By Reza Fani-Yazdi
Translated by Riaz Masrour
A little over a year and a half has elapsed since the arrest and imprisonment of the 7- member group of ad hoc leaders of Iran’s Baha’i community known as the Yaran. This group has had, from 1984 until the arrest of its membership in April of 2008, the responsibility of attending to the affairs of the Iranian Baha’i community. In this period, all the group’s activities have been with the full prior knowledge, agreement and approval of the authorities of the Islamic government of Iran.
Tomorrow, January 12, 2010, the court assigned to investigate the allegations brought against this group shall convene. At no time during these eighteen months of imprisonment, any specific allegations based on properly documented testimony and legally plausible evidence against this group has been presented. What is more, is that the entire list of the accusations brought against the Yaran are based on blatant lies, organized and deliberately manufactured gossip and accusations which, without the least shred of evidence, have been brought against the entire body of the Iranian Baha’i community in the recent decades.
The members of the Iranian Baha’i community are allegedly spies of the state of Israel, since the international spiritual and administrative Baha’i Center is located on the slopes of Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. It should be mentioned that this location was selected by Baha’u’llah in 1890 some 60 years prior to the establishment of the state of Israel and if today in place of Israel the Ottoman government had been in possession of that land, clearly the Baha’is would have had to suffer the accusation of spying for the current government of Turkey. This allegation is so baseless and even somewhat comical that the government of Egypt has recently dismissed it against the international Baha’i community.
It seems as though the Israeli government has had so much difficulty in enlisting or hiring mercenaries of Islamic background or those of any other religious tradition that given the current atmosphere of suspicion, cynicism and apprehension in Iran, they have decided to employ, for their global spy network, the most recognized and well known leaders of the Iranian Baha’i community!
This determined and insistent assertion of the “spy” allegation against the Baha’i community and its leaders raises the suspicion that possibly some of the actual spies in the service of Israel, who are currently decision making members of the Islamic regime, may be the true culprits behind this stratagem through whose conspiracy have initiated and directed this evil plot in an attempt to divert attention from themselves and use the Baha’i community as a shield to conceal their own treasonous activities.
It is interesting to note that the regime’s professional and prominent spy-catchers such as Husayn Shariatmadari and Ruhu’llah Husaynian have as recently been the target of allegations by their long time friend and colleague ‘Abdullah Shahbazi, himself an expert in unveiling spy rings and intelligence networks, as long-time spies attached to underground Jewish and Baha’i spy rings in cahoots with the Israeli intelligent network.
The pernicious spread of the “spy” allegation in Iran after the triumph of the Islamic revolution is one of the most bizarre and ludicrous accusations which have appeared in the media, and used in courts of law and various indictments to imprison, torture and execute innocent Iranian citizens.
From the morrow of the revolution, any opposition to the regime was stifled and made to appear as a spy conspiracy for either the West or the East. Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi was accused of spying as he held a U.S. green card. Mr. Amir-Entizam who had attended the Algerian conference at the behest and full approval of the government, was accused of spying, arrested, and imprisoned for some decades. Ayatollah Shariatmadari was forced to confess to spying. Then it was the turn of the political parties who were found guilty of spying for East or West and whose members were sent to the gallows on such trumped up charges.
These days the most distinguished leaders of the Islamic Republic have been reviled as foreign spies. The most popular president of the Islamic Republic, former president Mr. Khatami, who had been the recipient of millions of votes of approval from Iranian people was the target of such attacks by the editors of Keyhan daily newspaper, and accused of collaboration with American and Western intelligent services against the interests of his own country. As such the editors made themselves appear as investigative reporters who had broken a major spy story by uncovering a number of meetings which took place between Khatami and certain supposedly suspicious individuals!
Shirin Ebadi, the well known and distinguished Iranian attorney and a spokesman for human rights and the only Nobel Prize winner from our country, has not been left disabused by such prevalent allegations.
Many of the members of Mr. Musavi’s cabinet during the lifetime of Ayatollah Khomeini and a number of the Majlis representatives and well known and distinguished newspaper editors are currently in prison and keep company with the leaders of the Baha’i community, all of whom are accused of spying and collaborating with the intelligence services of the U.S., Britain and/or Israel.
Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, the closest companion of Ayatollah Khumani in his lifetime, his representative to the armed forces during the Iraq war, previous head of the Islamic consultative house of representative and for two terms, the president of the Islamic Republic and the current head of the Council of Experts and the Council of Policymakers for the Islamic regime, has been formally charged with spying by the Keyhan newspaper, an organ of the government. Mr. Ahmadinejad in one of his interviews prior to his election openly accused Hashemi Rafsanjani of exchanging security information with a number of Arab heads of states in violation of security policies of his own government.
Today, the Green Movement and its supporters outside if Iran, in one way or another, is considered spies collaborating with foreign powers. One should weep for a regime whose most popular leaders, it’s most brilliant professionals and many of its youths have become employees of foreign intelligence services of East and West and are actively busy working against their own interest and the interests of their country!
The allegation of spying against the followers and leaders of the Baha’i Faith is just as absurd as the similar accusations against Mr. khatami, Mrs. Shirin Ebadi or the insuppressible Green Wave within Iran!
The selection of court date for the Yaran, under these conditions, is worrisome since a new wave of arrests of the Baha’is has started and each day new allegations are levied against them. The group of Yaran was arrested some 18 months ago and yet it seems the authorities have just now realized that they must have had a role in the explosion of the Shiraz Husaynieh or that they were the actual instigators of the recent rioting especially of the demonstrations in the aftermath of the elections and the day of Ashura. Moreover, the Baha’is have been accused of storing assault weapons in their homes, all of which gives rise to serious concern regarding the unjust prosecution of this group and verdicts that such a biased and partisan court may issue.
The Iranian Baha’i community from its inception until now, neither in the years prior to the revolution nor after it has committed any hostile act or been involved in any such activities against any group or government authority. The allegation of keeping and storing assault weapons is a lie and a hoax for misleading the public opinion and its aim is nothing but the suppression and strangulation of the Baha’i community of Iran.
It is an old adage that government suppression typically begins with groups which due to historical, religious, cultural, political and social reasons evokes the least measure of public sympathy and compassion.
As witnesses to our own contemporary history, this suppression expands daily to other social groups and its destructive effects spread quickly over the fortunes of the entire society.
The court in charge of prosecution of the Baha’is, in such critical days as these, may be expected to issue harsh judgments which could be considered as the initial stage of a new wave of violence and suppression against the Baha’i citizenry of Iran.
After the revolution, Baha’is were among the first to experience such violence and cruelty and be sent to the gallows based on imaginary and untrue accusation of spying. These executions generated almost no reaction even in the liberal classes. Prior to the selection of the Yaran, the leadership of the Baha’i community was held by the elected members of the National Spiritual Assembly. This nine-member body was arrested in the summer of 1980 by the Pasdaran military squad (Guardians of the revolution) and subsequently disappeared. The Baha’i community believes that the entire group was executed.
Shortly after that in December of 1981 the second National Spiritual Assembly was arrested and a few weeks later, eight of the nine members of this body were executed without the due process of law. The government initially denied the killings but ultimately Ayatollah Ardabili the head of the Dept. of Justice announced that the eight members were executed for their spying activities against the government of the Islamic republic.
In August of 1863 the public prosecutor Siyyid Husayn Musavi Tabrizi suspended all Baha’i public functions as well as Baha’i administrative organizations and banned their further assemblage and all collective worship activities. He claimed that Baha’is were engaged in spying activities and because of this all their functions were banned.
After this event, seven members of the third National Assembly were arrested and promptly executed.
In the absence of a governing body i.e. National Spiritual Assembly, a temporary seven-member body known as the Yaran was established with the full knowledge and approval of government authorities so that they may attend to the affairs of the three hundred thousand Baha’i community in Iran. The Yaran who are currently in prison and are to appear before the court tomorrow are Fariba KamalAbadi,Jamal-i-ddin Khanjani, Afeef Naimi, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Vahid Tizfahm and Mahvash Sabet. They are all Iranian citizens and our fellow countrymen, and the defense of their rights is in fact a defense of the rights of the entire Iranian nation.
It should not be allowed that the execution of this group of innocent Baha’is, like in the first decade of the revolution, open the door to another black period of violence and suppression.
The original Persian version of this essay may be found at: //www.iran-emrooz.net/index.php?/politic/more/20608/
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