Thursday, March 13, 2008

On Accounts of Attacks Against Baha'i Children in Iran: In Marvdasht,Vilashahr, Najafabad, Shahinshahr, Isfahan, Shiraz, Kerman ...

There are 13 accounts of attacks against Baha'i children in the following report. I have re-posted two of them here. -gw

Summary Report on Attacks Against Bahá’í School Children in Iran
June 2007–January 2008

When seven high school students were expelled from school in Shiraz for refusing to sign
an undertaking not to speak out in defence of the Faith in their classrooms, their parents
accompanied them to school to request a written copy of the order for their expulsion. The
headmaster contacted the Security Office and then turned the matter over to the father of one
of the students, designating him to serve as the spokesperson for all of the parents concerned.
The families were unsuccessful in their efforts to resolve the matter. Later that day, an official
from the Intelligence Ministry came to the home of the parent who had served as spokesperson
in the exchange with the Security Office, searched it for three hours; collected all books,
booklets, and papers related to the Bahá’í community; and arrested the parent. Before
beginning their interrogation at the Intelligence Ministry’s detention centre, they physically
assaulted him. He was questioned three times. In each session, the questions focused mainly
on the teaching activities of the Bahá’ís. On the third occasion, he was requested to state in
front of a film camera, his name and family name, religion, occupation, the teachings of the
Bahá’í Faith, the reason for his child’s expulsion from school, the meaning of teaching the
Bahá’í Faith, and his expectation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He provided detailed
responses on each of these points. With respect to the final point, he expressed his expectation
of the Islamic Republic of Iran as follows: “I, as a Bahá’í, have only one expectation of the
Islamic Republic of Iran, and this, based on the law, as a citizen, to have the right of freedom
of speech about my belief.” He was then interrogated twice by the public prosecutor general
of the Revolutionary Court of Justice, along the same lines as the questioning he had faced by
Intelligence Ministry officials. He was told that he was accused of spreading propaganda on
behalf of anti-regime groups and threatening the security of the country. His daughter was
also summoned by the Revolutionary Court and accused of teaching the Faith in school. Both
were charged by the court and set free but told they would have to appear when summoned.

In the city of Andisheh, a young woman, sixteen years of age, was accosted several times
by individuals, one of whom had picked her up in the guise of a taxi driver and, refusing
to let her off at her school, said to her, “[You are a] Bahá’í child, and you teach. I will kill
you.” This same person also made threatening calls to her home, in one instance stating,
“You will never be able to find me. We will start with you and gradually reach the rest.
We are a group who wants to cleanse the schools.” The family reported the incidents to
the police, who told them to return the following day and ultimately were of no help to
them. Some days later, while at her sister’s shop, another man tried to assault the young
Bahá’í woman with a knife, but she pushed him away and he ran out. Several days after
this, a smartly dressed woman approached her in the schoolyard and, greeting her with
“Alláh-u-Abhá”, asked where the Bahá’ís would be meeting that night. Since the Bahá’í
community would be commemorating a Bahá’í Holy Day that evening, the young woman
directed her to obtain the details from whoever had invited her to the community’s activities.
The woman responded by suggesting that they leave immediately to see the young woman’s
mother, at which point the Bahá’í student returned to her classroom. Several days later, at
the end of the school day the young woman sensed someone was following her as she left
the school. She fainted, and when she regained consciousness, she was in a car with the
same man who had originally driven her to school in the guise of a taxi driver. Two other
men were in the car, one of whom was the one who had tried to attack her in her sister’s
shop. The woman who had spoken to her in the schoolyard was also in the car with them.
When one of the men reached out to grasp her, she tried to defend herself and was slapped
in the face by the woman. They also broke her eyeglasses and pulled her hair. They then
pushed her out of the car and drove away. She was able to reach her parents, and they went
to the police station to report the incident and were told to return the next day. They did so,
and, as a result, one of the senior officers then went to the school and spoke to the principal.
He stayed in the vicinity of the school until the end of the day. During a private conversation
with the principal, the young woman was told, “These people are a group who want to cause
differences between the two religions [i.e., Muslims and Bahá’ís].” The principal assured the
student that these people would not be allowed into the school.

{Photo: Uploaded on May 11, 2006 by Sepulture {regret} on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic}


Barmak Kusha said...

A government that systematically targets and abuses its own children -- minors! -- is truly sick and vile.

Yet what is amazing is reading in the same document the amazing accounts of courage, from Baha'is, Muslims, young and old, in defense of these children... Amazing...

George Wesley Dannells said...

Yes, what really shines through in each of the accounts is how the Baha'is stand up to defend the Faith, even children in their classroom show tremendous courage. It is all so instructive to Baha'is everywhere, how to stand up to oppression and injustice, and using all appropriate systems to do so.