A new wave of arrests targeting dozens of members of the Baha’i faith in Iran over the past few weeks has triggered international concern.
Baha’is, the country's largest non-Muslim community, have faced persecution since the 1979 revolution with a fresh intensification of repression over the last year.
The US ambassador at large for international religious freedom, Rashad Hussain, wrote on the social platform X this week that "persecution of Baha’is in Iran must end."
“Religious persecution is unacceptable and the trend of authorities targeting Baha'i women is deeply disturbing. All Iranians should have the opportunity to live and prosper regardless of faith, background, or gender,” he added.
Persecution of Baha'is in Iran must end. Religious persecution is unacceptable and the trend of authorities targeting Baha'i women is deeply disturbing. All Iranians should have the opportunity to live and prosper regardless of faith, background, or gender.— U.S. Ambassador at Large Rashad Hussain (@IRF_Ambassador) November 13, 2023
Representatives of the worldwide Baha'i community said on November 10 that at least 19 Baha’is were detained in raids on their homes by armed security forces last week in the cities of Hamedan, west of Tehran, and Karaj, outside the capital.
The Baha’i International Community (BIC) said in a statement that 10 other Baha’is were arrested last month in the central city of Isfahan, all of them women.
It added that a total of 32 Baha’is have been taken into custody across Iran since last month.
The homes targeted in the raids in Hamedan included those of five women aged between 70 and 90, one of whom suffers from Alzheimer's disease, according to BIC.
It also said that two of the women targeted are widows of husbands who were executed by the Islamic Republic in the immediate aftermath of the revolution.
"The latest arrests and home searches...confirm rising fears that Iran's government has redoubled its crackdown on the persecuted Bahai community in Iran," the statement said.
Canada's Office of Human Rights expressed its concern over "the reports of arrests & violent treatment" of Baha’is in Iran.
“The ongoing systematic violations of freedom of religion or belief & gender equality against citizens must end,” it said on X. “We stand with the Baha’i community in their right to practice their faith freely.”
Canada is concerned with the reports of arrests & violent treatment of Baha’i in Iran. The ongoing systematic violations of freedom of religion or belief & gender equality against citizens must end. We stand with the Baha’i community in their right to practice their faith freely.— Human Rights (@RightsGAC) November 10, 2023
Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called on the Iranian authorities “to honor its international obligations and to respect #HumanRights & #ReligiousFreedom,” stressing that “intolerance should only exist towards intolerance."
FM #Asselborn: "I am very concerned by the latest reports of arrests & raids against members of the #Bahai community in Iran. I call on 🇮🇷 to honor its international obligations and to respect #HumanRights & #ReligiousFreedom.— MFA Luxembourg 🇱🇺 (@MFA_Lu) November 13, 2023
Intolerance should only exist towards intolerance." pic.twitter.com/JJex7CrzYc