There is no question that the persecution of Baha’is is escalating in Iran. I wrote about this years ago as the Hojjatieh Society was re-asserting itself. Since 2005 about 200 Baha’is have been arrested with about a quarter of that number in just the past 2 months.
Here’s what I wrote back then:
The recent arrests and persecution of Baha’is in Iran are, I’m afraid, only the beginning of a renewed campaign of persecution…I pray that I am completely wrong in my understanding of the situation and wholly ignorant of the real political cross currents in Iran. I pray so because if I am right, many Baha’is are in extreme and imminent danger.
I beg them to get out, for if I am wrong, the consequence is acceptable. They and their families can build a life in one of many civilized countries in the world and simply go back when Iran’s future changes for the better. But if I’m correct, then the consequences of staying in Iran will be tragic.
According to sources from the IRI the 7 Baha’is in custody have ‘confessed’ to their crimes. There is a real danger that due to this so called confession, they may be executed. The BWC is doing whatever it can to highlight that it is not in the best interest of Iran to go forward with such a sentence. But even if this is stayed, there are darker clouds gathering on the horizon.
According to a letter written by the chief prosecutor to another government official, there is a recommendation to outlaw all Baha’i institutions, and any substitutes for such institutions.
This is the game that the Baha’is had played and gotten away with until now. That is, the official Baha’i institutions (NSA, LSA – 9 members) were illegal so they instead went with a 7 member institution that went by the name of ‘Yaran‘ or ‘Friends’. By any measure it was identical to an NSA, having the exact same authority, responsibilities and duties. This hardly camouflaged stratagem seemed to have been tolerated – until recently.
But if this becomes law, then the Baha’is in Iran are painted in a corner because the community is forced to operate as independent groups rather than as a cohesive organization. Perhaps this wouldn’t be disastrous under normal circumstances because then individual believers and groups would be autonomous but what you can be sure that what Iran has in mind is to isolate and weaken the Baha’is so that it can persecute them and harm them with impunity.
The most dangerous move by the IRI and a further ratcheting up of pressure is the very recent and official outlawing of Baha’i meetings or gatherings of any kind, even 19 day feasts. This does, in effect, isolate Baha’is and prevents them from even seeking each other’s company.
Although we hear just about the 7 ‘Friends’ there are many more Baha’is that are either in custody right now or are out on bail – having given up their means of livelihood and material possessions. Their lives are equally in peril. We don’t know their names as well as the quasi-NSA members but all in all there are about 30 of them in direct danger.
I am dumbfounded that as the storms slowly and systematically gathered, the Baha’is of Iran were instructed to stay and to endure. My prayers and thoughts go to them and their loved ones. I’m praying not only for their safety but also for the miracle that the UHJ/ITC will see the light and start to encourage and help them evacuate to safety.
There is a flight to safety with Iranian Baha’is leaving every day. But again, what I can not fathom is that an institution that should be there for them as support isn’t doing what it clearly demonstrated it could do to help them back in the 1980′s.
The history of persecutions, of course, stretches back all the way to the mid 1800′s – but here are just a few documented cases: