The situation of the seven imprisoned Baha’is has received wide media coverage around the world. Some of the reports may be accessed at the following links:
Chicago Tribune – 20 January 2013
"One skinny scar lies just to the side of Minoo Panahi's left eye from when a Muslim classmate threw a rock at her. Several round spots mark her face — the result of a nervous scratching habit developed after years of stress. An emotional ache lingers decades after her father was murdered, shot in the head when he opened the front door. The River North resident is one of an estimated hundreds of Chicago Baha'is who share the pain of a persecuted past." ...
The Times (South Africa) – 30 November 2012
A UN committee has expressed concern about ongoing human rights violations in Iran. The General Assembly's Third Committee called upon Iran to stop such violations, release prisoners of conscience and open its doors to international rights monitors. South Africa is one of 68 states that abstained from yesterday's vote, which was passed 83 to 31. …
Chicago Tribune – 22 October 2012
Members of the Baha'i community in Iran are the most persecuted religious minority in the Islamic Republic, where suppression of alternative faiths is growing worse, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed said on Monday...
Deutsche Welle – 24 September 2012
“The medals won by Iranian athletes at the Olympic Games in London in 2012 was impressive. With a total of 12 medals, including four gold, Iran ranked in the top quarter of participating countries. It could perhaps have been more – but to be a professional athlete is not sufficient in Iran if you belong to the "wrong" religious group. This was the case of judoist Khashayar Zarei. In his age and weight class, the 19-year-old is one of the best in Iran. But participation in international competitions is denied him by the Islamic Republic. Because Khashayar Zarei belongs to the Baha'i Faith. Now he has been excluded because of his religion from studying architecture at the University of Shiraz…This is only a recent example of the various discriminations against Baha'is in Iran, which also includes bans on assembly, business closures, and finally incarceration.”
Frontline – 14 September 2012
"Having grown up with the indignities of the apartheid system in South Africa," writes Professor Winston Nagan, "I bristle whenever I hear anyone equate a government's treatment of a portion of its citizenry to apartheid. Usually, the claims are exaggerated. But in Iran today, the government's treatment of the Baha'i community bears striking similarities."
Open Democracy – 9 September 2012
“Iranian government officials and state-sponsored media routinely accuse groups they dislike of committing crimes and posing security threats,” writes Omid Memarian. “Over many years, such charges rarely have proven true, yet Iranians have also tended not to challenge these narratives. Today, a cultural shift is visible, as discussions within civil society about human rights increasingly contest the old, dominant perceptions.”
Chicago Tribune – 15 July 2012
Highland Park resident Nasrin Nakhaei learned in May that her 85-year-old father, Muhammad-Husayn Nakha'i, had been arrested and jailed in his home country of Iran. The government has not said why it arrested him, Nakhaei said, but the family suspects it's because of his Baha'i faith.
Screen Comment – 2 June 2012
“Iranian documentary filmmaker Reza Allamehzadeh has exposed the plight of Bahá’ís in Iran with a new documentary called “Iranian taboo.”” writes Ali Naderzad. “Adherents of the faith have been persecuted by the Iranian Islamic Republic because they are considered un-Islamic. Banned from Iran himself (but not a Bahá’í) Allamehzadeh enlisted the help of friends in the country who recorded footage clandestinely. Bahaism is a modern-day religion founded in Iran in the 19th century which counts around six million adherents…Aside from its humanness as faith, Bahá’ísm also typifies what iranianness means: to be egalitarian, magnanimous, in control of one’s own faith, and always seeking to improve himself and the world he lives in.” ...
Frontline – 1 June 2012
"I spent two and half years of my life unjustly imprisoned in Iran," writes Kamiar Alaei, who with his brother was running a public health program for people with HIV/AIDS and drug addicts. "I'm fortunate I was released in the fall of 2010. But for my former cellmates, members of Iran's imprisoned Baha'i leadership group, freedom has proved elusive."
Corriere della Sera – 24 May 2012
“’A cultural genocide perpetrated with widespread indifference’”. This is how Nobel Peace Prize recipient Shirin Ebadi defines the repression carried out by Iran’s Ayatollah regime against the followers of the Baha’i religion, which for years has continued to grow more severe, according to a report by Amnesty International in 2012 in the chapter on freedom of religion. Unlawful seizure, dozens of arrests, dozens of disappearances, unpaid pensions, vandalized or destroyed cemeteries, prohibitions on hiring Baha’is, incitement to hatred by mullas, burned homes, blocked access to university for those who do not claim to be Muslim on admissions forms, coercion of students to recant their faith, which they refuse to do, with the result that young Baha’is are banned from pursuing a higher education…”
Huffington Post – 22 May 2012
Sarah Shourd was captured by Iranian forces while hiking near the border between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan in July 2009 and then held in solitary confinement for 14 months at Evin Prison, Tehran. "During the 410 days that I spent inside the closed walls of Evin Prison, I often wondered what the human beings alongside me were being punished for," she writes. "I now know exactly who the people next to me were, and that many of them are still there. They are…women like Fariba Kamalabadi and Mahvash Sabet, members of the Baha'i leadership who have now been held unjustly for a total of 10,000 days without legal representation or a trial. While in prison, I once had the extraordinary experience of meeting Fariba Kamalabadi..."
The Chronicle of Higher Education – 13 May 2012
The rule barring Baha’is from Iran's colleges and universities is "enforced with particular vigor by the hard-line government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," writes Sohrab Ahmari, an Iranian-American journalist and a nonresident associate research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. Baha'i efforts to educate their youth are “a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of this embattled group...Sadly, however, a severe regime crackdown begun last year threatens to finally realize Golpaygani's dream of culturally erasing Iran's Baha'is."
Kuam News – 14 April 2012
“Extreme religious intolerance and persecution in Iran against Baha'is in that country have resulted in an outcry from the international community and on Guam,” writes Kuam News, Guam’s news network. “A legislative resolution has been introduced to join with many others, condemning the Iranian government for the persecution and for denying the Baha'i's basic human rights and education in Iran…The U.S. Senate and Congress as well as the United Nations have all passed resolutions condemning the actions of the Iranian government. And on Monday, the Guam Legislature will hold a public hearing on a similar resolution to express the island's disdain with what's happening in Iran.”
Tribune de Genève – 28 March 2012
“In this Easter period, it is time to talk of the crucified of an oppressive regime that has God on its lips and the devil in its acts,” writes Jean-Noël Cuénod in the Geneva Tribune. “Ever since its arrival, the dictatorship of Tehran has directed a persistent hatred towards the faithful of a religion that professes non-violence, the Baha’i, even though it was born in Iran. The Baha'is are not guilty in the eyes of the mullahs except for one "crime", that of recognizing a prophet Baha'u’llah, who appeared after Mohamed…On Sunday in Paris, and in other great cities of the world, the giant portraits of seven Baha'is leaders, imprisoned in Iran in dreadful conditions - were posted by the human rights defense organization United4Iran. We give their names because the Tehran regime does everything so the world will forget them - Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm.”
France24 – 30 March 2012
The US Senate is urging Iran to free jailed leaders of the Bahai faith and recommending sanctions against officials in the Islamic Republic over treatment of the religion's followers. Amid a global focus on Iran's nuclear program, the Senate late Thursday approved a resolution that "condemns the government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Bahai minority."
The Guardian – 30 March 2012
The first day of April is traditionally a day of fun and laughter in Britain. For most Iranians it is Sizdah-Bidar – a time of family, picnics, and outdoor celebration. But 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.
Tagesschau.de – 27 February 2012
The pressure on members of the Baha'i Faith – of which some 200 have been executed since the Islamic Revolution – has grown significantly under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Currently there are according to the German Baha'i community 97 community members in Iranian custody, among them also is the entire seven-member executive committee…
The Huffington Post – 5 January 2012
Some in Iran continue to “face appalling levels of abuse, oppression, and injustice,” write Canada’s former minister of foreign affairs and president of the University of Winnipeg, Lloyd Axworthy, and Allan Rock – who is president of the University of Ottawa and former Canadian ambassador to the UN. “Prominent among Iranian victims of hidden but unrelenting persecution are members of the Baha'i faith, Iran's largest non-Muslim religious minority…The Baha'i of Iran continue to be systematically persecuted. Over the past few years, many of their leaders have been detained and then sentenced to imprisonment following fraudulent trials. Hundreds more have been thrown into prison solely because of their beliefs. Baha'i businesses have been routinely shut down. Their cemeteries have been desecrated.”
Times Higher Education – 22 December 2011
Matthew Reisz reports how Baha’is denied access to state universities face a new threat to their Baha’i Institute for Higher Education. “[T]oday a dark cloud hangs over the future of the institute. A number of people with links to it were arrested in May and put on trial in September, prompting Nobel peace laureates Desmond Tutu and Jose Ramos-Horta, president of East Timor, to write an open letter of protest under the title "Iran's war against knowledge", which called for their immediate release.”
Taiwan News – 20 December 2011
The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution Monday denouncing serious human rights violations in Iran…The resolution singles out problems facing Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis and Kurds as well as Baha'is, Christians, Jews, Sufis, Sunni Muslims and Zoroastrians…Bani Dugal, the Baha'i International Community's U.N. representative, said approval of the resolution "confirms Iran's unhappy distinction of being one of the foremost violators of human rights in the world today." "It also testifies to the fact it's much more than just a few minorities or dissidents that are living under a state of siege, facing the daily threat of harassment, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, along with torture and the threat of violence," Dugal said.
The Times – 19 December 2011
…The largest non-Muslim religion in Iran, the Baha’i Faith is under attack…They are barred from higher education and government service. The remorseless message that some Iranians are non-citizens has sobering precedents in recent history. Fortunately Iran’s predominately young population has seen through the hollowness of the rulers’ ideology. Western governments should stand with them and insist on the fundamental right to freedom of religion and worship.
Folha de São Paulo – 4 November 2011
In an open letter, a group of 26 international filmmakers, producers and actors urged the Brazilian government…to defend the rights of filmmakers, journalists and Baha’i university professors imprisoned in Iran and called for their immediate release. Among the signatories are filmmakers Atom Egoyan, Beto Brant, Daniela Thomas, Frederic Boyer, Guido Chiesa, Hector Babenco, Jorge Furtado, Lais Bodanzky, Lucia Murat, Mohsen Makhmalbaf and Walter Salles. The theatre director Antunes Filho and Renata de Almeida, director of the Sao Paulo International Film Festival, also signed the document.
Wall Street Journal – 28 October 2011 (Subscription required)
In an article, Firuz Kazemzadeh – professor emeritus of history at Yale and a former commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom – writes, “The rights of Iran's Bahais cannot be separated from the human rights of the general population. That journalists, artists and activists languish in jails; that students are excluded from universities based on their religion; that seven Bahai leaders have been condemned to prison for 20 years and seven Bahai educators now face a similar fate; that all Bahais are virtual outlaws in their native land—it's all part of a single assault on human dignity. One hopes the rest of the world won't close its eyes.”
CNN – 22 October 2011
Iranian media outlets have "systematically stirred up" widespread contempt toward the country's 300,000-strong Baha'i religious minority, the group says. The Baha'i International Community issued a report Friday entitled "Inciting Hatred: Iran's media campaign to demonize Baha'is." The report "documents and analyzes more than 400 media items over a 16-month period." The result, the Baha'is say, is an "insidious state-sponsored effort" to discredit the Baha'is with "false accusations, inflammatory terminology, and repugnant imagery." …
Associated Press – 20 October 2011
A new report by the Baha'i faith accused Iran on Thursday of conducting a widespread media campaign to "demonize and vilify" the religion's 300,000 members in the country of its birth. The Baha'i minority in Iran has been persecuted since the religion was banned after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It was founded in the 1860s by Baha'u'llah, a Persian nobleman considered a prophet by his followers. But Islam considers Mohammed the last of the prophets. …
The Australian – 19 October 2011
Academics in Australia are to protest to the Iranian ambassador about educational discrimination against Baha'is in their homeland. Signatures have been gathered from 73 academics, including University of Ballarat vice-chancellor David Battersby, objecting to the longstanding ban on Baha'is attending university, and the arrest earlier this year of 16 Baha'i academics…The letter from the academics says: "We understand many of those arrested are still in prison simply for being part of an initiative which provides higher education to those otherwise denied access to Iranian universities" and calls for their immediate release.
University World News – 16 October 2011
More than 40 distinguished philosophers and theologians from 16 countries have joined in the condemnation of Iran's policy to bar young Baha'is and others from higher education.
The Daily Telegraph – 10 October 2011
Religious academics from universities across the world have denounced a campaign of official persecution against Iran's Baha'i minority. The move comes after authorities in Tehran stepped up measures to prevent members of the faith receiving a university education. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, 43 prominent professors and lecturers in the fields of theology and religious studies demanded the reversal of a ban imposed on Iran's Baha'i institute for Higher Education and the release of 11 of its members of staff from prison.
Folha de São Paulo – 8 October 2011
Brazilian Leonardo Boff, theoretician of Liberation Theology, is one of 43 theologians, philosophers, and religious scholars…who have signed an open letter in support of the Baha’i community… For Boff, the repression of the Baha 'i Faith is due to its universality: "It's the most ecumenical religion of the world. It's not important what name you use for God - He is the supreme principle governing all things. Christians, Jews or Muslims can support this issue, without betraying their own religions. It is a religion of modern times" he says.
The Huffington Post – 25 September 2011
"Freedom of education and freedom of information are integral to freedom of thought," write Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the President of East Timor. "So it is particularly shocking when despots and dictators in the twenty-first century attempt to subjugate their own populations by attempting to deny education or information to their people."
University World News – 4 September 2011
In an open letter to Iran's Minister for Higher Education, the Baha'i International Community has called for an end to "the unjust and oppressive practices" that bar Baha'is and other young Iranians from university.
Voice of America – 18 August 2011
The Iranian government continues its persecution of Iran's Baha'i community – the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran. Iranian state media recently reported the arrest of an unspecified number of Baha'is in cities across Iran, including Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Mashhad…Baha'is are not the only religious group subjected to persecution in Iran. Christians, Gonabadi dervishes, – even dissident Shiite clerics who believe that the political and religious realms should be kept separate – suffer from egregious violations of their human rights. …
Fiji Times – 14 August 2011
Born and bred in war torn Iran, Ali Jaber's fate seemed destined. The freedom to practice their religion was a struggle and he and his family were forced eventually to leave their motherland...
The Jewish Chronicle – 17 August 2011
Iran's detention of 11 Baha'i academics has been condemned by the Board of Deputies and Union of Jewish Students. British Jews have repeatedly raised concerns about the treatment of Iran's Baha'i community…In a joint statement calling for the academics' immediate release, the Board and UJS said the detention was "totally unacceptable and a violation of Article 27 of the UDHR, which guarantees all citizens the right to freely 'participate in the cultural life of the community'.
Huffington Post, UK – 11 August 2011
“The Islamic Republic is tightening the noose. The authorities are motivated by a senseless determination to impoverish the Bahá'í community. The only crime of these eleven Baha’is is to help thousands of young students further their education, to pursue their dreams, and to serve as productive citizens. Iran is the birthplace of the Bahá'í Faith and Iran's Baha’is naturally feel responsible to the country they love. They will not leave Iran because it is their home.”
The Times – 29 July 2011 (Subscription required)
Few religions have known such vicious persecution in the land of their birth. The Baha’is, for the past 30 years, have suffered systematic discrimination and harassment by the Iranian authorities. Their leaders have been arrested and tortured, their homes raided, their teachings forbidden and their communities shunned as pariahs. Since the Khomeini revolution in 1979 Iran’s 300,000 Baha’is have been denounced as apostates and infidels, enjoying none of the Koranic protections afforded to Christians and Jews. The intimidation has recently intensified pace. Three years ago seven Baha’i leaders were arrested, accused of spying for Israel, spreading corruption and acting against the State. Eventually all the charges were quashed except that of tending to the spiritual and social needs of their community — a charge that proves, senior Baha’is insist, that what lies at the heart of the persecution is the hatred by Islamist extremists of the Baha’i faith itself…
Mondiaal Nieuws, Belgium – 30 June 2011
Approximately 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. They form the country’s largest religious minority. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, more than 200 Baha’is were killed. Hundreds more were arrested and tortured. The Baha’is in Iran have little or no chance for work, pensions or education…
The Sydney Morning Herald – 27 June 2011
ACADEMIC Didar Zowghi describes meeting one of her students in person last year as amazing. "I will never forget the first day that I met her, I was in tears, actually," she said. The student, Maryam (not her real name), 28, had been accepted as a postgraduate student at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), where Zowghi teaches software engineering. It was a meeting that was not supposed to be possible. On the basis of one exam question answer in Iran, Maryam was denied access to higher education. By listing her religion as Baha'i - the country's largest non-Muslim religious minority, which is not recognised by the government because it is perceived as heretical - she was not given her test scores needed to complete her application…
Der Standard – 20 June 2011
Baha’is in Iran risk a great deal if they want to study – although they find support in Austria. Vienna – The day before, they were still emailing each other; then, radio silence. …
The Guardian – 10 July 2011
The Baha'i community has faced repression for years in an Iran that seeks to control private thought and beliefs, writes actor and comedian Omid Djalili.
The Star, Canada – 8 June 2011
“Thousands of political prisoners are being held in Iran, amid a wave of executions. One of the latest is Shahin Negari, an Iranian microbiologist who studied at University of Ottawa. His arrest was part of an ongoing crackdown on members of the Baha’i faith, who have been severely persecuted since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Last month the Iranian authorities arrested 16 Baha’is in an attempt to shut down the online Baha’i Institute of Higher Education, which grants degrees to members who are otherwise barred from studying at Iranian universities. “We don’t know what the charges against them are,” said Shahram Negari, Shahin’s brother, who now lives in Toronto. “They are all being held in Evin prison, but they have only been allowed one phone call each.””
The Washington Post – 6 June 2011
All evening May 21, the day Mahtab Mortezaei Farid graduated from George Mason University, she waited for her phone to ring. Her father, in Tehran and too far away to attend, had promised to call after her ceremony. For a man who had devoted much of his life to educating young people, the education of his daughter carried special meaning. A few days earlier, when they had last spoken, “he was excited, and he made me promise to send pictures,” she said. But the call never came, and Mortezaei Farid, 26, figured her father had forgotten. The next morning, she learned from Bahai friends in Iran what had happened: At the moment her father was supposed to be calling, he was being arrested.
Christian Today Australia – 2 June 2011
There has been a recent upsurge in the harassment of religious minorities in Iran…Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “The raids on the Baha’i community are wholly unacceptable and CSW urges the international community to press Iran to release those detained and to end its discriminatory educational policies. Despite being a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), by which countries pledge to uphold international standards of religious freedom for all citizens, Iran is clearly targeting both the Bahá’ís and certain Christian communities solely on account of their beliefs. CSW calls on the Iranian government to honour its commitments under the ICCPR and ensure that religious minorities are able to enjoy the freedoms outlined within the covenant.”
CNN – 31 May 2011
The three Iranian security officers rang the doorbell, politely informed the man of his arrest, thoroughly searched the house, confiscated high-tech gear and books, and whisked him away to the nation's notorious Evin Prison. The early Sunday morning raid took three hours. Now, every second seems like an eternity for the man's anguished family members, praying for his physical safety, hoping for his release, and getting their heads around the prospect of a long stint in prison, his relatives told CNN. His family says the reason for his arrest is his religion…
University World News – 25 May 2011
Teachers and staff at the Baha'i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) have vowed to continue to give students deprived of the right to an education in Iran opportunities to obtain degrees, despite raids on its facilities and the arrest of at least 30 of its academics this week. "We will continue. There is a strong commitment by students and faculty to carry on. We cannot leave our students unable to go to universities and colleges," said a US-based Iranian professor who teaches online humanities degree courses for BIHE, and who spoke to University World News on condition of anonymity.
BBC – 14 May 2011
Saturday marks the third anniversary of the imprisonment of seven leaders of Iran's Bahai religious community. BBC Persian's Kambiz Fattahi in Washington says their treatment reflects the situation faced by many minority groups in Iran.
National Post, Canada – 13 May 2011
…the Iranian regime remains deaf to the condemnation by the international community. The human rights abuses visited on Iranian citizens, from democracy and human rights defenders to student, women, labour leaders and journalists continues with world attention on other more dramatic news stories. It has been said that the litmus test for genuine freedom in Iran will be the emancipation of the Baha’is. Events taking place around the world this weekend to mark the anniversary of the arrest of the seven, with special prayers being said at Baha’i gatherings in communities throughout Canada, aim to keep hopes of such a development alive.
New York Times – 6 May 2011
HOUSTON - On a blustery night the week before Mother's Day, a woman and her daughter sat together on the sofa at a hair salon here. Nica Sabet had come to the beauty parlor after school, because it was where her mother, Nahid Sabet, worked. By this time, past 8 o'clock, the doors were locked and the customers gone, and Mrs. Sabet could tell the story that Nica had never heard in its entirety...The story, as revealed over several hours by Mrs. Sabet, began on the day 40 years earlier in Tehran when, as a 15-year-old, she converted from her family's Muslim faith to the Bahai religion...
The Wall Street Journal – 3 April 2011
The Islamic Republic is strangling its Bahai community—and it has gotten personal. The authorities are destroying the lives of the seven Bahai leaders, and have taken their campaign against all Iranians to the edge of barbarity. Events in the rest of the region have moved too quickly in the last three months for the world to look away. But the lengths to which Tehran is going to maintain the country's chilling status quo desperately needs our attention...
EUbusiness – 2 April 2011
The European Union's top diplomat Catherine Ashton said she was "disturbed" by Iran's reported doubling of a jail term for seven leaders of a religious minority, and demanded their freedom.”I am disturbed by recent information that the original 20-year prison sentences against seven former Bahai leaders may have been reinstated," the bloc's foreign policy chief said in a statement…
La-Croix.com, France – 1 April 2011
France is "very concerned by information being reported of the Iranian judiciary's decision" to restore the sentence of seven people in charge of the Baha'i religious minority to 20 years of prison, said the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on Friday.
ABC, Australia – 1 April 2011
Iranian prison authorities have told seven jailed Baha'i leaders that their twenty-year sentences which had been halved by an appeals court have now been reinstated. The two women and five men were members of a national-level ad hoc group that attended to the needs of Iran's Baha'i community with the full knowledge and tacit consent of the Iranian authorities until they were rounded up and jailed in 2008. Two of the leaders have siblings in Australia, and others have other relatives here. Australian Baha'i Community spokesperson Tessa Scrine said the reinstatement of the sentences has "stunned and appalled" Australian Baha'is.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – 1 April 2011
The United States and rights groups have condemned Iran's reported decision to reinstate 20-year prison terms for seven jailed Baha'i leaders… In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States remained concerned with the "continued persecution of Baha'is and other religious minority communities in Iran." …In a statement, Amnesty International condemned what it called a "vindictive" and "outrageous" decision and made a renewed call for the Baha'is' release.
AFP – 1 April 2011
The United States said Thursday it is "deeply troubled" by reports that Iranian authorities have reinstated 20-year jail terms against seven leaders of the Bahai religious minority. London-based human rights group Amnesty International said the authorities have reversed a decision by an Iranian appeals court to cut their sentences to 10 years.
ABC, Australia – 28 March 2011
The Baha'i New Year's day on 21 March is usually a time for celebration but for one South Australian Baha'i the festivities this year were tinged with sadness. Adelaide businessman Amin Tavakkoli spent the day with family and members of his local Baha'i community but he could not help his thoughts turning to his brother Behrouz, who is incarcerated in a crammed cell in a notorious jail in Iran. He has been locked up for his faith for nearly three years. Before their arrest, Behrouz Tavakkoli, 59, and six colleagues had been serving as leaders of the 300,000 members of the Baha'i Faith in Iran with the knowledge and tacit consent of the authorities…
Reuters – 24 March 2011
The U.N. Human Rights Council has established a special investigator on Iran, a move spearheaded by Washington that will subject Tehran's record to U.N. scrutiny for the first time in nearly a decade. Activists welcomed the move as historic, underlining the need for a focused investigation into widespread allegations of abuse, including arrests of political opponents and torture…[T]he Baha'i religious minority, which had seven leaders in Iran sentenced to prison last year for alleged espionage after a trial it said was unfair, welcomed the vote as historic.
Canada.com – 24 March 2011
Canada pledges to maintain its annual "diplomatic" assault on Iran at the United Nations — even though the world body's Human Rights Council earlier Thursday resumed direct scrutiny of the Islamic republic after a nine-year hiatus…Members of the international Baha'i community, which is 30,000-strong in Canada, were among groups who welcomed the council move as they continued to campaign for an end to persecution of Baha'is in Iran. The faith began there, but Iranian authorities consider those practicing it to be apostates. "They've been abusing the human rights of Baha'is for many decades, but for some time they've also been doing the same to the Muslim population," Bani Dugal, the community's chief representative at the UN, said from Geneva. "The international community is indicating they have had enough," she added, highlighting that "even Malaysia," a Muslim state, abstained instead of opposing the resolution — in defiance of traditional Muslim solidarity.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide – 21 March 2011
In a letter to the Iranian parliament, a Dutch parliamentary commission has urgently called for the release of seven leaders of the Baha’i community...The commission called on Iran to recognise the Baha’i faith as a religion and grant its followers full religious freedom. The MPs also called for the release of Yousef Naderkhani, a Christian priest from Gilan, and Sadegh Khanjani, both converts from Islam to Christianity.
The Times of India – 18 March 2011
In India, over 90 prominent citizens from all corners of the country have raised their voices in a written response to the government and leadership of Iran. A joint statement issued by three major organisations has called upon the international community to act with urgency for the release of seven Bahais…
VOA News – 16 March 2011
In a newly published report, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed grave concern regarding human rights abuses in Iran, including reports of "increased executions, amputations, arbitrary arrest and detention, unfair trials, and possible torture and ill-treatment of human rights activists, lawyers and opposition activists."… As an example of the ongoing repression in Iran, an undisclosed number of people have recently been arrested for supposedly preaching the Baha'i faith in several Iranian cities…As noted in Secretary General Ban's report, the Iranian authorities' treatment of Baha'is and their continued repression of human rights in Iran offer strong evidence of the need for the U.N. Human Rights Council to establish a special rapporteur on Iran to gather more information on conditions there and to raise international pressure on the government to stop violating the rights of the Iranian people…
CNN Belief Blog – 11 February 2011
It is a bad time to be a Baha'i in Iran, American adherents of the faith say. The religion, founded in Iran in 1844, is now considered heretical by Iranian authorities. Its 300,000 adherents in the country "may face repression on the grounds of apostasy," according to the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. On Wednesday, Iraj Kamalabadi and other Baha'is came to Washington to tell the commission just how bad things are for his sister, Fariba Kamalabadi, and six others who have been imprisoned because of their faith since 2008.
Agence France Presse – 9 February 2011
Prison conditions are worsening for seven leaders of Iran's Bahai community who are staying in cramped cells with poor sanitation alongside common criminals, US-based relatives said Wednesday… Leonard Leo, the chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, called Iran's treatment of the Bahai community "outrageous" and supported intensified pressure by the United States. Leo pointed to the Iran Sanctions Act signed last year by President Barack Obama. The law takes aim at Iranians involved in human rights abuses, adding the issue to US concerns with the Islamic republic such as its nuclear program."There are many other things, hopefully, that we can do in waging a broad-based campaign to stop the repression and to defend the rights of not only your family members and brethren but any other Bahais," Leo said.
Trouw, Netherlands – 4 February 2011
Iran treats its religious minorities the way a gardener treats fast-growing trees. Not by cutting them down, but by giving them a regular pruning: otherwise the trees get too big. The proof? The treatment of the Baha’is… Many measures against the Baha’is can be traced back to a secret memorandum…in which the regime formulated its policy towards the Baha’is. The basic principle was that the Baha’is should have as little a chance as possible to develop themselves socially.
Radio Sapientia, Uganda – 13 December 2010
The Bahai Faith in Uganda has appealed to the Iranian government to consider releasing their seven people arrested and jailed in Iran…George Olinga, the director of external affairs National Spiritual Assembly says that the imprisonment is meant to weaken the Baha’i Faith in Iran. He has appealed to Ugandan government and the international community to assist the Baha’i community in demanding the release of the embattled Baha’i faithfuls, who he says are victims of religious intolerance.
Voice of America News – 28 November 2010
The U.S. State Department has released its annual global report on religious liberty, and Iran is ranked once again as one of the world's worst violators of a fundamental freedom. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained why the U.S. publishes such a report: "The United States cares about religious freedom. We have worked hard to enforce religious freedom. We want to see religious freedom available universally. And we want to advocate for the brave men and women who around the world persist in practicing their beliefs in the face of hostility and violence." In Iran, that hostility and violence are profound. Members of Iran's minority religions, especially Baha'is, are targeted. Since January 2010, 50 Baha'is have been arbitrarily arrested and scores remain in prison. Baha'i students are denied a university education. Baha'i burial grounds have been repeatedly desecrated; the 7 leaders of the Baha'i community in Iran have been convicted of national security crimes and sentenced to 10 years in prison. …
CNN – 19 November 2010
A key United Nations committee has approved a draft resolution expressing "deep concern at serious human rights violations in Iran," including torture, persecution of ethnic minorities and violence against women. The General Assembly's Third Committee, which handles humanitarian issues, passed the resolution 80-44 Thursday in New York, with 57 abstaining from the vote, according to minutes from the meeting released by the United Nations... The draft resolution…also includes the high incidence in carrying out the death penalty and increased persecution against members of the Baha'i Faith in its list of human rights concerns in Iran.
The Herald – 26 October 2010
“It was not long after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power that the real trouble started. My husband was arrested, tortured and killed and then they arrested me too,” Mehrangiz Moayyad says. The Iranian woman is in her council home in a quiet Aberdeen estate recalling traumatic events in her homeland from nearly 30 years ago and explaining how she and her family were persecuted for their religious beliefs…Scotland’s Baha’i community has embarked on a series of protests to raise awareness of the problems facing their religion in Iran and held a vigil outside Glasgow’s St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in September. They also put a motion to the Scottish Parliament, supported by religious leaders. Scotland’s Catholic leader, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, said: “I regard what has happened as being a most appalling transgression of justice and a gross violation of the human right of freedom of belief.” …
The Star, Toronto edition – 26 October 2010
…[T]o really grasp the pathological cruelty of Iran’s clerical regime, look at the persecution of Iran’s biggest religious minority, the 300,000-strong Baha’i community. The bizarre hounding of this peaceful faith remains a festering sore on the legacy of the 30-year-old Islamic revolution. As a few hundred Baha’is heard when they gathered for a Toronto meeting this month, the news from Iran is not good. Seven senior Baha’i community leaders were sentenced to 20 years in prison for espionage and “spreading corruption on earth.” Under intense diplomatic pressure, the sentences were recently halved to 10 years; but for some of the elderly inmates — two of whom have family in Canada — this means they have effectively been condemned to die in prison. And for what? To be a Baha’i in the Islamic Republic is to be an apostate. It is worse than being a Jew — who is, at least, a person of “the book.” And worse still than being an infidel, who was never a believer to begin with. …
CNN – 2 October, 2010
A Baha'i assistant of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has been sentenced to two years in prison in Iran, the semi-official Mashregh news website said Saturday. Jinous Sobhani was arrested in early January with her husband and eight other members of the Baha'i faith after anti-government protests on the Muslim holy day of Ashura. The Baha'is were blamed for the protests, said Diane Ala'i, representative to the United Nations for the Baha'i International Community. "They had nothing to do with the demonstrations," Ala'i said. "The accusations are completely false."
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – 9 September 2010
Ferdosieh Nikoumanesh remembers a time when she and her family could live in peace as practicing Baha’is in the Iranian city of Ivel, where more than 50 Baha’i homes were demolished in June. Her childhood home, her grandparents’ home, and her grandfather’s store were among the many properties burned to the ground. Nikoumanesh and her husband now live in a suburb of Washington, D.C. Nikoumanesh spent many of her childhood summers in Ivel, northeast of Tehran in Mazandaran Province, visiting her grandparents, who lived in the village until 1983. She left Ivel when she was a little girl but still holds many memories of living alongside practicing Muslims. Baha’is have resided in Ivel for more than 160 years and once made up more than half of the population -- building schools, a hospital, and stores. While her family’s homes and shop were destroyed this summer, her memories remain alive. …
CNN Belief Blog – 31 August 2010
Minoo Vosough can still hear the guards' boots marching down the cold hallways of Iran's Gohardasht prison. The screams of other inmates burn her ears. She can feel the thud of a fist coming down on her head. And the world going black as she was blindfolded and shoved in a courtroom to hear her fate. She was arrested in Tehran more than 25 years ago - beaten, interrogated and thrown into solitary confinement. Once a week, she was taken out for a shower. She could tell if it was bright or overcast only by the small window high up in her cell. She cherished the chirping of birds outside. All she had was a blanket, a spoon and a broken fork. The Iranian regime accused Vosough of espionage, though she was never charged or afforded legal representation. Her crime in the Islamic republic, she says, was - and still is - her faith. She is a Baha'i. She has not spoken publicly about her terrifying experience in an Iranian jail. Until now.
The Washington Post – 28 August 2010
“For several weeks last year, I shared a cell in Tehran's notorious Evin prison with Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, two leaders of Iran's minority Bahai faith,” writes Roxana Saberi. “I came to see them as my sisters, women whose only crimes were to peacefully practice their religion and resist pressure from their captors to compromise their principles. For this, apparently, they and five male colleagues were sentenced this month to 20 years in prison…People of many nations and faiths have called for the release of the Bahai leaders. But many more must speak out…Mahvash and Fariba occasionally hear news of this support, and it gives them strength to carry on, just as the international outcry against my imprisonment empowered me. I know that despite what they have been through and what lies ahead, these women feel no hatred in their hearts. When I struggled not to despise my interrogators and the judge, Mahvash and Fariba told me they do not hate anyone, not even their captors. We believe in love and compassion for humanity, they said, even for those who wrong us.”
The Guardian – 25 August 2010
Cherie Blair writes, “When a mother of two can be sentenced to death by stoning on the basis of a disputed confession of adultery and without proper legal representation, there is little reason for faith in the fairness or mercy of Iran's judicial system. But as in the appalling case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the 20-year jail sentences just handed out to seven Baha'i leaders must provoke an international outcry in the hope that the Iranian government can be shamed into thinking again. The sentences follow a sham trial in which the accused faced a variety of charges ranging from spreading propaganda against the state and engaging in espionage, to conspiring to commit offences against national security. Unless international pressure can force a change of mind, many of the Baha'i leaders are doomed to die in prison. The oldest – Jamaloddin Khanjani – is already 77 years old.”
Open Democracy – 23 August 2010
As international criticism increases over the violation of human rights, the Islamic Republic intensifies its collective persecution of thousands of Bahais in Iran. There are about 300,000 Bahais living in Iran, which is the birthplace of their faith. Although, the regime tolerates the so-called “People of the Book” - Jews and Christians - it is extremely antagonistic towards Bahaism. The Bahais are facing systematic discrimination by the state and most of their civil rights are denied. On a daily basis Bahais are suffering challenges for their beliefs almost from every direction. They have no political and legal representation and they never can be employed by the state. They cannot participate in any major economic transactions and their financial lives are confined. Bahais are prevented from going to university and their socio-cultural activities are restricted. In the early days of the Islamic State, all of their holy sites were demolished, some of their houses set on fire while hundreds faced execution and imprisonment.
Ethics Daily – 19 August 2010
The Baha’i International Community said the harsh prison sentences meted out against seven Iranian Baha’i leaders are an unjust punishment against innocent people and an entire religious community. The five men and two women imprisoned were arrested in May 2008 and later charged with “spying for foreigners,” as well as “spreading corruption on Earth” and “cooperating with Israel.” Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, whose Defenders of Human Rights Center represented the Baha’i defendants, said she was “stunned” by the seven- to 20-year jail terms.
Vatican Radio – 11 August 2010
An Iranian court has sentenced seven leaders of the Baha’i faith to 20 years in prison after charging them with espionage and engaging in propaganda against Islam. Vatican Radio spoke to Daniel Wheatley, the government relations officer for the Baha’i Community in the United Kingdom.
The Australian – 21 August 2010
IRANIAN Behrouz Tavakkoli is a father of two, psychologist, carpenter and social worker. He has spent much of his adult life working with the physically and mentally handicapped -- "a real angel", in the words of his brother, Amin. He is also a follower of the Baha'i faith, which is effectively a crime under the theocratic dictatorship that rules Iran. Last week, Mr Tavakkoli and six other Baha'i leaders were sentenced to 20 years each in jail after being convicted by an Iranian court of the offences of "insulting religious sanctities", "propaganda against the system" and spying for Israel. Amin Tavakkoli was at home in suburban Adelaide, where he has lived since fleeing Iran in 1984, when he heard the news of his brother's conviction. "It was really a shock for us, for all the Baha'i community, because everybody knows that they are innocent, and I'm sure the regime in Iran knows they are innocent," he said. "Their arrest was not just, keeping them in prison was not just, and was against the laws of the country." …
Deutsche Welle – 18 August 2010
Iman Naghashian is shaken. The young chartered accountant sits in his office in Frankfurt’s banking quarter and cannot grasp it – 20 years detention for the seven leading members of the Iranian Baha'i community. Among those sentenced is his uncle - Saeid Rezaie. Back in May 2008, security forces stormed Rezaie’s house in Tehran and arrested him in front of his children. Together with four other men and two women, he was taken into Tehran’s Evin prison.
Edmonton Journal – 14 August 2010
This week, the Iranian regime completed its ridiculous and unjust show trial of seven Baha'i leaders and sentenced them to 20 years in prison…This outrageous act on the part of the Ahmadinehad government is just one element of what has become a strategy to suppress and stifle religious freedom in Iran, and to slowly cleanse Iran of Baha'i influence. The Iranian government has used its controlled media to spread falsehoods about the Baha'is, accusing them of undermining Islam…When one adds up the instances of persecution of the Baha'i faith in Iran -- vandalization of Baha'i cemeteries, refusal to allow Baha'i youth to enter universities, banning of Baha'i literature, refusal to recognize Baha'i marriages, demotion or firing of Baha'is working in public institutions, execution of innocent Baha'is, demolition of Baha'i homes, its national centre, shrines and sacred sites, and outright violent attacks on individual Baha'is and their supporters -one is left to wonder whether this does not amount to cultural cleansing.
Voice of America – 14 August 2010
Seven Bahai leaders have been sentenced to 20 years in prison this week by the Iranian judiciary. The sentences were met with widespread condemnation. The verdict against the seven Bahai leaders was harsh, even by Iranian standards, and came after almost two years of arbitrary detention in Tehran's notorious Evin prison…U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deplored the condemnations in a statement Thursday, saying that the US is committed to defending religious freedom around the world, and we have not forgotten the Bahai community in Iran. Clinton went on to say that the sentences were a violation of Iran's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Iran's persecuted Bahai minority numbers around three hundred thousand, according to unofficial figures.
International Business Times – 13 August 2010
In a foul, subterranean Teheran dungeon, known as the "Black Pit", in 1852, an imprisoned Iranian nobleman, his feet in stocks and a heavy chain around his neck, had a divine vision. The man was Baha'u'llah, and his vision developed into the Baha'i religion, which teaches that humanity is one race meant to be unified into a single global society. There are approximately 6 million Baha'is worldwide and some 350,000 in Iran. Seven of those Iranian Baha'is, the religion's leaders, have spent the last two years in the contemporary equivalent of the "Black Pit," Teheran's Evin Prison. Their crime, apparently, was being Baha'is. "Their trial was a sham," said Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha'i International Community at the United Nations. "Their entire ordeal is a litmus test on how Iran honors its commitment to the civil rights of its own people."
Foreign Policy – 13 August 2010
Members of the Baha'i faith, one long-persecuted group in Iran, were greatly reassured Thursday when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement criticizing the Iranian government's persecution of the group. Seven Baha'i leaders were each sentenced to 20 years in prison this week. "The United States strongly condemns this sentencing as a violation of Iran's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," Clinton said. "Freedom of religion is the birthright of people of all faiths and beliefs in all places. The United States is committed to defending religious freedom around the world, and we have not forgotten the Baha'i community in Iran."
Los Angeles Times – 11 August 2010
Seven leaders of the Bahai community in Iran were sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of spying for foreign nations, cooperation with Israel and undermining Islam, according to Bahai representatives in the United States and France. All those accused have denied the charges…The sentencing has been met with an outcry from world leaders and human rights advocacy groups. The president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, called the sentences "a shocking signal and an immense disappointment." Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran have all released statements condemning the sentencing.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – 9 August 2010
A Baha'i international community official says the 20-year prison sentences given to seven leaders of Iran's Baha'i community are "completely unjust" and based on fabricated charges, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports… Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i international community representative to the United Nations in Geneva, told Radio Farda that the Baha'i community is demanding the immediate release of all seven Baha'is. She added that they "were kept in solitary confinement for interminable periods of time without knowing the charges against them, while their temporary arrest was extended every two months."
France 24 – 9 August 2010
AFP - Iran has sentenced seven leading members of its Bahai religious minority to 20-year jail terms, French and US members of the faith told AFP on Monday. The United States and the European Union had criticised Iran's detention of the Bahai members, and their reported jailing will revive calls for Tehran's Islamic regime to respect religious freedom. "On Sunday, authorities announced 20-year sentences orally to the defendants' lawyers," said Sophie Menard, spokeswoman for the Bahai community in France, adding that the group was awaiting confirmation of the terms. "The lawyers have begun proceedings to seek an appeal, which ought to allow them access to the written judgements," she explained.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty – 29 June 2010
Some 50 houses owned by members of Iran's Baha'i religious minority have been demolished in a village northeast of Tehran, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports. The incident took place on June 26 in Ivel, not far from the city of Sari in Mazandaran Province. Radio Farda spoke on June 27 to Baha'i Natoly Derakhshan, who witnessed the destruction of the homes. He told the station that the houses were first set on fire and later demolished by four bulldozers. "We informed the governor's office that they were destroying our houses, but they did nothing to prevent it," Derakhshan said.
The Hindu – 11 June 2010
The Asian Centre for Human Rights, Indian Baha'i Community, People's Watch and Women's Coalition for Peace and Development with Dignity launched a campaign in New Delhi demanding release of 500 Iranian “prisoners of conscience”. The call comes alongside an international demand in more than 81 cities, led by United4Iran, a non-partisan network of human rights groups that is coordinating efforts around the world.
Le Monde – 28 May 2010
The Islamic Republic of Iran is continuing its unremitting persecution of the Baha’i community…To the desecration of cemeteries, arson against homes, destruction of holy places and shrines, deprivation from earning a livelihood, and the denial of access to higher education are now ever more frequently being added revolving-door arrests sometimes followed, sometimes not, by release on bail (for increasingly exorbitant sums of money, as is the case for all prisoners of conscience in Iran). The proof that the only reason for these arrests is the individuals’ religious beliefs: whatever the charges, they are all dismissed if the Baha’i agrees to sign a commitment to convert to Shi’ite Islam.
Washington Post – 13 May 2010
An op-ed by Roxana Saberi, Iranian-American journalist jailed in Iran for a time last year, states: “Iranian officials sometimes claim that the regime is impervious to outside pressure over its treatment of prisoners or that it reacts negatively to such attention. … I later learned that … silence has usually harmed, rather thanhelped, political prisoners.” And, “when everyday citizens speak out against Iran’s human rights violations, Tehran has a tougher time.” During part of her imprisonment, Ms. Saberi shared a cell with the two Baha’i women who are among the group of seven detained the past two years in Evin prison.
Aftenposten, Norway – 12 April 2010
In January, the seven leaders of the Baha’i community of Iran were formally charged with, among other things, corruption on earth, punishable by death by hanging. The Iranian Shia Muslim Islamic regime uses the gallows frequently, and the risk that the seven will be executed must be regarded as a distinct possibility.
Miami Herald – 12 April 2010
From an early age, Nadia Riazati knew the pain of discrimination, humiliation and punishment. When she was expelled from school in Iran for revealing her religion, her teacher insulted her. ``You have sullied our school,'' she admonished. Riazati, 28, belongs to the Baha'i faith, the largest non-Islamic religious minority in Iran. …
NRC Handelsblad, the Netherlands – 9 April 2010
Hidden behind the persecution of the Iranian political opposition, the Baha’is are being mercilessly oppressed. At least 60 followers of the Baha’i Faith are languishing behind bars in solitary confinement. Their leaders, the “seven friends” or “Yaran,” have been in prison since the spring of 2008. … Nearly on a daily basis – unnoticed by the world press – Baha’is are being arrested straight from their beds.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – 8 April 2010
Of the hundreds of political prisoners in Iranian jails, there is one group, probably the only one, who have been tried and imprisoned not for attending demonstrations and not for writing and speaking publicly against the government, but simply for being members of a persecuted faith: the Baha'is. On April 10, seven prominent members of Iran's Baha'i community are going to face their third court hearing in Tehran since they were arrested two years ago.
Independent World Report – 5 April 2010
Late on the evening of March 2, members of the Iranian intelligence ministry entered Navid Khanjani’s home in the city of Esfahan and arrested him. The next day, they conducted similar raids at the homes of Eeghan Shahidi, Sama Nourani, Hesam Misaghi and Sepehr Atefi.
Inter Press Service – 5 April 2010
In an interview following publication of her new book, Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi talks about her four-month imprisonment in Iran and the human rights situation in that country. During part of her incarceration, she shared a cell with two Baha’i prisoners.
El Pais, Spain – 20 March 2010
Arash Arjomandi, 39, talks about his Baha’i beliefs more easily than he talks about fleeing Iran at the age of 8 with his family. He wants the world to know the beliefs that in his native country cause the clergy to persecute the Baha’is to the death. The Baha’i Faith, for example, defends the principle (revolutionary!) that “women should have the same opportunities as men …”
CNN – 13 March 2010
The U.S. State Department condemned Iran's persecution of religious minorities on Friday following the Iranian authorities' detention of Baha'is and Christians in recent months. Iranian authorities have detained more than 45 Baha'is in the last four months, and as many as 60 Baha'is are imprisoned in Iran on the basis of their religion beliefs, the State Department said.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – 10 March 2010
“The economic stress is severe on the Baha’is,” says Sovaida Ma'ani Ewing, international lawyer and author of the book Collective Security Within Reach, “the social stress is severe, and there’s constant fear that someone’s going to break into your house and take your family members. That’s what life’s like. You’re in constant fear that you’re going to lose everything, up to and including your life.”
VOAnews.com – 14 February 2010
The Iranian press is reporting that a number of Baha'is have been arrested, along with opposition activists, journalists, and human-rights defenders, during an ongoing crackdown. U.S. officials will speak Monday at a U.N. Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva to urge Iran to improve its human-rights record. Members of Iran's persecuted Baha'i minority have been the focus of a recent series of arrests, according to leaders of the group and the Iranian press.
Le Monde – 5 February 2010
An open letter signed by 36 French academics calls for the Baha’i leaders in Iran to be freed. “We ask that this systematic ill-treatment, orchestrated by the most radical wing of the clergy and the State ceases, that Iran recognizes freedom of conscience, and that these men and women are released.”
New York Times – 22 January 2010
For as long as Bahaism has existed, the forebears of Rezvan Tavakkoli have abided by it. And over the generations, since the faith’s origin 166 years ago, Mr. Tavakkoli’s people have paid the price of their devotion.
Yale Journal of Human Rights – 14 January 2010
The trials of seven Baha’i leaders have begun this week. The leaders are accused of anti-government activities, including organizing the Ashura protests, sending pictures of unrest abroad, keeping arms and ammunition in their homes, desecrating Islam, and spying for Israel. The Baha’i international community rejected all allegations and noted the Baha’i’s absolute commitment to nonviolence….
CBC News, Canada – 13 January 2010
Oppressive regimes attack human rights on two levels. The most obvious assault, as we have seen in Iran in recent months, aims at suppressing political opponents and protest. But history teaches us that we need to worry about a secondary level of attack as well, the kind that takes place in the shadows.
NRC Handelsblad, Rotterdam, Netherlands – 13 January 2010
In Teheran, a trial began yesterday against seven members of the Baha'I minority, accused of espionage, activity against national security, and "corruption on earth." The announcement was made by (Iranian) state media.
WashingtonTV – 12 January 2010
In an exclusive telephone interview with WashingtonTV on Tuesday, Shirin Ebadi, one of the lawyers defending the seven detained Baha’i leaders in Iran, whose first trial hearing took place today in Tehran, said that if “justice” were to prevail, the only verdict that could be reached over this case was one of “acquittal.”
The Times of India – 12 January 2010
Seven members of the Baha'i faith went on trial in Iran on Tuesday on charges of spying and collaborating with Israel in an effort to damage national security, Iranian media reported.
Associated Press – 12 January 2010
Seven members of Iran's Baha'i minority went on trial on Tuesday on charges of spying and acting against the country's national security, state media reported.
Hir TV, Hungary – 12 January 2010
Interview about human rights violations in Iran on Hungarian national news television.
Washington Post – 12 January 2010
For now, sending prayers was the best they could do. That was the feeling among 15 members of the Baha'i faith who gathered Monday night in a townhouse off Logan Circle to sing, read poems and pray for seven Baha'is who went on trial Tuesday in Iran for espionage and other crimes against the state.
Agence France Presse – 12 January 2010
The United States decried on Monday Iran's decision to try seven members of the banned Bahai religion on charges of spying for arch-foe Israel. "The United States strongly condemns the Iranian government's decision to commence the espionage trial against seven leaders of the Iranian Bahai community," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement.
BBC – 12 January 2010
Seven members of the Bahai faith have been put on trial in Iran. The defendants face charges of spying for foreigners, cooperating with Israel and "corruption on Earth", a charged which carries the death sentence.
Le Monde, France – 12 January 2010
The judiciary offensive of the Iranian government against the Baha'i religious commmunity could tighten this week. Two trials, accusing some members of this 300,000-strong community, regularly persecuted by the Iranian authorities in the 19th century, will take place in coming days.
CNN – 12 January 2010
Seven leaders of Iran's Baha'i minority went on trial in Tehran Tuesday accused of spying for Israel, a charge their supporters say is motivated by religious discrimination. … "We understand that no observers were allowed in the court," said Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i representative to the United Nations in Geneva. …
The Guardian, United Kingdom – 12 January 2010
Cheri Blair writes: “As the Iranian government struggles to contain growing demands for freedom and democracy from its courageous people, it is flailing around trying to deflect blame for the protests. Foreign media and other countries, including Britain, have been accused of encouraging unrest. But the regime is also worryingly turning on all-too-familiar scapegoats within Iran. …”
The Globe and Mail, Canada – 11 January 2010
The Islamic Republic of Iran is going to show any wavering authoritarian regime just how it's done. No “colour” revolution will be allowed. No surrender to the street. No departing on a quickly arranged flight to seek refuge, as the Shah did. This regime has no intention of playing “nice” with anyone …
Le Monde, France – 10 January 2010
I am not a Baha'i. I was unaware that Baha'is even existed! What a strange name, Baha' i… In Iran, Baha' is are persecuted, they are locked up, they are persecuted, their goods are destroyed. But of what crime are they accused? Born in Iran in the 19th century, this religion, built on the succession of Prophets, is based on tolerance and pacifism.
CNN – 9 January 2010
A trial for seven Iranian Baha'is that has come to symbolize the persecution of followers of the faith is set to unfold next week with added controversy and global attention.
The Hindu, New Delhi – 9 January 2010
Prominent Indians have expressed deep concern over the continued persecution of the Baha’is in Iran and called upon the government to take up the issue with Tehran.
WashingtonTV – 9 January 2010
Tehran prosecutor Abbas Ja’afari Dowlatabadi said on Friday that members of the outlawed Baha’i faith had been arrested in connection with the anti-government protests last month on the Shiite holy day of Ashura.
Agence France Presse – 8 January 2010
Members of Iran's outlawed Bahai faith have been arrested in connection with recent anti-government protests and some weapons were seized, IRNA news agency quoted the Tehran prosecutor as saying on Friday.
Palatinate, Durham University, U.K. – December 2009
The last person in Britain to be executed for blasphemy was Thomas Aikenhead, an 18-year-old student at Edinburgh University who was altogether too vocal in his lack of respect for the scriptures as authoritative texts on history and morals. On the day of his hanging in 1697…
Telegraph, U.K. – 26 November 2009
Iranian authorities imposed a ban on the country's largest newspaper for publishing a photo of a temple belonging to the outlawed Baha'i movement, only to rescind the decision less than 24 hours later.
DNA Read the World, India – 17 July 2009
The international law on human rights need to be realised, and realised sooner. This was the outcome of the day-long seminar held on the 'Rights of Minorities – with focus on Bahais in Iran' and organised by Justice and Peace Commission of St Pious College, on Thursday. …
CNN – 14 July 2009
A death-penalty trial of seven Baha'i prisoners accused of spying for Israel has been delayed, Iranian officials have told family members, according to the U.S. Baha'i Office of External Affairs. he trial did not begin Saturday as scheduled and no date for its resumption has been given, the Baha'i office said.
Houston Chronicle – 10 July 2009
On Saturday, as his brother is scheduled to stand trial in Iran on charges that could result in the death penalty, 65-year-old Kamal Khanjani and other members of the Baha’i faith will gather for a prayer service in Missouri City.
BBC World Service – 8 July 2009
Architect Hossein Amanat talks about the inspiration behind the Freedom Monument.
The New York Times – 26 June 2009
Sometimes during the past two weeks, making her rounds as a hospital resident, Dr. Saughar Samali has caught a glimpse of television news in a patient’s room or heard a bulletin on the radio in the family-practice office. Against her desire, against her better judgment, she has been plunged back into the maelstrom of Iran. …
NPR’s “Tell Me More” – 18 June 2009
Members of the Baha'i faith, Iran's largest religious minority, have long been discriminated against and persecuted by the Islamic Republic of Iran government. Farhad Sabetan, an official within the Baha'i faith community, offers a reaction to the recent elections.
Voice of America editorial – 17 May 2009
In a report released this month, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan governmental body, described a deteriorating situation regarding religious freedom in Iran -- particularly for Baha'is, Evangelical Christians, and Sufi Muslims. …
CNN – 14 May 2009
Seven Baha'i leaders jailed in Iran face a possible new accusation that could lead to the death penalty, the religious group said Thursday, and a major human rights group has called for their release.
The Hindu, India – 14 May 2009
On the eve of the first anniversary of the arrest of the seven Baha’i leaders without any access to their lawyer, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi, their supporters feared more charges would be slapped against them.
News Statesman, London – 13 May 2009
International pressure may have set Roxana Saberi free, but the plight of seven Iranian Baha'is, imprisoned in Tehran a year ago, has gone largely unnoticed. … Ms Saberi leaves behind her many other inmates in Tehran's notorious Evin prison whose “crimes” against the Iranian state are also open to question.
Michael Rubin in National Review Online – 13 May 2009
While the U.S. press celebrates getting Roxana Saberi, one of its own, out of Evin prison, most Iranians are not so lucky.
BBC-Persian television – 13 May 2009
A segment on the evening news on BBC-Persian television addresses the situation of the seven Baha’i leaders in prison for a year. (Note that the newscast is in Persian.)
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – 13 May 2009
A report on the radio network also known as Radio Farda, in the Persian language.
WashingtonTV – 12 May 2009
Seven members of the Baha’i faith, who have been detained in Iran for nearly one year, may face a new accusation, the World Baha’i News Service reported on Tuesday.
France 24/AFP – 13 March 2009
An aide of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi who was arrested in January for links with the banned Bahai faith has been freed on bail by the Iranian authorities, Mrs. Ebadi told AFP on Friday.
IranVNC, DC – 12 March 2009
Iranian authorities have released on bail a human rights defender, who had worked at the Tehran office of the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, run by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, the BBC Persian Service reports today.
Sky News – 26 February 2009
Fifteen of Britain's top comedians have signed an open letter calling for the Iranian government to respect the human rights of its citizens.…
The Times of London – 26 February 2009
Voices from the arts call for the imprisoned Baha'i leaders in Iran to receive a fair trial -- Sir, We are deeply concerned at the continuing imprisonment for more than eight months of seven leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran. No formal evidence has been brought against them.…
The Lede: New York Times Blog – 23 February 2009
By Robert Mackey. Last week, the Iranian state-run broadcaster Press TV reported that seven Iranian followers of the minority Bahai faith, who were arrested last year, will be tried in Tehran as soon as this week on charges of “espionage for Israel, desecrating religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” …
The National, Abu Dhabi – 23 February 2009
As seven leaders of the Baha’i faith prepare to go on trial in Iran on charges ranging from spying for Israel to insulting Islam, the case is bringing the plight of the Baha’i community into the spotlight.…
Radio France International (RFI) – 22 February 2009
The regular program “World Religions” on Radio France International opened with a segment about the situation of the Baha’is in Iran. Journalists interviewed Dr. Foad Saberan and Mrs. Caroline Samandari, whose cousin Aziz Samandari is one of more than 30 Baha’is currently jailed in Iran. The link above is to an MP3 audio download of the program.…
VOA editorial – 22 February 2009
More than 9 months have passed since 7 leaders of the Baha'i community in Iran were arrested and sent to prison with no access to legal counsel. Now the Iranian government has announced the 7 have been charged with espionage. …
Channel 4 News, Britain – 19 February 2009
Nobel Prize for Peace winner Shirin Ebadi talks to International Editor Lindsey Hilsum in her Tehran office about harassment her legal work is facing. Last week in Tehran, Ms. Shirin Ebadi said that the Iranian judicial system was acting “illegally” by preventing her from meeting with her Bahai clients.…
IranVNC, DC – 19 February 2009
Washington, 19 February (IranVNC)—Iran is engaging in a “systematic” effort to “eradicate” the banned Baha’i faith in that country, a senior analyst at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom [USCIRF] told IranVNC yesterday.
The Canberra Times, Australia – 19 February 2009
BY JENNA HAND The Australian Government is ''deeply concerned'' at news that seven leaders of the Iranian Baha'i community have been charged with spying for…
CNN International – 18 February 2009
TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Seven imprisoned leaders of the Baha'i faith in Iran have been accused of espionage and will face court hearings within a week,…
Dulcinea, New York – 18 February 2009
by Josh Katz Iran has charged members of the Bahai faith with spying for Israel, underscoring the religion’s contentious relationship with the Iranian…
IranVNC, DC – 18 February 2009
Washington, 18 February (IranVNC)—An Iranian member of the banned Baha’i faith has been arrested in the northern city of Sari, the Human Rights Activists in…
Changing Times Blog, Germany – 18 February 2009
”In Germany, they first came for the gypsies, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’ta gypsy. Then they came for the Bolsheviks, and I didn’t speak up…
CNN – 17 February 2009
By Rainn Wilson Editor's note: Actor Rainn Wilson plays paper salesman Dwight Schrute in the television comedy "The Office." Rainn Wilson says fellow…
RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, Czech Republic – 17 February 2009
An Iranian judiciary spokesman has said that the trial of seven Baha'i leaders accused last year of spying for Israel will take place next week.…
Reuters India – 17 February 2009
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Seven Iranian members of the Baha'i faith held on suspicion of spying could be indicted by next week, the Islamic Republic's judiciary…
EU2009.cz, Czech Republic -17 February 2009
The EU expresses its deep concern at the grave charges raised against seven Baha’i leaders in Iran. They have been detained by the Iranian authorities for…
Washington Post, United States – 17 February 2009
By Thomas Erdbrink TEHRAN, Feb. 17 -- Seven leaders of the Bahai faith who have been detained for more than eight months in Iran have been officially…
Xinhua, China – 17 February 2009
TEHRAN, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Judiciary spokesman Ali-Reza Jamshidi charged seven Iranians with espionage, the official IRNA news agency reported on…
IranVNC, DC – 17 February 2009
Washington, 17 February (IranVNC)—Iran’s Judiciary spokesperson Alireza Jamshidi said today that seven Iranian members of the banned Baha’i faith charged…
Thaindian.com, Thailand – 17 February 2009
Tehran, Feb 17 (IANS) An Iranian court has charged seven members of the outlawed Baha’i sect with espionage, IRNA reported Tuesday.…
TREND Information, Azerbaijan – 17 February 2009
Seven leaders of Baha'i religious community have been arrested on charges of spying for foreign states in Iran. The criminal case against them will be…
Earthtimes (press release), UK – 17 February 2009
Tehran - A spokesman of the Iranian judiciary confirmed Tuesday that seven members of the Bahai religion would soon face trial on charges of espionage,…
International Herald Tribune, France – 16 February 2009
LONDON: Britain voiced concern on Monday at the imminent trial in Iran of seven members of the Baha'i faith who are accused of spying for Israel and could…
ABC Online, Australia – 16 February 2009
MARK COLVIN: Seven members of the Baha'i religion are due to face court in Iran this week charged with spying for Israel. The Baha'i faith is banned in Iran…
Tehran Times, Iran – 16 February 2009
Iran’s Prosecutor General Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi says members of the banned Bahai sect have irrefutable links with Israel.…
AFP – 16 February 2009
LONDON (AFP) — Britain expressed concern Monday over charges laid against seven members of the banned Bahai religion in Iran, accusing Tehran of targeting…
Guardian.co.uk – 16 February 2009
Baha'is' rights have often been violated in Iran; now, as pressure mounts on the government, activists' lives are being threatened.
Associated Press, Tehran – 15 February 2009
By AP Iran's chief prosecutor is accusing members of the minority Bahai faith of sharing information on Iran with enemy nations such as Israel.…