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Bahas persecuted in Iran - The Statesman

Statesman News Service ()
November 10, 1998

Title: Baha'is persecuted in Iran
Author: Statesman News Service
Publication: The Statesman
Date: November 10, 1998

Between 29 September and 3 October, this year, 36 teachers were
arrested, two persons sentenced to death and 532 homes were
raided in Iran. The victims have one common feature - they
belonged to the Baha'i faith.

Since 1978, nearly 200 Baha'is have been executed by the Iranian
Government. Several hundreds many more have been deprived of
their jobs, pensions, businesses and educational opportunities,
according to senior Baha'i leaders in India who are constantly
monitoring the scene in Iran.

Living under a constant threat of persecution, the Baha'is in
Iran, according to them, fear that the government has not given
up on its goal destroying the 350,000 member community.

The proof, according to them, lies in a secret government
memorandum addressing the "Baha'i Question", which sets forth to
ensure that the progress and development of the community is

In 1987, the community set up the Baha'i Institution for Higher
Education for students who were denied the basic right to
education by the Iranian Government, for their audacity in
identifying themselves with a religion that postdates Islam.

The euphoria of producing a well-educated younger generation
from the community ended with the sweeping raids in late
September and early October this year. At least 36 members of
university's faculty and staff were arrested and equipment and
records confiscated.

Those arrested during the raids were asked to sign a document
declaring that the institute ceased to exist as of 29 September
and they would no longer associate with it. They refused, but
were subsequently released.

Baha'is point out that among other significant human rights
conventions, Iran is a party to the International Covenant on
economic, social and cultural rights, adopted by the U N General
Assembly, which recognised the right of everyone to education.

Excerpts from the report on the "Baha'i Question" confirm their
worst fears:

* They (Baha'is) can be enrolled in schools provided they have
not identified themselves as Baha'is.

* Preferably, they should be enrolled in schools which have a
strong and imposing religious ideology.

* Propaganda institutions (such as the Islamic Propaganda
Organisation) must establish an independent section to counter
the propaganda and religious activities of the Baha'is.

* A plan must be devised to confront and destroy their cultural
roots outside the country.

* Deny them employment if they identify themselves as Baha'is.

* Deny them any position of influence, such as in the
educational sector.

Stamped "confidential", the document indicated clearly that it
was prepared at the behest of the leader of the Islamic Republic
of Iran, Ali Khamenei, and the president of Iran, Hashemi
Rafsanjani. The memorandum came to light in the 1993 report by
Special Representative Reynaldo Galindo Pohl to the Commission
of Human Rights. The United Nations expressed deep concern at
the continuing reports of human rights violation in the Islamic
republic of Iran, the discriminatory treatment mreted out to
certain groups due to their religious beliefs, notably the

The organisation has called upon the government to comply with
the international instruments on human rights, to which the
Islamic Republic of Iran is a party. Since President Khatami
took office, there has been no discernible improvement in the
situation of the Baha'is in Iran.

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