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

Buzurg 'Alavíyán, a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly in Tehran was executed on June 23, 1981. The official charges cited in his original indictment included “active membership in [the] Zionist establishment of the misguided Bahá’í sect,” in particular “membership in the Bahá’í center of command in [Tehran]” and holding “anti-Islamic and constitutionally illegal meetings for the sole purpose of strengthening the misguided sect [Bahá’í] at his own home”, as well as the provision of financial assistance to Bahá’í organizations outside of Iran.181 In addition, the indictment notes that 'Alavíyán’s “confessed that he would give reports of his imprisonment and detention to the NSA of Iran,” as evidence of his “complete obedience to the House of Justice in Haifa.”182 The indictment notes that the other Local Spiritual Assembly members participated in Bahá’í meetings.183

On the same day that 'Alavíyán was executed, two members of the Local Spiritual Assembly in Karaj also shared the same fate: Háshim Farnúsh and Farhang Mavaddat.184 The following day, on June 24, 1981, Dr. Masíh Farhangí, a member of the Continental Board of Counselors who had also served on the National Spiritual Assemblies of Iraq and Iran, the prominent Bahá’í author Badí'u'lláh Faríd, and Yadu'lláh Pústchí were also executed, after sixteen months of imprisonment.185 Varqá Tibyáníyán was executed along with them, although he, like Faríd and Pústchí, held no official position in the Bahá’í administration.186

Only a few months after this group execution, two more Bahá’í s from the Tehran community were executed: Husayn Rastigár-Námdár on August 5, 1981 and Habíbu'lláh 'Azízí, a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tehran, on August 29, 1981.187 On November 3, 1981, six members of Tehran’s newly elected Local Spiritual Assembly, were arrested along with the owners of the house they were meeting in.188 On January 4, 1982, all six were executed along with Shídrukh Amír-Kíyá Baqá, the woman in whose house the meeting had occurred.189 A cousin of Shívá Mahmúdí Asadu'lláh-Zádih - one of the executed members of the Assembly – reported that while they had been held in solitary confinement the Assembly members had been given the opportunity to recant their beliefs and reclaim their place in society.190 Only one of those arrested, Shídrukh Baqá’s husband, recanted and was released.191

An additional eighteen prominent members of Tehran’s Bahá’í community who did not hold official leadership positions were killed or died in prison in Tehran between October 1981 and August 1985.192

Yazd

On September 2, 1980, fifteen Bahá’ís, including members of the Auxiliary Board and the Local Spiritual Assembly, were tried in Yazd on charges of “leading Muslims astray and drawing them towards blasphemy”, “membership in the Zionist party”, and “spying for the United States and Israel.”193 The following exchange was recorded between the defense attorney, Yadu’llah Lutfi, and the prosecutor, Mr. Ghods:

[181]Other charges included “ex-membership on the Board of Directors of the Umana Company” (see discussion of Umana company in section 5.2), and being a managing director of the Ránkin Company. See Bill of Indictment for Buzurg 'Alavíyán, dated April 5, 1981, on file with IHRDC, at 1 [hereinafter Bill of Indictment for Buzurg 'Alavíyán]. It should be noted that these charges were brought several years prior to the August 29, 1983 decree by Prosecutor General Tabrizi officially banning participation in Baha’i assemblies (see Section 5.1 below.) Id.
[182]Bill of Indictment for Buzurg 'Alavíyán, supra note 181, at 1.
[183]Id. at 2 (noting that “Mr. 'Alavíyán along with other members of the Bahá’í center of command of Tehran have attempted to form different meetings, some of which have taken place in the private home of the accused.”)
[184]THE BAHÁ’Í QUESTION: CULTURAL CLEANSING IN IRAN, supra note 118, at 80; THE BAHÁ’Í WORLD XVIII, supra note 113, at 283.
[185]THE BAHÁ’Í QUESTION: CULTURAL CLEANSING IN IRAN, supra note 118, at 80; THE BAHÁ’Í WORLD XVIII, supra note 113, at 283. They had been arrested on February 6, 1980 (see Chronological Summary of Acts of Persecution, supra note 113, at 19).
[186]BAHA’I INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, IRAN’S SECRET BLUEPRINT FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF A RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY: AN EXAMINATION OF THE PERSECUTION OF THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF IRAN 69 (1999) [hereinafter IRAN’S SECRET BLUEPRINT].
[187]THE BAHÁ’Í QUESTION: CULTURAL CLEANSING IN IRAN, supra note 118, at 80..
[188]Bahá’í International Community, Persecutions suffered by the Bahá’ís in Iran during the period July 1981 to January 1982 at 2 (on file with IHRDC); THE BAHÁ’Í WORLD XVIII, supra note 113, at 262.
[189]Bahá’í International Community, Persecutions suffered by the Bahá’ís in Iran during the period July 1981 to January 1982 at 2 (on file with IHRDC). These were: Shívá Mahmúdí Asadu'lláh-Zádih, Iskandar 'Azízí, Fathu'lláh Ferdowsí, Khusraw Muhandsí, Kúrush Talá’í, 'Atá'u'lláh Yávarí. See also THE BAHÁ’Í WORLD XVIII, supra note 113, at 262-264; Bahá’í International Community, References made to the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran at the 38th Session of the Commission on Human Rights, Geneva February 1, 1982-March 12, 1982)( (March 31, 1982) at 6 (on file with IHRDC).
[190]See Prepared Statement of Mahmoudi Nourani, supra note 171, at 27.
[191]See Payam Akhavan, Beyond Impunity: Can International Criminal Law Prevent Future Atrocities?, 95 AM. J. INT’L
[192]These were: Yadu’lláh Sipihr-Arfa', Ibráhím Khayrkháh, Husayn Vahdat-i-Haqq, 'Atá'u'lláh Haqqání, Manúchihr Vafá'í, Jalál Hakímán, Suhayl Safá'í, Ghulám-Husayn Hasanzádih-Shákirí, Muhsin Radaví, Kámrán Lutfí, Rahím Rahímíyán, Yadu’lláh Sábiríyán, Asadu'lláh Kámil-Muqaddam, 'Ali-Muhammad Zamání, Ihsánu'lláh Kathírí, Rustam Varjávandí, Nusratu'lláh Subhání, 'Abbás Ídilkhání. See THE BAHÁ'Í QUESTION: CULTURAL CLEANSING IN IRAN, supra note 118, at 80-83.
[193]THE BAHÁ’Í WORLD XVIII, supra note 113, at 279; Statement Prepared by Yadu’llah Lutfi, the defense attorney representing the Baha’is accused in this case (on file with IHRDC) [hereinafter Statement of Yadu’llah Lutfi]. Mr. Lutfi was imprisoned along with the clients he represented.

 

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