GENEVA—27 January 2020—The Baha’i International Community is deeply concerned by the surge in persecution by the Iranian authorities against the Baha’i community recently, particularly a disturbing institutional decision impacting Baha’is across the country.
By restricting applicants of the new Iranian national identification card to select only one of the four recognized religions—i.e. Islam, Christianity, Judaism or Zoroastrianism—those belonging to other faiths, including Baha’is, are forced to either lie about their beliefs or remain deprived of the most basic civil services, such as applying for a loan, cashing a check, or buying property. The Baha’i teachings call on Baha’is to be truthful, and therefore they cannot lie about their beliefs. Several reports confirm that Baha’is have been, accordingly, prevented from obtaining their identification cards.
Moreover, a court has ruled that all of the properties belonging to the Baha’is in the village of Ivel be confiscated on the basis that Baha’is have “a perverse ideology” and therefore have no “legitimacy in their ownership” of any property. This outrageous decision is despite the fact that Baha’is have been resident in the area and owned properties there for generations, reaching as far back as the mid 1800s.
In the last three months alone, dozens of Baha’is were arrested and dozens more received religiously-motivated sentences, for a combined prison term of nearly one hundred years. Just this month, individual Baha’is were sentenced to upwards of ten years in prison; in yet another case the gold used by a Baha’i in his jewelry business was called for to be confiscated.
“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”, said Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community.
Diane Ala’i, Representative of the Bahá’í International Community in Geneva, further explained, “Despite continuous claims by Iranian officials inside the country and in UN fora that Baha’is have citizenship rights, the authorities are institutionalizing yet another mechanism which aims to destroy the Baha’i community as a viable entity; thereby extending a four-decades 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 Baha’i writings, which uphold truthfulness as ‘the foundation of all human virtues’. How could Baha’is that apply for their national identification ID cards, for public sector jobs, or to enroll in universities be punished simply for being truthful?”
In the past three months, Baha’is also experienced multiple home raids, attacks on properties, confiscation of possessions, dismissals from employment, and continued denial of access to higher education. In one case, a Baha’i home was entirely destroyed. In another instance, a non-Baha’i employer was forced to provide a list of her Baha’i employees and then to dismiss them from employment.
Furthermore, a relentless campaign of misinformation about the Baha’i Faith targeting the Iranian public has continued in full force in the news and social media. Thousands of such anti- Baha’i propaganda have circulated in 2019 alone. A small fraction of such content is available on the Persecution of Baha’is of Iran website.