Congressman Speaks out Against Iranian Oppression of Baha’is.

As the representative in Congress for the Baha’i Temple of North America, Mark Kirk knows that the Baha’i faith preaches peace, tolerance and diversity of thought—values embraced by Americans.  But in an oppressive dictatorship like Iran, Baha’i values pose a clear and present danger to the regime.

In March of 2006, just a few months into Ahmadinejad’s presidency, the Command Headquarters of Iran’s Armed Forces ordered the police, Revolutionary Guard and Ministry of Information to identify all Baha’is and collect information on their activities.

Two months later, the Iranian Association of Chambers of Commerce began compiling a list of Baha’is serving in every business sector.

In May of last year, 54 Baha’is were arrested in Shiraz and held for several days without trial—the largest roundup of Baha’is since the 1980s.  Then in August, Iran’s feared Ministry of the Interior ordered provincial officials to “cautiously and carefully monitor and manage” all Baha’i social activities.  The Central Security Office of Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology ordered 81 Iranian universities to expel any student discovered to be a Baha’i.  A letter issued in November from one university stated that it is Iranian policy to prevent Baha’is from enrolling in universities and to expel Baha’is upon discovery.

This year, the safety of Iranian Baha’is continued to deteriorate.  This year, 104 Baha’is were expelled from Iranian universities.  In February, police in Tehran and surrounding towns entered Baha’i homes and businesses to collect details on family members.  The First Branch of the Falard Public Court refused to hear a lawsuit “due to the plaintiffs’ belonging to the Bahaist sect.”

In April, the Iranian Public Intelligence and Security Force ordered 25 industries to deny business licenses to Baha’is.  The Ministry of Information threatened to shut down one company unless it fired all Baha’i employees.  Banks are closing Baha’i accounts and refusing loans to Baha’i applicants.  Just last week, the Iranian government bulldozed a Baha’i cemetery, erasing the memory of thousands of Iranian citizens. 

The U.S. State Department’s 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom paints an even darker picture.

“Broad restrictions on Bahá’ís severely undermined their ability to function as a community. The Government repeatedly offers Bahá’ís relief from mistreatment in exchange for recanting their faith.

“Bahá’ís may not teach or practice their faith or maintain links with coreligionists abroad. Bahá’ís are often officially charged with "espionage on behalf of Zionism”…

“Since late 2005 Bahá’ís have faced an increasing number of public attacks…Radio and television broadcasts have also increasingly condemned the Bahá’ís and their religion…

“Public and private universities continued either to deny admittance to or expel Bahá’í students.”

"As Kirk mentions on his blog, "We have seen this movie before—the opening scenes of one of the most horrific episodes in human history.  What happened to our solemn promise of ‘never again’ made in 1945?  Never again would the international community stay silent about laws banning one group from attending school.  Never again would we ignore orders to register with the government and report on your family’s whereabouts.  Never again would we welcome a leader who has ordered a religious minority to be subject to secret police monitors and nightly round-ups."

Congressman Kirk asks: "When President Ahmadinejad rose to address the student body at Columbia—a school extolling the virtues of tolerance and diversity—why was there no mention of Baha’i student expulsion in Iran?  This is a defining moment for our new century.  The lessons of the 20th century gave us all the warning signs of what will come if we do not speak out.  The Iranian President has spoken – will we?"

“Then they came for…” the Baha’is  — we pray the poem ends differently this time.

4 Responses to “Congressman Speaks out Against Iranian Oppression of Baha’is.”

  1. kurt

    Kirk spoke out for the Iraqis too until it came time to fulfill their real needs. Be careful with this one. He’s a user and a politician.

  2. Burl Barer

    Hey, the USA armed our good buddy Sadam and treated him like a pal when he was having his border war with Iran. Aside from killing him, the second most rude thing that was done was to portray him as an ally of the Terrorists when he HATED THEM, saw them as a threat to his regime, and was hunting them down. He was a jerk, true, but even jerks don’t deserve to die in lies.

  3. david Zarkin

    How would the Columbia University students know about religious persection in Iran?
    This has never been reported in MSM (like a lot of other stuff).
    We need to keepp the pressure on media to report the news.

  4. burl barer

    Report the NEWS??? David, you worked for major media news outlets, so you know that NEWS on TV isn’t real news…it’s formula entertainment with a proven, predictable structure. If American’s watch TV for news, they won’t know a damn thing.


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