This past June, The Globe and Mail published a web-only comment about the situation of the Baha’is of Iran, written by Maurice Copithorne, a former United Nations special representative on the human-rights situation in Iran. In it he condemns the “resurgence in mistreatment of the country’s Baha’i community”, and notes that “Iran would seem to be one of the handful of countries in which the human-rights situation is now visibly deteriorating.”
He also draws attention to the existence of a confidential letter circulated within the Iranian government calling on officials “to identify persons who adhere to the Baha’i faith and monitor their activities.” The existence of this letter, written in October 2005, was made public in a March 2006 statement by Asma Jahangir, special rapporteur to the United Nations on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
The text of that confidential letter has now been made public. The following article from the Baha’i World News Service explains:
Text of secret Iran letter ordering “monitoring” of Baha’is made public
NEW YORK, 24 August 2006 (BWNS) — The text of a secret letter from Iranian military headquarters instructing commanders of various state intelligence services, police units, and the Revolutionary Guard to “identify” and “monitor” Baha’is has now been obtained and made available to the public.
The letter, dated 29 October 2005 and signed by the Chairman of Command Headquarters of the Iranian Armed Forces, first came to public attention in March when its existence was announced by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights’ Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ms. Asma Jahangir.
Ms. Jahangir, who said the letter’s contents made her “highly concerned,” did not release the text of the letter. However, on 24 July, Amnesty International announced they had obtained it and were making it available.
The full text of the letter in English, as well as a facsimile of the original letter in Persian, can be viewed at these links:
In March, in a statement announcing her discovery of the letter, Ms. Jahangir said, “[S]uch monitoring constitutes an impermissible and unacceptable interference with the rights of members of religious minorities.” She further expressed concern that “the information gained as a result of such monitoring will be used as a basis for increased persecution of, and discrimination against, members of the Baha’i Faith.”
Human rights experts have noted that the list of recipients — which also includes the paramilitary Basij Resistance Forces — gives an especially ominous tone to the letter, since it indicates the continuation of a policy established by the government of Iran that systematically seeks to destroy the Baha’i community as a viable entity.