Over the past weekend, ...

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Over the past weekend, ...

Postby onepence~2 » Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:32 pm

Religious Freedom Also Taking a Hit in Iran [Michael Rubin]

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/? ... M1MmEyOTA=

Amidst the emboldened opposition in Iran today, and the regime's corresponding attempts to crack down brutally, religious minorities face special peril. In recent years, the regime has singled out Christians, Jews, and Bahai's for special humiliation, and now it does so again.

On January 12, the trial of the seven Bahai's about which I have blogged before will reconvene. The charges include "espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic Republic." The government later added the charge of "spreading corruption on earth," punishable by death.

In recent days, anti-Bahai rhetoric and activities has increased. Over the past weekend, security forces arrested 13 young Baha'i in Tehran, ten of whom remain in prison. The daily Kayhan pretty much serves as the voice of the Supreme Leader, who appoints its editor. On Jan. 5, 2010, the newspaper's headline read, "The So-Called God-Loving Mousavi's Men Turned Out to be Baha'is and Terrorists." So now, it appears, the government with the highest sanction will use religious hatred to justify its own repression of political opposition. The Baha'i International Community has issued a statement, here.

The Obama administration has sent a couple letters to the Supreme Leader. They remain secret, and so we cannot see how obsequious President Obama was. Still, in recent days, the Obama administration seems to have begun to come around on issues of human rights in Iran, although there are surely still those inside the administration and State Department who believe that moral clarity hampers engagement. During the last administration, John Limbert, now deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran, served on a board of advisors for an organization that repeatedly threatened to sue Radio Free Europe, various Iranian television stations in Los Angeles, and Voice of America for airing criticism of Iran.

Still, Iranians — with the exception of some clerical factions and Shi'i populists — have always embraced diversity, at least relative to Iran's neighbors. Iran is a nation that predates Islam, and predates nationalism based on ethnic identity. Let us hope that U.S. officials will not stand aside while the Iranian regime works to unravel this, and that the Obama administration will stand tall for religious freedom.

01/06 04:45 PMShare

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Re: Over the past weekend, ...

Postby onepence~2 » Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:35 pm

Trial of seven Baha'i leaders in Iran looms
5 January 2010


GENEVA — Recent developments in Iran have raised grave concern about the ultimate fate of the seven Baha'i leaders who are scheduled to go on trial next Tuesday.

"The Baha'i community in Iran has all too often been subjected to campaigns of vilification and false charges devised to deflect the attention of a disquieted population onto the Baha'is and away from those in power," said Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community representative to the United Nations in Geneva. "And now, in these days leading to the trial, there are signs that once again the Baha'is are being made scapegoats.

"Rather than accepting responsibility for the turmoil in the country, the Iranian government seeks to lay the blame on others, including foreign powers, international organizations and media outlets, students, women, and terrorists. Now the Baha'is have been added to this long list of alleged culprits," she said.

"Over the past several days, Iranian state-sponsored media have accused the Baha'is of being responsible for the unrest surrounding the holy day of Ashura," said Ms. Ala'i. "This is clearly aimed at rousing public sentiment against the seven Baha'is being held in Evin prison. We are particularly concerned that the government, or ultraconservative elements within it, may use the turmoil in Iran as cover for extreme measures against these wrongly imprisoned individuals.

This concern deepened on Sunday, she said, when authorities rounded up 13 Baha'is from their homes in Tehran, took them to a detention center, and tried to get them to sign a document saying that they would not engage in any future demonstrations.

"Putting two and two together, the situation facing these Baha'i leaders is extremely ominous. We are deeply concerned for their safety.

"We expect their trial to be nothing but a show trial, with a predetermined outcome," she said.

"Should anything happen to any of these seven Baha'is before or after the trial, the Iranian government must be held responsible," said Ms. Ala'i. "We ask that the international community indicate clearly to Iran that it will be watching and that it expects any trial to be public and held in accordance with internationally recognized principles of due process."

The seven are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm. They were arrested in the spring of 2008 and have been held in Evin prison ever since.

Official Iranian news accounts have said the seven are to be accused of "espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic republic." All of the charges are utterly baseless, said Ms. Ala'i.

Trial dates were previously announced for July, August, and October but were postponed each time. In December, lawyers were notified that 12 January had been set as a new date.

Ms. Ala'i noted that persecution of Baha'is in Iran had intensified steadily throughout 2009. Currently, some 48 Baha'is are imprisoned, and many others across the country have been subjected to home searches, confiscation of personal property, and revolving-door arrests. Since last March, some 60 Baha'is have been arrested and imprisoned for periods ranging from overnight to several months.

An anti-Baha'i campaign in the news media campaign has also continued, she said, culminating in the absurd accusations last week that Baha'is were involved in provoking the recent civil unrest on the Ashura holy day on 27 December.

The semiofficial Fars News Agency, for example, reported the next day that Ne'mattollah Bavand, described as an "expert" in political affairs, said "Bahaism under the leadership of Zionism is behind the latest crisis and unrest."

Ms. Ala'i said these statements have raised concern among the Baha'is that there may be a coordinated effort to introduce these false accusations at the upcoming trial.

Among the 13 arrested on 3 January were relatives of two of the imprisoned leaders, including Negar Sabet, daughter of Mahvash Sabet; Leva Khanjani, granddaughter of Jamaloddin Khanjani; and her husband, Babak Mobasher. Others arrested were Jinous Sobhani, former secretary of Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, and her husband Artin Ghazanfari; Mehran Rowhani and Farid Rowhani, who are brothers; Nasim Beiglari; Payam Fanaian; Nikav Hoveydaie and his wife, Mona Misaghi; and Ebrahim Shadmehr and his son, Zavosh Shadmehr.

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