Re: Attack on Iran could trigger bloodbath for Bahá’ís, March 12. I commend Senator Roméo Dallaire for his recent editorial.
His conclusion that a military strike against Iran by either the United States or Israel is likely to trigger increased persecution and possibly reprisal killings against Bahá’ís is highly credible and echoes the opinions of other experts.
My own organization, the Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention, has been monitoring the persecution of Iranian Bahá’ís for several years and published our first risk assessment on the issue in 2009. [for Feb 2012 report click here]
Since then, we have maintained that the two most likely triggers for large-scale killings of Bahá’ís by the Iranian government are foreign military strikes or serious internal challenges to the regime. Western governments may not be able to influence the latter case, but they can certainly control the former.
As Senator Dallaire points out, among the many other anti-Bahá’í abuses in Iran, they are particularly targeted for dehumanization and demonization in the media.
The constant stream of propaganda linking a targeted minority to the foreign “enemy du jour” (currently the U.S. and Israel but formerly Britain and Russia in past decades) is reminiscent of many historical cases of genocide. This will likely prompt a cornered regime to turn against its perceived internal enemies when it is unable to credibly retaliate against its actual external foes.
The fate of 300,000 Iranian members of a little-known religious community may not count for much in the calculus of governments pondering questions of nuclear containment and national security, but we must change that. Not only must we open our doors to Bahá’ís fleeing oppression, but we must constantly remind our leaders that the closer we get to war with Iran the closer we get to the world’s next genocide.
Christopher Tuckwood, Toronto Executive Director, The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention
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