Human Rights Watch: Iran is committing “crime against humanity” regarding the Baha’is

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GENEVA—1 April 2024—A groundbreaking report published today by the pre-eminent human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, states that the Iranian government’s 45-year systematic repression of the Baha’i religious minority amounts to the crime against humanity of persecution under international criminal law.

The new 49-page report, titled “The Boot on My Neck: Iranian Authorities’ Crime of Persecution Against Baha’is in Iran,” documents in incredible detail the discriminatory laws, policies and practices used by the Iranian government to violate the fundamental human rights of Baha’is in the country. Human Rights Watch said that Baha’is face abuses in almost every aspect of life, from arbitrary arrests and imprisonment by government agencies, to property confiscations, denial of access to education and employment, and even the blocking of dignified burials in line with Baha’i burial rites.

“Iranian authorities deprive Baha’is of their fundamental rights in every aspect of their lives, not due to their actions, but simply for belonging to a faith group,” said Michael Page, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Human Rights Watch, at a pre-launch event of the report. “It is critically important to increase international pressure on Iran to end this crime against humanity.”

Human Rights Watch conducted exhaustive research and extensive documentation in preparing its report, using as one of its main sources the Baha’i International Community’s (BIC) Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran website, which has published almost 12,000 documents related to the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran. Government policies and court documents were used as well as interviews with Baha’is, in Persian, both inside and outside Iran, between May 2022 and March 2023.

Human Rights Watch said in its report that the Islamic Republic has codified its repression of Baha’is into law and policy and sustains their enforcement through security and judicial authorities. The report also details discussions between Human Rights Watch researchers and Iranian Baha’is, some named and some whose identities were withheld for security reasons, and all of whom detail lifelong efforts by Iranian authorities to disrupt or destroy every aspect of their lives.

“The Baha’i International Community deeply appreciates the publication of this exceptional report and the powerful evidence it puts forth,” said Simin Fahandej, BIC Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. “The report brings together years of research and documentation regarding the systematic persecution of the Baha’is in Iran and draws clear attention to Iran’s flagrant disregard for its human rights obligations under international law and treaties. Our sincere hope is that the world will hold the Iranian government accountable for the longstanding injustices perpetrated against the Baha’i community, and that Iran takes all necessary legal and policy steps to end this systematic persecution.”


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