Sentinel Project Monitors Safety of the Baha’is of Iran

sentinel project bahais iran
The international tension between Iran and Western countries has ratcheted up to an alarming level. Although both sides are full of bluster, everyone is hoping that the P5+1 meeting to take place in Turkey on April 14th will provide an alternative to war.

The Islamic regime in Iran may shock everyone and ameliorate its stance on its ‘right to nuclear energy’. But even if it does, it will be for only one reason: self-preservation. For that same reason Iran is not letting up any pressure on human rights or freedoms of expression within its borders.

The recent UN special rapporteur’s report outlines just how bad the situation is in Iran and how it is worsening every year; not just for Baha’is but for anyone who falls foul of the Islamic regime.

In a few months access to the internet will be severely curtailed as Iran rolls out a “clean internet” which will be devoid of gmail, google, hotmail, twitter, etc. to be replaced with Iran Mail and “Iran Search Engine”. Iranians must register with their full legal name, address and national ID in order to use it. The next step will be a fully self-contained national intranet scheduled to go live in August 2012.

As human rights abuses perpetrated on the Iranian Baha’is continue, the 7 members of the Yaran (the alternative to an NSA which operated as the administrative body for the Baha’is of Iran) have been incarcerated for 10,000 days. The news of their arrest was broken first on Baha’i Rants in 2008: Baha’i Administrative Body of Iran Arrested.

This tragic milestone has lead to a redoubled effort by Baha’is to advocate on their behalf. A recent Op-Ed by Dr. Kishan Manoucha on the Wall Street Journal is one example of this.

Another is the Sentinel Project, a non-profit NGO based in Canada with the aim of providing an early warning system to prevent genocide around the world. Right now there are two situations of concern that they are monitoring, the Baha’is of Iran and Kenya.

The Sentinel Project monitors several important variables such as “symbolization”, “dehumanization”, “preparation” and “polarization”. They base these reports on available information, including the work of Sen McGlinn in reporting and translating Iranian reports.

The Sentinel Project has released several reports about its work on behalf of the Baha’is of Iran, including “Threat of Genocide to the Bah??’?s of Iran” and a Supplementary Report.

The reports by the Sentinel Project mention several important variables including the Hojjatieh Society which I wrote about in 2005.

While the efforts of NGOs like the Sentinel Project are laudable and all decent persons everywhere wish to see a free and democratic Iran which upholds human rights, the Baha’is that are able to leave Iran and remove themselves from harm should continue to do so (Farewell to Iran). It is my sincere wish that the UHJ acts as it did in the previous intensification of persecution of Baha’is in Iran and actively encourage and support the emigration of Baha’is from Iran for their safety.

Hossain B. Danesh Seminar on Baha’i Marriage and Family

It is deeply troubling to see the National Assembly of Canada continue to promote Hossain B. Danesh. He is provided with official Baha’i venues, promoted through official channels and presented as a leading figure to the community in the very field from which he was expelled because of sexual misconduct towards his patients.

Hossain DaneshTo those unfamiliar with the history, Hossain Danesh was a psychiatrist practicing in Canada as well as a long time member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada from the 1980’s to early 1990’s. He was Secretary General of the NSA for many of those years.

Multiple patients brought charges of sexual misconduct against Hossain Banadaki Danesh. The result of the investigation and procedure was that in 1994 the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons along with Hossain Danesh and the victims came to an out of court agreement. This agreement resulted in Danesh being stripped of his membership in that organization as well as losing his legal rights to practice as a psychiatrist and the forfeiting of any future application for re-entry into same. As well, Danesh agreed to pay $10,000 towards the costs of therapy for the three former patients. Danesh did not admit to any of the charges as part of the out of court settlement, which is normal for these sorts of things.

Throughout the process Danesh was allowed to maintain his membership in the NSA and he only resigned his membership because he had been gifted a new cushy job as head of the newly established Baha’i university, Landegg Academy, in Switzerland. Danesh was shipped off across the ocean, away from the scandal and safely nestled into this new job. Unfortunately the gig didn’t last long as Danesh’s management and leadership sank Landegg into a sea of debt.

Now that Hossein Danesh is back in Canada, the ‘old boy’ network, of which he was a ranking member, has continued to promote him in the very field in which he disgraced himself. In the past few years he has been repeatedly promoted by the institutions for seminars such as “Healthy Marriage and Family Life” and “Shaping our Destiny: An Open Forum for Youth and Young Adults”. The latest will be April 15th at the Toronto Baha’i Center:

Reflections on the Baha’i Concept of Suffering

The talk will address suffering as often encountered in marriages and families these days and is suitable for both Baha’is and any interested friends. There will be time for questions and answers that permit exploring the many dimensions and experiences that frequently come up in relation to this topic. We are looking into making arrangements for simultaneous translation into Persian.

For those who may not know him, Dr. Danesh is an author, international lecturer and consultant, with more than thirty five years of academic and clinical experience as a psychiatrist and peace educator.

If someone is going to give a seminar on weight loss, you would balk if they waddled onto the stage, wheezing from the exertion of having to cart their massively obese form around. It is as ludicrous to have a man who was disgraced and thrown out of his profession for sexual misconduct to give a seminar on relationships.

Why is Danesh given the star treatment? why are seminars arranged for him? why are these community events promoted heavily by the NSA in Baha’i communities through official Baha’i channels? why is the truth about his past hidden? why is he referred to as a “psychiatrist” when he does not have the legal right to use that title?

To be clear this issue is not a personal one with Hossain Danesh. Rather it is about the nature of the community that we wish to develop and the values which we want to uphold and present to the world at large. It is wrong for the NSA of Canada to promote Danesh to a position of trust within the community for topics like family, relationships, and marriage simply because he was the quintessential insider. By doing so they are communicating that they are more aligned with personal ‘network’ connections and less so with the animating spirit and values of the Baha’i Faith. They are demonstrating that they value “Danesh’s” prestige more than they value the community itself.

100 Year Anniversary Abdu’l-Baha’s US Visit – Special from Kalimat Press

In honor of the 100 year anniversary of Abdu’l-Baha’s historic visit to the US in 1912, Kalimat Press will gift a book to you with the purchase of any two or more books from their catalogue.

Here you can see a large collection of rare pictures of Abdu’l-Baha during that trip to the US.

written in lightKalimat Press has a wide catalogue of books which includes many historical and academic works on the Babi and Baha’i Faiths. For example, R. Jackson Armstrong-Ingram’s “Written in Light: Abdu’l-Baha and the American Baha’i Community, 1898-1921”

Browse through the history of the American B??h??’? community with this delightful collection of photo- graphs and text. Several new photos of ‘Abdu’l-Bah?? are included which show his intimate relationship with the American believers. Other photos give a glimpse of early American B??h??’?s at work and at play, in B??h??’? meetings and in each others homes. These pictures– some serious, some playful–include children, youth, and adults. They demonstrate the strength, the depth, and the remarkable racial diversity of the early B??ha’?s. Get this “family album” and discover the rich heritage left by our spiritual ancestors.
A beautiful, coffee-table sized book with sixty-two unique photographs. Perfect as a gift!

Kalimat Press

Baha’i Chile Temple Construction Moves Forward

The Chile Baha’i Temple project may have peculiar mathematical challenges when it comes to funding, but the actual building work is moving forward. Finally.

After multiple delays caused by problems with securing a location as well as general project mismanagement which delayed the project by more than 4 years, Baha’is around the world were recently informed by the Universal House of Justice that actual work was beginning.

From the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies:

Dear Baha’i Friends,

With joy we announce several major developments in connection with the emergence of the Mother Temple of South America. Two weeks ago the contract for the construction of the foundation of the building and all concrete work was awarded to a reputable firm in Chile. Following the completion of the excavation and grading for the foundation and plaza, work has now begun on the basement, service tunnel, main floor and mezzanine structure, incorporating important features for seismic resistance based on extensive computational modelling and analysis. And today, after several months of evaluation and assessment of alternative bids, the contract for the fabrication and erection of the Temple’s complex steel superstructure was signed with a well-known German company.

The skeletal framework will stand thirty metres high and support five hundred tonnes of exterior and interior cladding of translucent cast glass and carved stone. The nine linked sections of the metal structure will be bound together through an intricate anchorage system that will ensure the connections will not detract from the sublime aesthetic effect of the completed design.

May the followers of the Blessed Beauty throughout the world draw inspiration from these recent developments as they exert themselves – sacrificially, generously, unitedly – to contribute to the advancement of the Cause by word and deed.

The Universal House of Justice

Peripheral work on preparing the areas that will develop into the gardens and surrounding grounds were started last year. This included the installation of a 50 cubic foot irrigation water tank along with its pump room and over 600 feet of underground piping.

The contract for the construction of the 50 meter radius foundation was awarded to a Chilean construction firm. The next step after that will be the fabrication and erection of the steel structures engineered by Soheil Mosun on top of ten seismic base isolators that will act to protect the building in case of earthquakes.

Below is a gallery showing some of the recent work undertaken including the installation of a perimeter fence surrounding the temporary onsite construction facilities. You can find the foundation work in the most recent Google Maps images. Zoom into the South East corner of Santiago in the Pe?alol?n commune or type in these GPS co-ordinates: 33°28’35.07″S 70°30’41.86″W.

For more information and to keep up to date with news check out the new Baha’i Chile Temple website