sábado, 11 de dezembro de 2004

Carta ao Sr. Presidente Khatami

Ciclicamente tenho colocado aqui posts que referem perseguições aos bahá'ís no Irão. Confesso que, por vezes, eu próprio fico surpreendido com a frequência com que essas notícias são divulgadas na imprensa. A verdade é que estes últimos vinte e cinco anos têm sido muito duros para a comunidade bahá'í do Irão; gostava de acreditar que alguma coisa pode mudar.

No mês passado, essa mesma comunidade enviou ao presidente iraniano, o Hojjatoleslam Siyyid Mohammad Khatami, uma carta apelando para que os bahá'ís tenham naquele país os mesmos direitos que qualquer outro cidadão iraniano. Não se trata de pedir direitos especiais, ou alguns favores; apenas se apela para que a justiça seja igual para todos, independentemente da sua religião.

A carta, reveladora de uma grande coragem por parte dos seus autores, expõe as expectativas criadas com a revolução islâmica, descreve o tipo de perseguições e atropelos sofridos pelos bahá'ís, e assinala como esses actos foram contrários à própria Constituição Iraniana e a várias Convenções Internacionais de que o Irão é signatário. Sempre num estilo respeitoso e cordial, a carta mostra ainda como os actos das autoridades iranianas são contrários ao próprio Islão. Citando o Alcorão, demonstra-se que ninguém tem o direito de atacar e violar as propriedades, a vida e a dignidade daqueles que vivem sob a bandeira do Islão; numa perspectiva islâmica, as pessoas devem ser livres para escolher e seguir a sua própria religião e ninguém tem o direito de impor a sua religião aos outros.

A carta é bastante extensa (quatro páginas) mas não resisto publicá-la aqui. Coloquei a bold os excertos que me parecem mais relevantes. O texto está em inglês (não tive tempo para traduzir para português) e é uma tradução provisória da carta original em persa. Segundo a Radio Free Europe, a carta teria chegado às mãos do presidente no passado dia 2 de Dezembro.



[Translator's notes appear in square brackets [ ].]

1383/8/25 [15 November 2004]

The Esteemed Presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mr. Khatami

For more than 161 years, the Baha'is have been exposed, in the sacred land of Iran--the native soil of their forefathers in whose name they take pride--to a series of abuses, tortures, murders and massacres and have tolerated numerous forms of persecution, tragedy and deprivation, for no other reason than believing in God and following their Faith, the largest religious minority in Iran. Contrary to all religious, legal and moral standards, and supported by existing official documentation, they have been, individually and collectively, the subject of unwarranted discrimination and various injustices. Every time a political and social turmoil has occurred in this country, new machinations have been devised against this religious minority, and, in one way or another, their inalienable rights have been violated.

For instance, at the onset of the Islamic Revolution in 1357 [1979], when the [Iranian] Constitution was drafted and ratified, even though no explicit mention was made of the rights of the Baha'i community, yet considering the fact that that document was defined on the basis of faith in one true God and the Day of Judgement; belief in His sovereignty and His Laws; the necessity of submission to His Will and Divine Justice; lofty human values and moral behaviour; and rejection of every form of injustice and supremacy, it was expected that the era of injustice and prejudice against the Baha'is had come to an end, and the age of fairness and freedom had set in so that they could live under a just government inspired by God's commands. Alas, this did not happen.

Day after day, the pressure against this wronged community became more intense and the scope of the injustice and infringement of their rights in various aspects of their lives more overt, such that their possessions, their homes, their jobs and their very existence were the target of attacks. The homes of the Baha'is in villages and a number of towns were broken into, and they were forced to flee their homes in the dark of the night seeking a secure place in which to hide. Then the official courts of the country, under the guise of "rejected properties", confiscated their possessions and even offered them up for sale. Hundreds of Baha'is were convicted, based on unfounded and absurd allegations, were condemned to execution and had their properties confiscated. Thousands of honest, civil servants were expelled from their work, without any valid reason, and many of them were forced, under the pain of imprisonment, to refund the hard-earned salaries they had been paid over the duration of their service. Workers were expelled from factories and companies without compensation in lieu of notice, medical insurance benefits, or any unemployment compensation. Even the pensions of the elderly, which had been contributed to the pensions and insurance funds over many years of service, were suspended. At times, Baha'i students were expelled from schools, and gifted students were barred from entering special schools or scholastic contests--a situation that continues to this day. Similarly, Baha'i students were prevented from continuing their education in universities and other institutions of higher learning. Baha'i cemeteries were seized and destroyed, and the bodies were moved to unknown locations. Baha'i holy sites, revered by Baha'is throughout the world, were confiscated and some of them destroyed. All forms of injustice, for which ample documentation exists, have thus been inflicted upon the Baha'is.

This trend continued, and the Baha'is, in compliance with their beliefs, appealed, on numerous occasions, to the government under which they live, both orally and in writing, and brought to the attention of the authorities the strategy and actions [against the Baha'is] that were contrary to Islam, the Constitution and to international norms and standards. They emphasized that, despite these pressures and the infringements on their rights, Baha'is would never commit any act contrary to the law of the land; they are well-wishers of the people and the state; they do not involve themselves with any political party; and they tenaciously uphold their Faith's principles, which call on them to love and serve the entire human race and to bring about peace, amity and unity of religion. Alas, no attention has been paid to these appeals, and no step has been taken to uphold the rights of the followers of the Baha'i Faith and to emancipate this community.

When we examine these atrocities in the light of the verses of the Quran and the laws of Islam, we realize that God has established the holy religion of Islam on the foundation of brotherhood and equality, with no regard to colour, creed, ethnicity and the like, and has only deemed virtue and righteousness worthy of consideration. The following noble verse from the Quran bears witness to this truth:
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). [1]

From the perspective of the holy religion of Islam, people are free to choose and follow their own religion, and no one has the right to impose his religion on another. The following noble verses "Let there be no compulsion in religion..."[2] and "To you be your Way, and to me mine"[3] confirm this point. From the perspective of the holy religion of Islam, no one has the right to attack and violate the properties, the life and the dignity of those who live under the banner of this religion, which is to be secure and protected: "...if anyone slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land--it would be as if he slew the whole people..."[4]

Islam is the religion of mercy, peace and concord. The verses "My mercy extendeth to all things"[5] and "We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures"[6] are indicative of God's mercy to all tribes, nations and the entire human race regardless of ethnicity, race, colour, religion and belief.

As we examine these events within the framework of the [Iranian] Constitution, Articles 14, 19, 20, 22 and 23, and paragraphs 8, 9 and 14 of Article 3 portray a picture that that document clearly recognizes equality before the law; freedom of belief and protection of life, property and shelter, freedom and security in employment; social security; the right to seek justice and due process; participation in the management of the general affairs of the nation; and the right to education and the like--regardless of any ethnic, linguistic, or religious affiliation. Moreover, it confirms that these are the rights of all citizens, without discrimination.

The equality, the freedom and the inalienable rights of all members of the human family, without discrimination as to race, gender, language and religion, have been unequivocally specified in all international covenants, especially in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: [specifically in] the introduction and Articles 13, 55 and 76 of the United Nations' charter and Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (to which Iran was a signatory in 1324 [1945/6]).

Articles 2, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which Iran was a signatory in 1354 [1975/76]); the Convention against Discrimination in Education (to which Iran was a signatory in 1346 [1967/8]); and the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, Convention 111, adopted by the International Labour Organization (to which Iran was a signatory in 1363 [1984/85]) all point to the discrimination against the Baha'i community in Iran as being unjustifiable.

For instance, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, which was ratified by the members of the Islamic conference in 1990, the legal foundation of the following rights has been recognized for the entire body of humanity, and non-compliance is considered a grievous religious error: 1) the right to life, 2) the right to human dignity, 3) the right to education, 4) the right to judicious freedom, and 5) the right to equality before the law.

Notwithstanding the Divine Standards and social and legal norms, to which brief reference has been made, certain decisions which have baffled humanity were made at the beginning of the [Islamic] Revolution, under authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under the rubric of Cultural Revolution, the authorities of the [Ministry of] Culture and Education decided to expel Baha'i students, some of whom were completing their last term, from universities and other institutions of higher learning in which they were studying. Others were barred from entering these institutions solely because of their adherence to the Baha'i Faith. Then in 1369 [1990/91], the Council of Cultural Revolution, with reference to a well-planned agenda, openly deprived Baha'i youth from higher education, thereby denying a number of the youth of this land the opportunity to realize their potential. This situation continued for some 20 years until in Adhar of 1382 [December of 2003] "Peykesanjesh" (the publication of the Ministry of Science) officially announced that for the first time the religious affiliation of applicants would not be included in the application for the [university] national examination, and, instead, applicants would be asked to choose the subject of religious studies in which they would wish to be examined. Owing to the limitation cited in Article 13 of the Constitution, Baha'i applicants necessarily chose Islamic studies for this examination.

Having received their entrance identification cards and subsequently taking this national examination, the success of Baha'i youth, based on the government announcement of results in the first phase, was significant in that some 800 students were qualified to choose their fields of study, of whom hundreds ranked in the one to four digit range [a ranking scale extending to 200,000]. After receiving their test result forms, however, the Baha'i applicants were surprised to see that their religion was specified as Islam. This duplicity astounded the Baha'i community.

Alas, the joyful news that the question about the religion of the applicants had been omitted from the national university entrance examination, which was a reflection of freedom of belief and a sign that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran was moving toward establishing the foundation of human rights and eliminating discrimination in education, was quite short-lived.

The Baha'i students whose successful passing of the entrance examination was announced in the first phase refused to select their fields of study and attend university because compliance with [the false information on their religious affiliation] in their test result forms would be tantamount to recanting their Faith. Instead, following the procedure practiced in the Baha'i community, they chose to send letters of protest appealing to relevant authorities. Having received these letters, [authorities from the] Education Measurement and Evaluation Organization (EMEO) telephoned a handful of the students informing them that their appeals had been considered, and the reference to religion had been removed from their test result forms. The authorities asked them to inform other Baha'i students of the action taken, summoning them to the office of the EMEO in order that their test result forms be corrected and their fields of study chosen. Another glimmer of hope was thus kindled in the hearts of the Baha'i youth, who immediately proceeded to meet with the authorities in order to choose their fields of study. Again, with great regret, it was discovered that in the announcement to declare successful candidates, only a small handful of Baha'i applicants had been accepted in the field of English language, an action which seemed to have been taken as a deliberate ploy to appease the international community, whereas ample and indisputable documentation exists that reveals that most of the Baha'i applicants, who had been recognized to have successfully passed the National Entrance Examination, should have been accepted to enter universities
in Iran.

Questions continue to preoccupy the minds of the members of the Baha'i community in Iran and throughout the world as well as free thinkers and advocates of human rights: Does such unfair decision-making, such resorting to strategies whose direction is obvious and whose aim is to create prejudice and to violate the indisputable rights of a community, conform to standards of justice and equity? Should those who seek progress be barred from acquiring knowledge and deprived of actualizing their God-given potentialities because of their religious belief?

By now, a quarter of a century has elapsed in the reign of the Islamic government. To every act of injustice, Baha'is have responded with magnanimity. Faced with widespread and intense persecutions and multi-faceted iniquities, the Baha'is have never deviated, even by a hair's breadth, from the straight divine path, and they continue to hold fast onto the cord of patience and tolerance as dictated by their Faith and belief. They fain would expect that, over such a long period of time, which should have been sufficient to remove suspicions and misunderstandings, the esteemed authorities would have realized that the Baha'is firmly believe in the oneness of God and the divine nature of all religions and prophets, as well as the realm beyond as confirmed in all the divine scriptures; they obey the laws and regulations of their country in accordance with the principles of their religion; they strive to preserve the interests of their homeland by offering cultural, social, economic and developmental assistance; and they would never refuse any service to establish human virtues and perfections which fulfil such universal visions as world peace and the oneness of humanity.

It is now hoped that [that respected authority], based on the Constitution, will take immediate action to ensure the emancipation of the Iranian Baha'i community, reinstating their human rights and restoring the privileges of which they have been deprived.

The Iranian Baha'i community

[1] - Yusuf Ali, Abdullah, "The Holy Qur'an, Text, Translation and Commentary", (Al-Riyadh--Saudi Arabia: Dar El-Liwaa Publishing and Distributing), 49:13, Al-Hujurat [the Inner Apartments], verse 13, page 1407.
[2] - Ibid, 2:256, page 103.
[3] - Ibid, 109:6, page 1800.
[4] - Ibid, 5:35, page 252.
[5] - Ibid, 7:156, page 388.
[6] - Ibid, 21:107, page 846.

Persian version of this Letter

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