Bahai News - Baha'is: We continue to suffer persecution in Iran
Tuesday, July 18 2000 10:01 15 Tammuz 5760
Baha'is: We continue to suffer persecution in Iran
By David Rudge
HAIFA (July 18) - More than 200 Baha'is in Iran have been executed for
their beliefs in the past 20 years, Douglas Samimi-Moore, spokesman for
the Baha'i International Community, said yesterday.
The most recent execution was carried out two years ago. Scores
remain in prison and some are still facing execution.
"Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, there has been a wave of
persecution targeted against the Baha'is with the aim, in recent times
at least, of bringing about the slow death of the Baha'i community,"
"The Baha'i faith is not a recognized religion in Iran. It does not
enjoy constitutional protection or any of the human rights, even those
that are minimally extended to other minority groups, even though it is
the largest religious minority in Iran, with 350,000 people.
"Since 1979, more than 200 members of our leadership, people who had
served on our national governing councils, have been executed, usually
without trial - summary executions on the basis of charges of the most
"The United Nations Human Rights Commission has come out with
resolution after resolution which have been endorsed by the General
Assembly over the years. Other countries have raised their voices in
protest, so that indeed the eyes of the world are on Iran.
"Despite all that, we still have Baha'is in prison and some under
sentence of death. Bahai's are still not allowed to conduct normal lives
- go to school or enter into business for instance - while public
gatherings of Baha'is are still severely restricted," he said.
The faith originated in Iran in the mid-19th century and is based on
the writings of the founder, Baha'u'llah. He taught the unity of
religious truth, the oneness of God and the human family, equality
between men and women, and that humanity is in a period of transition
which will ultimately lead to a peaceful, global civilization.
Baha'u'llah was exiled from Iran and eventually imprisoned in Acre,
then a prison colony of the Ottoman Empire. He spent the remainder of
his days in Palestine and died in 1892. His remains are interred at a
shrine north of Acre.
Shortly before his death, Baha'u'llah visited Haifa and instructed
his oldest son and designated heir, Abdu'l-Baha, to construct a shrine
in the city that would house the remains of "The Bab" - the forerunner
of the Baha'i faith who had proclaimed the coming of Baha'u'llah.
The shrine was constructed in 1909 and now forms part of a massive
complex on the face of the Mount Carmel, which is the world center for
the faith, which has six million followers in 200 countries and
"We are very hopeful, but until now there has not been any official
recognition of the [Iranian] Baha'i community," said Samimi-Moore, in a
meeting with journalists yesterday to preview the scheduled opening to
the public in May next year of the terraced gardens that form part of
the Baha'i complex.
"There haven't been any recent crackdowns, but there was an execution
of one of our members as recently as late 1998, and there are ongoing
appeals for Baha'is still under death sentence.
"The reasons for their arrests are various. The Baha'is in Iran have
been contributing toward the buildings, terraces and supporting the
world center here in Israel virtually since Baha'u'llah was exiled here,
and one of the charges against them is that they are supporters of
Israel and agents of Zionism.
"Baha'is are also charged with prostitution, primarily because Baha'i
marriages are not recognized by the Iranian regime and therefore the
Baha'i women are living in sin. Baha'is are also accused of been agents
or spies for what the Iranians describe as the Western imperialist
powers. Basically, Bahai's in Iran are regarded and treated as heretics.
"For us the real litmus test of the movements for reform in Iran will
be their attitude to the Baha'i faith. This will show whether they are
progressive and forward-oriented or not," Samimi-Moore added.
©Copyright 2000, Jerusalem Post
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