Archive for March, 2006

White House concerned re: Baha’is in Iran

White House Spokesman expresses President’s concern over worsening situation of the Baha’is in Iran

U.S. Baha’i News, Tuesday, 28 March 2006
At the March 28 White House press briefing, Spokesman Scott McClellan said President George Bush is concerned over last week’s announcement by a UN official that government persecution of the Baha’is in Iran is intensifying….

Also see this column from the Times of London

Fresh fears for Baha’is of Iran

The Baha’i Faith is not recognised in Iran, where the government classifies Baha’is as “unprotected infidels”. As such the Baha’is of that country have faced human rights abuses, torture, imprisonment, denial of education, execution and the like for many years - even though they have no political motive and the foundation of their belief is the oneness of humanity.

I was born in Iran and following the Islamic Revolution there in the late 70s, there was an intensified wave of persecution against the Baha’is. In the midst of attempts to locate my father and arrest him on charge of being a Baha’i, our family fled the country.

It’s lucky that I’m making this post today from the comfort of my Sydney apartment - it could have been so different, on several occasions. Like the day that the Revolutionary Guards stormed our home in Mashad. Since my father who was the primary target was absent, my mother, younger siblings and I were to be the consolation catch. As the man of the family that day, being six years old, I stood like a statue in front of mum to protect her, towering to her waist. Apparently the AK-47 clad “brothers” were sympathetic on this occasion and after some deliberation and reasoning from my mother, left us at home. Then there was the day they stormed my grandfather’s house, trashed the place, interrogated him and shoved him about before incarcerating him. Now and then, if we were lucky, us grandkids got to see him for a few minutes. After being thrust violenty into his visiting booth, he’d pull funny faces for us and pretend they were playing games back there. They did play games, including being paraded as animals in their minutes away from the confines of a toilet space packed with about nine Baha’is. One could lie down at a time in there, so they’d take turns. They were mostly members of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Tehran, ordinary folk who unasked, were elected to care for their community. Almost all of them were soon executed.

My wife Jen and I are elected members of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Willoughby (this year anyway), and we got it pretty good in comparison. In fact Jen will be meeting our MP, the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson next week to alarm him to new developments in Iran, which threaten to put that country’s Baha’is in great and iminent danger. We hope that with the support of the international community, the Baha’is of Iran do not become subject to the horrendous potentialities of blind prejudice and hatred, and that their day of emancipation draws closer. I’ve posted an article with links on these recent developments below:

March 20: Following new information brought to light at the United Nations, there is renewed fear for the welfare of the Bahá’ís of Iran.

A statement from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief cited “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” which calls for secret and comprehensive monitoring of Bahá’ís and their activities.

This follows several months of intensified rhetoric against the Bahá’ís in the Iranian media. The press has published slander aiming to discredit the Bahá’ís and denigrate their community, history and Holy Figures. Baseless allegations aimed at discrediting the Bahá’ís have included charges of espionage, Zionism, conspiracy of Western Colonialism and rabid immorality. Despite being Iran’s largest religious minority, the Bahá’ís are not recognised except as “unprotected infidels.”

In response to the United Nations statement, Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Bahá’ís at the United Nations, expressed the concern of the Baha’i International 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.”

Other Links for information:

Information about the Hojjatieh Society, a specifically anti-Bahá’í organized by a charismatic Shiite Muslim cleric.

The Bahá’í Question: Cultural cleansing in Iran (official Bahá’í website)


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