Sunday, January 15, 2006

A conference on the Holocaust in Iran: To study or to brainstorm? Analysis on the Iranian Baha’i question

Iran just announced that it would hold a conference on the Holocaust. After the Iranian president called the WWII slaughter of 6 million European Jews a myth and expressed the hope that the Jewish state be wiped off the map, this move does not come as a surprise. Obviously, it reinforces the worries that many have in light of Iran’s recent acquisition of sophisticated weapons from Russia and its pursuit of nuclear technology.

How ironic is it that a regime dominated by the mullahs of Iran would question such historical evidence? Ironic, when we know that they have been extensively practicing all forms of discrimination against their own minorities: Arabs, Kurds, Christians, Jews, Baha’is, and so on, while never publicly recognizing their hatred.

The case of the Baha’is is unfortunately a good illustration of the government-sponsored discrimination that has been taking place in Iran for a long time. Despite many resolutions expressing serious concerns over human rights violations in Iran, nothing has been done.

According to Human Rights Watch, a secret memorandum on "the Baha’i question" from the Iranian Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council, dated February 25, 1991, stated with reference to attendance at universities, "They should be expelled from the universities, either at the time of the admission procedure or during their studies, as soon as it becomes apparent that they are Baha'is." If I were to replace the word Baha’i by Jewish, would that sound familiar?

According to an official site of the Baha’i faith, “The memorandum came to light in the 1993 report by Special Representative Reynaldo Galindo Pohl to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. According to Mr. Galindo Pohl, the document came as "reliable information" just as the annual report on Iran to the Commission on Human Rights was being completed. The memorandum specifically calls for Iran's Bahá'ís to be treated so ‘that their progress and development shall be blocked,’ providing for the first time conclusive evidence that the campaign against the Bahá'ís is centrally directed by the Government. The document indicates, for example, that the Government aims to keep the Bahá'ís illiterate and uneducated, living only at a subsistence level, and fearful at every moment that even the tiniest infraction will bring the threat of imprisonment or worse.” This secret memorandum dealing with the “Baha’i question” is one of the many illustrations of the systematic religious discriminations taking place in Iran not only against its 250,000-member Baha’i community but also against all its other religious minorities with the objective of either eliminating them or converting them.

Shall one suggest to the Iranian president, that in its noble pursuit of historical evidence regarding the Holocaust, he would not forget to include the many religious persecutions that have been taking place in his wonderful country? Obviously, some others may worry that such analysis of the Holocaust would not only be targeted at assessing some historical facts but at brainstorming on the successive resolution of some of its own “Baha’i, Jewish, Arab… questions”….

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