Hey, Iran, it's time to get over it and free the Baha'i Seven and to quit persecuting the Baha'i faith in general.
You may wonder just what the Iranian mullahs have against the Baha'i anyway. After all the Baha'i seem pretty non threatening in general, don't they.
Well unlike Jews, Christians, and often, Zoroastrians, as well, the Baha'i are not considered People of the Book by Muslims and thus they aren't in the "protected category." The Baha'i in fact are considered Islamic heretics in Iran. Iran, also says the Baha'i are agents of the "notorious" Zionists. They point to the fact that their faith is today headquartered in Haifa and has pretty good relations with the Israelis, so there. There is also the troublesome fact that the Baha'i have no priests and place "the responsibility for spiritual interpretation entirely in the hands of individuals." Ooops, this doesn't fit in real well with a State run by Mullahs and the like...whose "responsibility" is apparently to tell everyone else how to live and what to believe.
A report released in March by the Baha'i International Community documented hundreds of incidents of torture, assault, arson, vandalism, abuse of schoolchildren, etc. against Baha'i since 2005 in Iran. The Baha'i World News Service writes:
"The entire situation puts the Baha'is in an impossible position because they must ask for justice and protection from the same authorities who are systematically inciting hatred against them and from a judicial system that treats virtually every Baha'i who is arrested as an enemy of the state," said Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community's representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
"This report shows that attacks on Baha'is are engineered by government agents and actively encouraged by the authorities and the Muslim clergy in Iran – and that attackers are well aware that they will go unpunished," added Ms. Ala'i.
"Many of the attacks documented in the report – such as the cases of torture or assault during arrests and imprisonment – are undertaken directly by government agents," said Ms. Ala'i. "Other attacks, such as arson, cemetery desecration, and vandalism, often come in the middle of the night, by unidentified individuals.
"But in all cases, these violators need to be brought to justice, as is required by the international laws to which Iran is a party. The government's unwillingness to prosecute for these crimes, then, is yet another element in their overall campaign of religious persecution against the Baha'i minority," said Ms. Ala'i.
In a press release issued on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the arrest of the seven, the four experts emphasized that the seven are held solely because of their religious beliefs, that their continued imprisonment is unjust and wrongful, and that Iran's treatment of religious minorities violates international law.
"The Iranian government should demonstrate its commitment to freedom of religion by immediately and unconditionally releasing these prisoners of conscience," said Ahmed Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. "These cases are apparently characterized by failures to safeguard fair trial standards and jeopardize overall religious freedom in Iran."
Joining Dr. Shaheed, with each contributing their own short statement to the press release, were El Hadji Malick Sow, head of the UN's Working Group on arbitrary detention; Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; and Rita Izsak, the UN Independent Expert on minority issues.
"These seven Baha'is are imprisoned solely for managing the religious and administrative affairs of their community," said Mr. Malick Sow. "These persons were condemned after trials which did not meet the guarantees for a fair trial established by international law."
Ms. Izsak noted that Baha'is are Iran's largest non-Muslim religious minority. "Their existence and religious identity must be protected under the UN Declaration on Minorities," she said. "Otherwise, their right to profess and practice their own religion freely and without interference or any form of discrimination may be violated."
Dr. Bielefeldt said "Iran must ensure that Baha'is and other unrecognized minority faiths can practice their beliefs without hindrance and fear."
The seven have been sitting behind bars five years now.
Although they have done nothing more than peacefully practice their religion, they were convicted on serious, but baseless, charges including "espionage for Israel," "insulting religious sanctities" and "propaganda against the system." They had also been charged with "ifsad fil arz" or "corruption on earth." All seven had originally been held in Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence, but they were moved to Raja'i Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison in Karaj—used to house violent criminals--in the middle of August 2010. The conditions at Raja'i Shahr Prison are notoriously unsanitary and squalid.
Theological regimes are notorious for their persecution of people of religions and faiths which are not exactly the same as that sanctioned by the State. Iran is no exception to this rule and it is not alone either.
I am not a particularly religious person. However, persecuting people because of their religion does not belong in a modern world, or any world for that matter. Of course, theocracies don't belong either. It is interesting how those though who claim to be the most religious of the religious are the most likely to persecute to the hilt other believers who happen to believe in the "wrong" god...or practice their faith in the "wrong" way.
The following is from (and with a note of irony) The Hindu.
Appeal to Iran to release Bahá’í prisoners