The Baha'is in Iran are being subjected to the most abusive human rights violations. A minority religion in the midst of Islamic fundamentalists, the Baha'is have been murdered, tortured, imprisoned, and deprived of their livelihood based solely on their religion. Regarded as infidels and enemies of the state, the persecution of the Baha'is in Iran amounts to genocide.
The persecution of the Baha'is in Iran is longstanding. It began almost from the point that the Baha'i faith was established in that country in 1844. Repression appears to have occurred in waves. During the first fifty years after the inception of the Baha'i faith, its members were severely persecuted, with more than 20,000 Baha'is murdered (Bordewich 28). The Baha'is were targeted again during the 1950s. The current wave of repression has lasted almost twenty years, with no end in sight: "It is now the official policy of the Government of Iran to repress and discriminate against the Baha'is. It has been properly called 'genocide by attrition'" (U.S. Congress, 1995, p. 6). The modern persecution of the Baha'is differs from the previous periodic violence in that the former is all-ecompassing and systematic.
The modern persecution of the Baha'is began after the Iranian revolution in 1979, when all political groups opposed to the Shah of Iran unified under Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. After the Shah left Iran, Khomeini was designated Faqih and Leader of the Islamic Republic. Iran is a theocratic republic, which bequeaths its Leader, the Faqih, extensive religious and secular powers. Thus religion is closely intertwined with government.
Iran has one of the most homogeneous religious compositions in the world. The overwhelming majority (99 percent) of Iranians are Muslims. More than 90 percent of Iranian Muslims belong to the Shiite branch of Islam, with the remainder belonging to the Sunni branch. (The Baha'is, one of ...