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|7 years ago :: Jan 26, 2009 - 2:00PM #1|
Iran Press Watch: The Baha'i Community
24 Jan 2009, 11:40 AM PST
"Why are they Afraid of the Dead?" by Monireh Baradaran
Have you read this news?
“Last night, at midnight, a number of plain-clothes officers attacked the Baha’i Cemetery in Qa’emshahr with a lorry and a bulldozer; and set out to remove the tombstones and to level the ground, According to a report from the Human Rights Activists Group in Iran, electricity had been completely cut off in the whole area during this undertaking, and a shot was fired in the air when someone from the neighborhood was caught witnessing the activities. The witness was then seized, his hands and feet were tied up, and he was left alone in this condition in a remote area of the cemetery
The attack and destruction that took place last night was the third in a series and, in a way, the fiercest of its kind since the destruction on 23 Oct and 22 Nov of this year; and the intent was to erase every trace of the Baha’i cemetery in this area.” (Quoted from [COLOR=#003399]http://peykeiran.com/ 19 January 2009)[/COLOR]
Another news item on 8 January 2009 was about the destruction of the cemetery in Khavaran. This attack was focused particularly on the destruction of the section in which Baha’i martyrs had been buried. This section was entirely demolished by a bulldozer.
Attacking cemeteries and breaking the tombstones of martyrs are not new developments. Tombs of martyrs in Behesht Zahra, including the ones in section 33, where martyrs from the Shah’s time are buried, and even the burial places of our great literary and cultural figures, such as that of Ahmad Shamlu, have not remained safe from these sorts of attacks.
Breaking the tombstone of one who is dead is an act of insult and belittlement, as well as a cultural violation. All existing cultures, including our own, cherish special reverence for the dead, for remembering those who are no longer among the living, and for performing special rituals in honor of the deceased. The right to have a designated place for burying one’s dead and for performing the associated ceremonies has always existed in every land. This right has in fact been more prominent than the rights of citizenship.
However, the complete destruction and wiping out of cemeteries in the last few days has reached new levels of attacking the dead, in which the authorities have been involved throughout the last twenty-something years. What sort of fear could possibly prompt anyone to commit such acts?
The reason for fearing Khavaran is apparent to everyone: It signifies heinous crimes! We know that aside from the tombs with no names, there are also two mass graves there which were dug in September 1988. Khavaran is a place that binds the families together; and by destroying it the intention is, on the one hand, to destroy criminal evidence, and on the other hand to prevent families from getting together.
Why the attacks on Baha’i cemeteries and their destruction?
The destruction of Baha’i cemeteries is part of the policies concerning the abolition of the citizenship rights of the Baha’is; and in some cases this abolition of rights of the Baha’is includes even their right to life! In the last few months, pressure on the Baha’is, arrests and persecution have increased considerably. How far will these arrests and persecutions go? Are these meant as preparation for massacring our fellow Baha’i countrymen?
Experience in history has demonstrated that massacres of a racial, religious or cultural nature have always endeavored to annihilate the history and culture of the victims. To annihilate the creed of a people, their history must first be wiped clean. Fear of the dead represents the fear of history. A cemetery is not only a place in which religious and cultural practices are honored, it is also a place that holds history within itself – at least the history of a few generations past! A cemetery is a witness to the lives of the people in a country. To destroy a cemetery is to destroy history. A Baha’i Cemetery reminds us that Baha’is have also been part of this land and have lived in this country.
Demolishing cemeteries is a reminder of the crimes committed by the Nazis against the Jews. Attacking Jewish cemeteries and destroying them began in the year 1933 with the coming to power of Hitler, and it was a prelude to their massacre! Even today, in pursuit of that same criminal ideology, Neo-Nazis attack Jewish cemeteries every now and again in European cities, break the tombstones and the memorabilia, and engrave on them the swastika. The destruction of Jewish cemeteries at the time of Nazi Germany was the prelude to the massacre and the physical annihilation of the Jews in an effort to wipe clean their history and any other trace of their existence . . .
The harsh attitude of anti-Baha’i groups towards the Baha’is and unbelievers — which before the Islamic Revolution also created great catastrophes — has now become government policy; this could turn into a disastrous genocide if we do not weary of it!
[FONT=Palatino Linotype][SIZE=1] Khavaran is a cemetery located in the South-East part of Tehran. It was designated as a burial place for such religious minorities as Hindus and Christians, as well as Baha’is more recently. It was also used as a mass grave site containing thousands of corpses from the 1981 executions of Iranian prisoners by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.[/FONT][/SIZE]
Iran Press Watch is grateful to Gloria Yazdani for the above translation.] [/COLOR]
|7 years ago :: Jan 30, 2009 - 12:55PM #2|
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, 27 January 2009 (BWNS):
The coldest capital city on earth was the gathering place last weekend for 1,700 Baha'is from Mongolia, Russia, and other nations - called together to celebrate achievements in community-building work and make plans for future activities at the local level.
Temperatures reached minus 30 C a day or two before the conference as people made their way to the gathering. Some of the Baha'is from eastern Mongolia had to get special permission from the government to travel during a major snowstorm, but they made it safely to Ulaanbaatar and were pleased to be part of the gathering, the first of its kind to be held in the country.
The event was one of 41 such conferences convened by the Universal House of Justice, the head of the Baha'i Faith, in cities around the world over a four-month span.
Simultaneous conferences were held last weekend in Madrid, Spain, and Sydney, Australia. The gathering in Sydney drew nearly 5,500 participants, making it the largest Baha'i conference ever held in the Southern Hemisphere. The event in Madrid included some 1,400 participants from peninsular Spain, the Canary Islands, and Portugal.
The 33 conferences to date have attracted some 63,800 people. Coming this week are events in Auckland, New Zealand, and Battambang, Cambodia, to be followed the next weekend by conferences in Frankfurt, Germany, and Padua, Italy.
Eighteen consecutive weeks of conferences will conclude on 1 March in Kiev, Ukraine.
To view this story with photographs, see here.
|7 years ago :: Jan 30, 2009 - 12:59PM #3|
GENEVA, 30 January 2009 (BWNS)
The destruction earlier this month of a cemetery in Iran used for the mass burial of hundreds killed in the aftermath of the Islamic revolution in 1979 is an outrageous violation of human dignity, the Baha'i International Community said today. At least 15 Baha'is were among those buried at the site.
"The destruction of the Khavaran cemetery by government agents goes against all concepts of respect for the dead in any culture, including values preached in Islam," said Diane Ala'i, the representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.
"We join with other human rights groups inside and outside of Iran in condemning this shameful deed, which is yet another sign of the intolerance of the current Iranian regime," said Ms. Ala'i.
Located southeast of Tehran, the Khavaran cemetery was used as the burial site for hundreds who were killed in the early years of the Iranian revolution. Earlier this month, a group of unidentified individuals using bulldozers demolished an area of the cemetery known as the "graveyard of the infidels," the area where many of the people executed in the early years of the revolution were buried.
Reports indicate the group clearly represented a branch of the government. It was also reported that the officials told the cemetery custodian that the parcel was being demolished to develop a green space or park.
Human rights groups inside and outside of Iran have since registered protests.
On 20 January 2009, Amnesty International called on Iranian authorities to "immediately stop the destruction of hundreds of individual and mass, unmarked graves in Khavaran, south Tehran, to ensure that the site is preserved and to initiate a forensic investigation at the site as part of a long-overdue thorough, independent and impartial investigation into mass executions which began in 1988. ..."
Iranian human rights advocates, including Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, have also condemned the cemetery's destruction.
"We have recently learned that Khavaran cemetery, where the victims of the illegal massacre of political prisoners in the 1980s and especially 1988 are buried, has been destroyed by some officials," the Human Rights Defenders' Centre said in a statement issued on 25 January, according to Agence France-Presse. "The Human Rights Defenders Centre condemns this ugly and appalling act and notes that everyone including the authorities is required to maintain the dignity of the dead."
At least 15 Baha'is were buried in the same section of the cemetery, all victims in the early 1980s of the government's campaign to systematically persecute Iranian Baha'is for their religious beliefs.
Specifically, it is known that eight members of the national Baha'i governing body killed on 27 December 1981 are buried there, along with six members of the Baha'i Spiritual Assembly of Tehran, killed on 4 January 1982. It is likely that other Baha'is were buried there, too.
According to a Baha'i whose husband is buried at the site, most of the graves in that section of the cemetery were unmarked, designated only by numerical row markers.
"They called it the place for 'infidels,'" said the widow, who currently resides outside of Iran. "They just gave us row numbers, and that is how I knew where my husband was. But there were no markers and we were not allowed to identify which grave was which."
|7 years ago :: Feb 04, 2009 - 3:25PM #4|
:o An article appearing in Maclean's magazine, a Canadian publisher ...
http://blog.macleans.ca/2009/02/03/%e2% … %e2%80%9d/
If this is in the wrong place WC feel free to move it ......
In the human world, if we do not understand the divine world, is that a proof that the world of God does not exist? (Divine Philosophy, p. 117 ... Baha'i Writings)
|7 years ago :: Feb 06, 2009 - 11:12PM #5|
My apology, seefan, for not responding before this. Been busy elsewhere...
It's the perfect venue for such an article and I thank you for adding it to the board. Any news articles bringing the plight of our Iranian friends to the attention of others will always be a welcome addition here.
For that matter, if anyone ever wishes to contribute an article they've seen concerning the Faith, please always feel free to post its link here. Copyrighted material may not be cut/pasted.
|7 years ago :: Feb 10, 2009 - 5:14PM #6|
FRANKFURT, Germany, 10 February 2009 (BWNS)
A historic Baha'i conference in Frankfurt last weekend brought to mind an earlier gathering in the same city a half century earlier - one that was also a milestone in Baha'i history.
Last weekend's event in Frankfurt was one of the current series of 41 conferences around the globe marking the half-way point of a five-year effort involving establishment of community-building activities in tens of thousands of neighborhoods and villages. So far some 75,000 people have participated in the gatherings.
By comparison, the five Intercontinental Conferences of 1958 came half-way through a 10-year program to establish the Baha'i Faith in every country and major territory in the world. Total attendance 50 years ago was about 5,400 people.
The announcement of the 1958 gatherings - in addition to Frankfurt they were to be held in Kampala, Uganda; Sydney, Australia; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Chicago in the United States - was one of the final acts of Shoghi Effendi, head of the Baha'i Faith from 1921 until his passing in November 1957.
Although he died unexpectedly two months before the conferences began, Shoghi Effendi himself planned many of the details, including naming his personal representative to each of the gatherings and announcing the special gifts he would send, among which were provisions for a photograph of Baha'u'llah to be viewed by all of those in attendance. ...
To read the complete article and see historical photographs, see here.
|7 years ago :: Feb 13, 2009 - 12:52PM #7|
Reports that seven imprisoned Baha'is have been accused of espionage and other crimes and that their case will be referred to the Revolutionary Court next week are deeply concerning, potentially marking a new and dangerous stage in Iran's persecution of Baha'is, said the Baha'i International Community today.
"The accusations are false, and the government knows this," said Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community representative to the United Nations in Geneva. "The seven Baha'is detained in Tehran should be immediately released."
Word of a possible trial against imprisoned Baha'is came yesterday in an Iranian ISNA news agency report quoting Tehran's deputy public prosecutor, Hassan Haddad. According to the report, a case will be sent to the revolutionary courts next week accusing the seven Baha'is of "espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic republic."
It is presumed that the seven referred to by Mr. Haddad are the group of Baha'i leaders from Tehran who were arrested last year in raids reminiscent of sweeps nearly 30 years ago at the start of the Islamic revolution. Those sweeps led to the execution of dozens of Baha'i leaders at the time. ...
To read the full article, see here.
To see profiles of the seven Baha'i members who are in prison, read here.
|7 years ago :: Feb 15, 2009 - 6:04PM #8|
NEW YORK, 15 February 2009 (BWNS)
International reaction to news that Iran may soon put on trial seven Baha'i leaders for espionage and other charges came swiftly last week as governments, parliamentary leaders and human rights organizations expressed strong criticism of any such trial. Many called for the immediate release of the Baha'is.
The group of seven has been imprisoned in Tehran since last spring. Since then, no formal charges had been announced, but the Iranian news agency ISNA reported last Wednesday that the Baha'is would be accused of "espionage for Israel, insulting [Islamic] religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic republic." The Baha'is have had no access to their attorney, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi.
In the United States, the Department of State condemned "the Iranian government's decision to level baseless charges of espionage against seven leaders of the Iranian Baha'i community."
"Authorities have detained these Baha'i for more than nine months without access to legal counsel or making public any evidence against them. The accusations reported in Iranian and international media are part of the ongoing persecution of Baha'i in Iran," Department of State spokesman Robert Wood said Friday.
In London, Amnesty International issued an "urgent action" appeal on behalf of the seven, calling for their "immediate and unconditional release."
In Canada, Member of Parliament and former Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler spoke in the House of Commons and expressed concern that the trial could lead to the death penalty for the seven Baha'is. He called the charges "trumped up."
"The systematic and systemic abuse of the Bahai minority in Iran unfortunately manifested itself again this week as seven members of the Friends of Iran group, already being held for almost a year in the notorious Evin Prison, were charged on Wednesday with spying for Israel, insulting Islam and spreading propaganda against the state," Mr. Cotler said.
In Germany, Bundestag member Dr. Peter Ramsauer, leader of the Christian Social Union party, expressed "deep concern" over the fate of the seven. "Our minimum expectation for a fair trial is unconstrained access for the defense attorney, the Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, to her clients and to have a public trial," he said.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a statement saying "it is disappointing that the Iranian government is demonstrating that it will use any pretext, however baseless, to harass and detain those whose religious beliefs differ from those enforced by the state."
"Due process, something to which Iran is committed as a signatory of the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is absent from this case," commission Chair Felice D. Gaer said in the statement.
Last week's report from the ISNA news agency did not specify the names of the accused, but it was assumed to refer to Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm.
They constitute the membership of an informal coordinating body known as the Friends, which - with the knowledge of the government - was established some years ago to see to the minimum needs of Iran's 300,000-member Baha'i community after its elected governing bodies were banned by government decree in 1983.
A spokeswoman for the Baha'i International Community last week stated emphatically that the seven are innocent of all charges and are being held solely because of their religious belief.
"The accusations are false, and the government knows this," said Diane Ala'i, the representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva. "The seven Baha'is detained in Tehran should be immediately released."
In its "urgent action" appeal last Thursday, Amnesty International said it "considers the charges to be politically motivated and those held to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely because of their conscientiously held beliefs or their peaceful activities on behalf of the Baha'i community.
"If convicted, they would face lengthy prison terms, or even the death penalty," the organization said.
Other human rights groups and nongovernmental organizations made similar statements.
In Washington, Freedom House published a condemnation of Iran over the possibility of a trial for the seven, saying: "The five men and two women should be released immediately, along with dozens of other Baha'is who are in prison for exercising their human right to religious freedom."
The Institute for Religion and Public Policy, also based in Washington, called the charges "absurd."
"The arrest of Iran's top Baha'i leaders has simply been another move to intimidate and undermine the faith's followers. Iran has an especially poor record in respecting the right to worship of non-Shiite Muslims, and we call on them to drop the charges and release the prisoners," said the institute's president, Joseph K. Grieboski.
|7 years ago :: Feb 15, 2009 - 6:07PM #9|
NEW YORK, 15 February 2009 (BWNS)
The Baha'i International Community has issued a statement of gratitude to the Iranian intellectuals, scholars, writers, journalists, activists, and artists throughout the world who signed an open letter apologizing for their silence during Iran's long-running persecution of the Baha'is.
The open letter from the Iranians - dated 3 February and signed so far by 243 men and women living in 19 countries - had asked Baha'is to forgive them "for the wrongs committed against the Baha'i community of Iran" over the last century and a half.
"We will no longer be silent when injustice is visited upon you," the letter said after enumerating some of the ways Baha'is have been persecuted, from "barbaric murders" to depriving youth of higher education.
In response, the Baha'i International Community told the signatories that the letter "brought a degree of solace and relief to the pain that your Baha'i fellow citizens endure."
"On their behalf and that of the Baha'is throughout the world we convey our profound gratitude and appreciation for a deed of such historical moment," the Baha'i message said, referring to the publication of the open letter.
The letter was particularly significant, said the Baha'i response, in that it rejected the milieu of intimidation created by Iranian authorities throughout the decades that served to silence "those fair-minded and informed individuals who had always wished to rise up" in support of the Baha'is.
Indeed, in a press statement yesterday, the organizers behind the letter said that many more people would like to sign.
"We are confident," their statement said, "that many more individuals, responsible and humane individuals, both inside and outside Iran, will add their seal of approval to it, as they become aware of such a letter, and we hope that the independent and committed Iranian media will join us in disseminating this message."
The open letter began with the heading "We are ashamed! A century and a half of oppression and silence is enough!"
"We are ashamed that during the last 30 years, the killing of Baha'is solely on the basis of their religious beliefs has gained legal status and over 200 Baha'is have been slain on this account," said one clause.
"We are ashamed that a group of intellectuals have justified coercion against the Baha'i community if Iran," the letter continued.
The letter ended thus: "We stand by you in achieving all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights. Let us join hands in replacing hatred and ignorance with love and tolerance."
The Baha'i response also ended with a statement of hope: "The ardent hope of Iranian Baha'is is to be able to labor, shoulder to shoulder, with their compatriots for the progress and exaltation of their country that it may assume its seat of honor and glory among the family of nations."
For a longer version of the article, and to read the Baha'i statement and the open letter, see here.
|7 years ago :: Feb 17, 2009 - 10:00PM #10|
The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced H.R.175 concerning persecution of the Iranian Baha'is. For text of the Resolution, see here.