Efforts to Forcefully Extract Fake Confessions from Bahai Prisoners

Human rights reports and Bahai activists in Iran told Rooz that security agents in the province of Semnan have been trying to extract fake and incriminating confessions from imprisoned Bahais in an effort to prepare a propaganda documentary. But after the prisoners refused to accept to be interviewed for the television program, the TV crew talked to family members of the imprisoned Bahais.

Shayan Vahdati, a Bahai Iranian from Isfahan and a pro-education activist told Rooz, “Recently four Bahais were put under pressure for four hours by individuals from the ministry of intelligence to give television interviews, which they resisted.”

According to prison officials, Afshin Ighani, Siamak Ighani, Behfar Khanjani and Erfan Ehsani were separated from other prisoners and transferred to the prayer room of Semnan’s prison. According to Vahdati, these prisoners all suffered from various physical and heart diseases and after they refused to meet the demands of the agents, they were transferred to the clinic of the prison.

In a lengthy report Human Rights Reporter wrote that agents of Iran’s security forces posing as film and documentary makers went to the prisoners’ courtyard area and attempted to talk to each Bahai prisoner individually, which the prisoners to engage. The website of Human Rights Reporter also wrote in this regard that after this try the film crew went to the visitation hall and interviewed the Bahai prisoners’ family members on tape. The report also said that film crews affiliated to security agencies of the Islamic republic had in the last few days gone to shops and workplaces belonging to Bahais in Semnan that had been sealed by the government and filmed and interviewed with them. The members of the crew claimed that they were there on behalf of the ministry of interior with the goal of investigating their problems.

Freezing Bank Loans, and Closing of Shops

In the last few months, members of the Bahai faith and Bahai prisoners in Semnan have been under unusual pressure by the government’s security forces. According to Human Rights Reporter, the pressures include arrests, court orders, pressures on prisoners and denial of citizen rights of Bahais in Semnan.

According to Shayan Vahdati, a Bahai activist living in Iran, the physical space where Bahais are kept in Semnan’s prison is very small. “The area is about 70 square meters with a very low ceiling but with many prisoners and a very small fresh-air courtyard. Prisoners have no beds and have to sleep on the ground. There are only three health/clinic facilities in the whole prison and because of the large number of prisoners various viral infections and diseases are easily transferred among prisoners.

He said there is only one bath facility for the 55 prisoners which is shut after 7pm every day because the water is cold and it is restricted to men. The allocated cleaning supplies are not provided to the prisoners as well.

Last week, German radio channel Deutsche Welle quoted members of German Bahais and reported on the desperate conditions facing the two Bahais and their babies in prison and warned that the infants were in need of medical attention and care.

The website HRIRAN, the news agency of Iranian human rights activists wrote in this regard, “Ms Taraneh Torabi (Ehsani) has a 30-month prison term who is serving her sentence with her 5-month son Barman Ehsani.”  According to the same report Barman is very week and is in need of medical care.

On December 4, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejhei, the spokesman of Iran’s judiciary responded with these words when asked about the arrest of Bahais in Semnan: “No one is arrested for simply being a Bahai.”

But Shayan Vahdati has a different view and says, “In Semnan officials are trying to prove that Bahai’s are in not in prison because of their beliefs or religion but because of crimes they have committed whereas in reality they are behind bars precisely because they are Bahais.”

According to the Human Rights Reporter, “The increase in pressure on Bahais in Semnan in recent years is directly the result of guidance from the province of Semnan’s security council which is currently made up of the government of Semnan, the governor general of the province, Mr. Shahcheraghi who is the Friday Imam of Semnan, Mr. Siavoshpoor the head of the judiciary, Mr. Heidar Asiabi, the attorney general, and colonel Soleiman the head of the law enforcement forces of the province.”

The report on their site also lists bank loans being suspended, shops and workshops being closed, cancellation of business permits and driver’s licenses, fires in Bahai houses and shops in 2009 among the most flagrant violations of human rights of Bahais in Semnan.

Source: Roozonline

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