The Corner

Religion Freedom Crackdown in Iran

Bad news from Iran, via the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, one of the most careful and politically-neutral human-rights organizations:

(New Haven, May 15, 2008) – Yesterday the government of Iran arrested the entire leadership of the Bahai community in Iran in a series of dawn raids. All those detained were members of the group that coordinates the activities of the Bahá’í community in Iran in the absence of a National Spiritual Assembly. The last National Spiritual Assembly in Iran was disbanded in 1983 in the face of a fierce state-led campaign of repression which claimed many Bahá’í lives.

In the early hours of May 14, officers from the Ministry of Intelligence in Tehran raided the homes of six of the seven members of the group: Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamalu’ddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Na’imi, Mr. Sa’id Riza’i, Mr. Bihruz Tavakkuli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm. All six were taken to the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran which has long been associated with widespread human rights abuses. The seventh member of the group, Mrs. Mahvash Sabit, has been in the custody of the Ministry of Intelligence since March 5, 2008. Mrs. Sabit is the Secretary of the group and had originally been summoned to answer questions apparently relating to the burial of an individual in the Bahá’í cemetery in Mashad.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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