Iran: Revived Persecution of Baha’is
54 Arrested in Shiraz
One unfortunate consequence of the bogus stories about Iran making minorities wear badges is that it could obscure the real human rights violations toward minorities in Ahmadinejad’s Iran. There is disturbing evidence that Iranian government institutions are beginning to track and monitor the Baha’i religious minority again, and one doubts that it is with benign intentions.
In the 1980s, Khomeini had some 200 Baha’is executed and thousands were imprisoned for various terms. The violence against them subsided in the 1990s, but they still face disabilities.
Baha’is in Iran are not permitted, for instance to attend university. For more on this issue, see this site.
I recently received the following disturbing news:
‘ Dear friends,
We just heard the sad news that around twenty odd number of young active believers (male and female) have beem captured and imprisoned in Shiraz yesterday, so their families are asking everyone around the world to hold prayer meetings for them. Please keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers. ‘
It turns out it is worse. Actually, some 54 Baha’is have been arrested. It is not clear what the charges are against them. But Khomeinist hard liners hate the Baha’is and refuse to admit that theirs is a legitimate religion.
For more on the history and background of the Iranian Baha’i community of Iran, see my piece in History Today.
The following piece can be ordered on interlibrary loan: Juan Cole, “The Baha’i Minority and Nationalism in Contemporary Iran.” In Maya Shatzmiller, ed., Nationalism and Minority Identities in Islamic Societies. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005. Pp. 127-163. Despite its title, it deals extensively with the human rights situation of the Baha’is in the post-1979 period in Iran.
I do have to enter a caveat that some people will want to use all this for the wrong purposes. The founder of the Baha’i religion advocated an end to warfare and forbade aggressive war. So it just is not right to use the mistreatment of Baha’is as any sort of pretext for military aggression against Iran. It would be like militarily devastating and occupying Pennsylvania to protect the Quakers and Amish.
Protests about the arrests in Shiraz may be addressed to:
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
c/o H.E. Javad Zarif
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
‘ NEW YORK, 26 May 2006 (BWNS) — After their arrests on 19 May in Shiraz, Iran, three Baha’is remain in jail while 51 others have been released on bail. No indication has been given as to when the three will be released. None of those who had been released, nor the three who are still being detained, have been formally charged. On the day of the arrests, one Baha’i, under the age of 15, was released
without having to post bail. At that same time, several other young people who are not Baha’is and who had been arrested with the Baha’is, were also released without bail. On Wednesday 24 May, five days after their summary arrests, 14 of the Baha’is were released, each having been required to provide deeds of property to the value of ten million tumans (approximately US$11,000) as collateral for release. The following day, Thursday 25 May, 36 Baha’is were released on the strength of either personal guarantees or the deposit of work licenses with the court as surety that they will appear when summoned to court. ‘