[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:] Shahrgon

[Date:] 21 Shahrivar 1387 [11 September 2008]

 

Khosrow Shemirani

I am also a Baha’i

If all of us, or at least a significant number of us “human rights defenders”, join together, perhaps Shirin Ebadi, this brave defender of peace and human rights in Iran, will be able to rise to prominence and respond to Kayhan, Kayhan supporters and all of Satan’s creations and supporters, who “sometimes are more ignoble and wicked than the devil” and say: “Gentlemen, it is no concern of yours what religion or belief my child and I have.”

Shahrgon: I want to shout, “I am also a Baha’i, and as long as believing in the Baha’i Faith is a crime, consider me a Baha’i, cut my meagre pension, deprive me of going to university, humiliate me in elementary and high school, arrest me, imprison me, harass me, separate me from my family, set my house on fire, according to your Sharia law confiscate the means of my earnings for my children’s night bread, execute me, and finally banish me from my Iran, my sacred land.”

For more than one hundred and fifty years, the Iranian government, relying on the Shia clergy, has been busy oppressing the Baha’is of Iran. Although this repression has sometimes been more violent and has gone to the point of insane, and sometimes been slower, it has always existed.

It may come as no surprise that the rulers, in the interest of power, and the clergy, for fear of losing their demagogic influence, issued fatwas[1] for repression. Most of the powerful people in history have always sold humanity for more power. And the clergy, deprived of spirituality, have always and everywhere in the world, with utmost deception, turned to crimes and murders in order to preserve the world and material things. Unfortunately, this trend in history is not surprising. What brings out the sigh from the heart is the silence of society, and sometimes its active association with such atrocities. It is no secret that what happened to the Baha’is in Iran has always been caused by us. In front of every government official who issued a ruling and every clergyman who issued a fatwa, tens, hundreds, and thousands of us went harassing the Baha’is and sometimes stained our hands with the blood of our compatriots. Why?

The cooperation of sections of the society with the centres of power and religion can be considered as ignorance. It can be said that in every society there is ignorance that is abused by those in power and religious lawmakers. But what is the duty of those who call themselves intellectuals, pioneers, defenders of people, and so on, and whose claim to leadership deafens the ears of the world?

Should we turn a blind eye to the fact that almost all political organizations, left and right, religious, non-religious, national, etc., have cooperated in the “best” way in this repression? And has not theorizing this repression been the best help to the oppressors??

One of the most common [assumptions] to justify the repression of Baha’is was that “Baha’ism is not a religion, but a political organization in the service of imperialism.” Have we ever asked what documentation or evidence there is for such a claim? The Communist [Tudeh] Party of Iran was one of the most prominent proponents of this idea, although it never provided any evidence for this claim. This undocumented theorizing provided the silence, and sometimes the supportive silence, of intellectuals, for the widespread repression of the Baha’is after the Islamic Revolution. The painful fact is that such theories were widely accepted not only among the party’s supporters but also among its opponents.

Referring to these facts does not mean examining the role of this party or the role of Iranian intellectuals in endorsing the repression of the Baha’is. Obviously, this is a category worthy of research. It requires scientific work and must be done by presenting documentation and evidence. Very little, very insignificant, work has been done so far. The purpose of this article and the above references is to say, “Now that the culture of human rights is more understandable to us, now that we understand that even if ‘Baha’ism is a political organization in the service of imperialism’, we still have no right to condemn it without evidence and documentation.”

Today, we know that the issuance of a “collective punishment” sentence for the supporters of Baha’ism is like the issuance of a collective punishment sentence for any other social group, and is a clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is the same declaration that condemns the execution of children, calls the prevention of trade unions illegal, and considers the repression of students and women to be barbaric. If we claim to defend human rights, now that we know all this, let us shout loudly: “As long as the followers of Baha’ism are oppressed and imprisoned for their religion and belief, we are all Baha’is!”

Accepting the clear dangers, Mrs. Shirin Ebadi has taken a courageous step in defending the rights of Baha’is imprisoned in Iran. She is under pressure now. To continue her work, she has to swear on verses of the Quran that she and her daughter are not Baha’is. If all of us, or at least a significant number of us human rights defenders, join together, perhaps Shirin Ebadi, this ombudsman for peace and human rights in Iran, will be able to rise up against Kayhan and Kayhan supporters and all of Satan’s creations and supporters, who “are sometimes more ignoble and wicked than the devil”, and reply, “Gentlemen, it is no concern of yours what religion or belief my child and I have.”

Let us praise Shirin Ebadi’s courageous deeds and help her and all the defenders of human rights in Iran: I, Khosrow Shemirani, am a Baha’i, as long as the followers of the Baha’i Faith in Iran are subject to discrimination and punishment.

 

 

[1] [Fatwa:  A legal opinion or decree handed down by an Islamic religious leader]