The National Spiritual Assembly [of the Bahá'í of the United States] has received an update about the situation of the Bahá'ís in Iran. We now know that at least 36 faculty members of the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education were arrested between September 29th and October 3rd in cities across the country. Most of these faculty members have now been released, but seven, five in Tabriz and two in Tehran, remain in custody.
The arrests were carried out by officers of the Iranian government's intelligence agency, the Ministry of Information, and also involved the seizure of textbooks, scientific papers and document records, some 70 computers and school furniture, including tables and benches.
Those who were arrested were asked to sign a document declaring that the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education had ceased to exist as of September 29th, and agreeing that they would no longer cooperate with it. The detainees refused to sign the document.
Intelligence officers raided more than 500 Bahá'í homes throughout Iran. When queried about the seizure of personal household effects, like television sets and pieces of furniture, these officers claimed that they had been authorized by the Attorney General to take anything they wished.
The wave of arrests and harassment bears the marks of a centrally orchestrated campaign intended to lend impetus to the declared policy of the Iranian Government to nullify the Bahá'í community and force its members to convert to Islam. This policy became widely known in 1993 when it was accidentally revealed that the Iranian Supreme Revolutionary Council had earlier adopted a position on "The Bahá'í Question" in a secret document dated February 25, 1991 and signed by Ayatollah Khamenei. The document contained such declarations as the following:
The Government's dealings with them must be in such a way that their progress and development are blocked.
They must be expelled from universities, either in the admission process or during the course of their studies, once it becomes known that they are Bahá'ís.
A plan must be devised to confront and destroy their cultural roots outside the country.
Deny them employment if they identify themselves as Bahá'ís.
Deny them any position of influence, such as in the educational sector, etc.
It is evident that the Iranian Government has worked at various means to achieve these ends; among them are the banning of the administrative institutions of the Faith, the disruption of the moral education classes for Bahá'í children and young people, the economic strangulation of the Bahá'ís through such means as the dismissal of Bahá'í employees, the denial of pensions and the confiscation of properties, and the prohibition of Bahá'í youth from entering institutions of higher learning in Iran. The recent attacks by Iranian authorities can be viewed as effecting only a part of this policy.
You are encouraged to incorporate this updated information into all of your future press releases and media contacts.
Many rumors have been circulating about the situation of the Bahá'ís in Iran. Some of these are true and some are false. The situation in Iran is changing rapidly, and until you hear otherwise from the National Spiritual Assembly, you should continue to act on the information that has been released by the National Assembly. Public information representatives, and the local Spiritual Assemblies that they represent, should follow the instructions and guidance already received from the National Assembly, and should not allow rumors to deter them from acting swiftly.
The institutions of the Faith are verifying information coming out of Iran, and as soon as new and reliable information is available, it will be conveyed to the friends. In the meantime, public information representatives should not rely on the statements and rumors of individual Bahá'ís, no matter how reliable these may seem.
With loving Bahá'í greetings,
Office of Public Information
Bahá'ís of the United States