Treatment Of Baha'is In Iran

Sir, - We note that an article on religion in Iran (The Irish Times, January 9th) omitted to mention the Baha'i faith, which …

Sir, - We note that an article on religion in Iran (The Irish Times, January 9th) omitted to mention the Baha'i faith, which constitutes the largest single minority religion in Iran, and stated that "generally.[FS religious minorities in Iran experienced no real violence. It was just the attitude."

On the contrary, since the Islamic Revolutionary regime took power in 1979, Baha'is have been harassed, persecuted and killed solely on account of their religious beliefs. They have repeatedly been offered relief from persecution if they were prepared to recant their faith. Over 200 have been killed, with at least 15 others missing and presumed dead. Many more have been imprisoned, and the entire Baha'i community denied fundamental human rights to work, marry and educate their children.

A secret Iranian government document, uncovered and published by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1993, confirms that these antiBaha'i actions reflect deliberate government policy. a' i question" so that Baha'i "progress and development shall be blocked", both in Iran and around the world. The Baha'i Community in Iran poses no threat. The principles of the Baha'i faith require members to be obedient to their government and to avoid partisan political involvement, subversive activity and all forms of violence. The Baha'i community seeks no special privileges. Baha' is desire only their rights under the International Bill of Human Rights, of which Iran is a signatory, including the right to life, the right to profess and practise their religion, the right to liberty and security of person, and the right to education and work, all of which have been systematically denied by the Iranian regime.

Such has been the campaign against the Baha'i Community in Iran that it has repeatedly been the subject of resolutions passed by the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and supported vigorously by the Irish Government. Indeed, in 1985 the Irish Government received 26 Iranian Baha'i refugees into this country, at a time when refugees were not receiving the open welcome they enjoy today.


It is also clear that the antiBaha'i campaign has been held in check only by the weight of international condemnation. The official response of the Iranian Government to this has been to deny the persecution and to claim that the Baha'i faith is not a real religion as it is not recognised in the Iranian constitution.a'i Community and asserting that persecution does not take place, could well be seen as a public relations triumph for an oppressive regime.

The Baha'i faith is indeed a religion, with profound spiritual, moral and social teachings for this age. It has been recognised and embraced by millions of people around the world as the message of God for humanity at this time. Its radical social teachings, which include the equality of men and women, social and economic justice, universal education and the fundamental oneness of humanity, coupled with a strict personal morality, have attracted followers from every race, creed and social class, transcending and demolishing previously insurmountable barriers.

These teachings have also, however, provoked the opposition and persecution experienced by the Baha'i Community at the hands of the Iranian regime, which should not go unmentioned in such an article. - Yours, etc.,

Caroline Smith, For the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Republic of Ireland, Burlington Road, Dublin 4.