Archive for August, 2008

Paris based journalist defends the human rights of Baha’is in Iran

Monday, August 18th, 2008

On Friday, 15 August 2008, the online journal Gooya News published the
following analysis by the Iranian journalist, Ali Keshtgar.

We Are All Iranian Baha’is!
By Ali Keshtgar.

The violent scheme of Baha’i-killing, of which the Hojjatieh Society was the
standard-bearer and promulgator before the [1979] revolution – a scheme whose
promoters came to power with the emergence of the Islamic Republic – is at its
foundation a felonious concept intended to bring about religious cleansing
through the murder of all Baha’is.
During the past 30 years under the Islamic Republic, our Baha’i
countrymen have persistently been the subject of dual discrimination – threat
and repression. Their only offense has been that they believe in the Baha’i
teachings. In their own native land, they are barred from many occupations, nor
are they allowed to openly worship in accordance with their religious percepts –
and indeed the government has treated these Iranian brothers and sisters as
criminals.
From the very beginning this perilous idea existed among some leaders of
the Islamic Republic: that the Baha’is were mahduru’d-dam – meaning, that their
blood could be shed with impunity. Indeed, the same leaders considered that the
killing of Baha’is was a necessity and would win Divine Rewards. Until the
present time this felonious idea, which in its essence encompasses the most
abject criminal intentions and has such figures as Ali Khamenei and his cohorts
as its supporters, has resulted in the savage murder of many of our Baha’i
countrymen.
Periodically during the past thirty years, in such towns as Shiraz, Kerman,
Mashhad, Tehran, Karaj and other locations throughout the country, a number
of our Baha’i fellow-citizens have been murdered by the most brutal means. In
none of these heinous events were the murderers – who were always agents and
authorities of the security agencies of the Islamic Republic – prosecuted, and no
1 Also available at: http://www.paivand.ca/pdf/852_PAYVAND_August_15_2008WEB.pdf
governmental agency heeded the complaints of the families of those thus
exterminated.
The criminal scheme of Baha’i-killing, of which the Hojjatieh Society was
the standard-bearer and promulgator before the [1979] revolution – a scheme
whose promoters came to power with the emergence of the Islamic Republic –
is at its foundation a felonious concept intended to bring about religious
cleansing through the murder of all Baha’is. If there had been no barriers to this
planned genocide, such as international laws or global reaction, then no doubt
by now the leaders of the Islamic Republic would have fully implemented their
atrocious scheme.
At different periods during the past 30 years, we have witnessed the
mobilization of certain pressure groups associated with the [Islamic] regime for
the implementation of this plan. We must, however, remind the leaders of the
Islamic Republic that their plan is indeed the same fascist scheme which has led
to racial and religious genocides, for which some instigators have been tried in
international courts on the charge of “crimes against humanity.”
The policy of the leaders of the Islamic Republic towards suppression of
religious minorities in general, and of Baha’is in particular, has always been to
advance their intentions [for genocide] through agents and officers of the
Security and Basij agencies, so that they can claim that their crimes had been
committed by people [not by the government] and had come about as a result of
public religious biases.
However, during these three decades:
• Never has anyone been brought up on charges of murder, persecution
or threat against the Baha’is.
• Never have the leaders of the Islamic Republic condemned these
crimes.
• Unceasingly, the policy of discrimination and suppression of Baha’is
has been followed.
• Great threats have been instantly leveled against every lawyer and
human rights organization which has spoken in defense of the civil
rights of Baha’is.
Because of the intense sensitivity of this regime towards the Baha’is in
Iran, when it comes to defending the civil rights of Baha’is, human rights
activists and organizations have either remained silent or have not engaged the
issue to any notable measure. In truth, the intensity of the government’s
discrimination against the Baha’is has been to such an extent that human rights
activists have also come to accept it, and have routinely conducted themselves in
accordance with the same discrimination.
In the course of the recent waves of suppression of the Baha’is, Mrs.
Shirin Ebadi [Iran’s only Nobel Prize laureate] has agreed to defend the
imprisoned Baha’is. After she announced her readiness to provide legal defense
to these Baha’is, the official news organs of the Islamic Republic, including the
newspaper that speaks for the Islamic Republic, claimed that this undertaking by
Mrs. Ebadi is due to the fact that her daughter had accepted the Baha’i religion.
It should be clear that the claim of official news organs of the Islamic Republic
is intended to instill fear in Mrs. Ebadi and to discourage her and her colleagues
from defending the imprisoned Baha’is.
Unfortunately, the reaction of Mrs. Ebadi to this allegation was as if she
considered being a Baha’i or becoming a Baha’i a shameful act and equated this
accusation against her daughter as a “curse.” In a radio interview with the
Persian segment of Radio France Internationale on the last Thursday, 17 Murdad [7
August 2008], three times Mrs. Ebadi referred to the allegations of the Islamic
Republic against her family as a “curse.” In fact, she could have dismissed these
baseless accusations – which no one believes anyway – without disrespect
towards the Baha’is.
Considerable evidence proves that we have not come to view religious
freedom and equity to such a degree that we would respect the religious beliefs
of others to the same extent as our own beliefs. Until it remains so,
governments can continue with their policy of discrimination and suppression
of religious minorities.
In view of the government’s antagonistic policy toward Baha’is, the
protection of the civil rights of Baha’is and opposition to official or extralegal
discrimination against this segment of Iranian society has gained a particular
significance in the arena of human rights. The most effective way to break
religious discrimination against the Baha’is would be for all human rights
activists and organizations to adopt the defense of complete religious rights and
equality, and opposition to all forms of religious bias, as their foremost
principle. Moreover, this message should not be limited to ad hoc measures of
human rights defenders.
When the regime attacks the Baha’is, we must all write and say, “We are
all Iranian Baha’is!”

Read the original article in Farsi

Hopeful victory for human rights campaigns against stoning.

Monday, August 11th, 2008

The BBC reported that a temporary cease of the unspeakable practice of stoning has
been announced in Iran, whilst the judiciary council review its impending cases. Human rights activists have been highlighting and condemning these horrific acts which are woven into the penal code of Iran.

This barbaric punishment is the governments response to crimes such as adultery and prostitution with the majority of its victims being women. Sending shock-waves throughout the world, not least from the Muslim community who have condemned this practice, which has been paraded under the banner of Islam, it is hoped a permanent end is in sight for such archaic and violent methods of punishment.

Read article in full

Nobel Prize winner’s daughter harassed by Iran’s News Agency.

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Shirin Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, has condemned Iran’s official News Agency, in its hounding campaign against her daughter. The agency claims that her daughter had converted from her Shiite Muslim beliefs to that of the Baha’i Faith, which in Iran is branded as illegal. At present Ebadi and her daughter are acting as the legal team who are representing and fighting for the release of seven members of the Baha’i community in Iran who were arrested and detained in May 2008. As Ebadi is a lawyer who has been tirelessly campaigning for the cause of human rights across her native Iran, it comes as no surprise that the plight of the Bahai’s is of major concern. They have been systematically persecuted under the present Islamic regime.

Is it a mere coincidence then, that Ebadi’s daughter has been the target of a national
smear campaign?

Read the article in full