Tag Archives: human rights

NY Times Article: Iran, the Jews and Germany (& the Baha’is)

ny-times-2009-03-01Dear Friends,
Roger Cohen, one of the most influential columnists at the NY Times, has been writing about Iran in over 7 op-ed pieces lately.
One of his latest articles, “What Iran’s Jews Say,” describes the relative civility of the government towards the Jews, as an effort to lessen the demonization of the Iranian government as portrayed by Western media.  Although the intention is worthy–we all should be striving for unity and consultation among nations–he is seemingly unaware of how bad things are for the Baha’is in Iran.  He mentions the Baha’is in passing, but doesn’t seeminglly equate ill treatment of the Baha’is as the same as of the Jews or other groups.
Please recommend this comment in response to Mr. Cohen’s recent article, “Iran, the Jews, and Germany” by registering at the NYtimes.com and clicking on “Recommend”:
Text of Comment:
“Roger, tucked away in your earlier op-ed, “What Iran’s Jews Say”, is the single sentence: “Among minorities, the Baha’i — seven of whom were arrested recently on charges of spying for Israel — have suffered brutally harsh treatment.” Throughout your series of seven op-eds from Tehran, you failed to tell us anything more about the persecution of the Baha’i in Iran, or, whether you asked to meet with these seven persons.

Concerning the seven, a 22 February 2009 VOA editorial “reflecting the views of the United States Government” (http://www.voanews.com/uspolicy/2009-02-23-voa5.cfm) states:

“More than 9 months have passed since 7 leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran were arrested and sent to prison with no access to legal counsel. Now the Iranian government has announced the 7 have been charged with espionage. The move is the latest in decades of repressive measures against the Baha’is, the largest non-Islamic religious minority group in Iran. Those measures include barring Baha’is from attending public universities or working in public agencies, destroying or closing Baha’i places of worship, bulldozing Baha’i cemeteries, legally confiscating Baha’i property, and killing Baha’is with impunity.”

In your current op-ed, you write: “I was based in Berlin for three years; Germany’s confrontation with the Holocaust inhabited me.” Roger, doesn’t the above remind you of something that occurred in Nazi Germany some 70 years ago?

For your information, tens of thousands of Baha’is have been slaughtered in Iran from the time this religion emerged in the mid-nineteenth century. The most recent murder occurred in July 1998, when Rúhullah Rawhani, a Baha’i businessman and father of four, was executed in Mashad without sentencing and without any semblance of due process.

In “What Iran’s Jews Say”, you stated: “Iranian civility toward Jews tells us more about Iran — its sophistication and culture — than all the inflammatory rhetoric.” I suggest you examine Iranian “civility” toward its gentle Baha’i minority before pronouncing judgment whether Iran is a totalitarian regime. More to the point, go back and try writing an op-ed “What Iran’s Baha’is Say”. I am confident “the consistent warmth” (your description) with which you were received in Iran by this savage theocracy will dissipate with the speed of a uranium enriching centrifuge.”

— JG, Caesarea

Thanks for your kind thoughts and prayers!

Flowers and Candles

In response the situation of the seven falsely imprisoned Baha’is in Iran (read: http://iran.bahai.us), we held a devotional gathering to say prayers for their well-being on Thursday, February 19th at the Western Justice Center.  4o were in attendance.  Program was:

It was a deeply spiritual atmosphere.  I wish you could have been there!

Good people of Pasadena: the Baha’is need your help!

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We’re writing you because seven of our dearly loved Baha’i brothers and sisters in Iran are in grave danger this week, and possibly face execution in a matter of days.   They have been held in prison for over a year with no access to their lawyer, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. 

The US State Department, the UK Foreign Office Minister, Amnesty International and others have roundly condemned the imprisonment and trial of the Baha’is:  http://iran.bahai.us

On February 13th, 2009, a bill was introduced in Congress, H. Res. 175, “Condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Bahá’í minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.”

Why should you care?

The Baha’i Faith is a peaceful religion that seeks to promote the unity of mankind.  Our principles are in alignment with American values:  http://www.bahai.org.    

We may be small in number (about 6MM worldwide), but we are spread out across almost every country in the world and are trying to be of service to humanity.  Baha’is have been  in Pasadena since the early 20th century.

A Familiar Pattern of Religious Persecution

We shun violence and believe that all the world’s major religions are from God.  For that, we suffer.  The Baha’is face repression in Iran and other parts of the world, ominously mirroring an insiduous pattern of behavior not seen since the years leading up to World War II. 

We need your help

You were probably unaware our situation until now, but we need advocates beyond the Baha’i Community: 

  • Please let your friends, neighbors, and coworkers know about our situation
  • Please urge our Congressman Adam Schiff to co-sponsor  H. Res. 175, “Condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Bahá’í minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights”  626-304-2727 http://schiff.house.gov/HoR/CA29/Contact+Information/Contact+Form.htm
  • Please urge our Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to consider introducing in the Senate a resolution similar to H. Res. 175  https://boxer.senate.gov/contact/email/policy.cfm    http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactUS.EmailMe
  • If you’d like to join us in prayer for the seven imprisoned Baha’is ithis Thursday, February 19th @ 7:30pm, please join us.  We’re working on getting the Western Justice Center (55 S. Grand Ave., at the intersection of Green Street and Grand Ave.).  Location confirmePlease stay tuned to this blog for updates.   Location confirmed:  7:30pm Thursday, February 19th, Western Justice Center 55 S. Grand Ave. at the intersection of Green Street and Grand Ave.

This isn’t exactly the way we wished to kick off our blog, but being the optimists we are, maybe this will give us a chance to become closer.

Your friends and neighbors,

The Baha’is of Pasadena, California