"Death to Baha'is" written on the gate of a house belonging to a Baha'i family (file photo)

Iran's Persecution Of Baha’i 'Crime Against Humanity', Says Human Rights Watch

Tuesday, 04/02/2024

Human Rights Watch has branded the systematic persecution of Baha'is in Iran as a "crime against humanity".

In a report released on Monday, titled 'The Boot on My Neck: Iranian Authorities’ Crime of Persecution Against Baha’is in Iran', it highlights the persistent violations of Baha'is' rights over the past four decades.

According to the report, Iranian authorities have subjected Baha'is to a relentless campaign of harassment and discrimination, impacting every aspect of their lives. This persecution has intensified in recent years, coinciding with widespread protests for political and social change across Iran.

“Human Rights Watch believes that the cumulative impact of authorities’ decades-long systematic repression is an intentional and severe deprivation of Baha’is’ fundamental rights and amounts to the crime against humanity of persecution,” reads the report.

The report documents numerous instances of arbitrary arrests, property confiscation, and discriminatory policies aimed at marginalizing Baha'is in Iranian society. They also list the likes of property confiscation, restricted education and work opportunities and the denial of dignified burials among the list of means the government uses to oppress the Baha'i population.

Iranian courts have routinely targeted Baha'is solely based on their religious affiliation, labeling them as a "deviant cult" and an "illegal group."

According to unofficial estimates, Iran is home to more than 300,000 Baha'i citizens. However, despite their significant presence, the Iranian Constitution officially acknowledges only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism as recognized religions. The omission renders Baha'is the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran.

While Iran is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Human Rights Watch asserts that the persecution of Baha'is constitutes a crime against humanity under international law, urging for action from the global community.

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