Upsurge in arrests in Iran raises concern
NEW YORK – In a striking upsurge in persecution, some 37 Bahá'ís were arrested and taken into custody in Iran during the months of March, April, and May 2005.
Most were arbitrarily detained without any charge being filed against them. Some of the prisoners were held incommunicado, in unknown locations, while their families desperately searched for them. Most were released only after having posted significant amounts of money, property deeds, or business licenses as bail.
Moreover, government agents conducted prolonged searches of many of the homes of those who were arrested, confiscating documents, books, computers, copiers, and other belongings.
Those arrested included not only prominent members of the community in Tehran, but also six Bahá'ís in Shiraz, nine in the city of Semnan, and nine Bahá'í farmers whose homes and land had previously been confiscated in the village of Kata.
“While most of those arrested were held less than a week, others were jailed for up to three months in a kind of ‘revolving door' detention apparently aimed principally at creating terror and repression,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Bahá'í International Community to the United Nations.
“Short-term imprisonments of this kind have long been used as a means of oppression against Bahá'ís, but there have been far more this year, increasing greatly the sense of insecurity,” said Ms. Dugal.
All of those arrested were picked up solely because of their religious beliefs, added Ms. Dugal.
“The Bahá'í community in Iran poses no threat to the Iranian authorities,” said Ms. Dugal. “The principles of the Bahá'í Faith require its followers to avoid partisan political involvement, subversive activity, and all forms of violence.
“While defending their right to worship and practice their religion freely, as promised by international law, Bahá'ís seek only to be peaceful, law abiding, and productive contributors to the advancement of Iranian society,” she said.
The wave of arrests in spring 2005 follows a number of other incidents earlier this year. In the city of Yazd, starting in late December and continuing through January, a number of Bahá'ís were arrested, detained, and interrogated. Several were beaten in their homes, at least one Bahá'í-owned business was set afire, and the Bahá'í graveyard there was desecrated.
For more on the situation of the human rights situation of the Bahá'í community of Iran, visit http://question.bahai.org