In an urgent call on August 23, Amnesty International warned about an intensifying assault on the Baha’i minority in Iran. According to the organization, prosecuted Baha’i followers are “suffering escalated attacks on their human rights.”
They reported, “Since 31 July 2022, the authorities have raided dozens of Baha’i houses, detained at least 30 people, and subjected many more to interrogations, electronic ankle bracelets, and threats of imprisonment in relation to their Baha’i faith. They have also ramped up confiscation and demolition of Baha’i properties.”
According to the Baha’i International Community (BIC), at least 68 individuals are currently imprisoned on account of their faith, including those in prison from as early as 2013.
The UN also declared that “over 1,000 Baha’i individuals are currently at risk of imprisonment, including 26 people in Shiraz who were sentenced to up to five years in prison in June 2022 after an unfair mass trial.”
A New Round of Baha’i Suppression
Recently, the Baha’is celebrated the 200th birthday of their founder Bahaullah. Not only are the Iranian Baha’is unable to hold such celebrations, but they are also subjected to inhumane harassment at the Baha’i epicenter at the hands of the Iranian regime.
Since taking power in 1979, the theocratic regime began suppressing religious minorities and dissidents. In their early months, the mullahs led hundreds of Baha’i followers to the dungeons and gallows.
The regime has also prevented Baha’is from education and official employment. Judiciary and security-intelligence apparatuses have often arbitrarily detained the Baha’i followers and sentenced long imprisonment for them.
In October 2021, Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) agents, plainclothes, and State Security Forces (SSF) demolished 27 houses belonging to Baha’is at Ivel village in Sari, the northern province of the Mazandaran capital. The operation was conducted under the local Revolutionary Court’s ruling.
In late November 2021, SSF raided Baha’is’ properties, including 20 homes and shops, across Iran and confiscated computers, cellphones, and personal belongings.
Recently, around 200 government agents and police raided Roshankuh village, a suburb of Sari, ruining and plundering Baha’is’ homes. Authorities had reportedly sealed off the village, then seized all cellphones to prevent leaking the news.
The Background of Suppression
The suppression of Baha’is is not a new incident in Iran. For 200 years, the monarchic and religious tyrannies ruling Iran have applied different kinds of ill-treatment against this minority.
Under the Pahlavi dictatorship, the Shah, whether it be Rezakhan or his fugitive son Mohammad Reza, continued crackdowns on Baha’is despite their fake objections to the mullahs. To satisfy the mullahs, the Shah paved the path for anti-Baha’i Hojjatiyeh associations and gave them the impunity to commit various crimes against low-profile followers.
Following the 1953 Coup against Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq, the then-prime minister and the Oil Nationalization Movement leader, the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi launched a series of anti-Baha’i measures to appreciate the mullahs and their affiliates.
Footage circulated on social media showed how Lieutenant General Nader Batmanghlich, the Shah’s Army Chief of Staff, began destroying Hazirat al-Quds holy shrine in the Pahlavi era. Afterward, the Shah’s agents destroyed the Baha’is’ shrine under the mullahs’ supervision.
It wasn’t until the rule of Islamic Republic regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini that the Baha’is’ fundamental rights as citizens were abolished. Khomeini and his thugs brazenly attributed Baha’is to the “Small Satan” Israel and Zionism and institutionalized any crime against them.
Religious fascism began its criminal measures with financial restrictions, including confiscating their properties, banning them from trading with other citizens, burning their farms, etc. The mullahs then continued the suppression by sealing Baha’is’ private companies.
Khamenei also issued an executive order to seize properties belonging to dissidents, including Baha’is or political opponents, like members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Following the extrajudicial executions in the 1980s, the Executive of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO) confiscated thousands of hectares from the victims, and Khomeini’s successors have continued these plundering measures up to the current day.
Such inhumane behaviors have consistently united Iranian people from different walks of life, including ethnic and religious minorities, against the authoritarian regime. Today, the people of Iran commonly call on the international community to isolate the mullahs and hold them to account for their egregious crimes against humanity, rather than welcoming them to international bodies with open arms.