Thursday, May 15, 2008

As if Natural Disasters were not Enough!

As the entire world wept for the tens of thousands of deaths and injuries caused by the recent horrific natural disasters in Myanmar and China, some human beings manage to show their cruelty--entirely oblivious to the suffering surrounding them--towards their fellow innocent humans.

A case in point is the distressing news of the arrest of the entire leadership of the largest religious minority in Iran by the Iranian authorities in the early hours of 14 May 2008.

The International Bahá’í Community announced today:
Six Bahá’í leaders in Iran were arrested and taken to the notorious Evin prison yesterday in a sweep that is ominously similar to episodes in the 1980s when scores of Iranian Bahá’í leaders were summarily rounded up and killed.

The six men and women, all members of the national-level group that helped see to the minimum needs of Bahá’ís in Iran, were in their homes Wednesday morning when government intelligence agents entered and spent up to five hours searching each home, before taking them away.

The seventh member of the national coordinating group was arrested in early March in Mashhad after being summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence office there on an ostensibly trivial matter.
Since the extremist Iranian authorities had outlawed the Baha'i religion at its country of birth, Baha'is in Iran have been deprived of their official administrative bodies for the past quarter of a century. Because they were forbidden from electing their National Assembly that could have administered their affairs, a group of seven devoted and experienced Baha'is "helped see to the minimum needs of Bahá’ís in Iran" on a national-level.

Remembering the recent history of this large religious minority in Iran makes this recent development appear even more ominous. This is sadly pointed-out in the news release by the Baha'i International Community in its article of 15 May 2008:
On 21 August 1980, all nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Iran were abducted and disappeared without a trace. It is certain that they were killed.

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Iran was reconstituted soon after that but was again ravaged by the execution of eight of its members on 27 December 1981.

A number of members of local Bahá’í governing councils, known as local Spiritual Assemblies, were also arrested and executed in the early 1980s, before an international outcry forced the government to slow its execution of Bahá’ís. Since 1979, more than 200 Bahá’ís have been killed or executed in Iran, although none have been executed since 1998.
It takes unusual qualities for the leadership of a modern State to entirely ignore the cries of humanity caused by so much go out of its way in the midst of such catastrophes and selectively violate the rights of its law-abiding peaceful citizens--simply because of their religious affiliation that is known to promote peace, equality and unity of humankind.

What sort of leaders are these and what kind of government is this? How long could the rest of the world afford to wait to find out what happens next? Didn't we learn from our recent history? Doesn't Iran deserve to join the rest of the world in quest for liberty and justice? Clearly that cannot be realized under the current rule.... The people of Iran deserve to join their fellow humans in pursuing happiness, prosperity and freedom from all shackles of superstition and oppression.

It is worthwhile to recall the words of the renowned philosopher Jorge Santayana (1863-1952) who was once quoted saying "those who forget the past are condemned to relive it".


  1. I just wrote about the same devastating news on my blog. It's in Arabic though. I was trying to analyze the similarities between the two governments when it comes to persecuting the human rights of their Baha'i citizens, when they seem contradicting on many other issues.

  2. EB,
    I just read your post. It is a very insightful look into the ways Baha'is are treated in Iran compared to Egypt. In a previous post, I have pointed out the prevailing pattern in Egypt, and believe that these two governments are very different.

  3. The only difference I see is that one is less subtle than the other! The actions of the more subtle appear to be motivated by the same prejudices and determination to "put out the light of God with their breaths", to defy international law on human rights issues, and to believe what they are doing is the most meritorious in the sight of what they believe is God! God is the only judge!

    May the veils of ignorance and the shackles of prejudice be replaced by the clouds of the "All Merciful's" showers of understanding and His gift of the "love of all humanity"!

  4. You write: "What sort of leaders are these and what kind of government is this?" The whole world is wondering when Iran is going to wake up to the century in which we live.

  5. Nabil,
    The majority of people in Iran love the Baha'is and have great respect for them. It is the extremists who are in control of the country that cause all this misery. The same may not be true in Egypt, because there are many in power who are accepting and reasonable.

  6. George,
    Iran may be approaching the turning point. These flagrant criminal acts by those who are in control cannot last and they will be held accountable.

  7. Thank you, Bilo, for your excellent post.

    I fear that things may get worse before they get better. But In the end, of course, the injustices perpetrated by the Iranian authorities against the Bahá'ís cannot be sustained. Without diminishing the sufferings of the Bahá'ís, it's important to note that the human rights record of Iran is absolutely appalling. Its treatment of many of its citizens is atrocious.

    The particularly galling thing is that the Bahá'ís are the custodians of teachings and principles that would resolve Iran's problems - and not just Iran's problems, but those of the whole world.


  9. Barney,
    Thank you for your comment. At this juncture, the world cannot afford to allow "things [to] get worse before they get better". There must be a firm, loud and intense response to these flagrant violations.

  10. I just wanted to say that you can gain wonderful insight into the full extent of this terrible situation by reading 'Human Rights, the UN and the Bahá’ís in Iran'
    by Nazila Ghanea
    ISBN: 978-0-85398-479-5
    which is available at:

  11. Carmel,
    Thanks for the reference.


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