Kamran Hashemi, who writes for the website United4Iran in London, has an article in today’s UK Guardian. It concerns the appalling and truly outrageous human rights abuses being inflicted upon members of the Baha’i faith.
First, as an aside, you might be wondering who or what the Baha’i faith is (don’t panic, I’m not into it). Like most belief systems, they are into supernatural beliefs and advocate all religions have truth. Its the usual stuff, lots of claims, but no actual evidence. If curious, then more here. Their primary problem is that most Muslims do not view them as a separate system of belief, but rather as a form of Islamic apostasy, so they face some truly horrendous oppression. Islamic clerical directives have led to many mob attacks and public executions.
Mr Hashemi writes today about what has been going on … (Don’t skip it, read it and be aware of what is going on right now) …
… for Iran’s seven Baha’i leaders, it has another meaning: 10,000 cumulative days of unjustified imprisonment, with no prospect of release until 2028. Shut away from the world, their “family” is now the hundreds of other prisoners of conscience that languish in Iran’s prisons. The seven are distinguished for their services to society, not criminality, yet they now survive in cramped, pestilential conditions, lacking essential medical care. Their suffering is emblematic of the human rights crisis in Iran. An international campaign is being launched to raise awareness of their plight.
Iran’s pattern of quashing political dissent is engraved on the world’s consciousness. Few will forget the shooting in 2009 of Neda Agha-Soltan – an act that symbolises the state’s ruthless hold on power. But the oppression of those who do not even challenge the leadership, who are deprived of basic rights and ask merely to be treated as Iranian citizens, is no less significant. I urge people everywhere to take note of the deplorable treatment of the 300,000 Baha’is in Iran. Dr Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, recently described it as among the most “extreme manifestations of religious intolerance and persecution” in the world today.
.., since the birth of the religion in the mid-19th century, Baha’is have been vilified and oppressed. 20,000 were put to death in its early days. After 1979, persecution even became enshrined in state policy.
Iran’s state machinery now attacks the Baha’is at every level. Their leadership has been dismantled, access to higher education is denied, and business licences are revoked. Baha’i-owned shops are sealed or burned to the ground, cemeteries are desecrated, homes are raided and property is confiscated. More than 500 have been arrested since 2004. Even their efforts to educate their own youth were declared illegal – a tactic specifically designed to render the whole community’s existence unviable.
The Canadian senator Romeó Dallaire’s recent analysis of the situation makes chilling reading. Noting the disturbing similarities between Rwanda and the escalating persecution of Iran’s Baha’is, he sees it as nothing less than a “slow-motion rehearsal for genocide”.
Iran, needs to be treated as a pariah state and ostracised. The ongoing infringements of basic human rights such this must never be permitted to continue unchallenged.
I might be personally critical of the Baha’i faith as an irrational belief, but I do also strongly believe in freedom of thought. People must be free to believe whatever they wish, even if it is obviously not true. Most Iranians are decent honourable people, regardless of belief, and so this is not an Iranian crime, but rather is pure evil being inflicted upon the Iranian nation by a small group of delusional religious lunatics who are sure that only they have a monopoly on truth and so are motivated by this irrationality to murder, maim, imprison and oppress.