Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bahai International Rep to File Complaint

Maryam Kashani, Rooz Online:
In an interview with Rooz, Ms. Dian Alaie, the representative of the world Bahais at the United Nations pointed out to the negative role of right-wing newspapers in Iran, such as Keyhan, in agitating Iranian Bahais and called on human rights organizations to pay special attention to Iranian Bahais.

Rooz ®: Rumors aside, what is the latest news about Baha'is in Iran?
Dian Alaie (DA): The latest news is the letter that has been received by the special United Nations representative. The letter dated October 29, 2005 demands that all government agencies in Iran such as the ministry of intelligence, the Passdaran Revolutionary Guards, and the police, collect the names of all Baha'is in Iran and control their activities. READ MORE

R: How come this letter that was dispatched last year is being brought up now?
DA: The UN special envoy Ms Osma Jahangir received this letter on March 2006

R: Did anything in-between?
DA: The propaganda machinery of Iran, which includes the Keyhan newspaper, started a campaign against the Baha'is. It has published different stories on faith and the purposes of Bahais, which are entirely inaccurate. Fictitious images of Baha'is are presented in the press, which spark social hatred towards them. Since Baha'is have no means to defend themselves and to these allegations, this propaganda inflicts damage to society. During the past five months, more than 60 Baha'is have been arrested in Iran and they have spent weeks and months in prison. They have been questioned on their faith, even though eventually they were all released on very heavy bails. They have put their houses or business documents on bail and remain till today unaware of their crimes. They have not been tried in any Iranian court and may be summoned to go back to prison any day.

R: Don’t non-Baha'is live under similar conditions?
DA: Yes. But these individuals were questioned on their activities as Baha'is. There is only one Bahai in Iranian prisons, who is spending his three-year sentence. He is accused of distributing an open letter addressed to former President Khatami in 2004 on the situation of Iranian Baha'is. At the time, a few individuals were arrested. One of them was sentenced to one year imprisonment and the other to three. The first one has been released while the other one remain behind bars.

R: How is the situation of Bahai children? Are they allowed to go to school?
DA: They are allowed to go to specific schools. These children are under pressure but they do have education rights. But they are not allowed to attend a university under any circumstances. Baha'is tried to resolve this issue and created an educational system of their own. They asked Bahai university teachers who had been sacked after the 1979 revolution to teach Bahai teachings to their children at home. But a few years ago the teachers were arrested and later released.

R: What are you planning to do now?
DA: We are trying to inform international organizations and foreign governments of our situation. Iranian Baha'is are also complaining about their situation but since nothing has changed, we are informing the world that there are 300,000 citizens in Iran whose rights as Iranians are violated.