Tag Archives: human rights

54 Baha’is Arrested in Iran

Friday 19th May, Shiraz, 54 Baha’is were arrested while carrying out a local project in schools with permission of the Islamic Council of Shiraz.

The charges are not yet clear but the arrests are all the more concerning due to the facts that most of those arrested are youth and this is one of the largest number of Bahá’ís taken at once since the 1980s. Several non-Bahá’í youth who were also involved in the project have been permitted to go free.

The Bahá’í World News Service has today (May 24th) officially reported that only one younger Bahá’í has been freed in addition to all of the non-Bahá’í participants, this disturbing confirmation follows unconfirmed reports that all the Bahá’ís had been released.

The BWNS also reveals that “The arrests coincided with raids on six Baha’i homes during which notebooks, computers, books, and other documents were confiscated. In the last 14 months, 72 Baha’is across Iran have been arrested and held for up to several weeks.”

Link: Full story and photo, 54 Baha’is arrested in Iran. [BWNS]
Link: The Growing Threat to Iran’s Baha’is

Egyptian Recognition of Baha’is Suspended

CAIRO, 16 May 2006 (IRIN) – “Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court decided on 15 May to suspend the implementation of an earlier lower court ruling that allowed Bahais to have their religion recognised on official documents.”

Link: Full story from IRIN

On 4 April, a ruling was passed in an Egyptian court that a Bahai couple could cite their religion as Baha’i on their official documentation. The government quickly issued an appeal against the decision as they do not recognise the Baha’i Faith as a religion.

There have been articles in Egypt focussing on the fact that the Baha’i World Centre is in Israel and suggesting that Baha’is are therefore a threat to their national security. There are a couple of blog entries on “Baha’i Blog” that look at the situation in some more detail.

Link: [“Baha’i Blog”] Egypt Update
Link: [“Baha’i Blog”] More from Egypt

Egypt ruling recognising Bahai rights

CAIRO, 6 Apr 2006 (IRIN) – Human rights activists have welcomed a landmark ruling by the Administrative Court recognising the right of Egyptian Bahais to have their religion acknowledged on official documents.

The decision, announced on 4 April, “sent a strong message that it is the right of every Egyptian citizen to adopt the religion of their choice”, said Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Private Rights (EIPR).

The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by a married Bahai couple against Interior Minister Habib al-Adly in June 2004. According to an EIPR statement, officials from the Civil Status Department (CSD) confiscated the couple’s official documentation because it cited their religious affiliation as Bahai, a creed founded by Baha’u’llah in Iran in the 19th century which is unrecognised in this majority Sunni Muslim country. “The CSD refused to issue new identification documents unless the family agreed to identify themselves as Muslim,” the EIPR statement reads.

According to activists, the ruling in favour of the family was partly a result of intense lobbying efforts by rights groups. “This is a landmark case. We feel our efforts have paid off,” said Gamal Eid, director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information. “The authorities felt so threatened with exposure that they backed down and ruled in favour of the Bahais’ inherent rights.”

The ruling reaffirms a similar decision on the right of Bahais to identify themselves as such on formal records and certificates, issued in 1983. “However, in 2004, the interior ministry’s CSD reinstated the policy of forcing Bahais to identify as Muslim or Christian,” notes the EIPR statement. The plaintiff in the 1983 case eventually backed down after his daughters were threatened with expulsion from school”

UN Fears for Baha’is in Iran

UNITED NATIONS, 20 March 2006 (BWNS)

Representatives of the Baha’i International Community reacted with alarm today to a United Nations official’s statement about actions of the Iranian government against the Baha’is in Iran.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Asma Jahangir, stated that she was highly concerned and expressed her apprehensions in a press release posted today about “a confidential letter sent on 29 October 2005 by the Chairman of the Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces in Iran to a number of governmental agencies.”

“The letter,” she said, “which is addressed to the Ministry of Information, the Revolutionary Guard and the Police Force, states that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, had instructed the Command Headquarters to identify persons who adhere to the Baha’i faith and monitor their activities. The letter goes on to request the recipients to, in a highly confidential manner, collect any and all information about members of the Baha’i faith.”

“We are grateful that Ms. Jahangir has brought this activity to light,” said Bani Dugal, the Baha’i International Community’s principal representative to the UN. “We share her concern for the welfare of the Baha’is and shudder to think what this might mean. Because of the unprecedented character of the government’s action, we are addressing a request to the Ambassador of Iran for an explanation.”

Ms. Jahangir also “considers that such monitoring constitutes an impermissible and unacceptable interference with the rights of members of religious minorities.”

“The Special Rapporteur’s concern that such information could be ‘used as a basis for the increased persecution of, and discrimination against, members of the Baha’i faith’ is clearly well-founded,” said Ms. Dugal.

Such actions come in the wake of mounting media attacks on the Baha’is, the nature of which in the past have preceded government-led assaults on the Baha’is in Iran. “Kayhan,” the official Tehran daily newspaper has carried more than 30 articles about the Baha’is and their religion in recent weeks, all defamatory in ways that are meant to create provocation. Radio and television programs have joined in as well with broadcasts condemning the Baha’is and their beliefs. In addition, the rise in influence in Iranian governmental circles of the Anti-Baha’i Society, Hojjatieh, an organization committed to the destruction of the Baha’i Faith, can only heighten the fears for that beleaguered community.

“We well know what hateful propaganda can lead to; recent history offers too many examples of its horrific consequences. We make an urgent appeal to all nations and peoples on behalf of our Iranian coreligionists that they not allow a peace-loving, law-abiding people to face the extremes to which blind hate can lead,” said Ms. Dugal. “The ghastly deeds that grew out of similar circumstances in the past should not now be allowed to happen. Not again.”

Statement by Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, in the wake of the announcement of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief concerning treatment of followers of the Baha’i Faith in Iran
20 March 2006 New York City

The statement of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief about recent actions taken by the Government of Iran concerning the Baha’is arouses grave apprehension in the Baha’i International Community about their fate. The Baha’is have been the victims of an unrelenting persecution ever since the revolution of 1979, and one hesitates to think of what horrors could be implied by the combined effort of intelligence, military and police agencies to identify Baha’is and monitor their activities, as has been ordered by the Chairman of the Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces at the direction of the Head of State. We are dreadfully afraid for the lives of our fellow Baha’is in Iran.

Because of the unprecedented character of the Government’s action, we are addressing a request to the Ambassador of Iran for an explanation.

Such actions come in the midst of mounting media attacks on the Baha’is, the nature of which in the past have preceded government-led assaults on them. “Kayhan,” the official Tehran daily newspaper, has carried more than 30 articles about the Baha’is and their religion in recent weeks, all defamatory in ways that are meant to create provocation. Radio and television programs have joined in as well with broadcasts condemning the Baha’is and their beliefs.

We know what hateful propaganda can lead to; recent history offers too many examples of its horrific consequences. We make an urgent plea to all nations and peoples on behalf of our Iranian coreligionists that they not allow a peace-loving, law-abiding people to face the extremes to which blind hate can lead. The ghastly deeds that grew out of similar circumstances in the past should not now be allowed to happen. Not again.


Background

Recent media attacks on the Baha’is in Iran
In recent months, Iranian newspapers and radio stations have been conducting an intensive anti-Baha’i campaign. From September through November 2005 alone, the influential, state-run “Kayhan” newspaper ran nearly three dozen articles defaming the Baha’i Faith with the clear intention of arousing in readers feelings of suspicion, distrust and hatred for the Iranian Baha’i community. The articles engage in a deliberate distortion of history, make use of fake historical documents, and falsely describe Baha’i moral principles in a manner that would be offensive to Muslims.

Before the onset of previous government campaigns of persecution against Baha’is, such as in 1955 and 1979, similarly defamatory articles and radio programs were run against the Baha’is, stirring up animosity and prejudice, apparently to prepare the public for what was to come.

For more information, including copies of the “Kayhan” articles in Persian and summaries in English, please click here.

The Anti-Baha’i Hojjatieh Society
Founded in 1953 as a specifically anti-Baha’i organization by a charismatic Shiite Muslim cleric, the Hojjatieh Society has today reemerged in Iran as an influential if secretive faction that has been linked in news articles and Web blogs with the current Iranian administration.

During the 1979 Iranian revolution, the Society played an important role in stirring animosity against Baha’is. However, in part because of differences in theology — among other things the Hojjatieh believe a truly Islamic state cannot be established until the return of the 12th Imam — the Society fell into disfavor and was banned by the regime in 1984.

Outside observers have connected the Society’s reemergence with the return of hardliners to positions of power in the government, including the president who has frequently stated his expectation that the 12th Imam will return soon.

For more information on the Hojjatieh, please click here.