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

Present at the Ayatollah’s speech were senior members of the clergy, high-ranking military officers and members of the government, including President Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Prime Minister Mir Hussein Musavi and Chief Justice Abdolkarim Musavi Ardebili.214

Just two weeks later, on June 16 and June 18, 1983, sixteen more of the Bahá’í detainees in Shiraz were executed: Bahrám Afnán, 'Abdu'l-Husayn Ázádí, Kúrush Haqbín, 'Ináyatu'lláh Ishráqí, Jamshíd Síyávushí, Bahram Yaldá’í, Shahín (Shírín) Dálvand, 'Izzat Jánamí Ishráqí, Ru'yá Ishráqí, Muná Mahmúdnizhád, Zarrín Muqímí-Abyánih, Mahshíd Nírúmand, Símín Sábirí, Táhirih Arjumandí Síyávushí, Akhtar Thábit, and Nusrat Ghufrání Yaldá’í.215 In all, 31 Bahá’í residents of Shiraz were killed between 1978 and 1983. The youngest victim was 17-year-old Muná Mahmúdnizhád, and the oldest was 62–year-old Ináyatu’lláh Ishráqí.216

Elsewhere in Iran

Throughout many smaller cities in Iran, authorities used the same pattern of targeting the Bahá’í leadership. The following are representative examples and are not intended to constitute an exhaustive list: in March 1981, Hidáyatu'lláh Dihqání, a member of the Abadeh Local Spiritual Assembly, was charged with having connections with Israel and “being a corrupt and seditious person and waging a war on God and his messenger and the Imam of Time [Mahdi]” and was executed;217 in May 1982, two members of the Local Spiritual Assembly in Urumiyeh (Urmia) were executed; 218 and in April 1982, eight members of the Local Spiritual Assembly in Qazvin were detained and questioned. Following their arrest, four were executed on July 9, 1982, and another three recanted under pressure and were released.219 In Zanjan, six members of the Bahá’í Assembly of Zanjan were arrested.220

Third National Spiritual Assembly of Iran

On August 29, 1983, Attorney-General of the Revolution, Seyyed Hussein Musavi-Tabrizi, announced a legal ban on all administrative and community activities undertaken by the Bahá’í community.221 This order required the dissolution of the third National Spiritual Assembly and roughly 400 local assemblies.222 Membership in any Bahá’í organization or engagement in acts which could be construed as religious instruction to non-adherents were strictly prohibited.223 The government justified its decision by claiming that the administrative Bahá’í bodies were “at war with God (maharib),” “conspirators,” and engaging in espionage.224

[214]Reagan Asks Iran to Spare Bahá'í Lives, KHALEEJ TIMES, May 24, 1983.
[215]THE BAHÁ’Í QUESTION: CULTURAL CLEANSING IN IRAN, supra note 118, at 80.
[216]Id. at 54.
[217]See Bih Hukm-i Dadgah-i Inqilab-i Islamiyyih Shiraz: Du Nafar bih Jurm-i Hamkari ba Sihyunism-i Jahani Dastgir Shudand [According to Orders of Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, Two Persons Accused of Collaboration with World Zionism were Arrested], JOMHOURI ESLAMI NO. 520, 27/12/1359 (March 18, 1981), at 4 (on file with IHRDC).
[218]THE BAHÁ’Í WORLD XVIII, supra note 113, at 266; see also Amnesty International, Urgent Action, Iran: Members of the Bahá’í Faith May 28, 1982 (describing reports of executions of Local Spiritual Assembly members, and urging that appeals be sent to President Seyyed Ali Khamenei and Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi).
[219]THE BAHÁ’Í WORLD XVIII, supra note 113, at 265. It is unclear what happened to the eighth person.
[220]Id. at 266; see also Amnesty International, Urgent Action, Iran: Members of the Bahá’í Faith May 28, 1982 (describing reports of executions of Local Spiritual Assembly members, and urging that appeals be sent to President Seyyed Ali Khamenei and Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi).
[221]Izharat-i Dadsitan-i Kull-i Inghilab … [Statement of the Attorney General of the Revolution …], KAYHAN HAVA’I, 6/30/1362 (September 21, 1983).
[222]Bahá’í International Community, Implications of the Iranian Government’s Ban on the Administrative and Community Activities of the Bahá’í Faith in Iran at 1 (October 1983).
[223]“Now, if a person is a Bahá’í himself and performs his religious acts in accordance with his own beliefs, such a man will not
be bothered by us, provided he does not invite others to Bahá’ísm, does not propagate, is not active [in Bahá’í organizations],
does not form Assemblies, does not give information to others, and has nothing to do with the Bahá’í establishment, such a man will not be bothered by us. Not only do we not execute such people, we do not even imprison them, and they can be active within the society.” See Izharat-i Dadsitan-i Kull-i Inghilab … [Statement of the Attorney General of the Revolution …], KAYHAN HAVA’I, 6/30/1362 (September 21, 1983)

[224]Izharat-i Dadsitan-i Kull-i Inghilab … [ Statement of the Attorney General of the Revolution KAYHAN HAVA’I, 6/30/1362
(September 21, 1983).

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