A spokeswoman for the World Baha’i Community said on May 17 that the rights of the Baha’i faithful in the past four years under Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have been “violated more than ever, with hundreds of Baha’i businesses sealed without any warrant.”
“In the last four years, detentions and arrests of Baha’i citizens, closure of their businesses, prevention of their education, and even occasionally their killing were reported, all based on religious hatred,” said Simin Fahendej, speaking to the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
She said currently there are “some 90 Baha’i faithful in Iran’s prisons.”
In recent months, the closing of several businesses of the Baha’i were reported in the Iranian media, triggering a wave of solidarity among members of this Iranian religious minority. In Mazandaran Province, a group of non-Baha’i small business owners appealed to provincial authorities to allow the reopening of Baha’i businesses.
The Rouhani government has issued a declaration of civic rights to protect citizens’ basic rights. But the statement does not refer to the Baha’i community, which is officially condemned as a “party of heresy.”
Seven leaders of the Iranian Baha’i community were arrested nine years ago. Last April, eight Baha’i faithful were detained in Shiraz and Bandar-e Abbas in southern Iran.
Most recently, an Iranian Baha’i woman from the city of Ahwaz in southern Iran used social media to appeal to Rouhani directly.
“Esteemed President Rouhani, I respectfully request unlocking the Baha’i cemetery of Ahwaz and permitting the burial of Baha’i dead,” she wrote.
Iranian authorities frequently lock the gates and occasionally destroy cemeteries known to belong to the Baha’i faith.