Bahá’ís of Iran: Iran’s government must end “crime against humanity of persecution,” says Human Rights Watch


BIC GENEVA — A highly significant report published by the eminent human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, states that the Iranian government’s 45-year systematic repression of the Bahá’í religious minority amounts to the crime against humanity of persecution under international criminal law.

The new 49-page report, titled “The Boot on My Neck: Iranian Authorities’ Crime of Persecution Against Bahá’ís in Iran,” documents in incredible detail the discriminatory laws, policies and practices used by the Iranian government to violate the fundamental human rights of Bahá’ís in the country. Human Rights Watch said that Bahá’ís face abuses in almost every aspect of life, from arbitrary arrests and imprisonment by government agencies, to property confiscations, denial of access to education and employment, and even the blocking of dignified burials in line with Bahá’í rites.

“Iranian authorities deprive Bahá’ís of their fundamental rights in every aspect of their lives, not due to their actions, but simply for belonging to a faith group,” said Michael Page, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Human Rights Watch, at a pre-launch event of the report.

Human Rights Watch conducted exhaustive research in preparing its report. It examined and analyzed the Iranian government’s policies, the country’s legal framework, and numerous court documents. Human Rights Watch also interviewed witnesses both inside and outside Iran. It also examined material available on the Archives of Bahá’í Persecution in Iran website created by the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) which contains almost 12,000 documents related to the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran.

The Archives of Bahá’í Persecution in Iran website created by the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) which contains almost 12,000 documents related to the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran. Slideshow
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The Archives of Bahá’í Persecution in Iran website created by the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) which contains almost 12,000 documents related to the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran.

Human Rights Watch said in its report that the Islamic Republic has codified its repression of Bahá’ís into law and policy and sustains their enforcement through security and judicial authorities. The report also details discussions between Human Rights Watch researchers and Iranian Bahá’ís, some named and some whose identities were withheld for security reasons, and all of whom detail extensive and decades-long efforts by Iranian authorities to disrupt or destroy every aspect of their lives.

The report contains several recommendations. It calls on the Iranian government to “Immediately cease persecution of Bahá’ís on the basis of their faith and release all those who are detained or who have been convicted on charges of membership in the Bahá’í Faith.” The report cites specific laws and internal governmental orders which it says must be repealed.

Furthermore, the report recommends that the United Nations Independent, International Fact-Finding Mission “collect information related to any crimes committed against Bahá’ís as it relates to hate speech, which increased after the protests, and the increase in the targeting of Bahá’í women.”

The report also recommends that all states “issue individual and collective public statements expressing concern about Iranian authorities’ commission of the crimes of persecution against Bahá’ís.”

Simin Fahandej, BIC Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, stated: “The Bahá’í International Community deeply appreciates the powerful evidence it puts forth in this significant report. It brings together years of research and documentation regarding the systematic persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran and draws clear attention to Iran’s flagrant disregard for its human rights obligations under international law and treaties.

“Our sincere hope is that the world will hold the Iranian government accountable for this longstanding injustice, and demand that it take all necessary legal and policy steps to end this systematic persecution.”



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