The following is a press release issued by the Baha’i International Community.
PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Baha’i youths arrested in Iran as the month-long
crackdown total hits 245
For more information, please contact Padideh Sabeti Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs, 07743382905 or [email protected]
London—September 2022 Fourteen Baha’is, including thirteen youths, were arrested in the northern Iranian city of Qaemshahr, Mazandaran province, and detained at the Sari intelligence office. Most of the arrests occurred at a private home where the youth were studying and discussing together the role of education in social progress. No information has been released regarding the charges these young Baha’is may face.
The arrests are the latest in a month-long crackdown against Baha’is across the country by the Iranian government. The figure has reached 245 incidents of persecution over the past 32 days, which includes arrests and imprisonment, the destruction of homes and confiscation of properties, raids on private and business premises, beatings, the denial of medication to detainees and the denial of higher education to more than one hundred young people.
The crackdown provoked widespread condemnation by the United Nations (link is external), several governments, civil society organizations, including Amnesty International (link is external), and across international and Persian media outlets.
“These Baha’i youths have all been denied access to higher education by the Iranian authorities and are now arrested while discussing pertinent social issues in an informal setting”, said Padideh Sabeti, Director of UK Baha’is Office of Public Affairs. “The persecution of these youths and unjust policies to deprive them of education will only boomerang to deprive Iran of much-needed human and intellectual resources.” said Ms Sabeti.
Iran has systematically persecuted the Baha’i community since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. More than 200 Baha’is were killed after the Revolution, and a 1991 policy document signed by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for the progress and development of the Baha’i community to be “blocked”—including by barring young Baha’is from attending Iranian universities. And a 2006 letter from the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, sent to 81 Iranian universities, said that if any students “are identified as Baha’is, they must be expelled from the university”.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both signed by Iran, entitled Baha’is to manifest and practice their beliefs and to pursue education and the essentials of life.
A day earlier, on 30 August, legal appeals by 25 Baha’is to the 37th branch of the Fars province Court of Appeals were denied, and their severe sentences were upheld. The 25 people were first sentenced in June in Shiraz and now face a combined total of almost 80 years in prison.
“Countless individuals worldwide, including actors such as Rain Wilson, Justine Baldoni, and Mark Ruffalo have taken to social media using the #freeBahaiyouth to condemn Iran’s actions against the Baha’is,” said Ms Sabeti. “Iran must realize that its continued persecution of the Baha’is and cruel policies, although causing countless sufferings, will ultimately damage the regime’s own credibility among ordinary Iranians and internationally.”