Parva Rahmanian and her family used to run a flower shop in Iran – until the government revoked their business license.
The reason given was simple: as Baha’is, they were „unclean“ – and so were their floral designs. The uncleanliness of the Baha’is was, to the world’s great shock and outrage, the subject of a recent fatwa by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
„We received a letter from the Justice Bureau saying that as a florist one’s hands get wet while decorating flowers, and given that Baha’is are considered unclean by the high-ranking clerics…, the work permit was revoked,“ says Ms. Rahmanian in a new video released today by the Baha’i International Community.
Ms. Rahmanian’s story is one of many personal accounts of persecution faced by Iranian Baha’is featured in the 17-minute video, which is titled „Violence with Impunity“ and is available on the BIC’s YouTube channel.
The new production, which is available in English and Persian, is based in part on a recent report of the BIC with the same title, which was released in March. However, the video also features numerous new interviews done over the last six months in the United States and Europe.
„This new video takes the dramatic statistics documented in our earlier report and illustrates them with personal accounts of what it means to live in a country where the very authorities that are supposed to protect your rights are the ones behind your oppression,“ said Diane Ala’i, a representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.
Naim Sobhani, for example, describes what it was like as a child growing up in Iran and having to face vilification from teachers.
“ ‚These Bahai’s are dirty, they are unethical, they are unclean non-believers, do not dine with them, do not socialize with them, do not befriend them,'“ he recounts his teachers as saying. „As a child in the elementary school, hearing the teacher saying this sort of things in a classroom to your classmates in the class,“ said Mr. Sobhani, who now lives in the United States.
Also featured are several human rights activists.
Mahnaz Parakand, an attorney who defended Baha’is before having to flee Iran herself, talks about how the government uses false charges of espionage to prosecute and imprison Baha’is.
„The only reason they cite for espionage on the part of the Baha’is is that the shrines of the great figures of the Baha’i Faith are located in Israel, which are considered sites of pilgrimage for the Baha’is,“ said Ms. Parakand.
„As a Muslim, when I go to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage, does the mere fact that the House of God, the Kaaba, is located in Saudi Arabia mean all Muslims in the world could be spying for Saudi Arabia in their native countries?“ she said.
Karim Lahidji, president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), says Iran’s policy has been „to increase the pressure on the Bahai community so that in the best case scenario they would relinquish their beliefs.“
The original report documents a rising tide of violence directed against the Iranian Baha’i community – and the degree to which attackers enjoy complete impunity from prosecution or punishment.
From 2005 through 2012, for example, there were 52 cases where Baha’is have been held in solitary confinement, and another 52 incidents where Baha’is have been physically assaulted. Some 49 incidents of arson against Baha’i homes and shops, more than 30 cases of vandalism, and at least 42 incidents of cemetery desecration were also documented.
Die Sozialdemokraten sind mit einer Initiative zum Schutz der Glaubensgemeinschaft der Baha’i gescheitert. Einen Antrag (17/13474) zur Religionsfreiheit im Iran und zur Stärkung der Rechte der Baha’i lehnte der Ausschuss für Menschenrechte und humanitäre Hilfe am Mittwoch mit den Stimmen der Fraktionen von Union und FDP bei Enthaltung der Fraktion die Linke ab. Die Grünen unterstützten den Antrag.
Die Sozialdemokraten hatten die Bundesregierung unter anderem aufgefordert, Menschenrechtsverletzungen im Iran bilateral und auf internationaler Ebene zu thematisieren und sich „konsequent für die Freiheit des religiösen und weltanschaulichen Bekenntnisses“ einzusetzen. Die iranische Regierung sei aufzufordern, Repressionen und Diskriminierungen gegenüber den Baha’i einzustellen, alle politischen und aus Gewissensgründen Inhaftierten freizulassen und den Menschenrechtsdialog mit der EU wieder aufzunehmen. Mitglieder der iranischen Baha’i-Gemeinde sollen zudem als Gruppenverfolgte in Deutschland aufgenommen werden. Die „vehemente Verfolgung“ der Baha’i durch die iranische Regierung sei religiös und politisch begründet, hieß es im Antrag weiter. Ihnen werde zum einen unterstellt, Spione Israels zu sein, zum anderen werde ihnen Apostasie, der Abfall vom Islam, vorgeworfen.
Vertreter der Koalitionsfraktionen unterstützten im Ausschuss das Anliegen der SPD-Fraktion, verwiesen jedoch auf bereits beschlossene Anträge zur Religionsfreiheit im Iran. Zudem sei die von den Sozialdemokraten geforderte Linie gegenüber der iranischen Regierung bereits Bestandteil der Politik der Bundesregierung. Vertreter der Oppositionsfraktionen sprachen unter anderem von einer Verschlechterung der Lage der Baha’i in jüngster Zeit, was sich unter anderem auch in der Inhaftierung ihrer Führungsspitze nach „grob unfairen Gerichtsverfahren“ Anfang Mai zeige.
Yesterday the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights issued a series of pointed recommendations to the Iranian government – recommendations that included a plea for Iran to ensure that all citizens, regardless of religious belief, enjoy full rights without any discrimination.
The Committee specifically referred to the Baha’i community, expressing its concern that Iranian Baha’is face „widespread and entrenched discrimination, including denial of access to employment in the public sector, institutions of higher education, as well as to benefits of the pension system.“ It recommended that Iran „take steps to ensure that members of the Baha’i community are protected against discrimination and exclusion in every field.“
Diane Alai, the representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva, welcomed the Committee’s findings, known as „concluding observations.“ She said: „The Committee’s report highlights the extent of the persecution of Baha’is in Iran, which includes employment, education, and cultural issues.“
She noted that Committee members questioned Iranian officials during a day-long session earlier in the month, asking, among other things, why the government feels it has to recognize a particular religion at all in order to grant individuals certain rights, and why discrimination against Baha’is appears to be so pervasive.
„People are the holders of their freedom of religion, and that is not the public power of states,“ said Nicolaas Schrijver, a Committee member from The Netherlands, during the 1 May session with Iranian officials.
In its report, the Committee also recommended that Iran take steps to guarantee „the unhindered access of Baha’i students to universities and vocational training institutions.“
The report also covered a wide range of other human rights violations in Iran, from concern over discrimination against women and ethnic minorities in education and employment to the lack of protection for independent trade unions.
Source: BAHAIs World News Service
„Five Years Too Many“ campaign begins
NEW YORK — To mark the five year anniversary of the wrongful imprisonment of the seven Iranian Baha’i leaders, the Baha’i International Community is launching a campaign to call for their immediate release – and to draw attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran.
„On 14 May, the seven innocent Baha’i leaders will have been behind bars for five full years, unjustly imprisoned solely because of their religious beliefs,“ said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.
„We are asking people of good will around the world to raise their voices in an effort to win their freedom and the freedom of other innocent prisoners of conscience in Iran,“ she said.
The campaign will run from 5 May through 15 May, under the title „Five Years Too Many.“ Around the world, Baha’i communities and others are planning public events that focus on the plight of the seven, who face 15 more years in prison, and whose 20-year sentences are the longest of any current prisoners of conscience in Iran.
„The arrest of the seven Baha’i leaders on false charges, their wrongful imprisonment, and severe mistreatment while in detention are emblematic of the suffering of the Iranian Baha’i community as a whole – and, indeed, the situation of the hundreds of other innocent prisoners of conscience who have been incarcerated for their beliefs,“ said Ms. Dugal. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags
We are launching an international campaign to seek the immediate release of the seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders – and all other prisoners of conscience in Iran. We hope people of good conscience around the world will raise their voices in support of this call and urge the Iranian Government to live up to its international human rights obligations.
As visitors will see, we have numerous documents on this Website that explain the unjust and wrongful manner in which the seven were arrested, tried and imprisoned.
Their story is similar to what is happening to the roughly 100 other Baha’is now in prison in Iran – and the hundreds of other innocent prisoners of conscience that have been incarcerated for simply exercising their internationally recognized human rights.
The campaign begins on 5 May – and runs through 15 May 2013. We plan to report here on the activities and efforts that are undertaken around the world in support of this campaign as we approach the fifth anniversary of the arrest of the seven. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags