UN experts and Amnesty International have expressed deep concern over Iran’s persecution of Baha’is and urged an end to pressure on religious and other minorities.
“We are deeply concerned at the increasing arbitrary arrests, and on occasions, enforced disappearances of members of the Baha’i faith and the destruction or confiscation of their properties, in what bears all the signs of a policy of systematic persecution,” the experts said in a statement Monday.
The Shia clergy consider the Baha’i faith as a heretical sect. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has on several occasions called the Baha'i faith a cult and in a religious fatwa in 2018 forbade contact, including business dealings, with followers of the faith.
Bahai’s, who number around 300,000 in Iran, cannot hold jobs in the public sector and are sometimes sacked from their jobs in the private sector under pressure from authorities. They are also deprived from higher education.
Followers of the Baha'i faith say the Islamic Republic has taken its systematic campaign to a higher level in the past few months. Earlier this month Security forces laid siege to a village in northern Iran and demolished houses and farms belonging to members of the persecuted faith.
Security forces have also arrested tens of Baha'is including Mahvash Sabet, Afif Naimi, and Fariba Kamalabadi, three former leaders of the community, and shut down businesses.
The intelligence ministry claimed on August 2 that the detained Baha’is were linked to the Baha’i Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel, and had collected information in Iran and conveyed it to their headquarters, implying that such information would be shared with Israel. The Universal House of Justice is the nine-member supreme ruling body of the Bahaʼi Faith.
Signatories of the statement including Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on Minorities Issues, Nazila Ghanea, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion, as well as several members of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances added in their statementthat the acts against Baha’is formed part of a “broader policy to target any dissenting belief or religious practice, including Christian converts, Gonabadi dervishes and atheists.”
“The international community cannot remain silent while Iranian authorities use overbroad and vague national security and espionage charges to silence religious minorities or people with dissenting opinions, remove them from their homes and effectively force them into internal displacement,” the experts said.
Amnesty International launched an urgent appeal regarding the escalation of attacks on Baha’is human rights Tuesday, urging national chapters and concerned individuals to write to three Iranian officials including Chief Justice Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeiand urge them. to “immediately and unconditionally release” all the Baha’is recently detained as well as those in prison from before and “quash all convictions and sentences imposed on this basis.”
Amnesty’s appeal said detainedBaha’is are targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of religion and called on authorities to end discrimination against the community in law and in practice, including in access to employment, housing, and agricultural, industrial, trade and other activities necessary for the enjoyment of social, economic and cultural rights.
For decades Iran has not allowed visits to any of the fourteen UN human rights experts who have made requests to monitor the situation of human rights.