Sunday, April 08, 2007

Iran Abuses & Harasses Baha'i Children

The Baha'i World News Service just published an article exposing an ominous component of the recent wave of persecutions of Baha'is in Iran. It is the flagrant abuse of Baha'i children in Iranian schools.

Baha'i schoolchildren in Iran increasingly harassed and abused by school authorities

NEW YORK, 5 April 2007 (BWNS) -- Baha'i students in primary and secondary schools throughout Iran are increasingly being harassed, vilified, and held up to abuse, according to recent reports from inside the country.

During a 30-day period from mid-January to mid-February, some 150 incidents of insults, mistreatment, and even physical violence by school authorities against Baha'i students were reported as occurring in at least 10 Iranian cities.

"These new reports that the most vulnerable members of the Iranian Baha'i community -- children and junior youth -- are being harassed, degraded, and, in at least one case, blindfolded and beaten, is an extremely disturbing development," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

"The increasing number of such incidents suggests a serious and shameful escalation in the ongoing persecution of Iranian Baha'is," said Ms. Dugal. "The fact that school-aged children are being targeted by those who should rightfully hold their trust -- teachers and school administrators -- only makes this latest trend even more ominous."

Ms. Dugal said the Baha'i International Community has been aware of scattered reports of abuse directed at schoolchildren but has only recently learned that young Baha'is are now widely being forced to identify their religion -- and are also being insulted, degraded, threatened with expulsion, and, in some cases, summarily dismissed from school.

"They are also being pressured to convert to Islam, required to endure slander of their faith by religious instructors, and being taught and tested on 'Iranian history' in authorized texts that denigrate, distort, and brazenly falsify their religious heritage," said Ms. Dugal. "They are also being repeatedly told that they are not to attempt to teach their religion."

According to Ms. Dugal, one Baha'i has reported that the school-age children of a relative in Kermanshah were called to the front of the classroom, where they were required to listen to insults against the Faith.

"Another student, accepted at an art institute, has been followed by the authorities and on three occasions seized, blindfolded, and beaten," said Ms. Dugal.

"While a few of these may be isolated attacks, the extent and nature of this reprehensible activity has led the Baha'is in Iran to conclude that this is an organized effort," said Ms. Dugal.

Of special concern, she added, was the fact that a high proportion of the attacks against high school students have been against girls.

"While the attacks reported to have taken place in elementary and middle schools were leveled evenly against boys and girls, those at the high school level targeted girls to a far greater degree: of 76 incidents, 68 were against Baha'i girls," said Ms. Dugal.

Ms. Dugal added that the ages of the children and junior youth affected are as follows: at the elementary school level, grades 1-5, students 6 to 11 years old; at the middle school level, grades 6-8, students 11 to 13 years old; and at the high school level, grades 9-12, students 14 to 17 years old.

The reports of attacks on innocent Baha'i schoolchildren come at a time when a growing number of older Baha'i students seeking to enter Iranian universities have been expelled after being identified as Baha'is.

So far this year, at least 94 college-age Baha'i students have been expelled from institutions of higher education. That figure is up from 70 as reported in late February.

Since the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979, the 300,000-member Iranian Baha'i community has faced ongoing and systematic persecution. In the early 1980s, more than 200 Baha'is were killed, hundreds were imprisoned, and thousands were deprived of jobs and education.

At the present time, more than 120 Baha'is are out on bail and awaiting trial on false charges, solely because of their religious beliefs and activities. Over the last year, as well, international human rights groups have expressed concern at the Iranian government's efforts to step-up their covert monitoring and identification of Baha'is.

uno-bp-07 04 05 -1-IRANSCHOOLS-515-N

Below is a report aired in 1983 on ABC television network's 20/20 program hosted by Barbara Walters:

This film contains shocking and disturbing accounts and images.

Click on the image to view the program.
15 min 45 sec - Feb 23, 2007
Description: ABC's 20/20 TV show - persecution of Iranian Baha'is - originally aired about 1980 [sic]. When Khomeini returned to Iran from exile in France he stated that he had two objectives. 1- the elimination of the Shah and 2- the elimination of the Baha'is. This TV report details some of the shocking details of the implementation of the plan to destroy the Baha'i Community of Iran. Amnesty International, in the early 1980s, listed the persecution of the Baha'is by the government of Iran as the most serious human rights violation on earth. The persecutions continue today.


  1. "Anguish hath befallen all the peoples of the earth: Where are the ensigns of Thy gladness, O Joy of the worlds?"

    1st thought: When I read this, I think, "This doesn't say 'only Bahais' are suffering anguish.

    2nd thought: "I am in anguish from reading about the suffering of others and I cannot directly intervene to stop their suffering."

    3rd thought: "The internet can document the suffering in much greater detail than ever before. So greater numbers of the world's populations can share in the anguish of knowing about the suffering of others."

    4th thought: "This condition both of the anguish of the readers, and the suffering of the innocent will not end anytime soon. We can expect to read of these kinds of events for the forseeable future on the Internet."

    5th thought: The context of this quote, the Fire Tablet, is part of the process that mankind is going through. Notice the number of verses that describe the various conditions of separation from God, and compre them to the number of verses that approach a way onward, despite these conditions.

  2. What really troubles more than anything else is the apathetic indifference the US media shows concerning the suffering of others who are not some how connected to the political agendas of the 2 major political parties. Sure they will show the suffering of Iraqi citizens only to embarrass the President of the United States. Likewise when the other political party was in power conservative media outlets used their power to embarrass the president who was in power 10 years ago. As a result the average American citizen is more concerned with the lives of music and film entertainers whose lives are prominently displayed in the press or are more interested in the outcome of athletic events. And that is very sad!!

  3. The suffering of Iranian Baha'i children and youth along with the suffering of their parents in the 21st century shows how much work is left to educate the world population about their plight and to educate those in power in Iran and elsewhere about the true meaning of Islam, which has unfortunately been hijacked by fundamentalist clerics and politicians.

  4. Anonymous—and other commentators,

    It might look that way on the surface, but in reality the US media (as well as the world media) have been quite outspoken about the struggle of the Baha'is of Iran and Egypt. Furthermore, world governments have also been supportive and proactive in their efforts...a lot gets done under the umbrella of diplomacy without our knowledge. Also, parliamentarian and congressional resolutions have created a significant degree of pressure on their respective governments to act.

    The oppressors are showing a significant amount of anxiety because of outside pressure, even though they constantly repeat that these are internal matters and are not anyone’s business but theirs. Despite this rhetoric—they are indeed concerned and uncomfortable with this exposure to the extent that some of them demand a stop to it or flatly deny that they oppress anyone! But of course they regularly become exposed—thanks to the free media, blogs and the internet. These atrocities are no longer carried out in the dark, but have been brought out for everyone to see through the many media outlets, blogs, etc.... Of course more needs to be done, but the world is moving in the right direction and on the right track....

  5. Abusing children is cowardly as they have no way to defend themselves. Their abusers, especially if they claim to be religious people, will one day be made accountable for these actions. It will not be an enviable position to have to justify such cruelty. "Oh but the holy book says these children are infidels, heretics, apostates...." Fanatics or not, these abusers (if they have read the entire holy book) should weigh the chances of God recognizing these words as His.... Are the odds good place your eternal fate on the other side of the scale?

  6. Anonymous-2,
    Very wisely put! It seems that certain people, blinded by their prejudices, are unable to see the truth and can’t differentiate between right and wrong. Prejudice becomes like a dark veil obstructing the vision of its wearer. Hence the resulting extremes of its manifestations such as abusing children in the name of God!


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