An old friend and journalist colleague, former Masterton boy Mike Day, is national media officer for the Australian Baha’i Community. He advises of the following renewal of harassment of Baha’is in Iran:
In the early hours of May 14 six of the seven members of the national coordinating committee of the Baha'i Community in Iran were rounded up. (The seventh was already in jail). We are seriously worried about their safety.
The elected administration (including a nine-member national body) has been banned from functioning for years but the Iranian regime had turned a blind eye to the committee, which has been attending to the basic needs of the 300,000 Baha’is who live throughout Iran (the country's biggest religious minority).
We are not sure where these seven are now and don't know what is being done to them. In the early 80s their predecessors went missing and their bodies have never been found. Eight of their nine replacements were executed. Many Baha’is were executed and a lot more tortured. Refugees came to Australia and other countries initially and later to NZ.
Later, media publicity throughout the world and outrage by governments seemed to stay the hand of the persecutors.
It is straight religious persecution (our Founder came after Muhammad). The Baha’is are told that if they convert to Islam they will be freed and left alone, but Baha’is will not recant. We must tell the truth about our religious belief if asked.
In addition we are obliged to obey the laws of the land and to abstain from political activity. It is hardly likely, then, that Iranian Baha’is would break the laws of their faith and be “spies for Israel”, as is often alleged. (Our HQ has been in the Holy Land – Haifa/Acre – since the mid-19th century).
Government documents exposed by a UN official in the 1990s prove there is a systematic plan to choke and eliminate the functioning of the Baha’i community. Most of the information is on our site www.bahai.org.au
Footnote: The father of one of Mike and Chris Day’s closest friends in NZ was executed in Shiraz, Iran, in the early 1980s for being a Baha’i. The Days’ second son, George Azadi Day, was named after him. (Azadi, meaning freedom, was his surname.)
If anyone feels moved to do so, I suggest they send an email to the Iranian embassy in Wellington – email@example.com – expressing their concern for the missing Iranian Baha'is.