[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM Persian]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]

 

[Adapted from website:] Iran-e Emrooz

[Date:] 21 Dey 1388 [11 January 2010]

 

Why Baha’is?

Reza Fani Yazdi

It has been more than a year and a half since the arrest of the seven-member group of administrative leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran, the “Yaran-e Iran”.

From 1363 [1984] until their arrest in Ordibehesht 1387 [May 2008] the “Yaran-e Iran” have been in charge of managing the internal affairs of the Baha’i community in Iran. Throughout this period, Iranian Islamic military officials have been fully aware of the group’s activities and responsibilities in the administration of the Baha’i community.

Tomorrow, 12 January 2010, a trial is scheduled for the Yaran-e Iran to investigate the accusations against them. Eighteen months after the arrest of these individuals, no specific charges that are based on documents that can be acceptable to a court have been filed against the Yaran-e Iran group. All the charges against this group are based on lies, rumours and allegations, which have basically fallen on all the members of the Baha’i community in Iran over the past few decades without the slightest document having been provided.

The Baha’i community in Iran, and other Baha’is, are considered spies for Israel because the Baha’i World Centre for Administrative and Spiritual Affairs is located on the slopes of Mount Carmel in the Israeli port of Haifa. It should be noted that Baha’u’llah chose this place in 1890, almost sixty years before the formation of the State of Israel, and if it had been owned by the Ottoman Empire today instead of the State of Israel, the Baha’is would have been spying for the Ottoman government (or Turkey) today.

This charge of espionage is so ridiculous and baseless that recently, the Egyptian government formally exculpated the Baha’i international community of this charge.

It would seem that the Israeli government has had difficulty in hiring and recruiting Muslims and followers of other religions, and with all the current sensitivities in Iranian society it still employs the most well-known prominent figures in the leadership and administration of the Baha’i community as its spy network.

In other words, excessive insistence on accusing the Baha’i community and its leaders of espionage raises the suspicion that some of Israel’s real spies in the Islamic State’s decision-making authorities are providing themselves a shield by redirecting the attention and by making such baseless allegations against the Baha’i community and keeping themselves away from the government’s intelligence magnifying glass.

Interestingly, professional spy-identifiers in the Islamic Republic of Iran, such as Hossein Shariatmadari and Ruhollah Hosseinian, have recently been accused by their former friend and colleague, Mr. Abdollah Shahbazi―who also specializes in finding and discovering spy networks―of being connected through their ancestors to the undercover Jewish and Baha’i networks in Iran, and also connected to the Israeli espionage networks.

After the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the prevalence of espionage in media, courts and indictments has been, for many years, one of the most ridiculous methods of accusing many Iranian citizens without the slightest evidence, leading to their imprisonment and, sometimes, to gruelling torture, executions and deaths.

…These days, the most prominent leaders of the last thirty years of the Islamic Republic of Iran have also been accused of espionage.

Shirin Ebadi, a well-known human rights lawyer and the only Nobel Peace Prize winner from our country, has also faced this common charge.

Many members of Mr. Mousavi’s cabinet during Ayatollah Khomeini’s lifetime, as well as a number of members of the Constitutional Assembly and a number of top journalists in the country, are currently in the country’s prisons alongside leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran, accused of espionage and collaborating with the American, British and Israeli intelligence services.

Today, one must weep for the regime whose most popular leaders, its best elites and the largest number of its youth have served the intelligence services of the East and the West and are conspiring against their country and interests.

The accusation of espionage against the followers and leaders of the Baha’i Faith in the country is as baseless as the accusation of espionage against Mr. Khatami or Shirin Ebadi or the wave of the National Green [Party] in the country.

The timing of the trial for the Yaran-e Iran at such a time is worrying, as a wave of new arrests of Baha’is begins and new charges are brought against them every day. The group was arrested 18 months ago, but recently, it appears to have been discovered that Baha’is played a role in the bombing of the Shiraz Husayniiyyih[1], or played a major role in creating unrest in recent events, especially in the post-election and Ashura demonstrations. Baha’is have even been accused of keeping weapons in their homes. All of these allegations have raised serious concerns about the unfair trial of the Yaran group and the consequences of this trial.

Since its inception, the Baha’i community in Iran has never participated in any unpeaceful movement against any group or government, either before or after the revolution. The charge of carrying and possessing weapons is nothing but a lie and deception to mislead public opinion and is aimed at suppressing the Baha’is.

Why Baha’is?

Repression has always begun with groups that, for a variety of historical, religious, cultural, political, and social reasons, evoke the least public sensitivity and sympathy.

As we have witnessed in the contemporary history of our country, this repression, day by day, has spread to other sections of society, and in fact, its destructive effects are spreading to a much wider level in the society.

The Baha’i trial in these critical days, which is likely to result in heavy sentences for some of them, may be the beginning of a new wave of violence and repression in the country.

After the revolution, the Baha’is were among the first victims of violence based on false accusations of espionage, but unfortunately their execution was not reflected even in the intellectual circles. Prior to the formation of the Yaran-e Iran, the National Spiritual Assembly led the Baha’i community in Iran. The first group of nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards on 30 Mordad 1359 [21 August 1980] and disappeared. The Baha’i community believes that all of these individuals have been executed.

Shortly thereafter, in Azar 1360 [November/December 1981], the members of the second National Spiritual Assembly were arrested, and in Dey 1360 [December 1981], eight of the nine members of the second National Spiritual Assembly of Iran were executed without trial. The government initially denied their execution, but eventually Ayatollah Ardabili, head of the judiciary, stated that the eight had been executed for spying for foreign powers.

In Shahrivar 1362 [September 1983], the attorney general of the Revolution, Seyyed Hossein Mousavi-Tabrizi, banned all Baha’i collective and organizational activities in Iran. He stated that the Baha’is were spying, and declared that all Baha’i collective and organizational activities were prohibited in Iran.

Shortly afterwards, seven members of the third National Spiritual Assembly were arrested and executed.

In the absence of the National Spiritual Assembly, a temporary assembly, as the “Yaran-e Iran”, was formed with full knowledge of the government in order to take initial charge of the administration of the 300,000 members of Iran’s Baha’i community. The Yaran-e Iran, who are currently in prison and are due to be tried tomorrow, are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naimi, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Vahid Tizfahm, and Mahvash Sabet, who are Iranian citizens and our compatriots, and defending their rights is, in fact, defending the rights of all Iranian citizens.

The execution of Baha’is should not be allowed, as it was in the first decade of the revolution, leading to violence and repression.

With respect,

Reza Fani Yazdi

11 January 2010

 

 

[1] [Husayniiyyih:  Place of congregation for Shia ritual ceremonies especially remembrance of the Martyrdom of Imam Husayn]