Friday, May 16, 2008

Will this country never change?

Back in the 1980's, after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, several members of my family were imprisoned and executed because of their activities as members of the Baha'i Faith, whom the authorities regard as infidels. Back then the Baha'is were usually charged with things like "spying for Israel" or "promoting prostitution" (the latter because the Islamic government does not recognize Baha'i marriages). Things are starting to look alarming again.

The article below refers to the abduction and execution of the national-level governing council of the Baha'is back then. The Baha'is quickly reconstituted another nine-member governing body, which the Iranian government again abducted and executed. One of our former CHC doctors lost both of his parents to those executions. His father was a member of the first group, and his mother was elected onto the second group. He was a college student in the States at the time.

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NEW YORK, 15 May 2008 (BWNS) -- Six Baha'i leaders in Iran were arrested and taken to the notorious Evin prison yesterday in a sweep that is ominously similar to episodes in the 1980s when scores of Iranian Baha'i leaders were summarily rounded up and killed.

The six men and women, all members of the national-level group that helped see to the minimum needs of Baha'is in Iran, were in their homes Wednesday morning when government intelligence agents entered and spent up to five hours searching each home, before taking them away.

The seventh member of the national coordinating group was arrested in early March in Mashhad after being summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence office there on an ostensibly trivial matter.

"We protest in the strongest terms the arrests of our fellow Baha'is in Iran," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations. "Their only crime is their practice of the Baha'i Faith."

"Especially disturbing is how this latest sweep recalls the wholesale arrest or abduction of the members of two national Iranian Baha'i governing councils in the early 1980s -- which led to the disappearance or execution of 17 individuals," she said.

"The early morning raids on the homes of these prominent Baha'is were well coordinated, and it is clear they represent a high-level effort to strike again at the Baha'is and to intimidate the Iranian Baha'i community at large," said Ms. Dugal.

Arrested yesterday were: Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr.Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm. All live in Tehran. Mrs. Kamalabadi, Mr. Khanjani, and Mr. Tavakkoi have been previously arrested and then released after periods ranging from five days to four months.

Arrested in Mashhad on 5 March 2008 was Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, who also resides in Tehran. Mrs. Sabet was summoned to Mashhad by the Ministry of Intelligence, ostensibly on the grounds that she was required to answer questions related to the burial of an individual in the Baha'i cemetery in that city.

On 21 August 1980, all nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Iran were abducted and disappeared without a trace. It is certain that they were killed.

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Iran was reconstituted soon after that but was again ravaged by the execution of eight of its members on 27 December 1981.

A number of members of local Baha'i governing councils, known as local Spiritual Assemblies, were also arrested and executed in the early 1980s, before an international outcry forced the government to slow its execution of Baha'is. Since 1979, more than 200 Baha'is have been killed or executed in Iran, although none have been executed since 1998.

In 1983, the government outlawed all formal Baha'i administrative institutions and the Iranian Baha'i community responded by disbanding its National Spiritual Assembly, which is an elected governing council, along with some 400 local level elected governing councils. Baha'is throughout Iran also suspended nearly all of their regular organizational activity.

The informal national-level coordinating group, known as the Friends, was established with the knowledge of the government to help cope with the diverse needs of Iran's 300,000-member Baha'i community, which is the country's largest religious minority.

3 comments:

Victor Kulkosky said...

I'm particularly worried about the escalating radicalism of the current leadership. They seem impervious to outside influence and cranking up the volume on all fronts. Pray hard!

Anonymous said...

Dave,

When I heard of this news I immediately thought of you and your family. My thoughts and wishes are with those in harms way.

Randy

Marianas Eye said...

Thanks for your support, guys. This is one of those global human rights issues that can easily get lost.