Jornal Al-Monitor publica artigo sobre ataque contra família bahá'í no Irã

Noticias / Jornal Al-Monitor publica artigo sobre ataque contra família bahá'í no Irã

Jornal Al-Monitor publica artigo sobre ataque contra família bahá'í no Irã

Attack on Baha'i family in Iran raises questions of immunity

Azam Moodi is a student living in Tehran. On Feb. 3, she returned to Birjand, her hometown, and miraculously managed to save her parents’ lives from a violent, home intrusion attack 

An unknown masked man carrying a knife climbed the wall of their yard, entered their home and began attacking them with the knife. All three members of household were seriously injured. Despite bleeding heavily, Azam managed to get to a phone and call for an ambulance.

According to the reports, the attacker did not steal anything and appeared only to be trying to murder members of this well-known Baha’i family in Iran.

Ghodratollah Moodi, Azam’s father and former member of the Servants’ Circle (Heyat-al-Khademin), a group that manages the affairs of Birjand's Baha’i residents, was in surgery for hours. He was wounded in the neck, close to an artery, and was put in intensive care. His wife, Touba, was wounded in the abdomen. Azam was injured near her lungs. All three have since been discharged from the hospital.

This unsuccessful attempt to murder three members of the Baha’i faith in northwestern Iran comes five months after the successful assassination of a Baha’i citizen in south of the country. Ataollah Rezvani, a 52-year-old former member of the Servant’s Circle in Bandar Abbas, was shot from behind on Aug. 24, 2013. Rezvani studied mechanical engineering at the University of Science and Technology before being expelled during the Iranian Cultural Revolution.

According to a relative, Rezvani was repeatedly threatened by both intelligence officials and the Friday prayer leader in Bandar Abbas. Rezvani owned a water-pump selling company in Bandar Abbas, and the city's intelligence office repeatedly asked the Municipal Water Authority to sever economic ties with Rezvani and exclude him from any public bids or economic projects.

Rezvani's son, Koorosh, spoke to foreign-based Rooz Online about his father’s murder. “This murder was organized. It was not a random case. To take someone to a deserted road and then shoot him from behind, that needs organization,” Koorosh said. “He was a very devout Baha’i. He never drank alcohol; he never had any financial disputes and did a lot of pro bono work. He was quite popular in Bandar Abbas among both Muslim and Baha’i citizens.”

Regarding the possible reasons behind his father's murder, Koorosh said: “No matter how hard we try, we cannot think of any possible motivation behind his murder, except a religious motivation. All our friends and relatives, whether they are Baha’i or not, agree. It makes sense since he has been under pressure for years.”

A human rights activist in Tehran, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Al-Monitor that the case appears to be a local decision and has less to do with a central government plan, adding that the lack of accountability makes the situation dangerous. “The whole thing is very complicated, and it is quite localized,” he said. “The government is not trying to systematically eliminate Baha’is like it was during the 1980s. In each province, however, powerful and influential people, such as the Friday imams or members of the Basij, who consider Baha’is to be dangerous heretics and anti-Islamic, try to physically harm or even murder the Baha’is. The government, meaning the judiciary or the police, is not supporting them. Government has its own method of limiting the Baha’is.”

Last year, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, published his second report criticizing the Baha'is' conditions in Iran. Soon after, in an interview with IRIB Channel 2, Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary-general of the Iranian Judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights, said, “As far as we are concerned, Baha’ism is not a religion. It is a cult and cults are illegal everywhere in the world. The United States and France have laws against cults. Cultism is a crime. Why is it that they are constantly talking about minorities and ethnic groups? This is a conspiracy; they are using this issue to cover their own terrorist activities.”

However, Larijani himself had said, about a year before his TV interview, “No Iranian citizen has been arrested for being a Baha’i. Baha’is have citizenship rights in Iran just like all the other Iranians. However, again, similar to other Iranian citizens, if a Baha’i commits a crime, he will be held responsible for his actions.”

An Iranian journalist working on social issues told Al-Monitor that Larijani's statements are contradictory, given that cases involving attacks on Baha’is are not pursued. “If the Baha’is have the same rights as all the other Iranian citizens,” she said, “then how is it that the judiciary and the law enforcement forces have yet to say a single word about this murder case and how it is progressing?”

Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community’s representative to the United Nations, told the Baha'i World News Service, "The sad fact is that there have been more than 50 physical assaults on Iranian Baha'is since 2005 — and none of the attackers has been prosecuted or otherwise brought to justice. And at least nine Baha'is have been murdered under suspicious circumstances in the same period, and the murderers have likewise enjoyed impunity."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised during his 2013 election campaign to create a charter to end ethnic, religious and gender-based discriminations. In December, his administration put the first draft of this charter online and invited people to discuss it. However, based on the first draft, it doesn’t appear that Rouhani’s administration is determined to provide more freedom for Baha’is. In a section on religious freedom, the charter states that “religious ceremonies and gatherings are legal for officially recognized religions.” Baha’ism is not an officially recognized religion in Iran.

An activist from the Reformist group, the Islamic Iran Participation Front (Jebheye Mosharekat), told Al-Monitor that he doesn’t see the situation of Baha’is improving under Rouhani. “Naturally, Rouhani, like many of the Reformists, would like to see Baha’is gain recognition and become active members of the society in a democratic Iran,” the activist said. “This is the kind of person I believe he is. However, I don’t think that at the moment he has any particular plan for, or any intention of supporting the Baha’i community. This is a sensitive and ideological issue, and I don’t believe his administration will get involved.”

This past August, Tasnim News published a compilation of fatwas by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran and a Shiite marja, which, in a clear reference to the Baha'is, stated, “Avoid any form of association with this deviant cult.”

The Reformist activist said, “Given Ayatollah Khamenei’s opposition to the Baha’is, it is quite unlikely that they would become one of the officially recognized minorities in Iran like the Christians or the Jews.”

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