domingo, 23 de agosto de 2015

The Iranian Bahai Prisoners Speak Out

Teheran-2 Recently the head of the Human Rights Division of the Judicial Branch of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Javad Ardeshir Larijani, publicly claimed that "No one is in prison for being a Baha'i and if Baha'is do not commit illegal acts their citizenship rights will be protected." in the following letter to Mr. Larijani, the seven imprisoned members of the former ad hoc committee of the Baha'i community of Iran-known as the Yaran-have recently challenged that assessment by reiterating some of the acts of oppression and discrimination, security force encounters and human rights violations imposed on this group of innocent citizens as a result of their Faith. Their open letter asks Iranian government officials to change their view toward citizens and minorities. As reported by JARAS, here is the text of this letter from members of the Yaran addressed to Mohammad Javad Larijani: In the Name of God His Excellency Mr. Mohammad Javad Larijani, Chairman of the Human Rights Division of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic With Greetings and Respect Your provocative statements in the news dialogue program which was broadcast to millions from Channel 2 of Sima [Iranian National Television] on 26 Esfand [17 March], have impelled us, the seven formers members of the coordinating group of the Bahá'í Community of Iran, who are currently imprisoned, to respectfully bring to your attention certain points. We do so out of a sense of obligation, without any intention or motive to incite anyone and divorced from any political view or standpoint. It is indisputably clear that issues concerning Bahá'ís and the wrongs inflicted upon them are not new and that certain media, including above all, the Islamic Republic's national network, have systematically directed numerous malicious attacks and unfounded allegations against this group of their Iranian brothers and sisters. This has happened continuously, over many years, while not even one individual Bahá'í has been permitted to respond through that same media outlet to these unfair accusations and gross misrepresentations as is our right under our nation's Constitution. Your Excellency Mr. Larijani It is heartwarming that in your statements, your excellency has presented human rights as an important and multi-faceted global issue. Even more significantly, it is a source of joy to note that in an unprecedented initiative you have clearly stated that in the Islamic Republic the government is obligated to preserve the citizenship rights and maintain the security of the Bahá'ís. Welcoming your standpoint, we hereby declare that the Iranian Bahá'ís likewise expect their citizenship rights to be officially recognized and respected. It is gratifying to see that you regard Bahá'ís as citizens of this country, as this portends improved future collaboration with this wronged community. However, your statement that no one is imprisoned for being a Bahá'í and that if Bahá'ís do not commit illegal acts their citizenship rights are preserved-which implies that any confrontation with Bahá'ís must undoubtedly be attributed to their having broken the law-indicates that you are unaware of the facts of the matter. We therefore wish to pose certain questions to you so that, on the one hand, we may inform you of the facts so as to assist you in discharging the authority vested in you as the Chairman of the Human Rights Division of the Judiciary, and, on the other hand, we may provide evidence for the record and before the awakened conscience of our free-minded compatriots. We do this whilst continuing to observe, with utmost regret, that owing to religious intolerance and bias against freedom of belief, Iranian Bahá'ís continue to suffer appalling violations of their citizenship rights and severe repression by the security forces and the judiciary. Alongside a change in the stance of the regime's honourable authorities, may we, from this day forward, witness a real transformation in their safeguarding and upholding the rights of the members of the Bahá'í community. Teheran-1 1. Mr. Larijani, has the execution of the more than 220 Bahá'ís-ranging from a sixteen-year old girl to a ninety-five-year old man-been carried out in accordance with their citizenship rights, when virtually every one of them were told that if they recanted their beliefs and converted to Islam their lives would be spared and they would be freed from prison? If one commits a crime, how is it that the mere act of recantation of one's beliefs absolves him or her of culpability? 2. Does the dismissal of tens of thousands of Bahá'í workers and professionals from their workplaces and from government organizations-not to mention suspension of their pensions and obstruction of their employment in the private sector, when no crime had been committed by them and official documents cite the sole reason for their dismissal or suspension "membership in the misguided Bahá'í sect", constitute upholding their rights of citizenship? And now, Mr. Larijani, can your excellency name one Bahá'í who is employed in any government organization? The answer is clearly negative because at this time no government organization is permitted to hire Bahá'ís. 3. Has the collective confiscation of the properties of Bahá'ís in Yazd and the ban on their doing business with others been executed in accordance with their rights as citizens? Mr. Larijani, those who were suckling children when such verdicts were issued and who are now grown and have formed families continue to suffer numerous obstacles to earning a livelihood. Were these suckling children or [those whose graves are being destroyed now] all criminals? 4. Does the debarring of thousands of Bahá'í students following the Islamic revolution from access to university and the deprivation from higher education over the past thirty years of tens of thousands of youth eagerly interested in learning, solely on account of their beliefs, accord with their citizenship rights? Do these acts attest that the regime protects the rights of Bahá'ís, all of whom are blameless? Surely your excellency does not consider the numerous memoranda instructing universities throughout the country not to register Bahá'í students and to expel them on any grounds, as consistent with supporting and respecting the rights of the Bahá'ís as citizens of the country. These memoranda, which have regrettably been issued by the same authorities that you consider are respectful of the rights of the Bahá'ís, are available for all to see. 5. We invite you to reflect on the memorandum of Esfand, 1369 [February 1991] ratified by the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council, which was issued with the approval of the highest authorities in the country, and ask that you compare it with the nation's Constitution and human rights laws. This memorandum clearly states that (a) Bahá'ís can be enrolled in schools provided they have not identified themselves as Bahá'ís; (b) they are to be denied employment if they identify themselves as Bahá'ís; (c) they must be expelled from universities, either in the admission process or during the course of their studies, once it becomes known that they are Bahá'ís; (d) their progress and development should be blocked. For your information, in 1386 [2006/2007], when a group of Bahá'í students who had been expelled from university appealed to the court of justice against the university, the documents issued by the court clearly state that their dismissal was based on the aforementioned memorandum of the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council. Our question is this: How is this memorandum consistent with supporting Bahá'ís and respecting their citizenship rights? And if we observe fairly, is not this very memorandum indicative of the way the regime regards and deals with the Bahá'ís? 6. Mr. Larijani, we appeal to you sincerely to consider this question before your conscience: What crimes were committed by those Bahá'ís who made arrangements for Bahá'í students who are deprived of access to higher education to continue their learning in their own private homes, through the internet, and without any use of government accommodations or funds? Is private education a crime under the penal laws of this country? Is it fair to sentence to long prison terms those individuals who give wholeheartedly of their time and their knowledge to facilitate the education of Bahá'í youth? Is the government's policy in this matter not an effort to retard the cultural progress of a community? How could anyone consider such wholesale violations as constituting government protection of the rights of Bahá'ís to higher education? 7. Mr. Larijani, does the dismissal of all Bahá'í government workers and professionals from public and even private businesses; confiscation of the private properties of Bahá'ís in the agricultural and industrial sectors-for which there is clear documentary evidence; the closure of hundreds of shops and businesses owned by Bahá'ís in various towns based on unfounded excuses; the expelling of many Bahá'í villagers from their homes and the confiscation of their farm animals and agricultural lands, which have belonged to their families for generations; and the numerous other ongoing obstacles to Bahá'ís to engage in business and employment, bear any resemblance whatever to your statement that Bahá'ís are able, under the protection of the regime, to be gainfully employed? Of course, it goes without saying that protection of its citizens is the inherent obligation of any government to its citizens and so the question is this: Is it not that all these obstacles and the countless ongoing hardships that are visited upon the Bahá'ís are aimed precisely at implementing one of the provisions of the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council memorandum, namely, that the progress and development of the Bahá'ís must be blocked? 8. Mr. Larijani, how should one view the confiscation of Bahá'í holy places and endowments throughout the whole of Iran? Which singular crime of any Bahá'í has led to the confiscation of the centres for Bahá'í gatherings and prayers in various cities and villages? As you believe in collaboration with Bahá'ís based on their citizenship rights, do you readily accept that a Bahá'í has the right to be buried as written in his/her will, in accordance with Bahá'í requirements and in an appropriate location-which any government is obligated to provide? And yet it is astonishing that over the years, even this right has been taken away from dead Bahá'ís. Mr. Larijani, does the confiscation and destruction of Bahá'í cemeteries accord with respecting the citizenship rights of the Bahá'ís? Of what, in your opinion, is desecrating cemeteries and disinterring bodies from their graves-acts which are considered abhorrent in any religion-indicative? teheran Mr. Larijani What has been stated above affords but a brief glimpse of the multi-faceted deprivations and violations of the citizenship rights of the Bahá'ís. Such violations are, of course not limited to Bahá'ís and others seek equality of rights in the cultural, artistic, political, and social arenas, in accordance with clear principles enunciated in our nation's Constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As we stated, that which is necessary to guarantee the citizenship rights of the honourable Iranian citizens is, first, legislating laws which, with utmost clarity, protect such rights and, secondly, establishing structures which prevent their misapplication through arbitrary and capricious interpretation. We believe that oneness and equality and liberty for all are not merely civil or legal constructs but that these are, rather, spiritual principles whose origin and source is the one creator who created the entire human race from the same dust. Notwithstanding civil and legal requirements, belief in oneness and equality and respect for the rights of others are principles which must emanate from one's faith and conscience. Based on this, it would be highly appropriate for the honorable authorities of the Islamic Republic, using the provisions enshrined in law, to foster and promote an integrated and unified view of the Iranian nation and to allow the noble people of Iran to exercise their citizenship rights despite their beliefs or ethnicity. The Former Members of the Coordinating Group of the Bahá'í Community of Iran Part 1 of 3: The Iranian Baha'i Prisoners Speak Out - An Open Letter from The Yaran Part 2 of 3: 8 Questions for the Iranian Government from the Baha'i Prisoners Below you'll find some additional information on the deprivation of human rights, imprisonment, torture and execution of the beleaguered Baha'is in Iran. The Baha'i writings say this on the subject: "Baha'u'llah teaches that an equal standard of human rights must be recognized and adopted. In the estimation of God all men are equal; there is no distinction or preferment for any soul in the dominion of His justice and equity." - Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, pp. 240-241. For more information on The Yaran, or "Friends" of Iran - see For more information on the Islamic Republic of Iran's Human Rights head Mohammad-Javad Larijani, see For more information on the famous case of Mona Mahmudnizhad, the 16-year-old girl executed in 1983 for teaching children who had been expelled from school for their beliefs and for serving in an orphanage, see For more information on the Iranian government's Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council's edict against the Baha'is, you will find it printed in full at Source:

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