In the past month, there have been at least 141 violations of the rights of religious minorities in Iran. A considerable number of violations have been against women.
At least 121 violations of the rights of Baha’i citizens were documented, in addition to 15 cases of violations of Christian rights and 5 cases of violations against Dervishes.
Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
In Iran, however, religious minorities are subjected to targeted violence because their free choice of belief is tantamount to challenging the ruling religious dictatorship.
According to statistics obtained from credible sources, a total of 121 violations of fundamental rights have been committed against Baha’i citizens. These include at least 5 prison sentences, 9 arrests, 34 trials, 26 court summons, 10 house searches, 8 property and asset seizures, and 6 cases of return to prison for non-renewal of leave.
- Shahzad Hosseini, a Baha’i citizen, along with his son, Shayan Hosseini, were released on bail on Saturday, May 30, 2020, after a lengthy interrogation in Isfahan. They were allowed to leave with a provisional bail of 200 million tomans until the end of the trial.
- On the same day, Parvaneh Hosseini, a Baha’i citizen living in Isfahan, was arrested and taken to an unknown location following an attack by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) intelligence agents.
- Mitra Bandi Amirabadi and Hiva Yazdan Mehdiabadi, Baha’i citizens living in Yazd, were arrested on Saturday, May 30, 2020, after their homes were searched and their personal belongings seized.
- Vida Haghighi Najafabadi, a Baha’i citizen living in Najafabad, Isfahan, was transferred to Isfahan Central Prison on June 1, 2020, to serve 1 year in prison.
- Mahboubeh Misaghian, a Baha’i citizen living in Yazd, was subjected to a home search on June 1, 2020, by security forces. Officers seized her personal belongings and took her to an unknown location.
- Didar Ahmadi, Boshra Mostafavi, and Nahid Naeimi, of Rafsanjan, were arrested on June 7, 2020, after agents searched their homes and confiscated personal belongings.
Branch One of the Shiraz Revolutionary Court summoned the following Baha’i citizens on June 9, 2020, to attend a hearing: Mahyar Sefidi Miandoab, Nasim Kashaninejad, Noushin Zanhari, Vargha Kaviani, Yekta Fahndaj Saadi, Lala Salehi, Mojgan Gholam Poursaadi, Marjan Gholampour, Maryam Eslami Mehdi Abadi, Parisa Rouhi Zadegan, Bahareh Norouzi, Samareh Ashnaie, Shadi Sadehgh Aghdam, Shamim Akhlaghi, Sahba Farahbakhsh, and Ahdieh Enayati.
- Fariba Ashtari, a Baha’i citizen living in Yazd, was sentenced on June 20, 2020, to 6 years in prison. She was accused of “membership in anti-regime groups” and “propaganda against the state.”
Another notable example of violations of the rights of religious minorities is the situation of women in prisons, especially given the dramatic rate of spread of Covid-19.
In this regard, four Baha’i citizens reported that they, along with other prisoners in Birjand, may have contracted the virus.
Saghar Mohammadi, Sheida Abedi, Simin Mohammadi, and Maryam Mokhtari were placed in the quarantine ward of the women’s prison for more than 3 weeks, and were denied the right to return to the public prison ward. These detainees have been denied family visits for several weeks as the meeting room can be accessed only through the public ward.
Citizens of the Christian faith have also been subjected to regime repression, despite the fact that Articles 13 and 26 the Islamic Republic’s Constitution recognizes Christianity. These citizens have been targeted in at least 15 instances in recent months. These instances include 5 court summons, 5 arrests, and 5 cases of imprisonment.
On Sunday, June 21, 2020, the Revolutionary Court of Bushehr sentenced seven Christian converts, including three women – Maryam Fallahi, Marjan Fallahi, and Fatemeh Talebi – to imprisonment, fines, deportation, and deprivation of employment and social rights.
Gonabadi Dervishes have also been targeted by state agents in at least five cases in the past month. The regime’s suppressive measures include two court summons to serve prison sentences, two cases of imprisonment, and one case of imprisonment in exile.
With regard to violations of the rights of religious minorities in Iran, the U.S. Department of State’s annual report on religious freedom in the world was published on Wednesday, June 10. Some 33 pages of the report focused on violations of the rights of religious minorities in Iran.
According to the report, in 2019, the Iranian regime continued to harass, interrogate, and detain Baha’is, Christians – especially those who have converted to Christianity – Sunni followers, and other religious minorities.
The report noted a shocking example: “In January authorities gave Elham Ahmadi, an imprisoned member of the Sufi Gonabadi Order in Iran, an additional sentence of 148 lashes for speaking out about the denial of medical treatment and poor living conditions in the prison…”
It is worth noting that in Elham Ahmadi’s case, the sentence of 74 lashes was enforced before Ahmadi was released from prison on August 13, 2019.
The examples cited here represent a small sampling of the regime’s systematic, daily violations of the rights of religious minorities in Iran.
By clamping down on human rights defenders, the ruling dictatorship has prevented the possibility to inform the world about these human rights violations.