An Iranian official has confirmed in a confidential report dated June 2008 the innocence of a group of young Bahá’ís in Shiraz who had been arrested in 2006. Fifty-three Bahá’ís had been convicted in mid-2007, after their arrest 19 May 2006, on spurious charges of “indirect” teaching of the Bahá’í Faith, considered illegal in Iran despite international law upholding freedom of religion.
The report concerning the innocence of the Shiraz Bahá’í youth was just published this week by the Human Rights Activists of Iran on 23 October. The report states that the Bahá’í young people had been involved in activities of a strictly humanitarian nature and were not “illegally” teaching the Bahá’í Faith. Three of the young people, Haleh Rouhi, Raha Sabet and Sasan Taqva, remain in prison serving under harsh conditions.
The report confirms once again the injustice and cruelty of the Iranian regime in its efforts to persecute that country’s largest minority, the Bahá’ís. Those efforts have increased in severity over the past two years.
Seven of the Bahá’í communities leaders remain in prison in Tehran, without legal counsel and in the absence of formal charges since their arrest 14 May 2008. Bahá’ís are denied access to universities throughout Iran. Government sponsored media spread false propaganda against Bahá’ís, and a range of measures designed to undermine the economic security of Bahá’ís continue along with destruction of Bahá’í cemeteries and cases of arson and physical attacks on Bahá’ís in different Iranian cities.
The group of 54 young Bahá’ís, and a number of their Muslim friends, had been engaged since 2004 in a series of projects to promote literacy and moral empowerment among underprivileged youth in and around Shiraz. The report states that all of those interviewed by the government representative, an official named Rustami, indicated that the project was entirely humanitarian. For instance, a retired colonel named Jeddi noted, “The activities of these classes were writing, drawing, and teaching hygiene and moral values, and there was no mention of religious or political matters.”
The report is available on the web site of Human Rights Activists of Iran, which has the original Persian. An English translation is also available. Read the full media release by the Baha’i International Community.