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Recently the head of the Human Rights Division of the Judicial Branch of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Javad Ardeshir Larijani, publicly claimed that “No one is in prison for being a Baha’i and if Baha’is do not commit illegal acts their citizenship rights will be protected.”
In the following letter to Mr. Larijani, the seven imprisoned members of the former ad hoc committee of the Baha’i community of Iran–known as the Yaran–have recently challenged that assessment by reiterating some of the acts of oppression and discrimination, security force encounters and human rights violations imposed on this group of innocent citizens as a result of their Faith.
Their open letter asks Iranian government officials to change their view toward citizens and minorities.
As reported by JARAS, here is the text of this letter from members of the Yaran addressed to Mohammad Javad Larijani:
In the Name of God
His Excellency Mr. Mohammad Javad Larijani, Chairman of the Human Rights Division of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic
With Greetings and Respect
Your provocative statements in the news dialogue program which was broadcast to millions from Channel 2 of Sima [Iranian National Television] on 26 Esfand [17 March], have impelled us, the seven formers members of the coordinating group of the Bahá’í Community of Iran, who are currently imprisoned, to respectfully bring to your attention certain points. We do so out of a sense of obligation, without any intention or motive to incite anyone and divorced from any political view or standpoint.
It is indisputably clear that issues concerning Bahá’ís and the wrongs inflicted upon them are not new and that certain media, including above all, the Islamic Republic’s national network, have systematically directed numerous malicious attacks and unfounded allegations against this group of their Iranian brothers and sisters. This has happened continuously, over many years, while not even one individual Bahá’í has been permitted to respond through that same media outlet to these unfair accusations and gross misrepresentations as is our right under our nation’s Constitution.
Your Excellency Mr. Larijani
It is heartwarming that in your statements, your excellency has presented human rights as an important and multi-faceted global issue. Even more significantly, it is a source of joy to note that in an unprecedented initiative you have clearly stated that in the Islamic Republic the government is obligated to preserve the citizenship rights and maintain the security of the Bahá’ís. Welcoming your standpoint, we hereby declare that the Iranian Bahá’ís likewise expect their citizenship rights to be officially recognized and respected.
It is gratifying to see that you regard Bahá’ís as citizens of this country, as this portends improved future collaboration with this wronged community. However, your statement that no one is imprisoned for being a Bahá’í and that if Bahá’ís do not commit illegal acts their citizenship rights are preserved—which implies that any confrontation with Bahá’ís must undoubtedly be attributed to their having broken the law—indicates that you are unaware of the facts of the matter. We therefore wish to pose certain questions to you so that, on the one hand, we may inform you of the facts so as to assist you in discharging the authority vested in you as the Chairman of the Human Rights Division of the Judiciary, and, on the other hand, we may provide evidence for the record and before the awakened conscience of our free-minded compatriots. We do this whilst continuing to observe, with utmost regret, that owing to religious intolerance and bias against freedom of belief, Iranian Bahá’ís continue to suffer appalling violations of their citizenship rights and severe repression by the security forces and the judiciary. Alongside a change in the stance of the regime’s honourable authorities, may we, from this day forward, witness a real transformation in their safeguarding and upholding the rights of the members of the Bahá’í community.