By Kian Sabeti
November 23, 2020
On the morning of Sunday, November 22, in simultaneous operations in various cities across Iran, security agents ransacked the homes of tens of Baha’is. Their personal effects, mobile phones, computers, laptops and religious books and pictures were all confiscated, and in a number of cases, the agents also reportedly took away any cash they found, along with national ID cards.
The reason for this wave of raids is not yet known. According to two Baha’is whose homes were searched, the warrant only specified that it was for “searching the home and workplace and seizure of equipment.” As of now, there have been no reports of any arrests.
At the time of writing raids on the homes of Baha’is in Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan and its suburbs, Mashhad and Kerman had been confirmed. The names of Baha’is whose homes are known to have been raided are as follows:
– Ms. Hekmat-Shoar
– Arshi Moghadam
– Ataollah Ashrafi
– Homa Etemadi
– Niki Khanjani
– Riaz Sobhani
– Shahrokh Taef
– Afif Naeimi
– Nasser Nabili (Kerman)
– Cyrus Misaghieh (Karaj)
– Elham Amiri (Isfahan)
– Shahram Safajou
– Anis Safajou
– Bahador Motearefi (Baharestan, Isfahan)
– Shafizadeh (Shahin Shahr, Isfahan)
– Ehsan Makkari (Isfahan)
– Peymaneh Namdar (Mashhad)
We will update this list as other names are reported.
Some of these Baha’is have been imprisoned in the past, including Afif Naeimi, a member of the former leadership body of Baha’is in Iran, who was released in December 2018 after serving a 10-year sentence, and Riaz Sobhani and Shahrokh Taef, who each spent four years at Rajaei Shahr Prison.
Given the coronavirus crisis in Iran and the new, stringent lockdowns in place across the country, it is not clear why plainclothes security agents chose this moment to descend on these people’s homes.
“At a time when people are supposed to be working together,” one Baha’i told IranWire, “and observe social distancing and avoid unnecessary traffic, unknown individuals – who might be carriers of the disease – came to Baha’i homes and touched everything on the pretext of an inspection. Isn’t such behavior contrary to public health guidelines?”
On Wednesday, November 18, just a few days before the raids took place, a sub-committee of the United Nations General Assembly had passed a resolution condemning human rights violations in Iran and calling on Iran to honor the human rights of all its citizens, including members of the Baha’i faith.
The resolution asks Iran to “eliminate, in law and practice… all forms of discrimination on the basis of thought, conscience, religion or belief, including economic restrictions… [and] the denial of and restrictions on access to education, including for members of the Baha’i faith.” It also urges an end to “other human rights violations against persons belonging to recognized and unrecognized religious minorities.”
After the resolution was passed, Diane Ala’i, Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva, tweeted that “During the adoption of the resolution on the human rights situation in Iran [at the UN], Iran’s representative indicated that Iranians enjoy equal rights. He must not be informed of the situation of the Baha’is.”