BAHA’IS OF INDIA REJECT ALLEGATIONS OF SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITY IN IRAN

NEW DELHI, 5 August 2008 — The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of India categorically rejects statements by an Iranian prosecutor that seven Bahá’ís detained in Tehran have “confessed” to operating an “illegal” organization with ties to Israel and other countries.

“We deny in the strongest possible terms the suggestion that Bahá’ís in Iran have engaged in any subversive activity,” said Shatrugan Jiwnani, representative of the Bahá’í Community of India. “The Bahá’í community is not involved in political affairs. Their only ‘crime’ is the practice of their religion.”

“The seriousness of the allegations makes us fear for the lives of these seven individuals,” he said.

He was responding to Iranian newspaper reports of statements by Hasan Haddad, deputy prosecutor general for security at the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Mr. Jiwnani said that seven Bahá’ís arrested earlier this year were members of a committee that helped attend to the needs of the 300,000 Bahá’ís in Iran.

“That is no secret – the government knew perfectly well about the existence of this committee long before its members were arrested, just as the government knows perfectly well that these people are not involved in any underhanded activity,” Mr. Jiwnani said.

The detentions are part of a well-documented, decades-long campaign to stamp out the Bahá’í community in Iran, and the latest accusations follow the same pattern as previous unfounded charges. Suggestions of collusion with the state of Israel are categorically false and misleading. The Iranian authorities are playing on the fact that the Bahá’í world administrative center is located in northern Israel.

“The Iranian government completely ignores the well-known historical fact that the Bahá’í Faith was centered in Iran until 1853 when the authorities there banished the Bahá’í prophet-founder, who was forced into exile and eventually imprisoned in Acre on the Mediterranean coast under the Ottoman Turkish regime. That area happens to be in what is now Israel.”

Mr. Jiwnani said many Bahá’ís in Iran — including members of the coordinating committee before their imprisonment — are frequently detained for questioning about their activities. The Bahá’ís, he said, have nothing to hide and try to answer truthfully whenever they are interrogated.

To view the photos and additional features click here:
http://news.bahai.org

For more information contact: Office of Public Information, National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of India

oea@bahaindia.org , opi@bahaindia.org

Mr. Jiwnani: 26470526, 26444029

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