an ear condition. He was taken out of the prison by his father for tests, was prescribed medication, and is now back in prison with his mother. On 17 December 2012, another Semnan woman was imprisoned with her one-year-old child.
Economic pressure on Iran’s Baha’i community is acute, with both jobs and business licenses being denied to Baha’is. Government jobs, including not only in the civil service but also in such fields as education and law, have been denied to Baha’is since the years immediately following the Revolution and Muslims often are pressured to fire Baha’is in their employment in the private sector.
Recently, the manager at a Baha’i-owned elevator company in Isfahan was summoned by the office of Public Places Supervision Office and threatened to provide a list of all of his employees and their religions as well as a list of all similar Baha’i-owned companies. The office of Public Places Supervision Office in Isfahan has collected the names and addresses of all the Baha’i-owned optometry shops, including a list of their employees and their religions. And a large, Baha’i-owned distributor of hygiene products in Tehran was closed down resulting in 70 employees losing their jobs. The Baha’i owner was threatened against filing complaints.
All shops, except one, owned by the Baha’is in Semnan have been closed down and sealed by the authorities.
On 16 November, the government authorities sealed all Baha’i businesses in Hamadan province. This day in the Muslim calendar marks the anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, Founder of the Baha’i Faith. Some 32 stores and warehouses belonging to Baha’is were sealed by the authorities. Over the following days, the shop-owners were summoned to the Information Office of the Ministry of Intelligence in groups of three each day, and were asked to sign undertakings not to close their shops on Baha’i holy days.
The Baha’i cemetery in Semnan was destroyed by a group of unknown individuals. In October/November 2012, intruders demolished the morgue and in December 2012/January 2013, they covered all the graves 40 centimeters deep in dirt using bulldozers. The municipality whose bulldozers were used for this purpose denied knowledge of the incident and promised to repair the damage.
Governments, organizations and individual supporters around the world are calling for the release of jailed Baha'i leaders and Baha’i educators, and an end to the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran.
On 1 January 2013, the United States Congress called on Iran to release Baha'is imprisoned solely for their religious beliefs. In a resolution, the House of Representatives expressed its condemnation of Iran's "state-sponsored persecution" of Baha'is. See http://news.bahai.org/story/939
On 27 November, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly expressed "deep concern" over "ongoing and recurring" human rights violations in Iran.By a vote of 83 to 31 with 68 abstentions, the Committee called upon Iran to stop such violations, to release prisoners of conscience, and to open its doors to international human rights monitors. See http://news.bahai.org/story/931
Baha’i school children at all school levels continue to be monitored and slandered by officials in schools. Secondary school students often face pressure and harassment, and some have been threatened with expulsion. Religious studies teachers are known to insult and ridicule Baha'i beliefs. In a few reported cases, when Baha'i students attempt to clarify matters at the request of their peers, they are summoned to the school authorities and threatened with expulsion if they continue to "teach" their Faith.
Recently a high school student in Isfahan was severely beaten, verbally assaulted, and his Baha’i beliefs were insulted by his teacher. When he and his family protested, the teacher stated that owing to his previous administrative post at a school in Isfahan, he personally knew members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and security officials and that their complaints would not have any effect.
In December 2012, a physics student at the Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology (KNTU) in Tehran, was expelled for being a Baha’i. He was admitted in 2010/2011 and had already completed 77 credit hours. In October/November 2012, a student of applied mathematics at Rouzbeh University in Behshahr, was expelled. A Baha’i in Kermanshah was prevented from completing her enrolment at university after receiving an “incomplete file” on her test results online. When she pursued the matter, she was told that every student is expelled once it becomes known that she is a Baha’i, but was denied this explanation in writing. Additionally, a fifth semester student of architecture at Tabari University in Babol (Mazandaran), was expelled after being summoned to the Intelligence office at the university where his student ID card was confiscated and his student online account was closed.
Harassment of Baha’is is pervasive and includes many incidents of all of the following: