How significant is Baha’i persecution in Iran on the American agenda? By Kritika Bharadwaj, World Outline 13 April 2013
The crisis of Iran’s minority persecution seems to be overlooked as international actors place Iran’s nuclear enrichment program as a primary issue on their agendas.
Amidst recent talks in Kazakhstan, pressure by Western powers did little to change Iran’s rebuttal to curb its nuclear program. Reuters reports that after failed negotiations between Iran and the six world powers – U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, the latter continues to fear the threat of a “new war in the Middle East.” (read more)
Photo Credit: US Mission Geneva
Where's the Coverage? Iran Systematically Oppresses Baha’is By Snapshots: A Camera Blog 21 March 2013
Even though representatives of the government of Iran have testified that “any religious or political belief is guaranteed under the Constitution,” that “no one can be put to trial or punished, or deprived of social rights owing to a particular belief,” and that “the investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be harassed or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief,” that’s exactly what happens to Baha’is in Iran, according to two recent reports.
United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, announced a report which outlined systematic government oppression of Baha’is, “intimidation, arrest, detention and interrogation that focus on their religious beliefs,” including psychological and physical torture. (read more)
Increasing violence against Iranian Baha'is engineered by government Bahá’í International Community 6 March 2013
GENEVA — In a report released today, the Baha'i International Community documents hundreds of incidents of torture, physical assault, arson, vandalism, cemetery desecration and the abuse of schoolchildren directed against the Iranian Baha'i community since 2005 – all carried out with utter impunity.
"The entire situation puts the Baha'is in an impossible position because they must ask for justice and protection from the same authorities who are systematically inciting hatred against them and from a judicial system that treats virtually every Baha'i who is arrested as an enemy of the state," said Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community's representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
"This report shows that attacks on Baha'is are engineered by government agents and actively encouraged by the authorities and the Muslim clergy in Iran – and that attackers are well aware that they will go unpunished," added Ms. Ala'i. (read more)
Today Genocide Watch proposed the following legislation to the United States Congress requiring the President to report to the Congress on his action to encourage allies to take legal action in the International Court of Justice for Iran's violation of the Genocide Convention's Article 3c, which makes it an international crime to directly and publicly incite genocide against another nation, ethnic, religious, or racial group; specifically Iran's repeated incitements to destroy Israel; and calling on the President and his Atrocities Prevention Board to adopt the Precautionary Principle to change the locus of diplomatic action against genocide from reaction to active prevention. (Read the full act here)
Credit: Hasan Sarbakhshian/AP. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, with Mohammad Hejazi, the deputy head of the Islamic republicís armed forces.
Genocide and politicide watch: Iran By Genocide Watch 28 February 2012
In 1979 an Islamic Revolution overthrew the Shah Reza Pahlavi royal dynasty. The revolutionaries adopted a theocratic constitution and founded the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under its constitution, the Supreme Religious Leader (Ayatollah) assumes the highest religious and political authority. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile in Iraq. He exercised Supreme Rule until his death in 1989. He was succeeded by Ayatollah Ali Khameini.
Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1979 ordering that religious minorities, including Jews and Christians, be treated with tolerance. But in practice the treatment of religious and ethnic minorities worsened. The Ayatollah's fatwa did not protect the Baha'i, who have been persecuted since their founding in the 1850s. This religious minority accepts other religions and considers their founder, Bhá'u'lláh, a messenger of God. The Shi'ite Muslim Iranian government regards the Baha'i as apostates and treats them as a heretical cult. Between 1978 and 1998 more than 200 Baha'i were killed or disappeared. Many others are still wrongfully imprisoned. The Baha'i are subject to widespread and systematic discrimination and persecution.
The Iranian government targets other minority groups as well. Recent facts evidence the persecution of the ethnic Arab minority in Iran (read more). Furthermore, Sunni Muslims – who are predominantly Kurds but also Arabs – as well as Jews and Christians, face discrimination, arbitrary imprisonment, harassment and intimidation. Since the election of president Ahmadinejad in 2005 the religious and ethnic discrimination has increased.
Political opponents of the Iranian regime are also repressed. In 2009 president Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a highly contested vote. Announcement of the results caused violent demonstrations. Ayatollah Khameini confirmed the re-election of president Ahmadinejad over the more moderate candidate, Mir-Hossein Moussavi. The Iranian government repressed the protests by shooting demonstrators, arbitrary executions, mass trials and torture. The demonstrations led to the creation of the Green Movement, which is still suppressed by the Iranian government.
Besides internal political, religious and ethnic conflicts, international tensions are increasing as well. Since the election of president Ahmadinejad in 2005 the Iranian government has led an anti-Semitic campaign against Israel that is reminiscent of the propaganda of Nazi Germany. Dr. Gregory Stanton, the president of Genocide Watch and President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, has denounced Iranian threats to "wipe Israel off the face of the map" as incitement to genocide (read letter to president Bush). There is increasing evidence that Iran's nuclear program is intended to develop nuclear weapons, and that its missile program is intended to give it a first strike capacity to attack Israel. These developments have recently led to speculation that as pre-emptive self-defence, Israel will attack Iranian nuclear facilities. Iran accuses Israel of assassinating its nuclear scientists, while Israel believes that current attacks on its diplomatic personnel in foreign countries are reprisals directed by the Iranian government. Iran supports anti-Israel terrorist groups such as the Hezbollah.
Iran is at level 5 of Genocide Watch's 8 stages of genocide: Polarization. Genocide Watch monitors the situation in Iran on the basis of the following early warning signs:
At the internal level, the widespread discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, in particular the Baha'i, is alarming. The government is authoritarian, and is controlled by a religious elite with an exclusionary ideology.
At the external level, the nuclear program of Iran threatens international peace and security, especially in combination with Iran's anti-Semitic campaign against Israel.