Situation of Iranian Bahá’ís

Situation of Baha’is in Iran

Media reports

Reports in the news media about the situation of Iranian Baha’is

The Guardian30 March 2012

The first day of April is traditionally a day of fun and laughter in Britain. For most Iranians it is Sizdah-Bidar – a time of family, picnics, and outdoor celebration. But for Iran's seven Baha'i leaders, it has another meaning: 10,000 cumulative days of unjustified imprisonment, with no prospect of release until 2028. Shut away from the world, their "family" is now the hundreds of other prisoners of conscience that languish in Iran's prisons. The seven are distinguished for their services to society, not criminality, yet they now survive in cramped, pestilential conditions, lacking essential medical care. Their suffering is emblematic of the human rights crisis in Iran. An international campaign is being launched to raise awareness of their plight.

Tagesschau.de27 February 2012

The pressure on members of the Baha'i Faith – of which some 200 have been executed since the Islamic Revolution – has grown significantly under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Currently there are according to the German Baha'i community 97 community members in Iranian custody, among them also is the entire seven-member executive committee…

The Huffington Post5 January 2012

Some in Iran continue to “face appalling levels of abuse, oppression, and injustice,” write Canada’s former minister of foreign affairs and president of the University of Winnipeg, Lloyd Axworthy, and Allan Rock – who is president of the University of Ottawa and former Canadian ambassador to the UN. “Prominent among Iranian victims of hidden but unrelenting persecution are members of the Baha'i faith, Iran's largest non-Muslim religious minority…The Baha'i of Iran continue to be systematically persecuted. Over the past few years, many of their leaders have been detained and then sentenced to imprisonment following fraudulent trials. Hundreds more have been thrown into prison solely because of their beliefs. Baha'i businesses have been routinely shut down. Their cemeteries have been desecrated.”

Times Higher Education22 December 2011

Matthew Reisz reports how Baha’is denied access to state universities face a new threat to their Baha’i Institute for Higher Education. “[T]oday a dark cloud hangs over the future of the institute. A number of people with links to it were arrested in May and put on trial in September, prompting Nobel peace laureates Desmond Tutu and Jose Ramos-Horta, president of East Timor, to write an open letter of protest under the title "Iran's war against knowledge", which called for their immediate release.”

Taiwan News20 December 2011

The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution Monday denouncing serious human rights violations in Iran…The resolution singles out problems facing Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis and Kurds as well as Baha'is, Christians, Jews, Sufis, Sunni Muslims and Zoroastrians…Bani Dugal, the Baha'i International Community's U.N. representative, said approval of the resolution "confirms Iran's unhappy distinction of being one of the foremost violators of human rights in the world today." "It also testifies to the fact it's much more than just a few minorities or dissidents that are living under a state of siege, facing the daily threat of harassment, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, along with torture and the threat of violence," Dugal said.

The Times19 December 2011

…The largest non-Muslim religion in Iran, the Baha’i Faith is under attack…They are barred from higher education and government service. The remorseless message that some Iranians are non-citizens has sobering precedents in recent history. Fortunately Iran’s predominately young population has seen through the hollowness of the rulers’ ideology. Western governments should stand with them and insist on the fundamental right to freedom of religion and worship.

Folha de São Paulo4 November 2011

In an open letter, a group of 26 international filmmakers, producers and actors urged the Brazilian government…to defend the rights of filmmakers, journalists and Baha’i university professors imprisoned in Iran and called for their immediate release. Among the signatories are filmmakers Atom Egoyan, Beto Brant, Daniela Thomas, Frederic Boyer, Guido Chiesa, Hector Babenco, Jorge Furtado, Lais Bodanzky, Lucia Murat, Mohsen Makhmalbaf and Walter Salles. The theatre director Antunes Filho and Renata de Almeida, director of the Sao Paulo International Film Festival, also signed the document.

Wall Street Journal (Subscription required)28 October 2011

In an article, Firuz Kazemzadeh – professor emeritus of history at Yale and a former commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom – writes, “The rights of Iran's Bahais cannot be separated from the human rights of the general population. That journalists, artists and activists languish in jails; that students are excluded from universities based on their religion; that seven Bahai leaders have been condemned to prison for 20 years and seven Bahai educators now face a similar fate; that all Bahais are virtual outlaws in their native land—it's all part of a single assault on human dignity. One hopes the rest of the world won't close its eyes.”

CNN22 October 2011

Iranian media outlets have "systematically stirred up" widespread contempt toward the country's 300,000-strong Baha'i religious minority, the group says. The Baha'i International Community issued a report Friday entitled "Inciting Hatred: Iran's media campaign to demonize Baha'is." The report "documents and analyzes more than 400 media items over a 16-month period." The result, the Baha'is say, is an "insidious state-sponsored effort" to discredit the Baha'is with "false accusations, inflammatory terminology, and repugnant imagery." …

The Australian19 October 2011

Academics in Australia are to protest to the Iranian ambassador about educational discrimination against Baha'is in their homeland. Signatures have been gathered from 73 academics, including University of Ballarat vice-chancellor David Battersby, objecting to the longstanding ban on Baha'is attending university, and the arrest earlier this year of 16 Baha'i academics…The letter from the academics says: "We understand many of those arrested are still in prison simply for being part of an initiative which provides higher education to those otherwise denied access to Iranian universities" and calls for their immediate release.

University World News16 October 2011

More than 40 distinguished philosophers and theologians from 16 countries have joined in the condemnation of Iran's policy to bar young Baha'is and others from higher education.

The Daily Telegraph10 October 2011

Religious academics from universities across the world have denounced a campaign of official persecution against Iran's Baha'i minority. The move comes after authorities in Tehran stepped up measures to prevent members of the faith receiving a university education. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, 43 prominent professors and lecturers in the fields of theology and religious studies demanded the reversal of a ban imposed on Iran's Baha'i institute for Higher Education and the release of 11 of its members of staff from prison.

Folha de São Paulo8 October 2011

Brazilian Leonardo Boff, theoretician of Liberation Theology, is one of 43 theologians, philosophers, and religious scholars…who have signed an open letter in support of the Baha’i community… For Boff, the repression of the Baha 'i Faith is due to its universality: "It's the most ecumenical religion of the world. It's not important what name you use for God - He is the supreme principle governing all things. Christians, Jews or Muslims can support this issue, without betraying their own religions. It is a religion of modern times" he says.

The Huffington Post25 September 2011

"Freedom of education and freedom of information are integral to freedom of thought," write Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the President of East Timor. "So it is particularly shocking when despots and dictators in the twenty-first century attempt to subjugate their own populations by attempting to deny education or information to their people."

University World News4 September 2011

In an open letter to Iran's Minister for Higher Education, the Baha'i International Community has called for an end to "the unjust and oppressive practices" that bar Baha'is and other young Iranians from university.

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