Lessons of unrelenting steadfastness
Proclamation of the Constitutional Party of Iran
We cannot pass over, merely with sympathy and condemnation, the sentence of the seven leaders of the Baha’i community of Iran. The Islamic regime has condemned these two women and five men, all of whom are distinguished servants of Iran, to a total of one hundred and forty years of imprisonment simply for being Baha’is. In continuing the regime’s policy of cutting off the head of the Baha’i community of Iran, once again a group of Baha’is have been sacrificed for their religious-social beliefs.
The sentence against this group is the continuation of a long and shameful story that began with horrible bloodshed in the early nineteenth century under Qajar rule and is being pursued by the Islamic Republic’s policy of uprooting [religious minorities]. But this long and shameful story has another facet that, especially dyring the current heated struggle of people against the regime, should be focused upon: Baha’is stay aloof from politics; but Iranian politics can take valuable lessons from them.
The first lesson that Baha’is could give to Iranians is an unrelenting steadfastness under the harshest of pressures. Baha’i homes have been set on fire, businesses have been shut down, possessions have been stolen, people have been thrown out of work and universities, they have been condemned to being executed or to face long term imprisonment, but they do not flinch, moan or give up. They do not speak of being broken or useless. Those who talk daily of the Green Movement’s failure need only look at their Baha’i fellow citizens. Who has a better right to sound defeated?
The second lesson, equally important, is gathering together meager individual energies and turning them into a powerful social network. The Baha’is’ defensive strategies during the Islamic Republic will be recorded in the exalted pages of Iranian history. When university doors were closed to Baha’i students, Baha’is took the university to their homes. Distinguished Baha’is provided free lessons to small groups of students in homes so that they could be admitted to reputable universities in Europe and America.
Baha’is do not have mullas or priests, so local administrators of Baha’i groups everywhere attend to their “personal affairs”, such as weddings, births and other religious observances. Since such administrators have always been the primary targets of repression, now everywhere in small Baha’i groups individuals take on the task after taking the necessary training. “Leadership” has been dispersed to the extreme. The heads have become so many that even the Islamic Republic cannot remove them all.
The Green Movement that has taken political and religious compromise as one of its major specialties in its liberal democratic dialogue should look closer at its Baha’i fellow citizens. Relentless under attack, its leadership dispersed into the smallest units in order to withstand any attack, cooperation and pooling together resources however insignificant would help the Green Movement as much as it does the Baha’i community of Iran.
Long live Iran! Long live the Iranian people!
-by the Constitutional Party of Iran (Liberal Democrat)