Wednesday, 23 February 2011

IMHRO: Many Ahwazi Arabs arrested in south west of Iran

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



IMHRO informed that many  Ahwaz Aabs are arrested by Iranian security service in city of Khalafia ( ramshir or Khlaf Abad) and Abadan in al- Ahwaz region in south west of Iran.

A woman  Mr. Zaineb Mansori along with 2 other men with names Mr. Jabber Tamimi and Mr. Habib kanani arrested in city of Abadan. They all have been member of Al -Horyeh (freedom) group in Al- Ahwaz region and published local leaflets regard of inviting people for demonstration. IMHRO told they moved to unknown location after arrest.

In same time 5 men with names Mr Hashem Shaabani ( Omori ), - Mr Shahid Shaabani ( Omori) Mr Abdul Amir Omori, Mr Mohammad Ali Omori, Mr Aqil Aqili 29 years old and Rahman Asakereh 33 years old, all arrested in city of Khalafia ( Ramshir or Khlaf Abad).

IMHRO is appealing to international community, to put pressure on Iranian government for release of all Ahwazi political prisoners and allowing political parties to freely express their view.

IMHRO Thanks NGO’s and international organisations for monitoring situation of Ahwazi Arabs and other ethnic minorities in Iran in recent years, But IMHRO feels international community needs to do more regard of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran.  

IMHRO appealing to international community to stand up for Human Rights of Ahwazi Arabs, who are banned to speak in their mother tongue (Arabic language) and many of their activist are in prisons.

“International community need to do more for religious, ethnic and social minorities in Iran, especially for Ahwazi Arabs as world media hardly mention their stories comparing with other minority groups in Iran” Reza Washahi researcher told IMHRO.

Ahwazi Arabs population is at least 5 million people and they live in south west of Iran. Their land was occupied by Reza Shah in 1925 and later united with Adolf Hitler and allied forces have to occupy Iran in August 25 1941 to remove him from power.  Since 1925 Ahwaz Arabs experienced social, economic and political suppression. Ahwaz in second largest gas reserves and has 20% of world proven oils. As result of discrimination and apartheid system in Ahwaz, unemployment is high and this year reached 40%. Malnutrition among many families has been reported. Ahwaz Arabs land and water are polluted by toxic materials and new Darkhovin nuclear facility poses a great danger to millions of people in Falahieh and surrounding.

MRGI: Iran's minorities forgotten victims as government repression intensifies – new briefing

The scale of repression against minority groups in Iran is a central but under-reported factor in the renewed struggle for democracy, says Minority Rights Group International (MRG) in a new briefing.

With a rise in reports of political repression since the disputed elections of June 2009, minorities face widespread violations and severe restrictions on cultural and religious freedoms.
‘Forty per cent of Iran’s population is made up of non-Persian minorities, yet they have almost no say in the country’s future,’ says Mark Lattimer, MRG’s Executive Director. ‘Ethnic and religious minorities face restrictions on a daily basis, but they cannot be completely excluded forever.’
Although exact data is scarce, Iran is home to a large number of minority groups, whose identities cut across various ethnic, linguistic, and religious lines. The briefing, Seeking justice and an end to neglect: Iran's minorities today, says that most minorities are subject to state-sanctioned discrimination, within a wider context of persistent human rights abuses.
Iran's constitution declares the state as Shi’a Muslim and some of those religious minorities who do not share this professed religious identity have suffered widespread abuse, says the briefing. Sunni Muslims, for example, do not have a single mosque in Tehran, where they form a sizeable population.

The persecution of any Iranian minority is most pronounced in the case of the Bahá’ís. This religious minority group does not enjoy the constitutional guarantees that are formally afforded by the state to Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, nor any legal protection under Iran’s Islamic laws. Officially, they are considered heretics who constitute a political opposition and not a religious community.

The informal leadership of the Iranian Bahá’í community, who have been detained since 2008, were sentenced in 2010 to ten years of imprisonment on charges of conspiring against the Islamic Republic, and their lawyers –drawn from Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi’s The Defenders of Human Rights Center – have also been subject to intimidation, imprisonment, and attacks.

All Iranians seeking employment or entering higher education are subjected to screening sessions known as gozinesh, where they are assessed regarding their loyalty and commitment to the Islamic Republic. According to the briefing’s findings, non-Muslims and even Muslims who ‘fail’ these screenings are either excluded or eventually purged not only from the upper echelons of power, but also from more minor positions of influence in society, such as studying at university.

Christian converts also face dangers. In January 2011 the governor-general of Tehran Province, described ‘Evangelical proselytising Christians as a deviate [sic.] and corrupt tendency’ and reported that ‘their leaders had been arrested in the Tehran province and more will be arrested in future.’

Iran’s ethnic and linguistic minorities include Azeris, Baluchis, Arabs and Kurds.
The briefing documents restrictions on the use of the Azeri language, as well as other minority languages. As of the beginning of 2011, up to 20 Kurdish prisoners are believed to be awaiting execution in Iran, including several political prisoners.

Sistan-Baluchistan, home to the mostly Sunni Baluchi people, is reportedly the poorest of Iran’s provinces with Baluchs facing social, economic and political marginalisation. At the end of 2010, 11 Baluch prisoners were executed for alleged membership of the armed group Jondallah.

The briefing says that the events following the 2009 election have initiated a new debate about Iran’s future and human rights, both nationally and internationally.

‘It is time for the Iranian government to recognise the diversity of its population and address the growing support base for human and minority rights in the country,’ says Lattimer.
‘We urge them to allow freedom of association and religion and to free all activists who are currently imprisoned for their peaceful advocacy of minority rights,’ he adds.

Trend: Azerbaijani official: Tehran's interference in Azerbaijan’s internal affairs is sign of disrespect

Azerbaijan, Baku,

The disrespect shown by some forces in Iran toward Azerbaijan is a sign of a disrespectful attitude toward Azerbaijanis on the whole, who constitute half the Iranian population, ruling New Azerbaijan Party Deputy Chairman Ali Ahmadov told journalists today.
"A large community of ethnic Azerbaijanis lives in Iran. All of this determines the character and essence of our relationship. Any disrespect shown by Iran toward Azerbaijan, any attempts to interfere in the country's internal affairs, any insults toward Azerbaijan in the Iranian media, are all manifestations of disrespect, on the one hand, for the Azerbaijani state, as well as the numerous Azerbaijanis living in Iran, on the other hand," Ahmadov said.
According to him, if the Iranian media respect their Azerbaijani citizens, they would not show a similar attitude toward Azerbaijan.

VOA: Report Highlights Minority Rights in Iran





A Britain-based rights group says the rights of minorities in Iran should be a key part of the country’s battle for democracy. Our reporter in London spoke to the head of Minority Rights Group International.

Mark Lattimer says the most systematic political repression in Iran today is targeted at minority groups.

"There are about 40 percent, maybe as much as a half of the Iranian population, who are made up of non-Persian minorities," said Lattimer. "And they are systematically excluded from positions of power in the country, they are denied any effective say in how the regions they inhabit are governed, and also their religious freedoms are very severely curtailed."

Minority Rights Group International published a report Wednesday entitled Seeking justice and an end to neglect: Iran’s minorities today.

The paper says persecution of Iran’s minorities is sanctioned by the state.

Iran’s constitution declares the state as Shia Muslim. Lattimer says those who practice other religions are marginalized. For example, he says, Sunni Muslims do not have a mosque in the capital, Tehran.

He says the Baha’i religious community perhaps suffers the most, but he says all non-Muslims are excluded from powerful political positions and also from spheres of power like universities.

Lattimer says the battle for rights is not easy.

"Any more demand for a bit more cultural freedom, or for religious freedom, is regarded as in some way attacking the security of the Iranian state and that is a really worrying development because it means that ordinary claims for basic human rights are somehow treated as though they are an attack on the Republic, an attack on the state and that means that those who stand up for minority rights in Iran are at increasing risk," he said.

On Monday, demonstrators turned out in a number of places in Iran to mark revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, which have toppled those countries' longtime rulers.

Lattimer says some minorities used the opportunity to voice their discontent about the persecution they face in Iran. He says that was the case in Kermanshah, in northwestern Iran.

"For example, on the day of protest in recognition of the Egyptian revolution, we saw protests in Kermanshah where many young Kurdish people were active both in celebrating what has happened in Egypt but also seeing the implication that it might have for their own rights in Iranian Kurdistan," said Lattimer.

The government responded with force and made several arrests in Kermanshah.

Minority Rights Group International is a non-governmental organization that campaigns for the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.

Monday, 14 February 2011

ai: Iran protest crackdown condemned

14 February 2011

Amnesty International has condemned the Iranian authorities for breaking up an apparently peaceful march held in Tehran in support of Egyptian and Tunisian protests.  Protests were also reportedly held in other cities across Iran, such as Esfahan, Shiraz and Kermanshah.

Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were placed under house arrest by the authorities ahead of the protests on Monday. 

“Iranians have a right to gather to peacefully express their support for the people of Egypt and Tunisia.  While the authorities have a responsibility to maintain public order, this should be no excuse to ban and disperse protests by those who choose to exercise that right,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“This crackdown is the latest in a series of moves by the authorities aimed at blocking the work of activists and stifling dissent.”

The march comes amid a wave of pre-emptive arrests of political and other activists over the past several days.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Jerusalem Post: Holland pulls ambassador from Teheran over hanging

BERLIN – The Netherlands froze diplomatic relations with Iran last month because of the execution of Zahra Bahrami a Dutch-Iranian woman, and on Monday, The Hague recalled its ambassador to Teheran.

“What happened between that moment [two days before the hanging, when Bahrami saw her mother] and the moment of execution we do not know.

We have not found that ou t. We support the family at every level in their effort to obtain the body to either bury her there or get it repatriated,” Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, who is currently in Israel, said last week.

Rosenthal termed the hanging of the 45-year-old Bahrami the “shocking act of a barbaric regime.”

Bahrami traveled to Iran in 2009 and was arrested while participating in demonstrations against the disputed presidential election. Prosecutors initially said she belonged to the militant monarchist group Kingdom Assembly of Iran, and accused her with setting up an anti-regime organization and spreading anti-regime propaganda. They then charged her with drug trafficking, and she was hanged on January 31.

According to the widely read Iranian website Balatarin, Bahrami “was not hanged but rather she was martyred under torture (rape). The regime hastily announced that it had hanged her without notifying her lawyer and her family members and because of the signs of torture, it refuses to hand in her body.”

The US and the EU condemned the execution. Iran has implemented a wave of reportedly extra-judicial executions.

The Islamic Republic has hanged 67 people since the beginning of 2011, according to an AFP survey.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Tuesday that the Netherlands was making “a human rights issue out of an indefensible drug case and applying political pressure” on his country.

“The behavior of these statesmen is turning their countries into a sanctuary for criminals, smugglers and terrorists,” Mehmanparast said.

The Dutch government appears to be the first EU country to recall its top diplomat to Iran due to human rights violations. During the protests against the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, British Embassy workers and a French citizen were arrested and incarcerated, but the French and British governments chose not to recall their ambassadors. The arrest of two German reporters in October did not prompt Berlin to take strong diplomatic action against Teheran.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, along with his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, was the first top EU diplomat last week to congratulate Iran’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, according to the Iranian ISNA news service. Salehi has been designated by the EU as a sanctioned official because of his work on Teheran’s nuclear program. He is barred from travel to the EU.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Berlin wrote The Jerusalem Post by email on Tuesday, “The German government is making strong efforts to bring back the detained German journalists safe and quickly to Germany. In this regard, talks also take place between Foreign Minister Westerwelle and his Iranian counterpart.”

Critics accuse the German foreign minister of a soft posture toward Iran because of the countries’ roughly 4 billion euro annual trade relationship.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of 11 US senators issued a toughly worded letter to Westerwelle last week, urging the German government to immediately close Iran’s main financial conduit in Europe – the Hamburg-based European- Iranian Trade Bank AG (EIH).

The US placed EIH under sanctions because of its involvement in Teheran’s nuclear and missile programs.

“EIH is one of Iran’s few remaining access points to the European financial system,” the letter says. “The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is undeniable and we must make sanctions as strong as possible to deny Iran the economic means to develop those weapons.”

The letter also noted “The bank has and continues to conduct transactions on behalf of entities under US and EU sanctions, including Bank Mellat, a designated supporter of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran... Companies that continue to conduct trade with Iran via EIH also face potential sanctions in the US, including restrictions on exports to the US and access to US capital markets.”

A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry wrote the Post by e-mail, saying “EIH stands under strict control of the German bank authorities. We pursue all indications of relevant proliferation activity. This affects all companies in Germany, including EIH.”

A spokesman for the American Embassy in Berlin told the Post, “No comment. The senators’ letter speaks for itself.”

'Road to freedom' letter to Azerbaijanis in Iran

Sabir Rustamkhanli, MP and co-chair of the World Azerbaijani Congress, has written an impassioned letter to ethnic Azerbaijani Turks living in Iran.

The letter is entitled "The road to freedom passes through the honour of every compatriot (Letter to the South)", the World Azerbaijani Congress press service told APA.
The ethnically-Azerbaijani populated regions of northwestern Iran are often referred to in the Azerbaijan Republic as Southern Azerbaijan or the South

Rustamkhanli's letter looks back at how the Azerbaijani people were divided between two empires after the wars between the Qajar (Iranian) and Russian empires, which ended in the sign of the Gulustan and Turkmanchay treaties in the first half of the 19th century.

"This political division can never separate us; we speak the same dialect, suffer the same hardships, sing the same songs, shed the same tears," said the letter from Rustamkhanli, who is also a poet.
"In the 1820s, with the help of the great powers who wanted to divide the Turkic world, Iran's millennium of Turkic government was overthrown and handed to the Persians. Nevertheless, 35 million Turks live in the country called Iran and nearly 10 million in the Azerbaijan Republic. In the past 1,000 years it is us, the Azerbaijani Turks, who made Iran into a great state, the Seljuk, Atabay, Qaraqoyunlu, Agqoyunlu and Safavid states were ours."

Noting the violation of human rights in Iran, Sabir Rustamkhanli said in the letter that tyranny and injustice would not last until judgment day: "The fate of Iraq, Afghanistan shows that it is ridiculous, and even treacherous, to stand aside and expect happiness and democracy. But despotism, tyranny, illegality, the violation of national and human rights that prevail in Muslim countries, led by emirs, shahs, kings, ayatollahs, presidents and prime ministers, will end one day! We believe that we will liberate our lands from Armenian occupation and establish on our historical territories a United, Free, Developed Azerbaijan!"

The letter condemns close relations between Iran and Armenia and calls on Azerbaijani Turks to oppose them. "A country that describes itself as an Islamic republic has been nursing the Christian, terrorist state of Armenia for 22 years and providing it with assistance."

The two South Caucasus countries fought a bitter war over Armenia's claims on the Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The war ended with a cease-fire in 1994 but no long-term peace deal. Armenian armed forces occupy a swathe of Azerbaijani territory, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The World Azerbaijani Congress held a picket outside the Iranian embassy in Baku on Wednesday to protest at what it sees as Iranian support for Armenia and the country's failure to uphold Muslim solidarity.

RFE/RL: Dervishes' Lawyers Jailed In Iran, Rights Group Cries Foul

Three Iranian lawyers who recently defended Sufi dervishes have been sentenced to jail in a case an international rights group says highlights mounting pressure on human rights lawyers, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Farshid Yadollahi and Amir Eslami were sentenced last week to six months in prison by a penal court on Kish Island in southern Iran. Mostafa Daneshjou was sentenced to seven months in jail by a court in the northern province of Mazandaran.

The three were found guilty of "acting against national security, spreading lies, and agitating public opinion."

The New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights In Iran said on January 26 that the three had been convicted for investigating unlawful actions by Iranian security agencies and despite a lack of "proof of mal-intention in their actions."

Yadollahi told Radio Farda on January 22 that the charges against him and his fellow attorneys are politically motivated. He said it is illegal to convict and sentence them. He said he was also found guilty of forging power of attorney documents.

Additionally, Yadollahi said that "there is no article in Iran's constitution or the Islamic punishment law which says being a Sufi dervish is a crime."

He added that the authorities do not want any lawyers to investigate the many cases against dervishes because they reveal their "unlawfulness." He said that is why "the dervishes' lawyers, more than their clients, are under pressure from security bodies."

The dervishes who were represented by the lawyers were acquitted of the charges against them.

Yadollahi, who is himself a member of the Nematollahi Gonabadi Sufi Muslim community, said Intelligence Ministry officials have also pressed charges against him because of the interviews he gave to Radio Farda.

The Gonabadi dervishes have been complaining of increased state pressure. In recent years Sufis have been sentenced to lashings and imprisoned. Several of their houses of worship have been demolished by authorities.

RFE/RL: Prominent Iranian Human Rights Lawyer Jailed

A prominent Iranian human rights lawyer who represented political activists is reported to have been jailed for 18 months and banned from practicing law for 10 years.

Opposition websites Jaras and Kalemeh reported that Khalil Bahramian was found guilty of "spreading propaganda against the regime" and "insulting the head of the judiciary." 
Bahramian is a member of the Paris-based International Committee against Execution. He has represented a large number of political activists, including Kurdish teacher Farzad Kamangar, who was hanged in Tehran's Evin prison in May 2010 along with four other prisoners.

Bahramian told RFE/RL's Radio Farda at the time that the execution of those five violated the law. He further criticized the judiciary, saying courts act arbitrarily.

Several other Iranian activists have been handed prison terms over the past week. Mahboubeh Karami, a women's rights activist and member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was jailed for three years.

Student activist Shohreh Kazemi was given a three-month suspended sentence for "spreading propaganda against the regime through writing slogans and distributing CDs."

World Christian Today: European Parliament hears plea on behalf of imprisoned Christians in Iran

Christians have taken their concern over the imprisonment of Christians in Iran to the European Union. 

Andrew Johnston, Advocacy Director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and Mansour Borji, pastor of the Iranian Church in London, told the European Parliament’s Iran Delegation on Tuesday that the situation facing the evangelical church in Iran right now is “dire”.

The meeting was chaired by German MEP Barbara Lochbihler, who is closely involved in EU-Iran relations, and has made numerous appeals for clemency for Iranians sentenced to death.

During the meeting, Pastor Borji gave an account of the “appalling” conditions in which 26 Christians are currently being held because of their faith by the Iranian authorities.

They are just some of the 202 Christians known to have been arrested and detained across Iran since last June.

On 4 January, Governor General of Tehran, Morteza Tamadon, declared that the “final blow towards [Christians] is imminent” and denounced evangelical churches as “false, deviant and corrupt sects”.

The crackdown on the church contradicts the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees freedom of religious belief and of which Iran is a signatory.

CSW asked the EU to endorse its latest report on Iran, which calls for an investigation into the Iranian government’s use of the death penalty, and charges of apostasy against converts from Islam.

Mr Johnston said it was “heartening” to know that the rights of religious minorities in Iran were being taken seriously by Mrs Lochbihler and the EU.

“As part of its work in the region, CSW along with partners such as the Iranian Church, will continue to advocate for the rights of Christians and other religious minorities there,” he said.

“We will do all in our power to see the end of unjust arrests and imprisonment on the basis of religious belief, and we will continue to work together with all those who share this goal.”

UNPO: Assyria: European Parliament Discusses Iran Crackdown

Iran’s Christian community is amongst the religious minorities currently bearing the brunt of a new government crackdown that has left dozens in prisons and hundreds fearful of their future within the country

Below is an article published by UNPO:
In the wake of arrests in Iran over the Christmas period of many Christians, the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relation with Iran devoted its meeting on 1 February 2011 to the current situation of religious minorities with in the Islamic Republic.  Chair of the Delegation, Ms. Barbara Lochbihler MEP opened the meeting with reference to information that had been provided by the diplomatic mission of Iran before opening discussion to representatives of Iran’s religious minorities.

Discussing the situation facing followers of Sufism in Iran, Dr. Seyed Mostafa Azmayesh spoke of the Iranian regimes used of forced labour camps and policies that “placed Sufis in the front line” of the regime’s attacks on its own people.  The media was increasingly being used within Iran to spread a message of hate targeting Sufis as agents of foreign powers that sought to undermine Iran.

But a similar situation was also facing Iran’s Baha’i community with Ms. Sarah Vader, Brussels representative of the Baha’i International Community, using a case study of one Baha’i follower to show the political, economic, religious, and educational discrimination faced by the community - a community where there were “so many more cases that could be highlighted.”  The frustrations were made all the more powerful by the fact that Baha’i “love their homeland [and wish to]…contribute to the wellbeing of their nation” Ms. Vader concluded.

Introduced by Mr. Andrew Johnston of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mr. Mansour Borji in representing the Iranian Christian Fellowship spoke of the increasing human rights abuses occurring since 2005 and which in the last six months had taken on a dramatic increase in the arrests, confiscation of property, and harassment of non-Muslims within Iran.  These arrests had taken place across twenty-two cities and typically involved coercing those arrested to recant their faith and to stop attending church services. 

In the arrest sweep churches had been forcefully entered and twenty-four individuals remained in prison without charge after the initial arrests.  In prison, they were often kept in solitary confinement, without legal representation, and with no access to medical attention.

The issue of house churches – which are opposed by Tehran – was a phenomenon that had arisen because Christians were either unable, due to limits on the construction of new churches, or fearful of attending services in existing churches because of state intimidation.

Christians were portrayed by the state in an extremely negatively light it was reported by Mr. Borji.  The governor-general of Tehran going so far as to publicly declare Christians a “false, deviant, and corrupt sect” which could be likened to parasites.  These statements could not be downplayed Mr. Borji believed.  Continuing, he stated Christians faced an “uncertain future” in Iran and parallels to the pogroms that had been seen in past centuries in Europe could not be ignored.  Iran was pursuing a policy of “religious cleansing” in which the regime was failing to uphold the articles of Iran’s constitution. 

It fell to the international community to ensure Tehran was held to account according to its own laws and that an investigation should be launched into the regime’s use of the death penalty.  It was imperative that Iran live up to its international obligations to respect religious freedom as well Mr. Borji concluded.

Ms. Barbara Lochbihler MEP then opened discussion to questions from the floor before the meeting concluded.  The Delegation for Relations with Iran is next scheduled to meet on 14 March 2011 in Brussels, Belgium.

Minorities under Mullahs’ Regime

The Islamic Republic of Iran places the Shiite sect of Islam at the heart of the state apparatus. The Islamisation of all life, based on Khomeini’s own interpretation of Islam, is the central policy of the Islamic ruling elite.

Religious minorities, which include the Sunnite sect of Islam, Christian, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Baha’is, compromised about 10 % of the population after the Iranian revolution, most of them Sunnite Muslims who also suffer from discrimination as national minorities. In addition, increasing numbers of Shiites, especially after the inception of the IRI, are non-believers or convert into other faiths.

In an interview with United International on November 8, 1978, Ayatollah Khomeini said: “In an Islamic Republic, all religious minorities can freely celebrate all of their religious ceremonies and the Islamic government will protect them to the best of its ability.” Later he said again, “The religious minorities, such as the non-Shiite Muslim population, are Iranians and must be respected.” Masses of religious minorities joined the revolution against the Shah’s regime, despite the religious character of its leadership, with the understanding that tolerance would prevail.

Short after the revolution, their schools have been closed and their teachers dismissed–Christian schools were initially closed, then reopened due to pressure, while the harassment of Christians continues. According to the IRI’s Constitution, religious minorities are not allowed to hold high-ranking government jobs. They are rejected from lower level jobs as well, even factory work. They are subjected to Shiite dress codes, holidays, and prohibitions on liquor and music. They are under the jurisdiction of the Islamic tribunals.

The IRI’s Constitution enjoins Muslims to respect the rights of non-Muslims, unless they “conspire against Islam or against the Islamic Republic of Iran.” It is up to the Shiite clergy to decide what constitutes a conspiracy.

The regime has issued decree forbidding non-Muslims from renting the upper story of a house where Muslims live the lower floor. It has forbidden the use of Muslim cadavers for medical research while recommending the use of non-Muslims. It has enacted a new tax structure in which non-Muslims pay dues, called “jazyeh”, an echo of the old laws of tribute which was imposed on people under occupier force of Muslims. Religious minorities are forbidden to enter barber shops, communal baths, grocery stores and other public places.

The Bill of Retribution, a criminal law which mandates stoning, the amputation of limbs and the gouging out of eyes as punishment, regards the lives of religious minorities as worth half those of Muslims.

The 75,000 members of the Jewish community have been suspected of being pro-Zionist. Many Jews have been forced to leave the country and some have been executed.

Zoroastrians, adherents of the ancient Persian faith and representatives of the pre-Islamic culture, are also systematically persecuted. In their capital city of Yazd, at the beginning of the Islamic rule, young girls were kidnapped by Pasdaran, taken to the home of the Ayatollah Soddoughi, gang raped and forcibly converted to Islam. Their families’ complaints went ignored and they were not allowed to visit them. In one case, the announcement was made of a marriage between a girl and a Pasdar.

In November, 1979, the Assembly of Experts declared Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism the only officially recognised minority religions, leaving the Baha’is without constitutional protection.

The Baha’i faith was founded in Iran in the 19th century and believes in the essential oneness of all great religions, honouring all of their Prophets, including the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. After the Sunnite sect of Islam, they are the largest of the religious minorities, numbering a half million at the time. Because of it is believed a deviation of Shiite sect. Baha’i faith is viewed as heretical and particularly threatening by the Shiite clergy.

Baha’i faith actively seeks converts and has attracted a predominantly prosperous and modernised membership. Organised opposition to the Baha’is has existed since before the Islamic regime. The Hojatyyeh sect, to which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad belongs, has started their “holy” war against them under the Shah. At that time, a number of Bah’ais had important commercial holding, such as Pepsi-Cola; they preached non-intervention in politics.

Since the inception of the Islamic regime, the Baha’is’ religious centres and property have been confiscated and their shrines destroyed. Their members in the armed forces have been given choice of converting to Islam or being dismissed. In August, 1980, their entire governing board was kidnapped and disappeared; six months later, their successors were arrested and the pressure continues today, many of them are charged with treason and thus severely punished. Other Baha’is have been fired from their jobs, driven into exile, and arrested for conspiring against Islam.

The oppression of religious minorities, especially the Baha’i faith, is not incidental; it is part of the nature of the IRI and continues today. Since 17 Mar 2009 seven leaders of the faith are in the Mullahs ‘jails.