Sunday, August 03, 2008

Baha'i International Community Categorically Rejects Statements By An Iranian Prosecutor

Immediately following a report in today's Iranian Resalat newspaper that "the seven detained Baha'i believers have confessed to setting up an illegal organization in Iran that took orders from Israel and others to undermine the Islamic system," the Baha'i International Community responded:
"we deny in the strongest possible terms the suggestion that Baha'is in Iran have engaged in any subversive activity," said Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations. "The Baha'i community is not involved in political affairs. Their only 'crime' is the practice of their religion."

"The seriousness of the allegations makes us fear for the lives of these seven individuals," she said.

Click on the Reuters article for the story. The full text of the response of the Baha'i International Community is posted below:

Baha’is reject allegations of subversive activity in Iran
3 August 2008

NEW YORK — The Baha’i International Community categorically rejects statements by an Iranian prosecutor that seven Baha’is detained in Tehran have “confessed” to operating an “illegal” organization with ties to Israel and other countries.

“We deny in the strongest possible terms the suggestion that Baha’is in Iran have engaged in any subversive activity,” said Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations. “The Baha’i community is not involved in political affairs. Their only ‘crime’ is the practice of their religion.”

“The seriousness of the allegations makes us fear for the lives of these seven individuals,” she said.

She was responding to Iranian newspaper reports of statements by Hasan Haddad, deputy prosecutor general for security at the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Ms. Dugal said that seven Baha’is arrested earlier this year were members of a committee that helped attend to the needs of the 300,000 Baha’is in Iran.

“That is no secret – the government knew perfectly well about the existence of this committee long before its members were arrested, just as the government knows perfectly well that these people are not involved in any underhanded activity,” she said.

Ms. Dugal said the detentions are part of a well-documented, decades-long campaign to stamp out the Baha’i community in Iran, and that the latest accusations follow the same pattern as previous unfounded charges.

“Suggestions of collusion with the state of Israel are categorically false and misleading. The Iranian authorities are playing on the fact that the Baha’i world administrative center is located in northern Israel,” she said.

“The Iranian government completely ignores the well-known historical fact that the Baha’i Faith was centered in Iran until 1853 when the authorities there banished the Baha’i prophet-founder, who was forced into exile and eventually imprisoned in Acre on the Mediterranean coast under the Ottoman Turkish regime. That area happens to be in what is now Israel.”

Ms. Dugal said many Baha’is in Iran – including members of the coordinating committee before their imprisonment – are frequently detained for questioning about their activities. The Baha’is, she said, have nothing to hide and try to answer truthfully whenever they are interrogated.


  1. What is happening is indeed appalling to people who have the good fortune to live in countries where their rights are mostly respected. However, we have to keep in mind that people who have a certain pattern of behavior do not change easily. The government of Iran and its judicial arm have behaved badly many time against the Baha’is. So, unfortunately, there is no reason at this time to expect any better from them. No amount of logical defense is going to help in a situation where one of the parties has already made up its mind long ago on the outcome of the created crisis. The accusers are likely to be perfectly aware that the allegations are false.
    There is no easy resolution to this dilemma as this is a chance for the government to flex its muscles and appear righteous in the protection of Islam in front of religious extremists while sending a threatening message to the rest of the population.
    World opinion seem to be the only weapon left but would Iran care if it had to incur the wrath of most of the planet should it decide to harm the Baha’is at this time? Are there any influential world diplomats willing to try and obtain a release by other means than condemnation in the media? Negotiation by the right people is an immensely powerful tool.

  2. anonymous,
    Thank you for your thoughtful analysis.

  3. I am afraid to say that the Bahá’ís of Iran are in store for the moral equivalent to hurricane Katrina!!

    What is really sad is that the Iranian Government can stop this madness if they want to[and so far they will not]

    Furthermore, if Iran refuses to behave as a civilized Government then the Civilized world of the East and the West will have no choice than to contain them in a similar manner the Animal Control People must control a Rabid dog!!

  4. Hhmmm, so a religious community with holy places in Israel must but supporting Israel? What about the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa? Aren't they also in Israel?

  5. The problem is that the Iranian prosecutor does not behave logically in his accusations. The fact that the Baha’is can come up with a zillion proofs showing that they are not involved in Israel’s affairs and that they are just minding their own business has never convinced the authorities and is not going to convince them now. It is very much like trying to assure someone with paranoia that his fears are not real. The planes of reasoning are not meeting.
    It is also very difficult to negotiate with someone who is afraid and that’s exactly what’s happening. The Baha’is are perceived as a threat, not a physical one but a moral one which is a lot more dangerous. The authorities are at their wits’ end, so they have tried, one more time, to use physical restraint on the people in charge. But just like a paranoid person would hit an imaginary foe over and over with no appeasement to his deranged mind, the prosecutors know in advance and too well that it is not going to solve their problem – as it has never solved it before – and this increases frustration and fears.
    From the same actions usually ensues the same results. It is only when the government/religious authorities realize this that they will find a remedy to this thorn in their side: maybe not embrace the Baha’is outright but work out a decent compromise and leave them be. Failing that, the Iranian authorities have to resign themselves to living in constant fear of the Baha’i windmill.

  6. Very interesting analysis! Ultimately they will accept the Baha'is outright, but that will take time. Meanwhile, they really need to find a compromise that would be acceptable to all concerned. The current strategy and oppression are unacceptable and cannot last while the world is watching.


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