[Newspaper:] International Herald Tribune

[Date:] 28 April 1983


Executions and ostracism of Baha'i have reportedly resumed in Iran

By Bernard Weinraub

New York Times Service

Washington – Reports reaching the State Department as well as members of the Baha'i faith in the United States reveal new persecution in Iran against the Baha'i, including executions and the barring of tens of thousands of children from attending school.

"It is serious, very serious, because, bit by bit, the Baha'i community is being destroyed," said Firuz Kazemzadeh, a Baha'i of Iranian descent who is chairman of the Committee on Middle Eastern Studies at Yale University. "Thousands of Baha'i will not be massacred tomorrow, but given time the community will be destroyed in small steps."

The Baha'i are adherents of a relatively little-known religion that has no clergy and whose fundamental tenets are that religious truth is not absolute, but relative. All religions – including Islam – are believed to be of divine origin.

State Department officials have been concerned by a court ruling two months ago in the southern city of Shiraz to execute 22 Baha'i men and women on charges of spying and links to Israel.

Last week three of them were hanged. Nearly 400 Baha'i are believed to be in prison in Iran, and about 4,000 are said to be "internal refugees" and in hiding.

At the time of sentencing, the president of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz warned the 300,000 to 400,000 members of the faith in Iran that "the day will soon come" when Iran would deal with the group "as it has dealt with other hypocrites who have religious and satanic gatherings."

The remark and other recent comments have stirred unease within the State Department about the fate of the Baha'i in Iran, who have been denied recognition under the Islamic constitution.

Coinciding with the latest reports of executions – about 150 Baha'i men and women have so far been hung or shot to death by the Iranian government – are indications of severe repression against the Baha'i, including a ban on 25,000 to 30,000 Baha'i children from attending school. This represents about half the number of Baha'i school children.

According to reports reaching Baha'i officials here, most of the other Baha'i children are mistreated in schools, ordered to sit away from other children and shunned.

Several senators and congressmen have protested Iran's treatment of its Baha'i population. The Baha'i shun violence, believe in "the eradication of prejudices of race, creed, class, nationality and sex," and "the elimination of all forms of superstition," according to a recent pamphlet.

The religion claims adherents in 173 countries.

In Iran, the members of the Baha'i faith have traditionally been considered heretics by the Shiite Moslem majority, and their general affluence as businessmen has stirred the ire of many Iranians.

An estimated 8,000 Baha'i have fled Iran in recent years, but exit forms require a statement of religion and many Baha'i refuse to deny their faith.











































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