Raids and Arrests of Baha’is Reach Critical Levels
Specter of Torture and Ill-Treatment Rises High for Baha’is in Prison
(22 January 2009) The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran expressed grave concern for the situation of Iran’s largest religious minority group today. Members of the Baha’i Faith have been targeted with alarming frequency in recent months with 36 Baha’is currently under arrest in Iranian prisons.
“The continued targeting of members of the Baha’i community is indicative of the larger goal of suppressing individual human rights by the Iranian government. All Baha’is detained and arrested, have committed no crime whatsoever,” said Hadi Ghaemi, Campaign spokesperson.On the morning of 14 January 2009, Intelligence Ministry officials raided the homes of 12 Baha’is in Tehran. The officials confiscated books, materials, and photographs related to the Baha’i Faith as well as computers and CDs. The agents arrested Shahrokh Taef, Jinous Sobhani, Didar Raoufi, Aziz Samandari and Payam Aghsani. They are currently being held incommunicado in Evin Prison. Their families have met with the presiding judge but have been unable to see their loved ones.
These recent arrests come on the heels of the raid of 20 Baha’i homes in Semnan on 15 December 2008. Another raid of a Baha’i home in Yazd was carried out on 11 December. Three Baha’is were arrested in Ghaemshahr, Mazandaran the week of 18 November 2008, and one of them, Mr. Masou Ataiyan is still in prison. In October, Ziaollah Allahverdi and his wife Sonia Tebyani were arrested in Behshahr, Mazandaran. Other arrests and raids were carried out in August in Mehrian.
Among the many cases of Baha’i arrests, the most important were the arrests of seven members of the Baha’i leadership group who have been in prison for over seven months. The seven members still have no access to legal counsel. They are permitted family visits only twice a month, visits that are never more than a few minutes and always in the presence of prison officials. The five male detainees are incarcerated within the same cell, only 10 meters in area and with no beds. The detention order of all seven members of the leadership group was officially extended for another two months on 26 November 2008.
“The international community should strongly condemn the persecution of minority religious groups in Iran. The government shows no signs of relenting in its targeting and persecution of Baha’is,” Ghaemi said.
Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the targeting of the Baha’i community of Iran escalated to dangerous levels with the members of the national governing body of Baha’is being kidnapped and executed. Many other Baha’is throughout Iran have been executed since and the present situation bears strong resemblance to those cases.
The actions of the Iranian government are in violation of international standards of human rights and religious freedom and the Campaign calls on the Iranian government to cease its persecution campaign against the Baha’i community of Iran.