Thirty years of state sponsored repression in Iran for the Baha’i community.

(This was originally posted on 14 Feb 2009 at Antipodes Baha'i Studies) 

The Islamic revolution which installed Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini in power attains its 30 year anniversary this month. For much of that time the Iranian Baha’i community along with other ethnic and social minorities in that republic have suffered official opprobation, quasi judicial executions, systematic social exclusion and shunning, destruction of cemeteries and holy places, disenfranchisement from educational institutions, campaigns of propaganda and disinformation in what amounts to cultural genocide. This situation in Iran has been well documented through the efforts of the Baha’is themselves through their engagement with the United Nations system and a host of human rights agencies and activists as well as academics interested in documenting and researching the plight of the Bahai’is in Iran. The Baha’i community published several years ago a document and online resource called The Baha’i Question: Cultural Cleansing in Iran . This has been updated in late 2008 and is an excellent review of the range of deprivations and insecurities inflicted upon the Baha’i community of Iran since 1979. This document can be dowloaded well as read online.

One of the agencies which has been endeavouring to document the unfolding events in Iran is the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center in New Haven Connecticut. This organisation has produced a new report in addition to two substantial prior reports. This legal report complements two earlier IHRDC publications documenting the Islamic Republic’s state-sponsored campaign of persecution against its Bahá’ís citizens: A Faith Denied The Persecution of the Bahá’ís of Iran (2006) and Community Under Siege: The Ordeal of the Bahá’ís of Shiraz . The two prior reports meticulously present facts surrounding the targeting, unlawful arrest, prolonged detention, torture and summary execution of nearly 207 Bahá’ís since 1979. The first report provides an overview of the abuses of the Bahá’ís in Iran both historically and since the founding of the Islamic Republic. The second report is an in-depth case study of one particularly notorious instance of persecution. The instant companion for the earlier reports provides a brief legal analysis of the abuses documented therein, and argues that the acts committed against Iran’s Bahá’ís conflict with the principles of common humanity under international criminal law and amount to crimes against humanity. Individual Iranian officials may be subject to liability, now or in the future, for crimes against humanity in various courts. The new report, Crimes Against Humanity: The Islamic Republic’s Attacks on the Bahá’ís (2008) is available online from the IHRDC.

The Human Rights Watch organization recently issued its World Report 2009. This almanac of the status of human rights in nation-states across the globe was issued on January 14, 2009. The Iran section of the report includes reference to the Baha’i situation. The United Nations Secretary General, reported on the general human rights situation in Iran to the General Assembly, Report of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (October 2008), which brought to attention, once again, the long-standing issues affecting the Baha’is of Iran.

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