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Iranian Baha'i Art Teacher Arrested in Front of His Students, No Charges Announced

Source: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

The Baha’i artist Shahriar Siroos was arrested by Iran's Intelligence Ministry agents on June 30 in Tehran and is being held at Evin Prison but the charges against him are not yet clear, a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Baha’i artist Shahriar Siroos

Siroos, 46, is a painter, married and has a seven-year-old son. Until 2008, he was an art instructor at the Baha’i Online University, which has been banned by Iranian authorities. He is well-known among prominent Iranian artists and his articles on the philosophy of art have appeared in the Iranian press.

“At about 4 p.m. on June 30, eleven agents from the Intelligence Ministry entered Shahriar [Siroos’s] painting class. They took his mobile [phone] and those belonging to the students. They handcuffed him and began searching the building. Shahriar’s class is on the first floor of a four-story building. His father lives on the second floor. Another Baha’i family live on the third floor and Shahriar’s family lives on the fourth floor,” a source close to the family told the Campaign.

“The agents searched the entire building without showing a warrant. They even searched the home on the third floor, which had no connection to Shahriar. They took laptops, computers, iPads and books from all the homes in the building.”

The source added that the agents also threatened to arrest Siroos’s students but in the end only took him. The students’ mobile phones, however, have not yet been returned.

Siroos is being held in Evin Prison’s Section 209, which is run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. His wife has asked the authorities several times why he was arrested. She has only been told that the charges will be made clear “soon.”

“First of all his family wants to contact Shahriar to make sure he’s okay. Secondly, Shahriar has done nothing wrong and his family wants him to go free and return home,” the source told the Campaign.

The Baha’i community is one of the most severely persecuted religious minorities in Iran.

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