The principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, Ms. Beni Dugal, strongly refuted this allegation.
A full coverage of this response was published yesterday on the Baha'i World News Service website.
Ms. Dugal rightfully stated:
"The allegations are not new, and the Iranian government knows well that they are untrue.... The documented plan of the Iranian government has always been to destroy the Bahá’í community, and these latest arrests represent an intensification of this plan.... The group of Bahá’ís arrested last week, like the thousands of Bahá’ís who since 1979 have been killed, imprisoned, or otherwise oppressed, are being persecuted solely because of their religious beliefs. The best proof of this is the fact that, time and again, Bahá’ís have been offered their freedom if they recant their Bahá’í beliefs and convert to Islam – an option few have taken."
Weren't these the same allegations brought by the Iranian government against the 16-year-old Mona in the early 1980s? She was executed by hanging along with other women and men solely because of their belief.
The only "out" they were given, in order to escape that dreadful fate, was to recant their Faith...clearly, they did not! When they were asked "why would anyone want to die for her or his belief?" The response was quite simple: "if you take our Faith away, you take away the purpose and meaning of our existence..what, then, have we gotten to live for?"
This is how the 16-year-old girl ended her young and promising life. She refused to recant her Faith...so, she was hanged to die shortly after. This monstrous act was sanctioned and committed by the Iranian government.
Mona and her father were arrested on 22 October 1982, and suffered intense psychological and physical torture for several months. Jamshid, her father, was executed on 18 June 1983 by hanging. Mona's mother, Farkundeh, spent 5 months in the same prison as her husband and her daughter.... For details on these facts, please view this website describing the progress of a feature film, produced by Jack Lenz, called "Mona's Dream".
Now, I would like to ask Mr. Gholam-Hossein Elham and the rest of the Iranian government to explain this to me: what were these young innocent girls, women and men murdered for? Wasn't it simply their belief? How can you justify more arrests and torture?
When compared to the recent or the remote past, there is absolutely nothing about the Baha'is of Iran that is different now. What prompted the recent wave of arrests is simply a predetermined and systematic plan to "destroy the Bahá’í community". This systematic plan was very well described by Ms. Dugal when she said:
"We would ask whether issues of state security rather than ideology were involved in recent incidents such as the destruction of a Bahá’í cemetery and the use of a bulldozer to crush the bones of a Bahá’í who was interred there; the harassment of hundreds of Bahá’í schoolchildren throughout Iran by teachers and school officials in an effort to make them reject their own religion; or the publication of dozens of defamatory anti-Bahá’í articles in Kayhan and other government-sponsored news media in recent months."She later said:
"Freedom of religion is the issue and Iran itself is a signatory to international covenants that acknowledge the right of individuals to freedom of religion or belief, including the right to change one’s religion."It is the issue of "freedom of religion" that Mona was hanged for; it is the issue of "freedom of religion" that many other Baha'is were executed for in Iran during the last couple of decades. There was never a thread of evidence in support of any of the allegations that were repeatedly made by the Iranian government in its desperate attempts to justify its ghastly violations of human rights.