Congressman Mark Kirk: Then they came for the Baha'is

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The following speech by Hon. Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois was delivered to the House of Representatives:

Bipartisan Resolution Condemning Persecution of Baha’is in Iran

”In Germany, they first came for the gypsies, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a gypsy. Then they came for the Bolsheviks, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Bolshevik. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics. I didn’t speak up then because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up.”
–Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran pastor arrested by the Gestapo in 1937.

Mr. KIRK. Madam Speaker, then they came for the Baha’is.

The Baha’i Faith is the youngest of the world’s independent monotheistic religions. Founded in Iran in 1844, it now claims more than 5 million adherents in 236 countries and territories. Gathering worshipers from nearly every national, ethnic and religious background, the Baha’is preach tolerance, diversity and equality.

To an Islamic dictatorship that denies its people basic political and human rights, this religion founded in Iran on the tenets of religious tolerance remains an anathema to the Supreme Leader. And the world is standing by as Iran’s state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority nears its final stages.

In 2006, Iran’s Armed Forces Command Headquarters ordered the Ministry of Information, the Revolutionary Guard, and the Police Force to identify members of the Baha’i Faith in Iran and monitor their activities.

In that same year, we saw the largest roundup of Baha’is since the 1980s. The Iranian Interior Ministry ordered provincial officials to ”cautiously and carefully monitor and manage” all Baha’i social activities. The Central Security Office of Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology ordered 81 Iranian universities to expel any student discovered to be a Baha’i.

In 2007, the situation worsened. More than two-thirds of the Baha’is enrolled in universities were expelled once identified as Baha’is. Police entered Baha’i homes and businesses to collect details on family members.

Twenty-live industries were ordered to deny licenses to Baha’is. Employers were pressured to fire Baha’i employees and banks were instructed to refuse loans to Baha’i-owned businesses. Baha’i cemeteries were destroyed.

In November 2007, three Baha’i youths were detained for educating underprivileged children.

The following month, the Iranian Parliament published a draft Islamic penal code, requiring the death penalty for all ”apostates”–a term applied to Baha’is and any convert away from Islam.

On May 14. 2008, seven members of Iran’s national Baha’i coordinating group were arrested. This is reminiscent of the mass disappearance and assumed murder of all the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran in August, 1980.

On August 1, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Res. 1008, condemning the persecution of Baha’is in Iran and calling for the immediate release of all Baha’is imprisoned solely on the basis of their religion.

Our bipartisan voice bought the Baha’i leadership some time–but it appears only 6 months.

This week, the Government of Iran charged the seven Baha’i leaders with ”espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic republic.” Deputy Tehran Prosecutor Hassan Haddad declared, ”The charges against seven defendants in the case of the illegal Baha’i group were examined . . . and the case will be sent to the revolutionary court next week.”

It is time for the international community to act.

Today, along with my colleagues Jim McGovern and Brad Sherman, I am introducing a bipartisan resolution calling on the Government of Iran to immediately release the seven Baha’i leaders and all others imprisoned solely the basis of their religion.

I urge President Obama and Secretary Clinton, in concert with the international community, to publicly condemn Iran’s persecution of its religious minorities and demand the release of these seven community leaders.

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35 Responses

  1. Nadia Moshtagh

    February 19, 2009 2:17 am

    This is very impressive! Well written and effective. Thank you so much for expressing concern for the Baha’is in Iran and I hope more Congressmen follow in your footsteps. Thank you again and continue to do an amazing job

    Reply
  2. Elma Strom

    February 19, 2009 3:41 am

    Thank you so much for your eloquent and clear description of the history and context for the current situation and your straightforward call for action.

    Reply
  3. Deborah Crumbaker

    February 19, 2009 9:53 am

    Thank you for the excellent description of the current situation and the call for action. The world needs more people such as yourself.

    Reply
  4. Nur Saeed - (ARG)

    February 19, 2009 12:05 pm

    I’m a Bahá’í from Argentina and I’m torn between tears and goose-bumps when I see the support from people from arround the world. Thank you Congressman Mark Kirk for helping the bahá’ís. Thank you for helping us!

    Reply
  5. Saratha

    February 19, 2009 1:00 pm

    The Baha’is of Iran have suffered since the inception of the Faith in the 19th century – thank you, Congressman Kirk, for speaking up for them. May the United States of America be blessed for the courageous stand of its leaders in matters of justice.

    Reply
  6. Grant Wolf

    February 19, 2009 1:13 pm

    I cannot thank you enough for standing up for those who have suffered so much injustice, with so little attention from the public media.

    Reply
  7. E Quinn

    February 19, 2009 2:02 pm

    Thank you so much for your support and your voice. You and your colleagues have the ability to make a big difference. Our prayers are with the Friends.

    Reply
  8. Don Tennant

    February 19, 2009 2:51 pm

    As a Bahá’í in Massachusetts, I am deeply grateful to Congressmen Kirk, McGovern, and Sherman for their action on behalf of the friends in Iran. May their concern not fall on deaf ears.

    Reply
  9. J Dougherty

    February 19, 2009 8:38 pm

    Dear Congressman Kirk,
    I applaud you! I’m a Bahai for 40 years in NC and have never heard a more concise explanation of the Bahai Faith from one who is not a member. The years of false charges, against an innocent people, are a travesty to the entire World. The Baha’is in Iran must be allowed to live and attend schools, in their home country without punishment or the threat of loosing their lives. The Nations of the World who value peace and religious freedom must stand up, as you have done, and finally confront this injustice. I appreciate your courage for a call to action. You make me proud to be a fellow American, and even more, a Citizen of the World.

    Reply
  10. A M Parker

    February 19, 2009 10:04 pm

    Hon. Mark Steven Kirk,
    Thank you for publicizing the plight of Baha’is being persecuted in Iran simply because they are Baha’is. Clear accurate information like this shared with people of good will all over the world will help to end persecutions of minorities by any government. Thank you again from a Baha’i of 37 years, currently living in NC.

    Reply
  11. Lawrence Beard

    February 19, 2009 11:20 pm

    Dear Congressman Kirk,
    Thank you for your courageous actions on behalf of the Bahais.
    I am a Bahai of 12 years and I am deeply appreciative of your
    efforts and I hope and pray that other leaders will follow your example.
    Lawrence Beard

    Reply
  12. Guilda Mahmoudi

    February 20, 2009 12:32 am

    Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong.
    Theodore Roosevelt

    Dear Congressman Kirk

    It takes a great man to be the voice of those whose voices have been silenced. You are one such great man – Thank you.

    Reply
  13. Elham Nadji Smith

    February 20, 2009 1:57 am

    Dear Congressman Kirk, I am a Baha’i who fled Iran from religious persecution in 1979. My Baha’i friends and relatives in Iran are suffering greatly. Their human rights have been taken away. God Bless You! Thank you for your courage to help protect the Baha’is. Elham Smith

    Reply
  14. Ratnam Alagiah

    February 20, 2009 5:10 am

    Dear Congressman Kirk, Sincere thanks for taking up the issue of the Baha’is in Iran and their endless persecution. It requires courage and I thank you for your courage. Isaiah promised that “…He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more…

    Reply
  15. Timur Zyapparov

    February 20, 2009 8:30 am

    Thank you, Congressman Kirk. I’m there with you. I am not a Bahai, just like yourself, but the matters of justice and freedom cannot be defended by their small community alone. It should be a struggle of everyone who believes in the fundamental human rights. Russia is with you.

    Reply
  16. Narin Eftekhari

    February 20, 2009 12:02 pm

    I am happy to see such pure souls
    all over the world defending the rights of innocent human beings .
    Baha’is are peace lovers and are respected all over the world by their friends and communities.
    The more the present government in Iran shows tyranny towards the Baha’is the greater will be the flame of the love of the Faith in the hearts of the Baha’is and their friends.

    Reply
  17. Linda Houston

    February 20, 2009 2:02 pm

    Congressman Kirk,
    The blind are leading the blind in Iran. Thank you for promoting the truth.

    Let’s all take action by forwarding this to family and friends.

    From your friend, a ‘world citizen’ for 32 years.

    Reply
  18. Shohreh Moldenhauer

    February 20, 2009 2:55 pm

    Thank God for you dear Congressman Mr Kirk and thank you for your support of the Baha’is in Iran. My precious father was arrested; tortured for 3 months and shot to death for being a Baha’i which devastated us all; 6 kids lost their father. We sure hope and pray the persecution of our dear Baha’i sisters and brothers come to an end as soon as possible. Thank you again.

    Reply
  19. Nariman Khayltash

    February 20, 2009 8:55 pm

    God bless you to stand up and raise your voice in defence of Baha’is of Iran. There are very few politicians who have the courage and determination to defend the victims of tirany and oppression.

    Reply
  20. Olga & Theo Ruys

    February 21, 2009 4:12 pm

    Honorable Mark Steven Kirk:
    With admiration and appreciation we thank you for introducing the Bipartisan Resolution condeming the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran.

    Reply
  21. Karl J. Alfredsson

    February 21, 2009 5:47 pm

    Thanks Mr. Kirk, and all of you others too. The Baha’is in Iceland are crying out from their hearts to the authorities in Iran to let our people GO! Go back into the arms of theirs families and continue to strive for the betterment of society there in Iran just as Baha’is do elsewhere all over the world.

    Reply
  22. LLoyd Brown

    February 21, 2009 8:25 pm

    Dear Congressman Kirk. Thank you for your eloquent words. Please encourage your colleagues to join you. Let us hope it is not too late.
    sincerely,
    Lloyd Brown

    Reply
  23. Keyvan Hedayat

    February 22, 2009 5:39 am

    Thank you so much Congressman Kirk, I wish all the people of the world would realize how important it is to stand up against injustice. That is exactly what you have done and I thank you for that.

    Reply
  24. Geoff Wyatt

    February 22, 2009 7:52 am

    Dear Congressman Kirk. I read this prayer by Baha’u’llah (Glory of God) this morning which, unfortunately, is still relevant in this day and tonight I came across the actions you have taken in this regard. It appears you have answered His prayer as well as many others. Thank you…..

    O God, my God! Thou seest Thy loved ones turning their hearts to Thee, and holding fast unto the cord of Thy ordinances and laws. I beseech Thee by the waves of the sea of Thine utterance, and by Him through whom Thou didst adorn the heavens of Thy might, to graciously protect them by the aid of Thy hosts.

    O God! Thou beholdest Thy lovers in Iran in the clutches of hate and enmity. I beg of Thee, by Thy mercy which hath preceded the contingent world, to raise up from the earth those who will be moved to aid and protect them, and to preserve their rights and the restitution due to them by those who broke Thy Covenant and Testament, and perpetrated such acts as made the inmates of the cities of Thy justice and equity to lament. Thou art, verily, the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. 

    Baha’u’llah

    Reply
  25. Diane

    February 22, 2009 9:38 pm

    Dear Congressman Kirk,

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    Justice is, in this day, bewailing it’s plight, and Equity groaneth beneath the yoke of oppression.
    Baha’u’llah

    You are indeed a just man.

    Reply
  26. Iisha Rosario

    February 23, 2009 8:53 am

    To Congressman Kirk, McGovern, and Sherman, I have been a Baha’i for 28 years. I just want to thank you all for standing up for the rights of Iranian Baha’is and Baha’is in other countries, whom Human Rights have been stripped away. It truly takes courage to speak out, when so many other stay quite. The world will no longer tolerate such blatant disregard for our fellow brothers and sisters human rights. I pray that others in prominent positions will also follow your example and speak out against this travesty.

    Reply
  27. Bahman Motlagh

    February 23, 2009 8:57 pm

    The purveyors of darkness and ignorance, the blind followers of the blind, they desecrated my fathers resting place I know of nothing in my life that is as emotionally horrifying as the knowledge that my fathers resting place has been destroyed. Every fiber of my being yearns for revenge and restitution yet my beloved Bahaolah the “Blessed Beauty” the sublime voice of justice and peace in our world demands a better, deeper and longer lasting, love from me than history has recorded.

    Today the plait of our civilized world is intricately bound to the plait of the Bahai’s.

    For if we do not stand with our innocent brethrens where will we draw the lines?

    Here is clear distinction between right and wrong, let us resolve to defend justice.

    Reply
  28. Robin Richardson

    February 24, 2009 1:50 am

    Congressman Kirk,

    Your courage and expression of justice is just what the world needs today. Bullies and tyrants live in the darkness. Your efforts gives us light. Thank you from Robin and Kathy Richardson

    Reply
  29. Cecily David

    February 24, 2009 3:28 am

    Thank you for your efforts and the time you took to acquire the knowledge to speak so knowingly and sincerely on the suffering of the Baha’is in Iran. It gladdens my heart to think of your work.

    Reply
  30. Shari Rognstad

    February 24, 2009 5:20 am

    Thank you so much Congressman Kirk. God bless us all for your courage and forthrightness. I pray your efforts will not be in vain.

    Reply
  31. Ron Somerhalder

    February 24, 2009 9:50 pm

    Congressman Kirk has turned the spot light on leadership that is ill-informed, mis-informed and un-informed. Unfortunately, 150 years of this fear generated behavior is what has created the anathema so eloquently spoken out by Congressman Kirk. Thank you sir for not remaining silent. Thank you Iranian Professionals for no longer remaining silent. Your courage will surely assist in changing the gyroscope for the direction of the peoples of the world leading to brotherhood.

    Reply

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