Imprisonment, confiscation, denial of most basic civil rights: A surge in persecution of the Baha’is in Iran
BIC GENEVA — Iranian authorities are preventing Baha’is across the country from obtaining national identification cards, while a series of home raids, confiscations, arrests, and attacks on properties have unjustly targeted Baha’is. These developments are part of a surge in persecution against the Baha’i community in Iran.
Members of several religious minorities in the country face restrictions in applying for a new national identification card, removing a previous facility that allowed the option “other” to be selected instead of one of four recognized religions—Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or Zoroastrianism. The decision to remove that option now prevents Baha’is from obtaining their identification cards, depriving them of basic civil services such as applying for a loan, cashing a check, or buying property.
“Despite continuous claims by Iranian officials inside the country and in UN fora that Baha’is have citizenship rights,” says Diane Ala’i, Representative of the Baha’i International Community (BIC) in Geneva, “the authorities are institutionalizing yet another mechanism which aims to destroy the Baha’i community as a viable entity; thereby extending a four-decade-long and relentless campaign of persecution against Baha’is across virtually every dimension of life—the cultural, social, educational and economic. Even so, the Baha’is of Iran continue to strive to live in accordance with the teachings of their Faith, which uphold truthfulness as ‘the foundation of all human virtues.’ How could Baha’is who apply for their national identification cards, for public sector jobs, or to enroll in a universities be punished simply for being truthful?”
In another troubling development, a court has ruled that all properties belonging to Baha’is in the village of Ivel—some of which they have owned since the mid-19th Century—be confiscated on the basis that Baha’is have “a perverse ideology” and therefore have no “legitimacy in their ownership” of any property. There have been other attacks on Baha’i properties and confiscations of their possessions in the past three months, including one case where a Baha’i home was entirely destroyed.
Moreover, dozens of Baha’is have been arrested, and dozens more have received religiously motivated prison sentences. These sentences amount to a combined prison time of nearly a century, with some individuals sentenced to over ten years of incarceration.
“The Baha’i International Community is alarmed by the recent wave of persecution against the Baha’i community in Iran and calls upon the international community to shine a spotlight on these issues, which represent a major further deterioration”, says Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the BIC.