Iran must stop prosecuting Baha'is
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Baha'is have been systematically persecuted as a matter of government policy. During the first decade of this persecution, more than two hundred Baha'is were killed or executed.
Hundreds more were tortured or imprisoned, and tens of thousands lost jobs, access to education, and other rights solely because of their religious beliefs.
Since 2005, more than 935 Baha'is have been arrested, and the number of Baha'is in prison rose from fewer than five to more than 100 at one point. It is currently 93. The list of prisoners includes all seven members of a former leadership group serving the Baha'i community of Iran.
In 2010, the seven were wrongly sentenced to 20 years in prison, the longest term then facing any prisoner of conscience in Iran. In late 2015, reports indicated that their sentences had been belatedly reduced from 20 years to 10 years, in line with changes to the Iranian Penal Code introduced in May 2013.
The constant threat of raids, arrests, and detention or imprisonment are among the main features of Iran's persecution of Baha'is today. In all, at least 81 Baha'i were arrested in 2016, up from 56 in 2015, evidence that the persecution is not subsiding.
In January 2017, sixteen Baha'is were arrested.