Iranian Report Confirms Innocence of Shiraz Baha'is

October 24, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Bahá’í World News Service

An Iranian inspector who examined the 2006 arrests of a group of young Baha’is in Shiraz, Iran, filed a confidential report dated June 2008 confirming what Baha’is have said all along: that their activities were strictly humanitarian in nature and did not involve the “illegal” teaching of the Baha’i Faith.

The report – signed by Vali Rustami, inspector and legal advisor of the Office of the Representative of the Supreme Leader for the province of Fars – was published by the Human Rights Activists of Iran on 23 October. The report was addressed to the representative of the Supreme Leader in the province and states that it was done at his request.

Three of the 54 Baha’is who were arrested were later sentenced to four-year prison terms and are still incarcerated in Shiraz.

The report states that not only was there no mention of religion in their activities, but that youths who attended the classes told him they wanted to continue. “They stated ‘We ... truthfully learned a lot from this group and would like them to come back to us again,’” the investigator said in his report.

A Baha’i spokeswoman said the report underscores the injustice perpetrated against the Baha’is.

“It is a manifest injustice that the young Baha’is of Shiraz continue to remain in prison when even an internal investigation has essentially proved their innocence, even under the twisted terms that define criminality in Iran,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations. “The government’s lies are indefensible,” she added.

The arrests in May 2006 garnered international news media attention and prompted expressions of concern by many governments.