Simin Fahandej, the spokesman of the Baha’i International Community, has told Radio Farda that Iranian authorities have arrested five members of the Baha’i community in the Iranian province of Isfahan. Earlier this week, the Baha’i News Agency had also reported on the arrest of four Baha’is – Ehsan Ishtiaq, Enayat Naeimi, Farzad Homayuni, and Soroush Pozeshki – by security agents in Isfahan. Other reports say everal Baha’i students have been expelled from universities, and that authorities have also closed down some shops belonging to members of the Baha’i community. In an open letter last year to President Hassan Rouhani, the Baha’i International Community urged the president to end the persecution of the community.
Comment: The Baha’i community in Iran – reportedly around 300,000 people – is arguably the most persecuted minority group in the country. The Islamic Republic does not recognize the Baha’i faith and the community has been subjected to state discrimination and persecution since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Despite Rouhani’s 2013 campaign pledge to guarantee the rights of Iranian ethnic and religious minorities, the situation of the Baha’i community has not improved. Asma Jahangir, the U.N. special rapporteur for Iran, told the U.N. Human Rights Council earlier this month that Iran continues to arbitrarily detain Baha’i believers solely because of their religious beliefs and practices. "Bahai’s continue to be systematically discriminated, targeted, and deprived of the right to a livelihood,” she said in her March 6 report. Jahangir added that 90 Baha’i believers are currently detained in Iran’s prison.