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A Faith Denied: The Persecution of the Baha'is of Iran

Even after Mrs. Samímí was released, Revolutionary Guards continued to stop by her house several times a week, pressuring her to help them identify other Bahá’ís:

Several times a week, they'd come and take me to the Revolutionary Guards (Sepah Pasdaran) headquarters to ask me questions about Kamran’s friends. They'd also take me to the rooftop and ask me to show them the houses of the Bahá’ís… They'd tell me to give them the names of Kamran’s friends and I gave the names of those who had been executed. They would respond by saying that the people I had named had all been executed. I'd say, “Those are the ones I know.” 170

On December 27, 1981, eight of the nine members of the second National Spiritual Assembly of Iran were executed without trial.171 Mrs. Samímí later discovered from the authorities that their bodies were buried in Tehran’s Kufrabad cemetery.172 She described how the executions were portrayed by the Iranian media:

A cleric was interviewed on TV, it was Ayatollah Ardebili. He said that the regime didn’t kill any Bahá’ís… They didn’t want to acknowledge that it is an independent religion. They just said that they killed people who had committed treason [khiyanat] against the government. 173

After initially denying that the executions took place, the new Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Ardebili, finally acknowledged the execution of eight Bahá’ís on grounds of “espionage for the benefit of foreign powers.”174 Ardebili reportedly told the Iranian News Agency IRNA that there was no religious motivation behind the killing.175 Later that month, Ayatollah Mohammadi Gilani, Head of the Central Revolutionary Courts, justified the executions of the second National Spiritual Assembly’s members by alleging that membership in the Bahá’í community was synonymous with spying for a foreign power:

It has become clear that [the members of] this group or sect spy for imperialist espionage organizations and the damages they have caused to this country [is immeasurable] ... In the case of those who were executed, their spying for Israel and its agents has become quite clear and they met with their just punishment according to the orders of the Holy Koran.176

Although the executions were not officially announced, the Bahá’í community was able to locate the burial sites in the “infidel” section of the Kufrabad cemetery; some of the bodies had been thrown in a collective grave.177 It was reported by Ramna Mahmúdí Núraní, Ginous Ni’mat Mahmúdí’s daughter, that some families were not able to discover the location of their loved ones’ bodies until they paid the authorities for the bullets used to execute them.178

Attacks on the Local Spiritual Assemblies

In addition to targeting the national Bahá’í leadership, the judicial authorities also pursued members of the local Bahá’í Spiritual Assemblies.

Tehran and Karaj

In Tehran the first Local Spiritual Assembly member to be executed was Alí-Akbar Khursandí, who was hanged on April 12, 1979.179 Khursandí’s execution was followed by the execution of seven further prominent members of the city’s Bahá’í community between May and December of 1980: Ghulám- Husayn A’zamí, Alí-Akbar Mu’íní, Badí’u’lláh Yazdání, Yúsif Subhání, Yadu’lláh Mahbubíyán, Dhabíhu’lláh Mu’miní and Bihrúz Saná’í.180

[171]An Eyewitness Account: Prepared Statement of Mahmoudí Nouraní, WORLD ORDER (Spring 1982) at 26 [hereinafter Prepared Statement of Mahmoudi Nourani]; THE BAHÁ’Í QUESTION: CULTURAL CLEANSING IN IRAN, supra note 118, at 81.
[172]Statement of Farídeh Samímí, supra note 162.
[174]Téhéran dément l’éxécution de huit responsables Bahá’ís [Tehran denies the execution of eight Bahá’í leaders], LE MONDE, January 5, 1982 at 6 [hereinafter Tehran denies Execution]; Téhéran confirme – après l’avoir démentie – la mise a mort de huit responsables Bahá’ís [Tehran confirms – after having denied – the execution of eight Bahá’í leaders], LE MONDE, January 8, 1982.
[175]Tehran denies Execution, supra note 174, at 6.
[176]Musahibiyyih Matbu'atiyyih Hakím-i Shar' va Dadsitan-i Inqilab-i Islamiyyih Tehran [Press Conference with the Religious Judge and the Chief Prosecutor of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Tehran] KAYHAN, No. 11-488, January 20, 1982.
[177]Prepared Statement of Mahmoudi Nourani, supra note 171, at 26.
[180]Id. at 80.


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Tagged as:

Baha'i, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Illegal Search and Seizure, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Conscience