Iran’s “decades-long systematic repression” of the Baha’i community “amounts to the crime against humanity of persecution,” Human Rights Watch said in a new report issued on April 1.

“Iranian authorities have intentionally and severely deprived Baha’is of their fundamental rights. Authorities have denied Baha’is their rights to freedom of religion and political representation. They have arbitrarily arrested and prosecuted members of the Baha’i community due to their faith. Authorities routinely trample on Baha’is’ rights to education, employment, property, and dignified burial,” the New York-based rights monitor said.

Baha’is, Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority, face systematic persecution in Iran, where their faith is not recognized in the constitution.

In recent years, as Iranian authorities have repressed widespread protests demanding political, economic, and social change in the country, the authorities have also targeted Baha’is.

Authorities have raided Baha’i homes, arrested dozens of Baha’i citizens and community leaders, and confiscated property owned by Baha’is, Human Rights Watch noted.

In its report, Human Rights Watch argues that the persecution faced by the Baha’is fell within the scope of the International Criminal Court (ICC) whose statute defines persecution as the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law on national, religious or ethnic grounds.

HRW said that, while the intensity of violations against Bahai’s “has varied over time,” the persecution of the community has remained constant, “impacting virtually every aspect of Bahai’s’ private and public lives.”

It said the Islamic republic holds “extreme animus against adherents of the Baha’i faith” and repression of the minority was enshrined in Iranian law and is official government policy.

“Iranian authorities deprive Bahai’s of their fundamental rights in every aspect of their lives, not due to their actions, but simply for belonging to a faith group,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

“It is critically important to increase international pressure on Iran to end this crime against humanity.”

Source » rferl