Human Rights

The Baha'i International Community expresses concern about the human rights of Iranian Baha'is

GENEVA - The Bahá'í International Community has expressed deep disappointment that the UN Commission on Human Rights failed this year to put forward or adopt any kind of resolution on the human rights situation in Iran.

Despite a new human rights "dialogue" between Iran and the European Union, human rights violations against Iran's Bahá'ís are not only continuing but increasing, said the Community following the close of the Commission on 25 April 2003.

"While, in principle, we support the European Union's 'Human Rights Dialogue' with Iran, we have yet to see any positive results emerging on the ground," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Bahá'í International Community to the United Nations.

"Not only has there been no progress, but the persecution of Bahá'ís in the Islamic Republic of Iran has intensified since the Commission on Human Rights decided last year to suspend its monitoring of the country," said Ms. Dugal.

"The arrest and short-term detention of Bahá'ís has increased; Bahá'í teachers and students continue to be harassed; more properties belonging to the Bahá'ís have been confiscated; and all attempts to obtain redress have been systematically denied," Ms. Dugal said. "As of mid-April, five Bahá'ís were being held in Iranian prisons because of their religious beliefs." [Editor's Note: As of mid-June, four Bahá'ís remained in prison, following the release of Musa Talibi from prison in Isfahan on 28 May 2003.]

From 1982 to 2001, the Commission each year adopted a resolution expressing concern over the human rights situation in Iran, resolutions which always made special mention of the persecution of the Bahá'í community there.

Last year, however, the Commission failed to adopt such a resolution. This year, the European Union, the traditional sponsor of the resolution, failed even to put it forward, preferring at this stage to work through the dialogue process on human rights that was initiated last year.

"In essence, the Commission and the European Union, have given the Iranian Government a chance to prove its claim that it is committed to improve respect for human rights," said Ms. Dugal. "Iran's response has been far from encouraging."

"We believe that the international community must take a stand on Iran's behavior. Accordingly, the Commission's neglect of a resolution that would provide for renewed monitoring of Iran is extremely unfortunate, both for Iran's Bahá'ís and the international community's reputation as a whole," said Ms. Dugal.

Since 1979, when the Islamic Republic of Iran was established, more than 200 Bahá'ís have been killed or executed in Iran, all solely as a result of religious persecution. Hundreds more have been imprisoned and thousands have lost jobs, pensions, and/or access to education. The persecutions reached a peak in the mid-1980s, but lessened after the international community began condemning it through the Commission on Human Rights and in other forums.

However, the Bahá'í community of Iran remains deprived of its basic rights and Bahá'ís remain under the continual threat of harassment, imprisonment or worse. Most recently, for example, Mr. Manuchihr Khulusi, a Bahá'í in Mashhad, was re-imprisoned in March 2003 for Bahá'í activities, following the judgment of the Revolutionary Court in that city.

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