Baha'i and Human Rights
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Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 01:41:58 -0400
From: Juan Cole
Subject: Baha'i executed in Iran

I pass this on with a sick feeling in my gut.

Theocracies are a very, very bad idea.


July 22, 1998


Killing Raises Fears of Intensification of Religious Persecution

Washington, D.C., July 22 - Representatives of the American Baha'i
community announced today that on July 21 Iranian authorities in
Mashhad summarily executed an Iranian Baha'i who had been charged
with converting a Muslim to the Baha'i Faith.

Mr. Ruhollah Rowhani, 52, a medical supplies salesman and father of
four, had been imprisoned in solitary confinement since September
1997. There is no evidence that Mr. Rowhani was accorded any legal
process or access to a lawyer and no sentence had been announced. The
woman whom he was accused of converting to the Baha'i Faith refuted
the accusation stating that she had been raised as a Baha'i. She has
not been arrested.

On the night before the execution Baha'is learned from the Iranian
Intelligence Office that Mr. Rowhani was to be executed the following
day. The statement was not taken seriously because authorities have
often made similar erroneous threats to harass the Baha'is. Mr.
Rowhani's family learned that he had actually been executed when they
were called to pick up the body. From the rope marks on his neck it
appears that Mr. Rowhani was executed by hanging.

Mr. Rowhani is the first Baha'i to be executed since March 1992.
Fifteen Baha'is are currently being held in Iranian prisons on
charges stemming from their adherence to the Baha'i Faith. Four of
these prisoners are on death row on charges of apostasy and of
"Zionist Baha'i activities."

Since the Islamic regime took power more than 200 Baha'is have been
executed on account of their religion. With 300,000 adherents,
Baha'is are Iran's largest religious minority. The Baha'i Faith is
not recognized as a legitimate religion in Iran and Baha'is have no
constitutional rights.

"We had hoped that President Khatami's assertions about freedom,
justice and the rule of law in Iran would apply to the Baha'is of
that country," stated Firuz Kazemzadeh, spokesman for the
130,000-member American Baha'i community. "The execution of Mr.
Rowhani is the first execution of a Baha'i in six years. We fear for
the lives of the four Baha'is on death row and the other Baha'i
prisoners. We urge the international community to protest vigorously
Mr. Rowhani's killing and to seek justice for the beleaguered Iranian
Baha'i community."

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