June 24, 2020
Bahá’í World News Service (BWNS) reported on June 11 that “Baha’is in the provinces of Fars, South Khorasan, Mazandaran, Isfahan, Alborz, Kerman, Kermanshah, and Yazd have been arrested, summoned to court, tried, sentenced to jail or imprisoned, all under baseless accusations.”
BWNS said the violence targeting Baha’is is taking place “for no reason other than a deep-seated antagonism to the Baha’i faith and its teachings, which emphasize truthfulness, equality of men and women, safeguarding the rights of all people, and the harmony of science and religion.”
“The recent incidents have placed great pressures on so many families,” said Bani Dugal, the Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community, told the BWNS. “Subjecting them to the constant threat of imprisonment under these circumstances and emotional anguish associated with it is yet another attempt to place greater strain on the community. And to do all this during a health crisis, at an alarmingly escalated rate without any justification whatsoever, is extremely cruel and outrageous.”
According to the BWNS article, “the Iranian authorities have escalated their persecution of the Baha’is, targeting at least 77 individuals across the country in recent weeks despite the present health crisis afflicting the country.”
Iran’s regime has engaged in widespread persecution of the Baha’i community before, including the murder of members of the Baha’i religion, since the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. Tehran enforces state-sponsored discrimination against the Baha’i community in all walks of life.
The 2019 United States Commission on International Religious Freedom report said the Iranian regime continued the harassment, interrogation and detention of Baha’i followers as well as judicial trials against at least 65 of them within a six-month period.
Iran’s opaque judicial system is riddled with fraud and misconduct, including the use of torture.
BWNS reported that “in one instance, a court in South Khorasan Province had sentenced nine Baha’is to three to six years of imprisonment. These include an elderly man, whose advanced age puts his health at great risk if he is imprisoned. In the Fars Province, 12 Baha’is were given a sentence of one to 13 years of imprisonment under spurious charges.”
The news article continued that “in recent days, six Baha’is in South Khorasan Province were summoned and have had to presented themselves to the court for imprisonment; four more were arrested in Kerman and Yazd provinces; another Baha’i in Alborz Province was sentenced to one year of imprisonment and two years of internal exile; and yet another Baha’i in Isfahan province was summoned to serve a prison sentence.”
BWNS reported that “Iran’s state-affiliated media has stepped up the public defamation of the Baha’is through an increasingly coordinated spread of disinformation about their beliefs by using television channels, newspapers, radio stations, websites and social media to denigrate and to ostracize the Baha’is. The Baha’is, meanwhile, are not permitted to respond publicly, denying their fellow citizens the opportunity to investigate the truth themselves.”