The Islamic Republic Ministry of Intelligence confirmed on Tuesday, October 22, that its agents have arrested three followers of the Baha'i faith in Shiraz, southern Iran.
Baha'is are a religious minority rejected and persecuted by Iran's Shiite clerics who also control the courts and most other state institutions. Hundreds of Bahai's have been arrested over the years and many spent years in prison.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported the names of those arrested: Soroush Abadi, Farzan Masoumi, and Kiana Shoaei.
Other reports say that another Baha'i, Mitra Forsatpour is also among the detainees.
The Ministry of Intelligence has accused the detainees of holding a Baha'i ceremony to overshadow the Shiite annual Arbaeen event.
The Arbaeen commemoration marks the 40th day following the death of Shiite's third Imam in the 7th century, in the city of Karbala, in Iraq. More than two million Iranians and other Shiites from abroad attended the event.
Baha'is planned to celebrate the birthday of one of their faith's primary figures; the state-run Mehr News Agency (MNA) cited the head of the intelligence department as saying in the province of Fars.
The Islamic Republic does not recognize Baha'ism and has deprived its followers of their human rights, including the right to higher education or serving in the public sector
Though unofficial sources estimate the Baha'i population of Iran at more than 300,000, Iran's Constitution officially recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha'i faith as an official religion. As a result, the rights of Baha'is in Iran are systematically violated, HRANA reports.