Persecution of the Bahá’í communities in Iran and Yemen
The persecution of the Bahá’í communities in both Iran and Yemen has increased over the past few months. Reports continue to arrive of shop closures, arbitrary arrests, expulsions from universities, desecration of cemeteries and other forms of persecution.
In their response to the persecution, the Bahá’ís of Iran have refused to succumb to the ideology of victimisation. Instead, they have found reserves of incredible resilience. Rather than yielding to oppression, Bahá’ís have bravely approached the very same officials who seek to persecute them, using legal reasoning based on Iranian law and the country’s constitution. Despite the daily pressures and hardships they face, not to mention efforts by the government to encourage them to flee their homeland, many Bahá'ís have chosen to stay. They believe firmly that it is their responsibility to contribute to the progress and advancement of their homeland, an ideal put into action through small-scale efforts, such as literacy programmes, often undertaken in collaboration with fellow citizens.
One of the roles of the Office of Public Affairs is to contribute to efforts to defend the Bahá’í community from persecution. It does this in conjunction with the Bahá’í International Community representatives in New York and Geneva who represent the worldwide Bahá’í community at the United Nations.
The Office meets with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade several times each year, to ensure the Ministry is fully informed of the situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran and Houthi-controlled Yemen in particular. Meetings are held with officials in the divisions working with the New Zealand embassies in the Middle East and also the New Zealand delegations in New York for the United Nations and in Geneva for the Human Rights Council.
For many years, both the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have passed resolutions at least annually raising concern about human rights issues in Iran. New Zealand always supports these resolutions, sometimes even co-sponsoring them. This activity by the United Nations may not appear to have brought much respite to the Bahá’ís in Iran, but the belief is that the unwavering attention on the persecutions in Iran restrains the Iranian authorities from returning to the severity of persecutions experienced by the Bahá’ís in the early 1980s when more than 200 Bahá’ís were executed.
Source of featured photo: Bahá’í World News Service