Official Makes Rare Admission of Bahá’ís Equal Rights in Domestic Media


[International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran]

Due to intense international attention to the situation of human rights in Iran, Javad Larijani made a rare statement to the domestic media, acknowledging Baha’is are entitled to equal rights under the constitution.

In a rare statement to the Iranian media on April 6, 2014, Javad Larijani, Head of the Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Council, admitted Baha’is in Iran are entitled to full and equal constitutional rights.

Iranian officials, most notably Javad Larijani, have often made similar statements to foreign audiences, claiming that the persecution and prosecution of Baha’is is not due to their faith. However, inside the country, they typically refer to the Baha’is in degrading and inflammatory terms, calling them a cult and accusing them of being agents of foreign powers. They infer that Baha’is should not enjoy equal constitutional protections.

The acknowledgment to their domestic audience that Baha’is are entitled to equal rights is evidence of a new level of domestic accountability, and a clear indication that Iranian hardliners, particularly in the Judiciary, have come under increased pressure to justify their rights violations due to therecent international focus on the human rights situation in Iran.

In an interview with the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA), Larijani said: “The authorities never target Baha’is just because they are followers of this faith, because according to the Constitution, all Iranian citizens are entitled to certain rights and cannot be deprived of rights stipulated in the constitution.”

Since the 1979 Revolution, the Baha’is have been one of the most egregiously persecuted minorities in Iran. The debate surrounding the citizenship rights of Baha’is reached a critical stage in December 2009 when the dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Montazeri issued an unprecedented fatwaacknowledging the full citizenship rights of Baha’is living in Iran, on par with all other citizens. Up to that point, no major Shi’a cleric had recognized the equal rights of Baha’is as Iranian citizens.

Although Larijani acknowledged the constitutional rights of Baha’is, he continued to falsely claim that no Baha’is are prosecuted and imprisoned due to their faith, and that Baha’i students are not barred from access to higher education.

Yet Larijani’s claims are in direct contradiction to the well-documented situation of Baha’is in Iran. “At least 734 Baha’is have reportedly been arrested since 2004 and 136 are currently detained; another 289 have been arrested, released on bail, and are awaiting trial; while another 150 have been sentenced, but are awaiting appeals or summons to serve,” the UN expert, Ahmed Shaheed, reportedMarch 2014 to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In addition, seven Baha’i leaders prosecuted in 2008 and sentenced to twenty years in prison remain behind bars and Baha’i students are routinely denied access to higher education, as documented in the Campaign report, “Punishing Stars: Systematic Discrimination and Exclusion in Iranian Higher Education.

The Campaign welcomes this step forward in domestic accountability in Iran, and urges the international community to maintain its productive focus on the situation of human rights in Iran in general, and on the situation of Baha’is in particular. Over the past few weeks, the UN Secretary General and the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran have issued their latest reports, the UN Human Rights Council has debated the situation, and the EU Parliament has adopted a resolution urging Iran-EU relations to address human rights concerns.



3 Responses

  1. Iradj

    April 11, 2014 8:31 pm

    We have few court documents clearly indicating to “member of dianate zaleh Baha’i” If you would like, we can scan and send them to you

  2. Vafa-Canada

    April 16, 2014 6:07 pm

    Just for the record: The Baha’i community has been persecuted since its inception in 1844. They martyred the beloved Bab, and sent into exile & imprisonment; Baha’u’llah and the Holy family for the rest of their lives. They have martyred tens of thousands of Babis and Baha’is ever since. They have destroyed all Baha’i Holy Places, confiscated all Baha’i properties, businesses and many homes throughout Iran. They have desecrated almost every Baha’i cemetery in the country. How LOW can a nation get?? The Baha’i Faith has never received official recognition since 1844 through various kings, rulers, and governments in Iran.
    The Iranian people, of which 99% are Muslims, need to raise their voice and with the utmost unity and courage DEMAND their government to stop abusing every single minority group in Iran. This abuse has been going on for over a 1000 years for the minority Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, and since the birth of the Baha’i Faith. This is an utter SHAME for the people of Iran!! No one can deny this sad and dark history. But the Iranian people have the responsibility and duty to change the future for the better.
    Enough sitting around and pretending these things don’t happen. We are living in the 21st Century, not the stone age anymore.


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