Persecution of Baha'i Community in Iran

Jun 2006

GENEVA, 2 July 2006 (BWNS) --

Baha'is in Iran face discriminatory housing policies, including "the abusive use of property confiscation," said a United Nations report released at a news conference last week.

At least 640 Baha'i properties have been seized since 1980, according to Miloon Kothari, the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, who wrote the report and presented it to the news media on 29 June 2006.

"The properties listed included houses and agricultural land, but also Baha'i sacred places such as cemeteries and shrines," said Mr. Kothari. "The affected owners have allegedly not been given an opportunity to participate or receive prior information related to ongoing confiscation procedures."

He said, for example, many of the confiscations were made by Iranian Revolutionary Courts, and that some of the verdicts he examined declared that "the confiscation of the property of 'the evil sect of the Baha'i' [were] legally and religiously justifiable."

In rural areas, he said, such confiscations were often accompanied by threats and physical violence before and during related forced evictions.

Mr. Kothari said he was "concerned at the clear evidence of discriminatory conduct with respect to Baha'i property, including housing."

At the news conference, Mr. Kothari said he continues to receive reports about Baha'is who have had their land confiscated.

"In the last two years, there has been an increase in the number of Baha'i leaders or prominent people who have been arrested without any charge and then released with very high bail," Mr. Kothari said, according to the Voice of America. "And, the only way in which they can post this bail is to put their property as a guarantee. This seems to be another method of expropriation."

The annual report, which was written as part of a six-year mandate to consider housing policies around the world in relation to the right to an adequate standard of living, focused this year on issues of discrimination in housing, and drew extensively on visits by Mr. Kothari in 2005 to Iran and Cambodia.

The report was set to be released in March, during the Commission on Human Rights, but in the changeover to the new Human Rights Council, its official release by Kothari to the public was delayed until last week.

Diane Alai, the Baha'i International Community's representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said the report served to confirm that property confiscations have been used as part of Iran's systematic persecution of Baha'is in Iran.

"Unfortunately, what Mr. Kothari has been able to document has been an on-going problem for Iranian Baha'is," said Ms. Alai. "Property confiscation, along with a ban on access to higher education, discrimination in the workplace, and the outright ban on organized religious activity by Baha'is, reflect the Iranian government's wholesale campaign to slowly strangle the Baha'i community in Iran while seeking to evade international condemnation."

To read the full report click here:

To learn more about the situation of the Baha'is in Iran click here:

For more information, visit
Jul 2006
Oregon, USA
I am appalled at the continued disregard of Baha'i life in Iran! I continue to pray for the end of this mischief, persecution, torture, and sacrilege.

Most of my letters to persons and agencies that wield diplomatic influence have been and are continually being ignored. What will it take to change the hearts of governments to recognize and address the problems of their own peoples? It is abundantly clear that deplorable problems exist, but what is required for governments and societies to see that these problems get solved? How do we let such governments, societies, and institutions understand that solving these problems in a humanitarian way is necessary to their continued existence?

Steven J. Hathaway


Forum Staff
Mar 2006
Seattle, WA
I am going to setup an RSS feed into the forum here, and have the Bahai news fed into it from
Jul 2006
Oregon, USA
Regarding the situation of Baha'is in Iran and Egypt, the U.S. Baha'is are making statements.

July 7, 2006 - 7:55pm | Terms : News | Iran

For the first time since 1988, a representative of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States was invited to testify before a Congressional committee on the situation of the Baha'is in Iran and, for the first time, on Egypt. The hearing was held on Friday, June 30, before the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations.

Steven J. Hathaway
Jun 2006
U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk on oppression in Iran:

iran's crackdowN victimizes baha'is
RELIGIOUS OPPRESSION | Rest of the world needs to speak out on minority's behalf

September 30, 2007
As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the stage this week to address students at Columbia University, his government was working at his direction to find and expel students from Iranian universities -- solely based on the religion they practice.
There is a little-told story from Iran -- a story we thought would forever stay buried in the darkness of 1930s Europe. This story is about a religion founded in Iran in the mid-1800s that has become Iran's largest religious minority with over 250,000 members.

As the representative in Congress for the Baha'i Temple of North America, I know the Baha'i faith well -- a faith of tolerance and diversity of thought. These are values we embrace on the North Shore. But in an oppressive Islamic dictatorship like Iran, Baha'is pose a clear and present danger to the regime.

In March 2006, just a few months into Ahmadinejad's presidency, the Command Headquarters of Iran's Armed Forces ordered the police, Revolutionary Guard and Ministry of Information to identify all Baha'is and collect information on their activities.

Two months later, the Iranian Association of Chambers of Commerce began compiling a list of Baha'is serving in every business sector.

In May of last year, 54 Baha'is were arrested in Shiraz and held for several days without trial -- the largest roundup of Baha'is since the 1980s. Then in August, Iran's feared Ministry of the Interior ordered provincial officials to "cautiously and carefully monitor and manage" all Baha'i social activities. The Central Security Office of Iran's Ministry of Science, Research and Technology ordered 81 Iranian universities to expel any student discovered to be a Baha'i. A letter issued in November from one university stated that it is Iranian policy to prevent Baha'is from enrolling in universities and to expel Baha'is upon discovery.

This year, the safety of Iranian Baha'is continued to deteriorate, as 104 Baha'is were expelled from Iranian universities. In February, police in Tehran and surrounding towns entered Baha'i homes and businesses to collect details on family members. The First Branch of the Falard Public Court refused to hear a lawsuit "due to the plaintiffs' belonging to the Bahaist sect."

In April, the Iranian Public Intelligence and Security Force ordered 25 industries to deny business licenses to Baha'is. The Ministry of Information threatened to shut down one company unless it fired all Baha'i employees. Banks are closing Baha'i accounts and refusing loans to Baha'i applicants. Just last week, the Iranian government bulldozed a Baha'i cemetery, erasing the memory of thousands of Iranian citizens.

The U.S. State Department's 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom paints an even darker picture.

"Broad restrictions on Baha'is severely undermined their ability to function as a community. The Government repeatedly offers Baha'is relief from mistreatment in exchange for recanting their faith. . . .

"Baha'is may not teach or practice their faith or maintain links with co-religionists abroad. Baha'is are often officially charged with "espionage on behalf of Zionism. . . . "

"Since late 2005 Baha'is have faced an increasing number of public attacks. . . . Radio and television broadcasts have also increasingly condemned the Baha'is and their religion. . . .

"Public and private universities continued either to deny admittance to or expel Baha'i students."

We have seen this movie before -- the opening scenes of one of the most horrific episodes in human history. What happened to our solemn promise of "never again" made in 1945?

Never again would the international community stay silent about laws banning one group from attending school. Never again would we ignore orders to register with the government and report on your family's whereabouts. Never again would we welcome a leader who has ordered a religious minority to be subject to secret police monitors and nightly roundups.

On Tuesday, the Iranian president addressed the United Nations General Assembly. That will be a defining moment for our new century. The lessons of the 20th century gave us all the warning signs of what will come if we do not speak out.

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk represents the 10th Congressional District of Illinois. He is co-chairman of the House Iran Working Group and a member of the Human Rights Caucus.

Jun 2006
Story of Harrasment in Iran:

Here is another story of just one example of what is happening.
In the city of Andisheh, a young woman, sixteen years of age, was accosted several times by individuals, one of whom had picked her up in the guise of a taxi driver and, refusing to let her off at her school, said to her, “[You are a] Bahá’í child, and you teach. I will kill you.” This same person also made threatening calls to her home, in one instance stating, “You will never be able to find me. We will start with you and gradually reach the rest. We are a group who wants to cleanse the schools.” The family reported the incidents to the police, who told them to return the following day and ultimately were of no help to them. Some days later, while at her sister’s shop, another man tried to assault the young Bahá’í woman with a knife, but she pushed him away and he ran out. Several days afterthis, a smartly dressed woman approached her in the schoolyard and, greeting her with “Alláh-u-Abhá”, asked where the Bahá’ís would be meeting that night. Since the Bahá’í community would be commemorating a Bahá’í Holy Day that evening, the young woman directed her to obtain the details from whoever had invited her to the community’s activities. The woman responded by suggesting that they leave immediately to see the young woman’s mother, at which point the Bahá’í student returned to her classroom. Several days later, at the end of the school day the young woman sensed someone was following her as she left the school. She fainted, and when she regained consciousness, she was in a car with the same man who had originally driven her to school in the guise of a taxi driver. Two other men were in the car, one of whom was the one who had tried to attack her in her sister’s shop. The woman who had spoken to her in the schoolyard was also in the car with them. When one of the men reached out to grasp her, she tried to defend herself and was slapped in the face by the woman. They also broke her eyeglasses and pulled her hair. They then pushed her out of the car and drove away.

Source for this story:
Jun 2006
News about imprisoned Baha'is in Iran


NEW YORK, 19 June 2008 (BWNS) -- Seven prominent Baha'is imprisoned in Iran have each been allowed a brief phone call to their families, the Baha'i International Community has learned.

The calls were the first contact with the jailed Baha'is since six of them were arrested on 14 May in pre-dawn raids at their homes in Tehran. The seventh was arrested in March in the city of Mashhad.

The Baha'i International Community has learned that on 3 June, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet and Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi were permitted to make short phone calls to their families. Mrs. Sabet had been detained in Mashhad on 5 March but on 26 May was transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran, where it is believed the others are also being held.

Later it was confirmed that Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm also have made brief phone calls to their families.

No charges have been filed against any of the seven, who comprise the entire membership of a coordinating committee that saw to the minimal needs of the 300,000-member Baha'i community of Iran.

In 1980, all nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Iran were taken away and presumed killed as they were never heard from again. A year later, after the Assembly had been reconstituted, eight of the nine members were arrested and killed.

Besides the seven committee members imprisoned in Tehran, about 15 other Baha'is are currently detained in Iran, some incommunicado and most with no formal charges.

To view the photos and additional features click here:


Jun 2006
Nobel Laureates call for release of Baha'is from prison:


NEW YORK, 30 June 2008 (BWNS) -- Six Nobel Peace Prize laureates have issued a statement calling on the Iranian government to free immediately seven prominent Iranian Baha'is imprisoned in Tehran.

The six Nobel winners, under the banner of the Nobel Women's Initiative, called on the Iranian government to guarantee the safety of the Baha'is -- being held in Evin Prison with no formal charges and no access to lawyers -- and to grant them an unconditional release.

"We are thankful to these internationally prominent activists for calling publicly for the release of our fellow Baha'is, who are detained for no reason other than their religion," said Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

The Nobel laureates supporting the statement are:
-- Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan Maguire, founders of the Peace People in Northern Ireland and winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976;
-- Rigoberta Menchu Tum, a leading advocate of ethno-cultural reconciliation in her native Guatemala and Nobel winner in 1992;
-- Professor Jody Williams, international campaigner for the banning of land mines, winner in 1997;
-- Iranian human rights lawyer Dr. Shirin Ebadi, winner in 2003;
-- Kenyan environmental activist Professor Wangari Muta Maathai, Nobel winner in 2004.

Their statement, issued on the letterhead of the Nobel Women's Initiative, reads:

"We note with concern the news of the arrest of six prominent Baha'is in Iran on 14 May 2008. We note that Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm are members of the informal group known as the Friends in Iran that coordinates the activities of the Baha'i community in Iran; we further note that another member of the Friends in Iran, Mrs Mahvash Sabet, has been held in custody since 5 March 2008; we register our deepest concern at the mounting threats and persecution of the Iranian Baha'i community.

"We call on the Iranian Government to guarantee the safety of these individuals (and) grant their immediate unconditional release."

The Nobel Women's Initiative was established in 2006 by the six women laureates - representing North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa - to contribute to building peace by working together with women around the world. Only 12 women have ever won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Women's Initiative maintains an office in Ottawa, Canada.

To view the photos and additional features click here: