Internal Politics: In Iran
Baha'is in Iran on Edge Of Pogrom? I got the following item on Sunday Nov 05. It seemed an appropriate one to post here at SciForums.com.-Ron Price, Tasmania.
NEW YORK - In an ominous move, Iran's Ministry of Interior has ordered officials throughout the country to step up the surveillance of Iranian Bahá’ís, focusing in particular on their community activities. The Ministry has requested provincial officials to complete a detailed questionnaire about the circumstances and activities of local Bahá’ís, including their "financial status," "social interactions," and "association with foreign assemblies," among other things. The Ministry's order came in a letter dated August 19, 2006, and addressed to provincial deputies of the Department of Politics and Security in Offices of the Governors' General throughout Iran.
The August 19 letter, which was recently obtained by the Bahá’í International Community, asks these deputies to order "relevant offices to cautiously and sensitively monitor and supervise" all Bahá’í social activities.
The emergence of this new letter highlights the gravity of the situation facing Iranian Bahá’ísThe letter is the latest in a series of threatening documents that outline a secret national effort to identify and monitor Bahá’ís in Iran.
"The emergence of this new letter highlights the gravity of the situation facing Iranian Bahá’ís," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Bahá’í International Community to the United Nations.
"This letter further confirms that Iran's government has targeted the Bahá’ís for covert surveillance," said Ms. Dugal. "It also reveals for the first time the type of information the government strives to collect on both individuals and the Bahá’í community as a whole - information that in most societies would be considered private and highly sensitive.
"The letter also contains elements of misinformation. For example, the letter asks for information on the ‘socio-political activities' of Bahá’ís - even though it is well known to authorities that Bahá’ís are entirely non-political in their activities, inasmuch as the Bahá’í sacred writings stress the importance of non-involvement in politics, as well as non-violence.
The August 19 letter follows the release earlier this year of a secret October 29, 2005 letter from the Iranian military headquarters to various Revolutionary Guard and police forces instructing them to "identify" and "monitor" Bahá’ís around the country.
News of the October 29 letter, first publicized by Asma Jahangir, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, in March 2006, stirred alarm among international human rights groups. Ms. Jahangir herself expressed concern that "the information gained as a result of such monitoring will be used as a basis for the increased persecution of, and discrimination against, members of the Bahá’í Faith."
Another letter, dated May 2, 2006, showed the degree to which the government has sought to implement such surveillance at the local level. That letter, from the Trades, Production, and Technical Services Society of Kermanshah to the Iranian Union of Battery Manufacturers, asked the Union to provide a list of members of "the Bahá’í sect" in their membership.
Some observers have compared the government's effort to identify and monitor Bahá’ís to the situation facing Jews at the beginning of the Nazi era. In April, for example, the Anti-Defamation League said the orders issued in the October 29 letter were "reminiscent of the steps taken against Jews in Europe and a dangerous step toward the institution of Nuremberg-type laws."
Throughout the country, Iranian authorities have continued to arrest and detain Bahá’ís throughout Iran in recent months, subjecting them to a "revolving door" sequence of imprisonment and release that is apparently designed to harass and oppress the Bahá’í community.
Over the last two years, some 129 Bahá’ís have been arrested, released on bail, and are now awaiting trial throughout the country. The bail demands have been high, in most cases requiring the Bahá’ís to hand over considerable sums of money, deeds to property, business or work licenses.
To read the English translation of the August 19, 2006 letter, please visit:
Source: The US Bahá’í and BWNS
POSTED AT: "Several Forums" by Ron Price, 6/11/06 to 8/11/06.
married for 37 years, a teacher for 35 and a Baha'i for 47 years.
Iran's crisis of civilization
Iran's crisis of civilization will be resolved neither by blind imitation of an obviously defective Western culture nor by retreat into medieval ignorance which often seems to be the direction taken by religious and political elites in Iran. The answer to the dilemma faced by Iran was enunciated on the very threshold of the crisis of modernity in the late 19th century, in the clearest and most compelling language, by a distinguished Son of Iran Who is today honoured in every continent of the world, but sadly not in the land of His birth--except by a religious minority now referred to by Iranian political and religious authorities as heretical.
Persia's poetic genius captures the irony of the position of this religious minority: "I searched the wide world over for my Beloved, while my Beloved was waiting for me in my own home." The world's appreciation of Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Baha'i Faith, came perhaps most explicitly into focus on 29 May 1992, the centenary of His death, when the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies met in solemn session to pay tribute to Him, to His teachings and to the services rendered to humanity by the community He founded. On that occasion, the Speaker of the Chamber and spokespersons from every party rose, successively, to express their profound admiration of One who was described in their addresses as the Author of "the most colossal religious work written by the pen of a single Man", a message that "reaches out to humanity as a whole, without petty differences of nationality, race, limits or belief".
One of the most appalling afflictions, in terms of its tragic consequences, has been the slander of Bahá'u'lláh's Cause perpetrated by that privileged caste to whom Persia's masses had been taught to look for guidance in spiritual matters. For over 150 years, every medium of public information-- pulpit, press, radio, television and even scholarly publication--has been perverted to create an image of the Bahá'í community and its beliefs that is grossly false and whose sole aim is to arouse popular contempt and antagonism. No calumny has been too vile; no lie too outrageous. At no point during those long years were the Baha'is, the victims of this vilification, given an opportunity, however slight, to defend themselves and or to provide the facts that would have exposed such calculated poisoning of the public mind.
Ruling elites can make no more serious error than to imagine that the power they have managed to arrogate to themselves provides an enduring bulwark against the relentless tides of historical change. Today, in Iran, as everywhere throughout the world, these tides roll in with insistent urgency and tumultuous force. They are not merely at the door of the house, but they rise up irresistibly through its floors. They cannot be diverted. They will not be denied, perhaps not today but tomorrow---for tomorrow is another day.-Ron Price, Tasmania