Report on Persecution of Baha'is

arthra

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A new report on religious liberty in Iran was released in September 2006 from the United States Department of State "International Religious Freedom" and can be found at

http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2006/71421.htm

It details persecution and deprivation of the rights of Iranian citizens and among these details the repression of the Baha'i Faith and persecution of Baha'is in that country. The Report enumerates and supports what has been reported previously but has I think some further detail of more recent events so I am posting the link above for anyone who wants to read more and below is an excerpt of recent persecutions:

Between August 2005 and May 2006, eighty-seven Baha'is were arrested (but only eighty-six were detained). At the end of the period covered by this report, two remained in prison. Most of the others were never formally charged but they were only released after posting bail. For some, bail was deeds of property worth approximately $11,000; others were released in exchange for personal guarantees or work licenses. Some were not allowed to resume working for six months after their detention. There were also reports of attacks on Baha'is by unidentified assailants.

In the first week of August 2005, fourteen Baha'is were arrested from several cities, including Tehran. They were held in incommunicado detention, and there was concern from several sources that they were at risk of torture or ill treatment. During the rest of August and during September, nine more Baha'is were arrested in various cities. On September 17 and 19, three were released on bail. On September 5, four Baha'is were sentenced to ten months of imprisonment for opposition to the government. On the same day, the homes of nine Baha'is were searched in Yazd, and books, computers, tapes, videos, and CDs were confiscated.


On December 19, 2005, the longest imprisoned Baha'i, Zabihullah Mahrami, died in prison of unknown causes. He was arrested in 1995 and convicted of apostasy in 1996. He was forced to engage in hard labor at the penitentiary and regularly received death threats. His family was told he died of a heart attack, but Mahrami was reportedly in good health prior to his death.


On January 15, 2006, three Baha'is from Kermanshah were arrested on charges of "involvement in Baha'i activities and insulting Islam." Their homes and four others were raided the same day and books, documents, and other items were confiscated. On January 16, the Revolutionary Court set property worth more than US$30,000 as collateral for the three Baha'is, and they were released on January 20. On February 5, 2006, three Baha'is from Esfahan were arrested for coordinating Baha'i activities.


On March 18, 2006, Mehran Kawsari was released from jail without bail. He was tried in connection with the November 2004 open letter to then President Khatami that requested the restoration of human rights for the Baha'is and was charged with taking measures against the internal security of the government.


From May 9 to 11 2006, eleven Baha'i homes were raided in Shahinshahr, Najafabad, and Kashan but no arrests were made. On May 19, six Baha'i homes were raided in Shiraz, and notebooks, computers, books, and documents were seized. The homeowners were among the fifty-four Baha'is arrested that day. The individuals were mostly youths engaged in humanitarian service. With permission from the Islamic Council of Shiraz, they were teaching classes to poor children as part of a UNICEF program. On May 24-25, fifty-one out of fifty-four of the detainees were released. As of June 14, the remaining three had been released, initially for collateral payments of $54,600 per person but in the end solely based on personal guarantees.


On June 13 2006, one Baha'i man from Sanandaj was arrested and released on June 29 on unknown terms. There was an unconfirmed report of five more arrests in Shiraz, but no further information is yet available. On June 18, three Baha'is from Hamadan were arrested after government officials confiscated books, computers, and Baha'i documents, but they were released on bail on June 21. No details of the terms of their release were available. On June 21, one Baha'i from Baluchistan province was reportedly abducted, and authorities said they suspected criminal elements were involved. On June 28, one Baha'i was taken into custody and was being held in the Ministry of Information's detention center. This individual was previously arrested and released in August 2005.
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Pernicious institutional discrimination against Baha'is:

The forms of discrimination and repression of Baha'is in Iran may be less obvious say than outright physical attacks and imprisonment for many... For more Baha'is in Iran the government controls the issueing of workpermits..so you if you are a Baha'i you may not be able to work.. especially in a well paying job.

You are not permitted access to higher education because you must apply under the three or four recognized religions such as Islam, Judaism or Christianity. When Baha'is were denied access to higher education, they organized a system of higher education themselves for Baha'i students but the professors were then jailed and all the materials for education were seized by the government, so this is repression at it's worse.

You cannot work in the civil service. Many Baha'i civil servants were dismissed from their jobs because they were Baha'is and were then charged with paying back for their wages and benefits.

Do not be deceived when someone is released from jail in Iran..
You can be arrested without official cause and rearrested... once released you have to post a bond and provide a property deed worth ten to twenty thousand dollars. Your property can be seized if you are a Baha'i without any legal reason..or with a trrumped up "legal" reason.

The legal system in Iran offers no legal rights or protection to Baha'is, From the recent report from the State Department above:


"The legal system discriminates against religious minorities. In 2004 the Expediency Council approved appending a note to Article 297 of the 1991 Islamic Punishments Act, authorizing collection of equal "blood money" (diyeh) for the death of Muslims and non-Muslims. All women and Baha'i men were excluded from the equalization provisions of the bill. According to law, Baha'i blood is considered Mobah, meaning it can be spilled with impunity. "


Baha'is are charged with spying for Israel. Why? Because the headquarters of the Faith is in Haifa, Israel and communication occurs between the House of Justice and believers ... Baha'is go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land if they can travel and so communications, travel and sending contributions to our Admin istrative Center in Haifa are regarded as spying and collaboration with "Israel".

Baha'i marriage is not recognized in Iran so if a couple are married under Baha'i law they are regarded as being immoral and their children can be removed and placed with Muslim families.

Now this repression has been going on since the Islamic Revolution began over some years so while maybe those arrested are in the hundreds as opposed to thousands the oppression is in less obvious forms ...it is institutional and pervasive in the country and is designed to squeeze and deny access to the benefits of education, jobs and property for thousands and thousands of Baha'is.

- Art
 
What can we do from here that will help the oppressed in Iran, Art? I read the article, and I have some ideas, but no time to post them here right now. If Apartheid could be overcome, and Jim Crow busted up, can this be righted? And how long will it take--how many generations? Can the UN have any real influence, and will it listen to Americans at all right now?

Lifting up in prayer the Baha'i in Iran and other places, as well as others who are oppressed.

InPeace,
InLove
 
I really feel for people in this situation...it is a tough one...and some of these religous teachings/understandings exacerbate it all.

In my understanding....Moses came along and said all the old gods were wrong, and worshipping them were wrong, and we got Judaism.

Christians came along and said Jesus was the Messiah and now all the Jews are wrong.

Muhamed came along and said Jesus was a prophet not son of G-d or G-d and now all the Christians were wrong.

Bahaula came along and said he was Jesus returned and Imam Imadhi, and his word is the latest and greatest and now all the Muslims are wrong.

As long as one group keeps insisting they have all the answers and the rest of the world is wrong we will have issues.
 
It's not so much Wil that Baha'is are saying Muslims are "wrong" ...hardly, in fact we accept Prophet Muhammad and the Qur'an as a Holy Book ... You'll also note there are no sites attacking Islam run by Baha'is. Also we do not proselytize our faith...

What Baha'is have sought is only the right to exercise freedom of worship and to have our own institutions of governance.

Baha'is have no priests or Mullas and our only system of governance is electing Spiritual Assemblies that manage our communities but these ar eoutlawed in Iran and our last National Spiritual Assembly were abducted and "disappeared":

"On 21 August 1980, all nine members of the national Bahá’í governing council, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Iran, were abducted and disappeared without a trace. It seems certain that they were executed."

Source:

http://question.bahai.org/004.php

Also Baha'i properties in Iran including cemetaries and places of worship and administration have been seized, desecrated and never returned.

What you have in Iran Wil is a theocratic state that controls the lives and freedoms of it's citizens and violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that Iran itself has subscribed to...

So being aware of these things is important along with support I think for the efforts of the international community to ameliorate the situation.

- Art
 
arthra said:
It's not so much Wil that Baha'is are saying Muslims are "wrong" ...hardly, in fact we accept Prophet Muhammad and the Qur'an as a Holy Book ... You'll also note there are no sites attacking Islam run by Baha'is. Also we do not proselytize our faith...
I hear you. And am not trying to defend or argue, but to understand and co-exist as are you.

We know Iran is a theocracy, ever since they held hostages and got rid of our shah... Correct me if I am wrong. Islam says Muhammad is the last prophet, Bahaula claims to have been Imam Imadhi....Islam does not believe this any more than Judaism believes Jesus was the Messiah.

This is a huge conflict and while in some states religious freedom is granted (only recently has this become anywhere close to common) there are many areas where different beliefs are persecuted, especially those that are contrary to the theology of the governing body.

I know Bahai claim they don't proselytize....but saying that our religion is the combination and culmination of all religions is pretty much indicating the rest of us don't know what we are talking about. Be surprised if you will, but some will consider that somewhere between subliminal and blatant when it comes to recruiting and indicating others are wrong.

At an interfaith event I recently saw the Bahai representative set off the Imam with these comments...
 
Thanks for your post Wil!

Wil.. I don't think Baha'is are saying at all that "the rest of us don't know what we are talking about"... I've never expressed such a sentiment.

I've been active in inter-faith activities myself and collaborated closely with the Muslims where I live and we get along famously.

Baha'is in Iran have been submissive to their government and obeyed it's laws but no one can speak for their plight it seems but Baha'is who can do so and members of the international community.

One of the first things that can happen to people when they're persecuted is they are isolated and for others' to look for some reasons why the persecution could be justified... we call this "blaming the victim" and I guess it's a human trait to do this.

- Art
 
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