In #NotAnotherYear, #ReleaseBahai7Now, News

2008. A year that will long endure in human memory.

It was the year of the banking and economic crisis that plunged the world into financial chaos. It was the year of the Beijing Olympics and the year when a cyclone killed 100,000 people in Myanmar.

In 2008 for the first time ever a black American was elected President of the United States of America, and in an English hospital for the first time ever bionic eyes were used in an operation. It was a year that had its share of wars and explosions but it was also the year of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international treaty about cluster bombs, adopted in Dublin in May 2008.

2008. The year when quietly and unobtrusively the Iranian authorities moved yet again against the Bahá’ís of Iran, arresting and illegally detaining seven Bahá’í leaders.

Eventually they were charged. The charges levelled against them are false and wrongful. Rather than a legitimate indictment of criminal activities, they reflect the depth of animosity and prejudice directed towards them — as well as a degree of ignorance regarding the basic principles and history of the Baha’i Faith.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that the Baha’i community in Iran is being persecuted solely because of its religious beliefs, the Iranian government continues – in both public and private forums – to justify its behaviour with unsubstantiated accusations.

Specifically in the case of the seven Iranian Baha’i leaders, there was never any evidence presented to support the charges:

a) On the charge of forming or managing a group that aims at disturbing national security:

There was no evidence to support such a charge against the seven.

The Baha’i administration in Iran was forced into dissolution in Iran in 1983.  In its absence, and with the full knowledge of the Iranian government, the seven defendants who were imprisoned formed an informal group to oversee  the affairs of the 300,000 Baha’is in Iran. This arrangement was made with the full knowledge of the Iranian government, which had routine dealings with them from 1983 until they were arrested.

Among other things the group coordinated the education of children and youth, promoted learning about family life and studies on the advancement of women. They also sought to promote high personal moral standards, an end to all forms prejudice, and a spirit of service to humanity.

By declaring illegal even this informal arrangement for seeing to the needs of the 300,000 Baha’is in Iran—the country’s largest non-Muslim, religious minority—the government clearly seeks to debar Baha’is from practicing any of the communal events associated with the worship and practice of their religion, including marriages and funerals.

b) On the charge of spreading propaganda against the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran:

The authorities sought to cast communications of the Baha’is in Iran that appealed against the violation of their human rights written to government officials, including presidents Khatami and Ahmadinejad, as aiming to harm the regime through letter-writing. There is no evidence whatever to support the contention that these individuals have ever sought to malign the authorities.

c) On the charge of engaging in espionage:

To describe the interaction between the seven defendants and the United Nations and its related institutions about the rights of the Baha’is in Iran — an interaction to which the seven have plainly admitted — as espionage is just plain ridiculous and is utterly without foundation, legal or otherwise. They were also accused of spying for Israel: the Bahá’í Faith is headquartered in Israel because it’s Founder, Bahá’u’lláh,was banished there – by the Iranian authorities!  Bahá’u’lláh was exiled to perpetual imprisonment in the city of ‘Akká. He died and is buried there and thus the administrative centre of the Faith developed and became established there.

d) On the charge of gathering classified information with the intention of disturbing national security or of making it available to others:

There is no evidence whatever that the seven even had access to, let alone possessed and passed along to others, top secret, secret, highly confidential, or confidential government documents.

e) On the charge of collaborating with foreign governments hostile to Iran, by some of the accused having taken trips to a number of European countries, such as Turkey and Germany, and by meetings of some of the accused with Australian and Canadian ambassadors:

It is not illegal in Iran to meet with representatives of foreign diplomatic missions. The topic of these meetings was the situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran. Concerning the trips, none of the defendants concerned were prohibited from making these trips and none of these countries were then considered hostile by the Iranian government; to the contrary, they all had diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties with Iran; otherwise, they would not have embassies in Iran. Further, none of these actions can be interpreted as involving “collaboration” with foreign governments.

f) On the charge of having assembled for the purpose of conspiring to commit offences against national security by having attended conferences held at the Defenders of Human Rights Centre:

All conferences held at the Defenders of Human Rights Centre took place in the presence of journalists and domestic news agencies and always in coordination with and under the supervision of the local police.

So is the imprisonment of the seven Bahá’í leaders justified in any way?

Judge for yourself.



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