Baha’is in Iran

As Australians, we enjoy the freedom to choose whether to practice a religion or not.

Baha’is in Iran face a very different reality. Since 1979 the Islamic Republic of Iran has waged a widespread, systematic persecution aimed at eradicating the Baha’i religious minority as a viable entity.

Over the past decade there has been a major upsurge in human rights violations. These include:

  • Imprisonments: Since 2005 more than 800 Iranian Baha’is have been arrested or detained due to their faith.
  • Leaders sentenced: After a sham trial in 2008, seven Baha’i leaders were sentenced to 20-year jail terms – the longest for any prisoners of conscience in Iran. Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, has called for their release, as did her predecessor, the Hon Senator Bob Carr.
  • Educators jailed: Baha’i educators have been sentenced to five year jail terms for involvement in a Baha’i educational program for their youth, who are barred from universities due to their religion.
  • Systematic violence and harassment: Since 2005 there have been hundreds of incidents of torture, physical assault, disappearances, unexplained suspicious deaths, arson against homes and businesses, vandalism, cemetery desecration and the abuse of schoolchildren.
  • Economic pressure: Economic pressure on Iran’s Baha’i community is acute. Since 2007, more than 780 incidents of economic persecution have been documented including shop closings, dismissals, the revocation of business licenses, and other efforts to block Baha’is from earning a livelihood.
  • Incitement to hatred: A continuous campaign to incite hatred against Baha’is is carried out in Iran.

The Australia Baha’i Community works to protect the human rights of Baha’is in Iran. We do this by making representations to the Australian Government and by liaising with human rights and other non-government organisations. We also inform the media about violations of the human rights of the Baha’is in Iran, and we facilitate media contact with Australian relatives of Baha’i prisoners, Baha’is who have first hand experience of the persecution, and official media spokespeople.

The Australian Government has consistently supported UN resolutions condemning the persecution, most recently in December 2016. Australia raises the issue regularly at the UN Human Rights Council, most recently in March 2017. A bipartisan motion condemning the persecution was addressed in the House of Representatives on 16 March 2015, following similar motions dating back as far as 1981. Individual MPs have spoken out in the Federal and State parliaments.

The Baha’is of Iran, who form their country’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, pose no threat to the government. As loyal citizens they seek to contribute to the progress of their country and of humanity, just as Baha’is do in Australia. Baha’is are not aligned with any government, ideology or opposition movement. The principles of the Baha’i Faith require them to avoid partisan political involvement, subversive activity and all forms of violence, and to obey the laws of the land.

For more information please contact us.