PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/023/2009
27 March 2009
UA 84/09 Arbitrary arrests/ prisoners of conscience
IRAN Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi (f) ] members of the Baha’i community
Farham (also known as Hadi) Masoumi (m) ]
Two members of the Baha’i community, Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi and Farham Masoumi were arrested after
being summoned to appear on 18 March at the Ministry of Intelligence’s offices in the city of Shiraz, in Fars
Province, south western Iran. Based on the information available, Amnesty International believes they are
prisoners of conscience, detained solely because of their religious beliefs or their peaceful activities on behalf
of the Baha’i community.
Farham Masoumi was arrested and released a few hours later on 15 March, following a search of his house.
He was detained for a second time on 18 March when he was summoned to appear at the detention facility
run by the Ministry of Intelligence in Shiraz.
Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi and her husband Mr Houshmandi were away from Shiraz on 15 March when their
home was raided by officers from the Ministry of Intelligence. Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi’s mother was
threatened and forced to hand over the house keys by officers who confiscated all the family’s books, CDs,
computer and other personal items, including some of their child’s belongings. The officers also had an arrest
warrant for Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi who was not present at the time. On 17 March, she received a
telephone call in which she was summoned to appear the next day at the detention facility run by the Ministry
of Intelligence in Shiraz. She was arrested when she went there on 18 March.
When Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi’s husband asked officials at the detention facility about the reason for his
wife's arrest, he was informed that she and Farham Masoumi were arrested because of their involvement in
“illegal activities”. When he contacted the local Information Office of the Ministry of Intelligence he was told:
“Your wife is a Baha’i, and for now that is sufficient reason for her arrest”.
Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi was amongst a group of more than 53 individuals, mostly Baha’i, involved in a
programme teaching underprivileged children in the city of Shiraz. They were arrested in May 2006 even
though the authorities had granted permission for their activities and later released. In August 2007, all 53
were tried by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz. They were charged with offences relating to state
security. Fourteen who attended the court sessions were told orally of the verdict against the whole group.
Three were each sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for “organizing illegal groups” and to an additional
one year’s imprisonment for “propaganda on behalf of groups that are opposed to the Islamic system”. The
other 50, including Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi, were sentenced to suspended prison sentences of four months
for “participating in an illegal group” and a further eight months for “propaganda on behalf of groups that are
opposed to the Islamic system”. All those involved have appealed against their convictions and sentences (see
UA 25/08, MDE 13/017/2008, 25 January 2008).
The Baha’i faith was founded about 150 years ago in Iran and has since spread around the world. Since the
establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, the Baha’i community has been systematically
harassed and persecuted. There are over 300,000 Baha’is currently in Iran, but their religion is not
recognized under the Iranian Constitution, which only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism and
Zoroastrianism. Baha’is in Iran are subject to discriminatory laws and regulations which violate their right to