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

The letter is signed by Major General Dr. Seyyed Hassan Firuzabadi, the Chairman of the Central Headquarters of the Armed Forces. The document was forwarded to the Ministry of Information of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Belief-Political [organization] of the [office of] the Commander-in-Chief, the Commander of the Revolutionary Guard, the Commander of the Basij Resistance Forces of the Revolutionary Guard, Commander of the Law Enforcement of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Intelligence Deputy of the Law Enforcement of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Representative of Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Khamenei] in the Revolutionary [Guard], the Chairman of the Belief-Political Organization of the Law Enforcement of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Chief Commander of the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran.355

Soon after the Special Rapporteur received this letter, the Iranian regime started arresting members of the Bahá’í community. Those who were arrested were taken into interrogations and released after a few days. The Bahá’í International Community believes that these “revolving door” detentions were intended to intimidate Iranian Bahá’ís and forestall any further protests. There have been 125 such arrests since the beginning of 2005.356

On May 19, 2006, 54 Bahá’í youths were detained in the city of Shiraz. The youths were part of a larger group engaged in a local educational project, modeled after a UNICEF initiative, in which participants taught classes to underprivileged children. The volunteers, who were both Bahá’í and Muslim, had received permission, in writing, from the Islamic Council of Shiraz, to conduct these classes. The authorities initially detained all the volunteers but soon released the Muslim members of the group and one 15-year-old Bahá’í girl without charge. The remaining Bahá’í volunteers were held for a further month before being released on bail. Their trial is pending although the IHRDC has not been able to establish the charges brought against them.357

On August 19, 2006, the Ministry of Interior circulated a letter to the deputies responsible for political security in the Provincial Offices around the country, stating that:

Respectfully, according to the reports we have received, some of the elements of the perverse wayward sect of Bahá’ísm are attempting to proselytize and propagate the ideology of Bahá’ísm, under the cover of social and economic activities. In view of the fact that this sect is illegal and that it is exploited by international and Zionist organizations against the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, we therefore ask you to order the relevant offices to cautiously and carefully monitor and manage their [the Bahá’ís’] social activities. In addition, complete the requested information on the attached form and forward it to this office for its use by 15 Shahrivar [September 6, 2006] so that it can be used.358

[355]Id.
[356]Bahá’í International Community, Fifty-four Bahá’ís arrested in Iran (May 24, 2006), available at: http://www.Bahá’í.org/persecution/newsreleases/24-05-06 (accessed October 18, 2006); Human Rights Watch, Iran: Scores Arrested in Anti-Bahá’í Campaign (June 6, 2006), available at: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/06/05/iran13515.htm (accessed October 23, 2006).
[357]Id.
[358]Namiyyih Vizaratih Kishvar bih Mu'avininih Siyasi-Amniyatiyyih Ustandarihayih Sarasar-i Kishvar [Letter from the Ministry of Interior to Political-Security Deputies of the provincial offices of the country] , dated 28/5/1385 (August 19, 2006) (on file with IHRDC) [attached as Appendix 9].

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