Violation of Human Hights of the Baha'is in Iran - By Dr. Fereshteh Behtel

(Submitted by Art-in-Mind. This is the summery of a speech by Dr. Behtel in a seminar on human rights on May 10, 2009 in Irvine that was organized by Art-in-Mind. Except for agnosticism, Art-in-Mind does not advocate any spiritual belief system; however, it respects any faith that denounces all forms of war and violence.)

Ever since 1844, the20year of the inception of the Baha'i Faith in Iran , its fore-runner, The Bab, (i.e., The Gate), and its founder, Baha'u'llah, (i.e., Glory of God), and followers have been persecuted and over 20,000 of them executed by the government, clergy, or the people of Iran . This type of reaction to a new religion is not uncommon when one reviews the atrocities that befell the early followers of major world religions, (e.g. Jews, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and others).

Initially, the objection against the Baha'is was a genuine one – one of a theological nature --, however, since the 1930s, Baha'is have successively been accused of being tools of Russian imperialism, of British colonialism, of American expansionism, and most recently, of Zionism!  However, there is no proof or evidence in support of these false charges. Especially, in lieu of the fact that Baha'is are forbidden by the teachings of their Faith to get involved in party politics, since any undertaking that is divisive is against the spirit of the main objective of this Faith, namely, the unification of the entire human race.  Th e fact that the international headquarters of the Baha'i Faith is located in Israel is purely the result of Baha'u'llah’s banishment from his native Tehran . In the 19th century, he was sent by Persian and Ottoman authorities to perpetual exile in the city of Acre , near Haifa .  Baha'u'llah arrived in Acre in 1868, 80 years prior to the establishment of the state of Israel .  The Iranian government knows this fact of history.

Although, the persecution against the Baha'is has had its high and low points, they were never lifted entirely!  The most recent, well-orchestrated wave of persecutions and executions began about 30 years ago, at a relatively steady pace, with the onset of the Revolution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and continues to this day.  In the 1980s it included the abduction and execution of the elected members of two National, and several Local Baha'i Governing Bodies, and some members of the appointed institutions, followed by the execution of common folks, in which included 10 Baha'i girls and women, the youngest being Mona Mahmoud-Nejad, a 17-yr-old high school student who was teaching virtues to Baha'i children, who had been expelled from school because of their religious beliefs. Simultaneously, there was also the official governmental injunction to ban all Baha'i institutions -- governing bodies--, burning a living Baha'i couple to death, firing Baha'is from their employment, cutting off pensions from the retirees, closing down businesses, freezing financial assets, torture, physical beatings, vilifying children at school and expelling them, burning homes, and much more.

However, with all the false accusations against the Baha'is, if these people would have just recanted their belief in Baha'u'llah and say that they are no longer Baha'is by making very negative and vulgar remarks against it, and going back to Islam, their lives, wealth, education, etc. would have been returned to them.

In summary, currently, the nature of harassments against the Baha'is include: arrests, detention, imprisonment lasting for days, months or years; direct intimidation and questioning by authorities, sometimes with the use of high-interview lights and physical mistreatment; searches of homes and businesses, usually with Baha'i books and other items confiscated; school expulsions and prohibitions to attend universities; monitoring of the bank accounts, movements, and activities, including official questioning, requiring them to give information about their lives, actions, neighbors, etc.; denial or confiscation of business licenses and denial of work opportunities in general; denial of rightful inheritances; physical assaults; efforts to drive Baha'is out of towns and villages; desecration and destruction of Baha'i cemeteries and harassment over burial rights; dissemination, including official news media, of misinformation and incitement of hatred; evictions from places of business, including doctors from their offices and clinics; intimidation of Muslims who associate with Baha'is; attempts by authorities to get Baha'is to spy on other Baha'is; threatening phone calls and letters; denial of pension rights; denial of access to publishing or copying facilities for Baha'i literature; and confiscation of property.

However, with experiencing all these atrocities, Baha’is have met the test of their faith with steadfastness and fortitude, and the more they are under pressure to give up20their belief in the Baha’I Faith, the firmer they become in their Faith and building the new World Order of Baha’u’llah, which is destined to bring good to humanity.  


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May 16, 2009
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