Baha'i Speak Out to Draw Attention to Persecution

April 2, 2009

Author: Mark E. Rondeau

Source: The Bennington Banner

Local Baha'i are speaking out to draw attention to the plight of seven members of their faith in Iran who have been arrested and are reportedly charged with spying for Israel.

Arrested in Iran

The seven, five men and two women, were serving as ad hoc administrators for the Baha'i faith at the national level in Iran.

This faith has spread widely since its origin in Iran, then known as Persia, in 1844. Within Iran, the Baha'i have faced persecution since the faith's founding, with lulls and periods of intensification. It is the largest minority faith in Iran.

The international community has for decades protested human rights abuses of the Baha'i in Iran.

Harris Snoparsky, of Bennington, said that most of the governments of the world have already condemned the imprisonment of the seven Baha'i, including the United Nations and the U.S. Congress.

In February, the U.S. State Department issued a statement urging the release of the seven. Iranian authorities have detained these Baha'i for more than nine months without access to legal counsel or making public any evidence against them, according to the State Department.

"They've been arrested and they haven't committed any crime that we know of, other than being Baha'i, and that's it," said John McDay, also of Bennington.