Baha'i News: Iran's human rights violations: international condemnation spreads

From Baha’i World News Service - Subscribe <>
Date Sun, 26 Jun 2011 14:12:00 +0300

Baha'i World News Service
For more information, contact

Iran's human rights violations: international condemnation spreads

GENEVA, 26 June 2011 (BWNS) – The worldwide outcry against the persecution of 
Iran's Baha'i community has been joined by the Chilean Senate, a Muslim Senator 
in Canada, and prominent Indian organizations.

The latest calls – for an end to both the imprisonment of Iran's seven Baha'i 
leaders and the continuing detention of 12 staff and faculty members of the 
Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) – have coincided with the sending 
of a message to the Baha'is of Iran by the Universal House of Justice.

The letter, written in Persian and dated 17 June, dismisses as "baseless" and 
"absurd" statements by the Iranian authorities that the Baha'i community's 
effort to educate its young members is "illegal." 

It also upbraids those in Iran who, it says, have shunned true Islamic values, 
the laws of their land, and the nation's proud history of learning and 
knowledge, and have allowed themselves – based on ignorant religious prejudice 
– to deny young citizens of their higher education. 

"Unjust detention"

In Chile, the Senate has unanimously asked President Sebastian Pinera to 
"strongly condemn" Iran for its "rigorous and systematic persecution of 

In a resolution approved unanimously on 15 June, the Chilean Senate 
specifically mentioned the arrests last month of BIHE faculty and staff, 
objecting to the "unjust detention of those individuals."

The Senate noted that, "since 1979 the government of Iran has systematically 
denied higher education to young adherents of its largest non-Muslim religious 
minority, the large Baha'i community of 300,000 believers.

"The government also has sought to suppress the efforts of the Baha'is to 
establish their own initiatives, including the Baha'i Institute for Higher 
Education (BIHE)."

A passionate plea

In the Canadian Senate, Senator Mobina Jaffer has asked for "new steps" by 
Canada to "call Iran to account for its unacceptable treatment of the Baha'is."

Senator Jaffer – who is Canada's first Muslim Senator – spoke for more than 15 
minutes on 21 June about the human rights situation in Iran, decrying the 
country’s "brutal campaign of oppression against its citizens."

"Last September, the UN catalogued the abuses perpetrated by Iran, including 
torture and cruelty, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, public 
executions and executions of juvenile defenders, the use of stoning as a 
measure of execution, violation of women's rights, violations of the rights of 
minorities, and restrictions on freedom of assembly and association and freedom 
of opinion and expression," she said.

Much of her speech, however, was devoted to a discussion of the Iranian 
government's persecution of Baha'is, saying that the situation "is a case study 
of the real intentions of the Iranian government with respect to its human 
rights obligations."

"The persecution faced by Baha'is in Iran today has few parallels in human 
history," said Senator Jaffer. "This is a community of more than 300,000 people 
that for more than 30 years has been subject to an often explicit state policy 
focused on its destruction. The intensity of pressure felt by this religious 
minority is almost impossible for us, as Canadians, to imagine, yet it is our 
duty as senators, indeed as fellow human beings, to raise our voices in 
solidarity with their cause.

"Baha'is face prosecution in Iran because a hardline clerical elite views their 
religion as illegitimate, and they are therefore considered to be apostates or 
opponents of Islam. This attitude toward Baha'is is spread by lies and 
misinformation channelled through state-controlled media. Baha'is are often 
falsely accused of being foreign agents working secretly against the nation. 
The result of such disinformation campaigns is widespread ignorance that 
perpetuates a culture of prejudice," she said.

Senator Jaffer's formal "inquiry" means that the Senate will take up the 
discussion about Iran when it reconvenes in the autumn.

Iran's actions "shameful"

In India, prominent people are continuing to raise their voices against the 
imprisonment of BIHE staff and faculty members. 

The Better Education Through Innovation (BETI) Foundation in Lucknow – which is 
dedicated to the education of girls – has expressed its "firm and committed 
solidarity in condemning action taken against the Baha'i Institute for Higher 

"It is indeed surprising that the Islamic Republic of Iran should resort to 
action which not only deny Baha'is of their inherent Human Rights but also goes 
against the edicts of the Holy Quran which repeatedly stresses the need for 
gaining the highest and best education possible..." wrote Sehba Hussain, 
founder director of the BETI Foundation and a member of the National Commission 
for Protection of Child Rights.

"Reactions taken by the Government in Iran are shameful in the eyes of the True 
Believers as well as the Almighty," wrote Ms. Hussain.

In a letter to the Iranian ambassador to India, accompanying a petition signed 
by 86 leading figures, Maja Daruwala – director of the Commonwealth Human 
Rights Initiatives – expressed the signatories' "strongest condemnation of the 
brutal acts of persecution against Iranian Baha'is," particularly "those 
associated with the noble work of providing access to education to Baha'i youth 
who have been systematically denied their right to education..."

"We also ask the government of Iran to honour its own obligations under the 
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and allow all 
its citizens access to higher education irrespective of their ideology or 
beliefs," wrote Ms. Daruwala.

To read the article online, go to:

For the Baha'i World News Service home page, go to:


Copyright 2011 by the Baha'i World News Service. Stories and photographs 
produced by the Baha'i World News Service may be freely reprinted, re-emailed, 
re-posted to the World Wide Web and otherwise reproduced by any individual or 
organization as long as they are attributed to the Baha'i World News Service. 
For more information, go to


You may unsubscribe from the Baha'i World News Service by visiting:

If the link above does not work, copy the entire address and paste it into a 
browser window.

For assistance, please contact