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Iran: Attacks On Baha’is Continue

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As a United Nations body concluded that Iran’s persecution of Baha’is is clearly violating one of the world’s major human rights treaties, the Baha’i International Community has learned of a recent wave of attacks on Baha’is and their property.

In Rasht, three women were arrested on charges of activity against national security following terrifying raids on 16 Baha’i homes. In Semnan, around ten Baha’i-owned shops were sealed up by the authorities and two business licences were cancelled. In the city of Sanandaj, it has been reported that authorities have attempted to persuade groups of Baha’is to give an undertaking not to participate in gatherings – known as the Nineteen Day Feast – held in the homes of their co-religionists.

“These recent events have all the appearance of being centrally coordinated,” said Diane Ala’i, representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, “and clearly contradict statements we often hear from the Iranian authorities that Baha’is are entitled to the same rights as others and that activities related to personal beliefs and community affairs are permitted.”

More than 100 Baha’is are currently held in Iranian prisons. They include the community’s seven leaders – each serving 20-year jail sentences on trumped up charges – and seven educators imprisoned for their involvement in an informal initiative established to help young Baha’is barred by the government from higher education. But that is not the whole story.

In addition to those already behind bars, more than 300 Baha’is who have been previously arrested and then released are either awaiting trial or the call to begin serving out their sentences. The sums they have been required to post for bail – most often using property deeds or business licenses as collateral – are exorbitant. Hundreds of Baha’i homes have been raided and personal belongings – including books, computers, mobile phones, photographs and documents – have been confiscated.

All of this constitutes a further drain on the resources of Baha’is who are already being subjected to wide-ranging and systematic efforts to impoverish them through tactics such as: being debarred from owning – or working in – more than 25 types of business; the summary cancellation of business licenses; the sealing up of Baha’i-owned shops; the threatening of employers against hiring Baha’is; and the banning of young Baha’is from higher education.

Yesterday, the UN Human Rights Committee – a body of 18 independent experts – criticized Iran’s non-compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the country has signed and ratified.

The Committee’s findings came two weeks after a hearing at which an Iranian government delegation sought to defend their human rights record. The delegation’s 27-page written report claimed that “no Iranian citizen enjoys priority over others due to his/her race, religion or particular language.”

During the hearing, numerous questions were posed by the Committee about Iran’s treatment of Baha’is. One Committee member, Ahmad Fathalla of Egypt, said that since religion and conviction or belief are given the same status in the ICCPR, Iran must allow Baha’is the right to manifest their beliefs “both individually and in community with others, both in public or in private,” even if the authorities do not consider the Baha’i Faith to be a religion.

Concern was also expressed over a wide range of other human rights violations, including the high rate of death sentences, the lack of women in top government positions, and the widespread use of torture.

Among its conclusions, the Committee urged Iran to “take immediate steps to ensure that members of the Baha’i community are protected against discrimination in every field, that violations of their rights are immediately investigated, that those found responsible are prosecuted and that they are provided with effective remedies.”

Welcoming the Committee’s report, Diane Ala’i said, “The UN Human Rights Committee is telling Iran to stop making excuses and to live up to its commitment to protect the rights of all its citizens to enjoy complete freedom of religion.”

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BWNS

BWNS, or the Bahá'í World News Service, reports on activities of the worldwide Bahá'í community and on events that affect the Baha’i Faith or its followers. The service is based at the Bahá'í International Community’s Office of Public Information at the Bahá'í World Center in Haifa, Israel.

One thought on “Iran: Attacks On Baha’is Continue

  • Avatar
    November 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm
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    When I read these columns and also the reactions of minorities in India, I just wonder,
    “Had Hindus been so intolerant, would even a single other religious entities ever existed on this earth apart from Hindus”? Hindu is a persian/Arabic transcript for people living on this side of Indus. We shall not get embroiled into this controversial another history but Delhi has a most beautiful Lotus Temple without any hastle. Yet the same Hindu is alien in its own land.

    Pakistan was given by Nehru stooges to arrogant Jinnah on the religious lines. Jinnah blatantly declared that Muslims cannot live with Hindus. They did not stop at that. Their warring slogan can still be heard from even leaders like Bhuttos besides these Hafiz clans.

    Their hatred against India read Hindus continue till date unabatedly. It is shown in every Pakistani political move and their explicit Islamic terrorism exported in India through their most ferociously trained mujahideens by ISI and aided by Pak military. Madarsas in Pakistan teach their children to hate the kafir.

    Pakistan has exterminated minorities from its land but India has given the Muslims a free hand
    even at the cost of the Hindus read majority but
    still the Muslim atrocities against Hindus continue incessantly. It has become a vote bank gimmick to win number game in Muslim society. Will any other nation tolerate an Italian born lady as their prime leader than India? Yet her chief whip Diggy keeps uttering RSS unabashedly.

    Iran is a Shia Muslim enclave which are only a minority themselves in the Muslim majority Sunni
    faction. When it comes to violence, both Sunnis and Shias are equal except in Pakistan where the
    Sunnis predominate and Shias are persecuted.

    Only their Allah knows, but the custodian of their two Holy Mosques in the Islamic world is Saudi Arabia which is said to be a radical fundamentalist Sunni/Wahabi/Salafi Muslim society. Their other Muslim scholar called Hanaf
    or Hanafi interpreted it in his own style to add his another identity. Basically it all boils downs to intolerant hate cult and a male dominated fierce society based on medieval barbaric tribal social system prevalent even now despite the 21st Century civilisation. Yet the Muslims blame their every host nation for their ills while the fact is that they are an intolerant warring class of people needing to come out of their medievalism. Islam needs a drastic reformation to survive in this pluralist
    society.

    Reply

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