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Baha’is in Iran told to leave town or face knife attacks after raids on 14 homes

GENEVA, November 11 2013, (BWNS) – Following raids on 14 Baha’i homes
in the Iranian city of Abadeh last month, government agents summoned
the occupants for questioning and urged them to leave town or face
possible deadly attacks from city residents.

“The clear aim of the raids and questioning was to create an
atmosphere of intimidation and fear, so that the Baha’is of Abadeh
would be encouraged to leave the city,” said Diane Ala’i, a
representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United
Nations.

According to Ms. Ala’i, agents from the Shiraz office of the Ministry
of Intelligence, with agents from Abadeh, launched the raids at about
8 am on 13 October 2013. The homes were searched, and Baha’i books,
CDs, computers, and other items, including photographs, were
confiscated.

During questioning, several Baha’is were told that local residents
“don’t like you” and that “when you are on the street, they might
attack you and your children with knives.”

Ms. Ala’i said, however, that not only is there no evidence that the
people of Abadeh themselves are against the Baha’is but that the
experience of the Baha’is says the opposite is true.

“The real story is that the government is the culprit behind such
threats and attacks,” said Ms. Ala’i. “The people of Abadeh have
nothing against Baha’is and many love to associate with them freely.

“In at least 52 cases since 2005 around the country, Iranian Baha’is
have been physically assaulted – and these have almost always come
after the clear instigation of plainclothes agents, the clergy, or the
government-controlled media, which has waged a campaign to incite
hatred against Baha’is,” said Ms. Ala’i.

In the recent raids on Abadeh, she said, at least one resident from
each home was summoned to the local office of the Ministry of
Intelligence for questioning. Among those summoned were several young
people, including two who were visiting relatives.

The agents urged the Baha’is to leave the city. “If you get attacked
by people on the street, we cannot guarantee your safety,” one Baha’i
was told.

“Of special concern is that some of those who were summoned for
interrogation were youth, who were asked about their activities, said
Ms. Ala’i. “Others were asked to sign ‘contracts’ promising not to
communicate with other Baha’is or to hold meetings other than a
customary, monthly meeting for worship.”

Agents also closed down a shop that had been owned by a Baha’i,
sealing its doors with official notice that said: “This shop has been
shut down by warrant of the general and revolutionary prosecutor of
the city.”

“Regrettably,” said Ms. Ala’i, “the situation in Abadeh marks yet
another incident showing that despite promises by Iran’s new
president, Hassan Rouhani, the situation for Baha’is has not improved.
If anything, it has worsened.”

Ms. Ala’i noted, for example, that the government has taken no action
to bring to justice the killers of Ataollah Rezvani, a Baha’i whose
killing in August was religiously motivated. Nor, she said, have any
of the more than 100 Baha’i prisoners been released, despite their
complete innocence.

Abadeh is a small city of about 60,000 people midway between Shiraz
and Isfahan in central Iran. It has a sizable Baha’i population, and
has been the site of other anti-Baha’i activities in recent years.

In the past, for example, a number of Baha’is found anti-Baha’i
graffiti written on the walls and doors of their houses and shops.
Among other things, the graffiti said: “Death to Baha’is-spies of
America and Israel” and “Baha’is are unclean.”

To read the article online, view photographs and access links:
http://news.bahai.org/story/973

For the Baha’i World News Service home page, go to:
http://news.bahai.org/

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