It does not make happy reading but NGO the Sentinel Project has just issued a report detailing the potential genocide of the Baha’is in Iran. The organisation has released this report because in their view
The Sentinel Project operates on the basic principle that genocide is predictable. However, early warning, which is our first goal, means a lot more than just predicting when and where genocide while happen. Just as there is a difference between “information” and “intelligence,” prediction and early warning differ. The Sentinel Project aims to go beyond simply gathering information and making predictions because early warning means using those predictions for prevention.
The report can be found here.
I was heartened to read this recent statement by the supporters of Ayatollah Boroujerdi expressing sympathy for the plight of the Baha’i community in Iran.
With escalation in detentions, arrests, and threats of execution towards our Iranian Baha’i countrymen in recent times, supporters of Mr. Boroujerdi demand an investigation and greater attention by the international community to the ongoing violation of the basic rights of the Baha’is in Iran.
However, supporters of Mr. Boroujerdi believe that unfortunately, in dealings and the behind-the-scenes relations between nations, the issue of human rights is often sacrificed for temporary interests and political pragmatism. As such, raising awareness of this important issue falls on the shoulders of opposition groups, who, faced with great tyranny, have reechoed the suffocated cries of the shattered Iranian community.
In addition to believing in freedom of religious expression and the freedom of worship by other religions, the supporters of Mr. Boroujerdi express their sympathy for the Baha’i community, and urge full implementation of the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and full observance of those provisions in Iran.
Since the beginning of Ahmadinejad’s administration, the systematic suppression of civil movements, heterodox intellectuals, and members of other religions has accelerated. Among these groups, the suppression of our Baha’i countrymen has been especially intense and malicious. The denial of the right to education for Baha’i students, the denial of basic civil rights, the repeated violation of their rights as citizens in the guise of “legal encounters,” and the issuance of excessively harsh sentences and baseless allegations such as bombings or engaging in terrorist acts in an environment of opacity devoid of proper legal recourse have all painted a bleak picture for the future of our fellow Baha’i countrymen in Iran.
I recently discovered these biographical details of the seven Baha’i leaders wrongfully detained in Iran. I think the biographies highlight the fact that these individuals are making a positive contribution to society in Iran and are in no way deserving of this injustice.
1. Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi
Fariba Kamalabadi, 45 years old, received her postgraduate degree in Education, specializing in Developmental Psychology. She is married with three children – two daughters (one a 13-year-old high school student, and one, married, 20 years old) and one son who was recently married and lives in China.
2. Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani
Jamaloddin Khanjani, a 76-year-old businessman, was the sales manager for Zamzam Company (a soft drink production company) and more recently he managed a brick factory. He is married with three children.
3. Mr. Afif Naemi
Afif Naemi, a 47-year-old industrialist, was expelled from medical school because of his membership in the Bahá’í Faith. He is married with two sons.
4. Mr. Saeid Rezaie
Saeid Rezaie, 50 years old, is a Farming Equipment Engineer. He had a successful business maintaining farming equipment in Shiraz and later he moved to Tehran. In addition to his regular profession, he is a scholar and author. He is married and has three children. Two of his daughters were among 54 Baha’i youth who were arrested in Shiraz in May 2006, while they were engaged in a humanitarian project aimed at helping underprivileged young people. Later they were released and tried.
5. Mrs. Mahvash Sabet
Mahvash Sabet, is a 56-year-old former teacher with a degree in educational planning. While she was working as a teacher she attended a training course for special education Corps, which sent recent graduates to remote areas in Iran to teach in schools. She was expelled from both her job and the training, because of being a Bahá’í. She is married and has two children.
6. Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli
Behrouz Tavakkoli, a 57-year- old lecturer, received a bachelor’s degree in social work and worked as a civil servant until he was expelled because of his belief in the Bahá’í Faith. He is married with two children.
7. Mr. Vahid Tizfahm
Vahid Tizfahm is a 37-year-old optometrist and owner of an optical shop. He received his degree in sociology and later trained as an optometrist. He was born in Tabriz (northwest of Iran) and lived there until mid-2007 when he moved to Tehran with his wife and 8-year-old son.
There is still no word of the whereabouts of Bahá’ís Behrouz Tavakkoli , Saeid Rezaie, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, and Mahvash Sabet since their detention by the Iranian authorities. Six were taken from their homes in the early morning of 14 May 2008 and the seventh was taken in March. For over three weeks they have been denied contact with friends, families and legal counsel. Iran is a signatory to the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ and the Iranian authorities have an obligation under Article 9 to ensure that -
‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile’.
The Bahá’í Faith prohibits involvement in partisan politics and the sole reason for the detention is their religion, despite the duty of the Iranian authorities under Article 18 to make sure that-
‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance’.
Please take the time to show your concern at this manifest breach of human rights by signing this online petition to the United Nations.
As if the prospect of being held in the notorious Evin Prison was not bad enough, simply disappearing altogether is even more worrying . My thoughts and prayers are with my Baha’i brothers and sisters Behrouz Tavakkoli, Saeid Rezaie, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, and Mahvash Sabet who have not been heard from since their detention in Iran last week.
‘Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding’!
I recently signed this online petition protesting the recent detention of Behrouz Tavakkoli, Saeid Rezaie, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, and Mahvash Sabet in Tehran. If you would like to help, please take the time register your concern.
I am greatly troubled by the recent wrongful arrest and imprisonment of the leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran on the 15th May. This brings back unhappy memories of the early 1980’s when members of two national Iranian Bahá’í governing councils were abducted, leading to the disappearance or murder of seventeen innocent souls. Deeply sad and ironic given that the Baha’i community with their non-involvement in partisan politics are among the most loyal and peaceful groups in the Iranian polity. If you would like to find out more about this issue visit the Baha’i World News Service.