[Adapted from website:] Times of India

[Date:] 15 April 2006


Bahais petition PM on 'persecution' in Iran

NEW DELHI: The Bahai community here is worried at the alleged discrimination being meted out to its fellow faith members in Iran. They have now sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention.

Their concern stems from a report that the community is being closely monitored at the behest of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Farida Vahedi, secretary for external affairs of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of India, told The Times of India: "Asma Jehangir, special rapporteur of UN Commission on Human Rights, is reported to have said in a 'confidential' letter that Khamenei has instructed various ministries to collect information on members of the Bahai faith in Iran."

Vahedi claimed that each and every Bahai member in Iran was being identified and monitored. "Such an action is an impermissible and unacceptable interference with the rights of members of religious minorities in Iran."

Jehangir has expressed the fear that information gained through such monitoring would be used as a basis for the "increased persecution of and discrimination against members of the Bahai faith, in violation of international standards".

Vahedi said: "We also plan to coordinate with our local units across the country and sensitise the two million Bahais in India, the media as well as the common public about the issue."

She alleged that the secretive Hojjatieh organisation, which has links with the government and "whose explicit aim is to eradicate the Bahai faith", has been targeting the Bahais.

"The movement appears to be targeting Bahai households, harassing individuals by sending provocative SMSes, with an intention of intimidating them by sending a message that all members of the community are being identified and their activities monitored," said Vahedi.

She claimed that this systematic action against the Bahais over the past six months was being supported by a propaganda by the media to provoke mistrust and incite hatred against the community.






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