Friday, 21 September 2007

The anti-Baha'i incidents increasing in Iran

The list of anti-Baha'i incidents is growing, as are human rights violations against other groups in Iran.

All these events are results of the Iranian government's long campaign to incite hatred against Baha'is, a spokeswoman for the Baha'i International Community said today.

"This should be a cause for concern among human rights activists everywhere," said Diane Ala'i, the representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.

She appealed to the world to hold the Iranian government accountable for its actions and to help prevent the situation from deteriorating into further violence. Baha'is in Iran number about 300,000 and represent the largest religious minority in the country.

"Put in a historical context, these kinds of attacks too often have been a prelude to campaigns of oppression and violence that are far worse.

Some anti-Baha'i incidents reported are the following:

September 2007
The bulldozing of a Baha'i cemetery in Iran last week is the latest in a series of incidents in a government-led campaign of hatred against Baha'is. The destruction of the cemetery by individuals using heavy equipment occurred between 9 September and 10 September near Najafabad, on the outskirts of Isfahan. What happened there is nearly identical to what happened in July in Yazd, where another Baha'i cemetery was extensively damaged by earth-moving equipment.

19 June 2007
A report was received that a 70-year-old man of limited means had been arrested in April 2007 in Kermanshah. Authorities charged him with the possession of three Baha'i CDs. He was tried on 23 April 2007 and charged with "propagating and spreading Bahaism and the defamation of the pure Imams." His lawyer was given only 10 minutes to prepare a defense. Although the verdict has not been published, the judge orally sentenced him to one year in prison, which he is currently serving, and 70 lashes. The latter part of the sentence has not yet been carried out.

July 2007
Desecration of graves is part of a government-led hate campaign against Baha'is in Iran. This grave is in a cemetery in Yazd that was bulldozed in July 2007.

18 June 2007
A 34-year-old man was arrested at a hardware store in Tabriz where he worked and taken to an unknown location. Two days later, he succeeded in phoning his family to let them know he was alive. A police security agent contacted Baha'is in Tabriz and said some of the man's neighbors who are members of the Basiji morality squads had alleged that he had insulted Islam. His family managed to visit him and reported that he had been subjected to a two-day interrogation. He remains in custody.

28 May 2007
A husband and wife in Abadeh, near Shiraz, were arrested in their home by agents of the Information Ministry. The agents seized books, family videos, photographs, CDs, telephone directories, documents, a cellular phone, a computer, and minutes of the meetings of the small group of Baha'is that coordinates the affairs of the local community on an ad hoc basis. The couple were interrogated about the activities of the Baha'is. The wife was released after eight hours; the husband was transferred to Shiraz, where he was held in prison until 29 June 2007 and released on bail. He is charged with teaching the Baha'i Faith.

8 May 2007
The provincial court of appeal of Mazandaran denied the appeal of three women and one man who were arrested in 2005 in Ghaem Shahr and charged with "propagation on behalf of an organization which is anti-Islamic." The case has been referred to the Supreme Court. All are out on bail.

25 April 2007
The Islamic Revolutionary Court of Sari sentenced a Baha'i to a year in prison and four years of exile to the town of Bijar. The individual was charged with "teaching activities against the system of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the benefit of groups and various organizations opposing the system."

During April and May 2007
A number of Baha'is were summoned for interrogation or were questioned by telephone by officials of the Ministry of Information or the police in various localities, including in Babolsar, Bandar Abbas, Bandar Torkman, Bojourd, Gilavand, Damavand, Hamedan, Karaj, Lahijan, Shahinshar, Tehran, and Yaftabad. The questioning focused on seeking information about Baha'i activities and about the Baha'is themselves. A report has been received that a bank in central Jiruft in the province of Fars had been ordered to produce a printout of all accounts held by Baha'is.

Since the beginning of this year:

The Baha'i International Community received a copy of a letter from the government agency responsible for providing veteran's benefits stating that an individual Baha'i, who suffered extensive disability following his incarceration as a prisoner of war in the Iran-Iraq conflict, was not eligible to pension benefits because he belongs "to the Bahaist sect."

Attacks on the Baha'i Faith continue in the mass media, including on the Internet. Newspapers in Khorasan and Mazandaran have recently published items maligning Baha'is, while anti-Baha'i pamphlets and tracts have been distributed in Shiraz and in the schools in Shahinshar, Ahvazk, and Babol Sar.

Reports have been received of banks refusing to grant loans and officials refusing to issue or renew business licenses solely on the grounds that the applicants were Baha'is. In Sanandaj, a bank official stated that the bank had received 14 loan applications from Baha'is, all of which will be rejected. Bank staff in Sari informed Baha'is who had applied for a loan, "It has been asked of us not to provide loans and other services to Baha'is."

In Hamadan, the owner of a grocery store that had been operated by his family for 48 years tried to have the business license transferred to his name after the death of his father. He was told by a government official that business licenses for grocery stores would not be issued to Baha'is. He was told: "Wherever you go, even to the United Nations, you will end up here, where you will get the same clear answer."

Ms Diane Ala'i
Bahá'í International Community, United Nations Office, Geneva
Telephone: +41-22-7985400, Email:


Anonymous said...

This is Ancient Rome all over again... Next thing they'll do is throw us to the Lions!!!

Anonymous said...

It has been Rome for Baha'is since the declaration of the Bab. The only diffrence is the beast who manifest itself only in a human form. But the big if is: Can you call it human? A very human who is created in the immage of the Lord?

The Baha'is of Iran animating the pages of history of our dear Faith with their sacrifice, steadfastness, and forebearance and writing new pages day by day.

We, the lovers of the Ancient Beauty, should ralley behind our spiritual brothers and sisters in Iran by following the guidance of the Universal House of Justice and show all the peoples of the world that it is the love that gives strenght and no beast, regardless of its size, can withstand the power and warmth of Love and Unity.

ADL said...

This is a systematic attack that planned by Iranian government. Strength of the Baha’is in Iran along with the support of the Baha’i community worldwide will make it fruitless and wasted.