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.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.
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.
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.It takes unusual qualities for the leadership of a modern State to entirely ignore the cries of humanity caused by so much suffering...to 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.
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.
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".