Committee of Human Rights Reporters – In the past weeks Semnan security agents have made efforts to make a documentary about Baha’i prisoners. The agents showed up at the prison courtyard and claiming to be with Press TV, they asked the prisoners to conduct interviews. The Baha’i prisoners refused to speak on camera and that afternoon they were transferred to the courtyard again with demands that they grant individual interviews, which they again refused. The camera crew then went to the visiting area of the prison facility in order to film and attempt interviews with family members.
According to news obtained by CHRR, the camera crew asked one Baha’i prisoner about abuse while pointing out that there were no signs of torture on his face. In the past days the camera crew from the Ministry of Intelligence visited the work places of Baha’i citizens and asked to take video and conduct interviews while claiming to be with the Interior Ministry investigating issues the citizens might have.
Other sources have reported that 4 of the prisoners were transferred to the place of worship at the prison facility in order to conduct interviews. First the interviewers introduced themselves as members of the judiciary, and later they claimed to be with the news network of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Taher Eskandarian, Afrasiab Sobhani, Akbar Pourhosseini, Arfan Ehsani, Edalat Firouzian, Goudarz Beydaghi, Nader Kasai, Jinous Nourani, Rofia Beydaghi, Anisa Fanaiyan, Taraneh Tarabi and Zohreh Nikayin are among Baha’i prisoners who were detained in the past year. The 5 and 11-month-old babies of the last 2 women mentioned are in Semnan prison with their mothers. Others transferred earlier to Semnan prison are Bahfar Khanjani, Afshin Ighani and Siyamak Ighani.
During the past few months, security agents have subjected Baha’i citizens and prisoners to unprecedented heavier pressures. The mistreatments include multiple arbitrary arrests, heavy judicial sentences, denial of basic rights and additional taunting of the followers of the Baha’i faith incarcerated in Semnan prison.
According to reliable information received by CHRR, the heightened pressure and harassment is directly linked to members of the Semnan Security Council, presently consisting of Mr. Rahi, the Governor of Semnan, the Governor of the city; Mr. Shahcheraghi, the Friday Imam; Mr. Siavash Pour, the Chief Minister of Justice; Mr. Heydar Asyabi, the Attorney General, and Colonel Soleimani the Chief of Police of the province who hold regular meetings at the offices of the Semnan Ministry of Justice.
Baha’i citizens have been deprived of their basic rights and subjected to various forms of abuse during the past years including closure of bank accounts, shops and workshops, revoking business and drivers licenses, setting fire to residences and shops in 2009, breaking the glass of automobiles, destroying property and residences by attacking with wood and stone, bulldozing gravesites and setting fire to places of worship, destruction of dams and cutting off water supplies to agricultural properties resulting in dried fields and gardens.
In a recent incident on November 29th 2012, for the second time agents visited the shop of Akbar Pourhosseini, a Baha’i citizen and using the excuse that he was not in possession of a Green Card they confiscated nearly two hundred million tomans worth of assets. This is despite the fact that a Green Card is to be provided by the importer of the goods not the seller. The shop owner Akbar Pourhosseini had been detained earlier and after spending time behind bars, he was sentenced to 2 years and 3 months in prison and he now awaits the ruling of the appellate court.