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

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty9 August 2010

A Baha'i international community official says the 20-year prison sentences given to seven leaders of Iran's Baha'i community are "completely unjust" and based on fabricated charges, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports… Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i international community representative to the United Nations in Geneva, told Radio Farda that the Baha'i community is demanding the immediate release of all seven Baha'is. She added that they "were kept in solitary confinement for interminable periods of time without knowing the charges against them, while their temporary arrest was extended every two months."

Expatica9 August 2010

AFP - Iran has sentenced seven leading members of its Bahai religious minority to 20-year jail terms, French and US members of the faith told AFP on Monday. The United States and the European Union had criticised Iran's detention of the Bahai members, and their reported jailing will revive calls for Tehran's Islamic regime to respect religious freedom. "On Sunday, authorities announced 20-year sentences orally to the defendants' lawyers," said Sophie Menard, spokeswoman for the Bahai community in France, adding that the group was awaiting confirmation of the terms. "The lawyers have begun proceedings to seek an appeal, which ought to allow them access to the written judgements," she explained.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty29 June 2010

Some 50 houses owned by members of Iran's Baha'i religious minority have been demolished in a village northeast of Tehran, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports. The incident took place on June 26 in Ivel, not far from the city of Sari in Mazandaran Province. Radio Farda spoke on June 27 to Baha'i Natoly Derakhshan, who witnessed the destruction of the homes. He told the station that the houses were first set on fire and later demolished by four bulldozers. "We informed the governor's office that they were destroying our houses, but they did nothing to prevent it," Derakhshan said.

Le Monde28 May 2010

The Islamic Republic of Iran is continuing its unremitting persecution of the Baha’i community…To the desecration of cemeteries, arson against homes, destruction of holy places and shrines, deprivation from earning a livelihood, and the denial of access to higher education are now ever more frequently being added revolving-door arrests sometimes followed, sometimes not, by release on bail (for increasingly exorbitant sums of money, as is the case for all prisoners of conscience in Iran). The proof that the only reason for these arrests is the individuals’ religious beliefs: whatever the charges, they are all dismissed if the Baha’i agrees to sign a commitment to convert to Shi’ite Islam.

Washington Post13 May 2010

An op-ed by Roxana Saberi, Iranian-American journalist jailed in Iran for a time last year, states: “Iranian officials sometimes claim that the regime is impervious to outside pressure over its treatment of prisoners or that it reacts negatively to such attention. … I later learned that … silence has usually harmed, rather thanhelped, political prisoners.” And, “when everyday citizens speak out against Iran’s human rights violations, Tehran has a tougher time.” During part of her imprisonment, Ms. Saberi shared a cell with the two Baha’i women who are among the group of seven detained the past two years in Evin prison.

Human Rights Watch13 April 2010

Late on the evening of March 2, members of the Iranian intelligence ministry entered Navid Khanjani’s home in the city of Esfahan and arrested him. The next day, they conducted similar raids at the homes of Eeghan Shahidi, Sama Nourani, Hesam Misaghi and Sepehr Atefi.

Aftenposten, Norway12 April 2010

In January, the seven leaders of the Baha’i community of Iran were formally charged with, among other things, corruption on earth, punishable by death by hanging. The Iranian Shia Muslim Islamic regime uses the gallows frequently, and the risk that the seven will be executed must be regarded as a distinct possibility.

NRC Handelsblad, the Netherlands9 April 2010

Hidden behind the persecution of the Iranian political opposition, the Baha’is are being mercilessly oppressed. At least 60 followers of the Baha’i Faith are languishing behind bars in solitary confinement. Their leaders, the “seven friends” or “Yaran,” have been in prison since the spring of 2008. … Nearly on a daily basis – unnoticed by the world press – Baha’is are being arrested straight from their beds.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty8 April 2010

Of the hundreds of political prisoners in Iranian jails, there is one group, probably the only one, who have been tried and imprisoned not for attending demonstrations and not for writing and speaking publicly against the government, but simply for being members of a persecuted faith: the Baha'is. On April 10, seven prominent members of Iran's Baha'i community are going to face their third court hearing in Tehran since they were arrested two years ago.

Inter Press Service5 April 2010

In an interview following publication of her new book, Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi talks about her four-month imprisonment in Iran and the human rights situation in that country. During part of her incarceration, she shared a cell with two Baha’i prisoners.

El Pais, Spain20 March 2010

Arash Arjomandi, 39, talks about his Baha’i beliefs more easily than he talks about fleeing Iran at the age of 8 with his family. He wants the world to know the beliefs that in his native country cause the clergy to persecute the Baha’is to the death. The Baha’i Faith, for example, defends the principle (revolutionary!) that “women should have the same opportunities as men …”

CNN13 March 2010

The U.S. State Department condemned Iran's persecution of religious minorities on Friday following the Iranian authorities' detention of Baha'is and Christians in recent months. Iranian authorities have detained more than 45 Baha'is in the last four months, and as many as 60 Baha'is are imprisoned in Iran on the basis of their religion beliefs, the State Department said.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty10 March 2010

“The economic stress is severe on the Baha’is,” says Sovaida Ma'ani Ewing, international lawyer and author of the book Collective Security Within Reach, “the social stress is severe, and there’s constant fear that someone’s going to break into your house and take your family members. That’s what life’s like. You’re in constant fear that you’re going to lose everything, up to and including your life.”

VOAnews.com14 February 2010

The Iranian press is reporting that a number of Baha'is have been arrested, along with opposition activists, journalists, and human-rights defenders, during an ongoing crackdown. U.S. officials will speak Monday at a U.N. Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva to urge Iran to improve its human-rights record. Members of Iran's persecuted Baha'i minority have been the focus of a recent series of arrests, according to leaders of the group and the Iranian press.

Le Monde5 February 2010

An open letter signed by 36 French academics calls for the Baha’i leaders in Iran to be freed. “We ask that this systematic ill-treatment, orchestrated by the most radical wing of the clergy and the State ceases, that Iran recognizes freedom of conscience, and that these men and women are released.”