(12 December 2008) – The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran expressed serious concern today about the recent detentions of three Baha’is in the province of Mazandaran and called on Iranian authorities to account for them.
Security agents detained Masoud Ataian, Soheila Motallebi, and Anvar Moslemi during a six-day period in November in Qa’emshahr and Sari in the Northern province of Mazandaran.
“These detentions are consistent with a pattern of persecution and arbitrary arrest of members of the Baha’i minority in Iran, and give cause to fear for the health and safety of those in custody,” said Hadi Ghaemi, Campaign spokesperson. “The government has yet to account for the detentions earlier this year of six Baha’i leaders, contributing to an alarming trend.”
Ataian was detained in his home in Qa’emshahr by Intelligence Ministry officials on 17 November 2008. Led by an agent called Mr. Movahed, the officials searched his home, destroyed sacred pictures and confiscated holy texts, his computer and business documents. He has not been allowed to see a lawyer and has had only brief contact with his family.
Motallebi was detained in her home in Sari on 21 November also by Intelligence Ministry officials. They presented no warrant but searched her home and confiscated documents and books relating to the Baha’i Faith. She is being held in the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center in Sari and has been denied contact with her family. Human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani has agreed to take on her case, but has not been allowed to see her. Anvar Moslemi was detained two days later on 23 November in Sari.
Within the past year four other Baha’is have been taken into custody in Mazandaran. Tarazollah Allahverdi and his wife Sonya Tebyanian were detained on 17 October in Behshahr. Siamak Ebrahimi, detained and released two years ago, was again detained on 4 November in Tonekaban. He was sentenced to six months in prison and two years exile in the city of Zabol, over 1100 km away from his home. Ali Ahmadi, another Baha’i detained earlier this year in Mazandaran, is still being held in prison.
The Campaign urged on members of the international community to protest the continued harassment of Iran’s Baha’i community and called on the Iranian authorities to cease the unjust targeting and detention of members of the Baha’i community throughout Iran.