On 2 and 3 November 2016, police agents sealed off more than 100 small businesses belonging to followers of the Baha’i faith in several cities across Iran, including in the northern cities of Qaemshahr, Saari and Noshahr, and the southern city of Bandar Abbas. Apparently the businesses were shut down because they had observed Baha’i religious holidays on 1 and 2 November , however no judicial orders or warrants justifying the closures have been produced.
In the past few days, the authorities have also detained at least five followers of the Baha’i faith in the city of Saari, the provincial capital of Mazandaran. The five – Soheil Haqdoost, Nima No’khah, Behnam Mirzaei, Arsham Samiee and Shahrooz Zamani – were some of the small business owners who had called on the Mazandaran Governor-General’s Office to ask for their illegally shut-down businesses to be re-opened. As of present, these men are still arbitrarily detained, but have not yet been charged with any crime.
Followers of the Baha’i faith constitute the largest religious minority in Iran, but their rights are not recognised by Iran’s Constitution and thus they face constant discrimination and the risk of abuse. Although human rights groups and the United Nations have frequently criticised Iran’s treatment of religious minorities and in particular the Baha’i, the authorities have consistently refused to recognise the Baha’i faith and other religious minorities and continue their repressive assault against them.
For almost four decades, followers of the Baha’i faith have faced extensive discrimination and repression in Iran, including the demolition of their cemeteries, a ban on Baha’i students accessing post-secondary education, the closure of the Baha’i institute of higher education and imprisonment of its instructors, detention and imprisonment of scores of other followers of the faith, confiscation of their farmland and other property, a prohibition against Baha’i working in the public sector, and a refusal to issue business licences and closures of Baha’i-owned businesses.
“The Iranian regime must end its apartheid-like policy against the Baha’i minority. We remind the Iranian president of his responsibility under articles 14, 22 and 122 of the Constitution to protect the rights and livelihood of all Iranian citizens.”
Our organisations again call on the Iranian authorities to respect international law and human rights standards, and immediately end the repression and harassment of Iran’s Baha’i community. The international community also has an important role to play, and must demand that the Iranian authorities repeal all discriminatory laws and policies against the Baha’i and Iran’s other religious minorities, and ensure that they can fully enjoy their basic human rights as recognised by international law.
& its member Iranian organisation
League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI)