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Iran’s Silent Genocide of the Baha’is

David Langness | Oct 4, 2014

PART 12 IN SERIES Baha'is and Nazis

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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David Langness | Oct 4, 2014

PART 12 IN SERIES Baha'is and Nazis

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

…true religion promotes the civilization and honor, the prosperity and prestige, the learning and advancement of a people once abject, enslaved and ignorant, and how, when it falls into the hands of religious leaders who are foolish and fanatical, it is diverted to the wrong ends, until this greatest of splendors turns into blackest night. - Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 79.

Joseph Goebbels

Joseph Goebbels

In 1938, as we learned earlier in this series of articles, the Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels outlawed the Baha’i Faith.

In 1979, the same thing happened in Iran, and today it continues in an even more secretive and diabolical way.

The persecution suffered by the Baha’i community of Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979--well documented by the United Nations, human rights organizations and the global media—has not only continued, but has now taken on a new, sinister and devious form.

The attack on Baha’i life in post-revolutionary Iran has included illegal appropriation and destruction of Baha’i holy places; confiscation and destruction of Baha’i community buildings; demolition, defacing and razing of Baha’i cemeteries; and the dissolution by government decree of all Baha’i administrative bodies and community activities. These blatant attacks against Baha’i community property and institutions, however, have been dwarfed by the scale and severity of the attacks on the human rights of the Baha’is themselves—including immediate expulsions from universities and schools; denial of education for Baha’i children and youth; mass firings from government and private-sector jobs; the failure of authorities to pursue and punish those committing crimes against Baha’is; and in many cases, imprisonment, torture, show trials, disappearances and executions.

These extreme violations of the human rights of the Baha’is have received public attention all around the world--but the Iranian government has so far managed to largely hide from the public eye their widespread, vicious and destructive economic campaign against the Baha’i community.

Taking a page from the early Nazi persecution of the Jewish community in the 1930’s, this unscrupulous campaign has now grown exponentially, and targets individual Baha’is systematically. By denying Baha’is employment and education, by confiscating Baha’i businesses and bank accounts, by an ongoing propaganda war against the Baha’is in the state-controlled Iranian media, and by a methodical mass encouragement of the fundamentalist Muslim population to shun, attack and even kill Baha’is with impunity, the Iranian government intends to strangle, starve and stamp out the hundreds of thousands of Iranian Baha’is—all done in a silent way that remains obscured and hidden from a watching world.

This new attempt at a surreptitious, hidden genocide will only succeed if the world stops watching.

Because a general description of this campaign to eliminate the Baha’is doesn’t truly reveal the scope of Iran’s silent genocide, we plan, in this series of essays, to tell some of the stories of the innocent Iranian Baha’is in Iran who have suffered terribly as a result of the government’s campaign. The documents utilized to tell these true stories do not come from the Baha’is—instead they originate in official government documents, newspaper accounts and the files of Iran Press Watch, the independent, unaffiliated media agency that surveys the Persian-language press as it pertains to the persecution of the Baha’is.

Let’s start with the economic persecution—and outright theft—the Iranian government has used against the Baha’is from the beginning.

Baha’is voluntarily support and underwrite their Faith’s activities at the national and local levels by Baha’i funds, to which Baha’is, and only Baha’is, can contribute. In a large community like the Iranian Baha’is, the total of all of the individual local funds and the national fund as well as any sums being held in the country for the international Baha’i funds can add up to a substantial amount of money.

In 1979, shortly after the Iranian revolution occurred, the revolutionary government froze and then confiscated all these communal funds. Just as the Nazis did to the Jewish community, its banks and businesses in the 1930’s, the Iranian Government has done to the Baha’is.

In 1979 the Baha’i community of Iran held some 1,000 or more communal properties. These comprised buildings used for meetings and worship, cemeteries, holy places associated with the founders of the Baha’i Faith and a large hospital in Tehran, which treated people of all religions and donated its services to the poor at no cost. For legal purposes, these communal properties were in the name of a holding company called the Trustees Company (Shirkat-i Umana). Within a few months of the revolution, this company was seized by the new government, its offices raided, its documents and property deeds removed and all of its properties, including the hospital and cemeteries, identified, confiscated and placed under the control of the government.

The Baha’i Children’s Savings Company, known in Iran as Shirkat-i Nawnahalan, began as a savings bank for Baha’i children in 1917. As successive generations of Baha’i children grew up, they kept their savings--primarily intended for their future educations--with the company, and local and national Baha’i institutions also placed their deposit funds there. The Iranian government raided and took over the offices of this company in early June of 1979, freezing and then confiscating all of its assets, estimated at $5 million—literally stealing money from children.

Three smaller institutions owned by the Baha’i community, the Vahhaj, Matla and Huqúq companies, served as holding companies for various types of funds and properties. The Islamic Republic formally confiscated the assets of these three organizations, and those of the Trustees Company and the Children’s Savings Company, in verdicts handed down by the Central Islamic Revolutionary Court, Branch 1, on 7 November 1979. Not only a blow to Iran’s Baha’i institutions, this action also stole the savings from an estimated 15,000 individual Baha’is.

The Iranian government’s campaign of economic genocide against Iran’s Baha’is had begun.

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Comments

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  • Will van den Hoonaard
    Jun 28, 2019
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    It is indeed very surprising how many individuals and organizations devoted to human rights are not mentioning these atrocities, let alone make public announcements. These persecutions are like a silent, but painful, dress rehearsal for even worse things to come.
  • Margaret Swift
    Jun 24, 2019
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    Interesting the dates all this was taking place in. It was in early mid 70's that the contract that Iran had with USA and the oil industry. America set up the company to pump the oil and sell it with 80% profits going to USA and 20% to Iran. Iran like Saudi Arabia asked for a new contract. USA said NO if you want more money put your charges up. That was the 70's oil crisis in the west and I guess Iran was left with huge problems and raided everyones bank accounts. I think this must have been ...the effect first US sanctions on Iran to try to bring her to heel. Not fair but I guess it's history. That or give into USA
    Read more...
  • Oct 27, 2014
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    es posible que los musulmanes de las diferentes sectas musulmanas que se estén asesinando unos a los otros en estos momentos, son los descendientes de aquellos que instigaron y asesinaron al BAB y sus seguidores y el encarcelamiento de BAHÁ ´U´LLÁH,,, y lo mismo les sucederán a los que traten de eliminar la fe BAHA´IS,,,MAS BIEN LO QUE HACEN ES PROPAGARLA MAS A NIVEL MUNDIAL
  • Oct 6, 2014
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    They are in my thoughts and prayers every day. I also perform acts in their names! God bless them!
  • Oct 5, 2014
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    "In the darksome night of dispair my eyé turneth expectant and full of hope to the morn of Thy boundless favor, and at the hour of dawn my drooping soul is refreshed and strengthened in remembrance of Thy beauty and perfection." The mujtahids, mullas and that "horde of degraded priests" have all lacerated the throat of the Holy Koran and continue to reaffirm the degeration and demise of Islam, slowly pushng it into the darkness and unremembered shadows of history.
  • Oct 5, 2014
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    Generally speaking from what I understand, the Baha'is of Iran have faced their persecution with fortitude, service to their communities, and have not given into a mentality of passive victimhood. I think that's important to consider. The story of the Baha'is of Iran is one of light shining through darkness, not just about the power of darkness to overwhelm the light.
  • Oct 5, 2014
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    Is it exgageration to say that ISIS cuts heads and the Iranian goverment cuts the hopes and futures of many of their citizens?
    • Oct 6, 2014
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      its not exaggeration, muslim soldiers can come at any time in the night and take you and you don't know if they are alive, dead
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