Baháʼí Faith in Iran
The Baháʼí Faith in Iran is the country's second-largest religion after Islam and the birthplace of the three central figures of the religion – The Báb, Baháʼu'lláh and ʻAbdu'l-Bahá. The early history of the religion in Iran covers the lives of these individuals, their families and their earliest prominent followers: the Letters of the Living, the Apostles of Baháʼu'lláh and later some of the Disciples of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá and Hands of the Cause. In the 19th century conversions from Judaism and Zoroastrianism are well documented - indeed such a change of status removing legal and social protections.
Since its inception the religion has had involvement in socio-economic development beginning by giving greater freedom to women, promulgating the promotion of female education as a priority concern, and that involvement was given practical expression by creating schools, agricultural coops, and clinics. Prior to 1911 a private school for girls existed in Tehran which was opened by Iranian Baháʼí women. During the Persian Constitutional Revolution situations required the close of the school.
Although ʻAbdu'l-Bahá had instructed the Baháʼís in Iran not to take part in open defiance of the government (and they did not participate in the street demonstrations and the taking of sanctuary in the British Legation in Tehran in the summer of 1906) during the period of the Persian Constitutional Revolution they did broadly support the Constitutionalist cause.
Tarbiyat-i Banat (Girls' Education), established in 1911 in Tehran, was the most respected Bahaʼi girls' school. Founded on the efforts of a private school for girls by Baháʼís, it was re-opened under the direction of an Iranian Baháʼí boys' school committee and several American Baháʼí women pioneers who moved in order to support the goals of the religion. Even though it catered to the Iranian Baháʼí community, Tarbiyat attracted children from non-Baháʼí families, as the curriculum was largely secular.
The situation of the Baháʼís improved under the Pahlavi dynasty when the government actively sought to secularize public life. However, there were still organizations actively persecuting the Baháʼís in addition to there being courses where children would learn decrying the Báb, a central figure of the religion, and Baháʼís. The founder of SAVAK, Teymur Bakhtiar, took a pick-ax to a Baháʼí building himself at the time. See Hojjatieh and Persecution of Baháʼís during the early 20th century and the Pahlavi Dynasty.
The religion entered a new phase of activity when a message of the Universal House of Justice dated 20 October 1983 was released. Baháʼís were urged to seek out ways, compatible with the Baháʼí teachings, in which they could become involved in the social and economic development of the communities in which they lived. World-wide in 1979 there were 129 officially recognized Baháʼí socio-economic development projects. By 2017, the number had increased to an estimated 40,000. However the modern history of persecution of Baháʼís in Iran is extensive and prevented these kinds of developments in Iran:
- During the Iranian revolution and Islamic Republic
- Current situation
- Cultural genocide of the Baháʼís of Iran
Despite the persecution, one of many Baháʼí schools in the world, the Baháʼí Institute for Higher Education, "an elaborate act of communal self-preservation", was set up, though it has been systematically raided. Between 1987 and 2005 the Iranian authorities closed down the university several times as part of the pattern of suppressing the Baháʼí community. Between September 30 and October 3, 1998, and most recently again on 22 May 2011, officials from the Ministry of Intelligence entered the homes of academic staff of the Baháʼí Institute for Higher Education, a university in Iran designed and managed by the Baháʼí community for Iranian Baháʼís as a Baháʼí school for those who are excluded from access to higher education in their country, seizing books, computers and personal effects and shutting down buildings used for the school.
After a wave of arrests, Shirin Ebadi volunteered to be the lawyer for the arrested Baháʼí leadership of Iran in June 2008. By December 29 the Islamic authorities closed Ebadi's Center for Defenders of Human Rights, raiding her private office and seizing her computers and files.
Indeed, several agencies and experts and journals have published concerns about viewing the developments as a case of genocide: Roméo Dallaire, Genocide Watch, Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention, and the journals War Crimes, Genocide, & Crimes against Humanity and Journal of Genocide Research.
A summary of 2013 incidents of prison sentences, fines and punishments showed that these were more than twice as likely to apply to Baháʼís as any other religious minority in Iran and that the total rate of such cases had gone up by 36% over 2012.
The first known survey of the religion comes from an unpublished work in 1919–1920 gathered by John Esslemont and had been intended to be part of his well-known Baháʼu'lláh and the New Era. In it, consulting various individuals, he summarizes the religion's presence in Egypt, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Turkestan, and the United States. It did not arrive at a total but did have some regional statistics based on some individual reports. In Iran "The Cause has not only spread in important centres, but even in remote villages and corners…. In Teheran alone there are probably 10,000 Bahais.… [The] population of Teheran [is] 750,000.… Khorassan: villages where the whole population is Bahai. Esphahan, places where 2/3 of the people are Bahais. In Azerbayjan, villages where 1/2 are Bahais."
Iranian Spiritual AssemblyEdit
As all other National Spiritual Assemblies, the Iranian Spiritual Assembly has its clergy formation defined by Baha'u'llah in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and its minimum number of members is 9. The first official clerical assembly was held in Tehran in 1897 under the supervision of Abdu'l - Bahá and by Haji Akhund of Ayadyan Amrullah . Due to the persecution of the Baha'is of Iran, the congregation assumed both local and national responsibilities. The Iranian Spiritual Assembly was declared illegal in 1983 by the Islamic Republic of Iran in the aftermath of the revolution. Subsequently, the assemblage of the Iranian companions replaced responsibility for the administration of the Baha'i community.
The first spiritual gathering after the revolutionEdit
From the beginning of the revolution to the middle of 1980, members of the National Spiritual Assembly were continually harassed. In March 1980 CE (1358 SH on the Solar Hijri calendar used officially in Iran), Dr. Hussein Naji, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly, sent a telegram to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, President Abolhassan Banisadr, the Revolutionary Court Attorney General, Ayatollah Ali Ghodousi, and the Central Organization of the Medical System, in which several attacks on his residential home were armed And described his wife's arrest. He asked for advice on how to stop these violations. The complaint was not much considered. Each nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly, along with two Continental Consultative assistants, were arrested at a meeting of the National Spiritual Assembly at a private home, arrested by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members on August 30, 1980, without legal due diligence. The families of the disappeared have persistently pursued the case since the disappearance of these individuals by Bahman Bahman in 1981 (1359 SH), during a meeting with the Attorney General, Ayatollah Ghodousi, the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti and the Speaker of the Majles, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. In a meeting on September 19, 1980, Rafsanjani confirmed that he had ordered the arrest of eleven Baha'is, but said that members of the family of the prisoners could not meet with them to complete the interrogation process. However, on March 17, 1981 (1359 IC), Rafsanjani changed his mind and argued that the government had not arrested any members of the clerical organization, and instead attributed the disappearance of the Baha'is as unacceptably to an independent group.
The fate of nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly and two undeclared continental council assistants remain. Although there are reports that these people have been detained in Evin Prison for a short time, no news of them has been obtained since September 7, 1980, and now all are considered deceased.
The Second Iranian Spiritual MeetingEdit
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Shortly after the disappearance of the members of the first national clerical assembly, Baháʼís gathered to elect new members of the National Spiritual Assembly. The members of the second National Spiritual Assembly were all aware that they might have the fate of their predecessors.
The authorities quickly put the new members of the circle at the center of attention. Amnesty International reported that on December 22, 1981, Iranian authorities arrested eight members of nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly at the house of the believer.
The arrested were: Mehdi Amin Amin, Jalal Azizi, Ezatollah Foroughi, Jinous Nemat Mahmoudi, Mahmoud Majzoub, Ghost Allah Rouhani, Cyrus Roshani and Kamran Samimi. Mr. Momen and Farideh Samimi, the wife of Kamran Samimi, the secretary of the circle, who helped with the reception, were also arrested. Amnesty International issued a memorandum of urgent response and demanded a protest by post and telegram directly to the Supreme Court Chief Justice, Abdul-Karim Mousavi Ardebili, Deputy Prime Minister, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and the Attorney General, Mehdi Rabbani Ameshchi, and requested information about the whereabouts of the detainees. , Was. Amnesty International also called for protests to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Interior Minister.
On December 6, 1981, eight of the nine members of the second Iranian national clerical assembly were executed without trial. After the initial denial of these executions, Ayatollah Ardabili, the new head of the judiciary, eventually announced that eight of Baha'is were executed for spying for foreign powers. Ardebili told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) that no religious motive was the reason for the executions. Late that same month, Ayatollah Mohammadi Gilani, head of the Revolutionary Courts of the Center, justified the death of the members of the second national clerical assembly as saying that membership in the Baha'i community was synonymous with spying for colonial organizations.
Although the executions were not officially announced, the Baha'is succeeded in discovering the burial places of the bodies of the Kafrīn Khavaran cemetery. Some bodies were buried in mass. The daughter of Jonas Nemat Mahmoudi, reported that some families were forced to pay the first cost of bullets spent on executions in order to know where the bodies of their loved ones were.
Third Iranian Spiritual MeetingEdit
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On September 7, 1982, the Revolutionary Prosecutor General, Seyyed Hossein Mousavi Tabrizi, banned all Baha'i community activities in Iran. It ordered the dissolution of the third national clerical assembly and about 400 local clerical congresses. Membership in any organization or activity that encourages religion for non-Baha'is was severely prohibited. The government justified the issuance of this order by claiming that the Baha'i militants and conspirators were involved in spying activities.
In an interview, the government affiliate, Mousavi Tabrizi, the Attorney General of the Revolution, said: "They spy on others for provoking and disrupting certain things ... These issues have prompted us to immediately announce that all activities Collective and organizational forms of Baha'is are prohibited in Iran and so far prohibited, and the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the constitution have not recognized these "
Before the National Spiritual Assembly accepted the ban, he wrote to Iranian leaders in rejecting the allegations against the government. This letter points to harassment of Baha'is in the Islamic Republic and called on the Iranian people, the Islamic government and God to recognize their human rights. This letter was the last act of the National Spiritual Assembly before their rights as Iranian citizens and as human beings of voluntary dissolution.
Despite the voluntary dissolution, authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran continued to harass and terrorize the former members of the national and local clerical and other administrative authorities throughout Iran, as well as those who signed the open letter in defense of the Baha'is. In mid-1362 SH [1984 CE], more than 500 Baha'is, most of whom were former members of the congregation or associated with these members, were arrested without charge.
Over time, seven members of the 3rd National Spiritual Assembly were arrested and eventually executed by the government.
 After these series of interrogations, which involved physical torture by being whipped on the soles of her feet with a cable, Mahmudnizhad was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.; despite this, the sentence of the 10 women was carried out on the night of June 18, 1983, at a nearby polo field.
One incident that gained particular attention internationally was the execution of a number of Baha'i women in 18 June 1983: Mona Mahmudnizhad (17 years old), Nusrat Yalda'i (54), 'Izzat Janami Ishraqi (50), Roya Ishraqi (23, daughter of 'Izzat), Tahirih Siyavushi (32), Zarrin Muqimi (28), Shirin Dalvand (25), Akhtar Sabit (19 or early 20s), Simin Saberi (24), and Mahshid Nirumand (28). At the time of their sentencing, President of the United States Ronald Reagan, had made a plea for clemency.
Fellowship of Iran (Yaran)Edit
All Baha'i elected and appointed institutions in Iran were banned from 1983 CE (1362 SH), and most members of the three clerics murdered the Baha'i Faith. In the absence of these circles, a temporary assembly called "Fellowship of Iran", also known as "Yaran", was formed with full knowledge of the government to address the early affairs of the 300-member community of Baha'is in Iran.
Since 1983, all government officials have been aware of the existence of this group. In fact, in all these years, government officials regularly, though often informally, have been in contact with members of the delegation. The Baha'i community claims that it is said that Iranian supporters are an illegal group.
The last members of this group who have been responsible for managing the Baha'i community in Iran are:
- Fariba Kamal Abadi
- Jamalodin Khanjani
- Afif Naeemi
- Saeed Rezaei
- Behrooz Tavakoli
- Vahid Tizfam
- Mahvash Feshti
Six of them were arrested on May 14, 2008 at their home. The seventh, before the other members, was arrested on March 5, 2008 (March 15, 2007) in Mashhad. They were sentenced to ten years imprisonment.
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