Why Put Innocent Baha'i Leaders On Trial?


Why Put Innocent Baha'i Leaders On Trial?
by Adib Masumian

— Reports that seven imprisoned Baha’is have been accused of espionage and other crimes and that their case will be referred to the Revolutionary Court next week are deeply concerning, potentially marking a new and dangerous stage in Iran’s persecution of Baha’is, said the Baha’i International Community today.

“The accusations are false, and the government knows this,” said Diane Ala’i, the Baha’i International Community representative to the United Nations in Geneva. “The seven Baha’is detained in Tehran should be immediately released.”

Word of a possible trial against imprisoned Baha’is came yesterday in an Iranian ISNA news agency report quoting Tehran’s deputy public prosecutor, Hassan Haddad. According to the report, a case will be sent to the revolutionary courts next week accusing the seven Baha’is of “espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic republic.”

It is presumed that the seven referred to by Mr. Haddad are the group of Baha’i leaders from Tehran who were arrested last year in raids reminiscent of sweeps nearly 30 years ago at the start of the Islamic revolution. Those sweeps led to the execution of dozens of Baha’i leaders at the time.

The seven Baha’i leaders have been held in prison for over eight months and no evidence against them has been brought to light. Further, at no time during their incarceration have the accused been given access to their legal counsel, Mrs. Shirin Ebadi. Mrs. Ebadi has been threatened, intimidated, and vilified in the news media since taking on their case and has not been given access to their case files. In December, the government moved to shut down the offices of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, which was founded by Mrs. Ebadi. “The government must now allow Mrs. Ebadi access to the prisoners and to their files,” said Ms. Ala’i.

All Baha’i elected and appointed institutions were banned by the government in 1983; most of the members of the previous three national governing councils having successively been executed. In the absence of a national governing council (known as a “National Spiritual Assembly”), the ad hoc leadership group, called the “Friends in Iran,” was formed with the full knowledge of the government and since then has served as a coordinating body for the 300,000 Baha’is in that country. The various governments in power in Iran since 1983 have always been aware of this group. In fact, over the years government officials have routinely had dealings with the members of this group, albeit often informally. “To now say that the ‘Friends in Iran’ is an ‘illegal’ group is fallacious,” said Ms. Ala’i.

Systematic campaign

The prosecution of the leaders is just one step in a 30-year-long systematic campaign orchestrated by the government to eliminate the Baha’i community as a viable entity in Iran, the birthplace of the Baha’i Faith. Documentary evidence has been provided by United Nations agencies on this campaign.

The arrest of the Baha’i leadership takes place in the context of a severely and rapidly escalating campaign of attacks against the Baha’i community that has included the creation and circulation of lists of Baha’is with instructions that the activities of the members of the community be secretly monitored (PDF); dawn raids on Baha’i homes and the confiscation of personal property; a dramatic increase over the past two months in the number of Baha’is arrested; daily incitement to hatred of the Baha’is in all forms of government-sponsored mass media; the holding of anti-Baha’i symposia and seminars organized by clerics and followed by orchestrated attacks on Baha’i homes and properties in the cities and towns where such events are held; destruction of Baha’i cemeteries throughout the country and demolition of Baha’i holy places and shrines; acts of arson against Baha’i homes and properties; debarring of Baha’is from access to higher education and, increasingly, vilification of Baha’i children in their classrooms by their teachers; the designation of numerous occupations and businesses from which Baha’is are debarred; refusal to extend bank loans to Baha’is; sealing Baha’i shops; refusing to issue or renew business licenses to Baha’is; harassment of landlords of Baha’i business premises to get them to evict their tenants; and threats against Muslims who associate with Baha’is.

Ms. Ala’i said the nature and timing of the reported accusations against the seven Baha’is and possible trial are ominous.

“The charges of spying for Israel are often used by the Iranian government when it wishes to push forward a false case against Baha’is,” said Ms. Ala’i. “Since the early 1930s, the Baha’i Faith’s antagonists in Iran have insisted that the religion was instead a political sect created by imperialist governments attempting to weaken Islam. Baha’is have successively been accused of being tools of Russian imperialism, British colonialism, American expansionism, and most recently, of Zionism.

“The international headquarters of the Baha’i Faith is based today within the borders of modern-day Israel purely as a result of the banishment of the Faith’s founder, Baha’u’llah, by the Persian and Ottoman empires in the mid-19th century. In 1868, 80 years before the state of Israel was founded, Baha’u’llah was exiled to perpetual imprisonment in the city of Akka.”

“If the Baha’is are accused of spying for Israel, then why do they not hide their identity? Why were hundreds previously executed for refusing to recant their faith and embrace Islam? Why have thousands been deprived of their jobs, pensions, businesses and educational opportunities? Why have holy places, shrines and cemeteries been confiscated and demolished? All of this demonstrates a concerted attempt to destroy a religious community,” Ms. Ala’i said.

Other charges

The other charges are equally false, she said.

“Accusations of ‘insulting religious sanctity’ are more about the Iranian government’s own intolerance of other religions or beliefs than any imaginary disrespectfulness of Baha’is towards Islam. It is well known that Baha’is recognize the divine origin of Islam and accept Muhammad as a true Prophet.

“As for the idea that the seven have been working against the regime, these people have been under constant surveillance and have been interrogated and detained previously.

“The government knows that the seven, following the principles of the Baha’i Faith, have refrained from involvement in any partisan political activity, whether local, national, or international. Like other Baha’is, they reject violence and any involvement in overthrowing governments. The Universal House of Justice, the international governing council of the worldwide Baha’i community, has recently spoken to this issue in a message to the Baha’is in Iran (PDF).

“Because the government knows such accusations are false, we can only conclude that this is yet another step in the escalation of its decades-long crackdown on Iranian Baha’is,” said Ms. Ala’i.

Although news reports did not specify the names of the accused, the seven who were arrested last year are: Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm (See profiles).

All but one of the group were arrested on 14 May 2008 at their homes in Tehran. Mrs. Sabet was arrested on 5 March 2008 while in Mashhad.

Ms. Ala’i also noted that at this time, some 30 other Baha’is are imprisoned in Iran solely on account of their religion. Close to 80 more Baha’is are out on bail, having posted deeds of property and business licenses as collateral for bail. They are awaiting trial on similarly false charges. They are also innocent and should be released, she said.


more from Adib Masumian

Why Put Innocent Baha'i Leaders On Trial?

by Shahin Tavackoli (not verified) on

Why Put Innocent Baha'i Leaders On Trial?

what trial? A "Trial" presumes two sides to a discussion, and investigation of the truth of a claim, or a charge. When has there ever been a "Trial" in the history of the world when a government of terror and tyranny decided to proceed with annihillation of a group of people it considers a threat, be it because of their religious beliefs, their race, their cultural background, or any other factor that differentiates them from the mainstream of the country, or that which the said government believes should be the mainstream of the country? Was there a "trial" in Hitler's Germany when they decided to proceed with killing off Jews or the handicapped (the lesser known/popularized atrocities of the Nazi regime)? Was there a trial in South Africa under the apartheid regime? Was there a "trial" in Turkey when they annihilated the Armenians? ...

There is not going to be a "trial" here. There is going to be a sham theater that resembles a courtroom. There will be accusations, but no time will be allowed for answers. There will be accusations, there will be innuendo, there will be lies and deceitfulness, there will be baseless statements and distortion of truth. But, what we will not find will be investigation of truth and a genuine interest in finding the real reasons why the Baha'is are and have been under persecution not only for the past 30 years, but throughout their history in Iran. And, we will not hear in that theater how the Baha'is in fact will remain loyal to Iran and those who love Iran. And we will not hear in that sham of a trial, how the Iranian Baha'is will never, ever speak a bad word about the country they hold dear and near to their hearts. And no one in that mockery will mention how there has never been a shred of evidence to even suggest that there is any relationship between the Iraninan Baha'is and the government of Israel.

A "trial". I don't think so.

Shahin Tavackoli, MD

Mona 19

Please Speak Up ...

by Mona 19 on

... and break the silence in behalf of the innocent Baha'is...and don't let this injust and notorious goverment of Iran suffocate them to their last breath...History will judge us.






O Supreme Leader; mark these words!

by faryarm on

O Supreme Leader; Mark These Words!


Let History be your eyes to reality.

How supremely blind you are to history and the futility of your crimes against Bahais.



You  are fighting tooth and nail, to stop the onward rise of interest in the Bahai Faith.


You are frightened, because you have tried absolutely everything humanly possible to destroy The most powerful force in the world; the power of Love; something that is essentially a spiritually indestructible force,  


160 years of lies and deceit have been a black veil covering  the true aim and purpose of the Bahai Faith.


You supreme leader and your forefathers, have  have massacred, killed, executed, and hanged Bahais, ONLY to prevent the possibility of one day losing your positions of power,control and authority.


You the supreme leader of INJUSTICE against innocent Bahais know full well of the odds against you, but are too proud, blind and ignorant to see the history of the last 160 years in perspective.


History proves the futility of your self preserving acts of cruelty.

You are so blind that you can not see the Divine Power and guidance sustaining them  giving them the superhuman resolve and steadfast devotion to faith and God to withstand your unspeakable cruelty.


What you are perhaps not aware of  is that,  far more powerful tyrants than the supreme leader in the last 160 years have tried to  as you say "put an end to Bahaism".  

If the words of Baha'u'llah were the words of a fallible man and not a new revelation and guidance  from God for today; His exile and forty years of exile and captivity should have once and for all time "put an end to Bahais", a long time ago and there should today  be not even a  trace of  the name Bahai, in Iran or the world.

But as they say:

O Supreme Leader,  "Kareh Khoda Ra bebin Toro Beh Khoda...!" (equiv : God acts in mysterious ways..)

Not only did the last 160 years of brutal and at times savage persecution and torture as you say NOT "put an end to Bahais" but these as you again call  "handful of Bahais”  have managed to spread to the rest of the world and represent every race, class and religious background as the second most widely distributed religion around the Planet.

O Supreme Leader,


This is what God has in store for you, through the words of Baha'u'llah who , well before you were born foretold of your eventual demise:

"O people of the Koran," Bahá'u'lláh, addressing the combined forces of Sunni and Shi'ih Islám, significantly affirms, "Verily the Prophet Of God, Muhammad, sheddeth tears at the sight of your cruelty. Ye have assuredly followed your evil and corrupt desires, and turned away your face from the light of guidance. Erelong will ye witness the result of your deeds: for the Lord. My God, lieth in wait and is watchful of your behaviour ... O concourse of Muslim divines! By your deeds the exalted station of the people hath been abased, the standard of Islam hath been reversed, and mighty throne hath fallen."

O Supreme Leader,


Be truthful to yourself, Can you?

How popular  are you and  the Islamic regime in Iran (with those not on the payroll) and around the world? 

How loyal has the powerful supreme leader and the rest of the “spiritual leaders” been to the light of Holy Prophet Muhammad’s  “light of guidance”?

Have the actions and deeds of the Shia  elevated Islam or “exalted the station of Islam?


What has the supreme leader and his so called “Islamic” revolution done?

What do the youth of Iran as its future , those seventy percent under the age of thirty 

think of what the Supreme religious leader and what they call “Islam”?

Has not their deeds and cruelty , “ abased, the standard of Islam” ?


O Supreme Leader,

Look at history, Your actions against a defenseless community speaks volumes about your weakness and moral bankruptcy in the eyes of Iranians and the world. 


Mark These words,  apart from Divine retribution, The people of Iran have your days numbered, and have even heard named some trees  for....




The Trial of the Baha'i Leaders: A No-Win Battle for the IRI

by bmasumian on

The news coming out of Iran indicates that, next week, the Islamic Republic government intends to put the seven leaders of the Iranian Bahá’í community on trial. The group that includes two women has been in “temporary” custody for about nine months. The official charges are:

1.       Espionage for the state of Israel: a sentence that could carry the death penalty

2.       Activities against the Islamic regime

3.       Insulting the regime’s authorities

More than likely, the trial will be conducted behind closed doors so neutral observers could not watch the Iranian judicial system make a mockery of justice. Ironically, the cost of taking the Bahá’í leaders through a sham trial will be quite high for the government. Global coverage of the news around the persecution of the Bahá’ís has been on a steady rise in the past few years. In the process, increasing numbers of Iranian groups and media outlets have risen to the defense of Iran’s largest religious minority. The highly publicized open letter of apology recently issued by a group of Iranian professionals that included political activists, poets, musicians, actors, and others was a clear indication of the increasing cost the regime will have to incur if it continues to disregard public opinion and carry on repressive measures against the Bahá’ís.  Even inside Iran, certain members of the clerical establishment as well as Iranian students and university professors have demanded justice for the Bahá’ís in public seminars.

While the likely scenario of a closed-door trial for the Bahá’í leaders has its cost, the alternative will come at a much higher cost: Allowing the internationally known and respected Noble Laureate, Shirin Ebadi publicly grill the Islamic Revolutionary Court and an Islamic judge who has little or no experience in contemporary legal proceedings and, thus, prove no match for Ebadi’s expert defense. 

While all three charges are trumped up, the most serious is the first: that of espionage. According to the Islamic penal codes, spying for a foreign country is considered treason and could carry the death penalty. In fact, a few months ago, an Iranian Jewish merchant was executed in Iran on the same charge. 

Since 1979, numerous Iranian Baha’is, young and old, men and women have been accused of espionage for Israel. Yet, in none of the cases, has the government produced a shred of evidence. They have never bothered to explain to an inquiring world what kind of "spy" was an eighty-five-year-old man like ‘Abdu’l-Vahab Kazemi of Yazd who had never set foot outside his village? Or, what kinds of espionage activities were the 17-year old Mona Mahmood-Nejad and nine other Bahá’í women from Shiraz had committed for which they were eventually hanged, despite international appeals to save their lives? Mona’s real “crime” was teaching ethics to Bahá’í children in Sunday schools. The same preposterous charges of espionage for Israel was also leveled against Bahá'í farmers of the villages of Afús, Chigan, Qal’ih Malik (near Isfahan), and those of the village of Núk in Birjand. The outlandish nature of these accusations is simply remarkable. 

Nonetheless, times have changed. In the 1980s, when these crimes were committed against a defenseless community, there was no internet and no social networking sites. Thus, the infrastructure for grassroots movements was not nearly as robust as it is today. Therefore, while the Islamic Republic could come out of those unjustified killings relatively unscathed, it is now becoming virtually impossible for them to continue the practice and escape a serious international backlash.  Every time a Bahá’í is arrested, the news becomes global within hours. Thousands of concerned citizens from all walks of life in different corners of the earth stand up and demand justice on a variety of forums. Thus, the cost of administering injustice is becoming prohibitive for the government. Regarding the Bahá’í “dilemma,” while the official policy of the Islamic Republic has been to “fight their cultural influence” both inside and outside Iran, in reality, this has proved a losing battle. The clerical establishment began its anti-Bábí, anti-Bahá’í activities over 160 years ago.  One wonders if the most brutal and inhuman killings of a relatively small population of Bábís and Bahá’ís across Persia in the 1800s and early 1900s could not “solve” this “dilemma” where does the optimism to wipe out a now global community of 5-6 million people come from? 

Yet, there is hope that the imminent trial of Bahá’í leaders may prove as thetipping point in this losing battle. The Islamic government of Iran may finally realize that public awareness of the situation of the Bahá’ís both inside and outside Iran is now reaching the boiling point. They should either release these individuals or produce reliable evidence against them. While producing forged documents or fabricated charges against others may be a relatively easy undertaking inside Iran,  the litmus test for the government lies in allowing any potential evidence against Bahá’í leaders be examined by an impartial court of law; something the Islamic government is highly unlikely to concede to. 

Bijan Masumian


Hopefully soon these

by ahmad 22 (not verified) on

Hopefully soon these ignorant and fanatic Clergy and leadres of Government of Iran will have to answer the cruel injustice they have commited against all minorities of our country during the last 30 years. Its the most shameful act of intolerance that our generation has witnessed.
What a shame !!!


تنها جرم رهبران بهایی ایران،"بهایی بودن" است

1Anonymous (not verified)

تنها جرم رهبران بهایی ایران،"بهایی بودن" است

بیش از 9 ماه از بازداشت بی دلیل، غیر منطقی و غیر انسانی رهبران بهایی ایران می گذرد. در طول این مدّت، با تبلیغات برنامه ریزی شده و گسترده ای که صورت پذیرفت، اتّهامات واهی بسیاری به این افراد و همچنین جامعهء بهایی ایران زده شد. دولت وقت و حکومت ایران، دست در دست یکدیگر داده تا با " نسل کشی نرم " به زندگی بزرگترین اقلّیت مذهبی ایران خاتمه بخشند. آنها "انسان کشی" را پیشهء خویش ساخته اند و مظلوم ترین گروه مذهبی موجود در کشور را تحت شدیدترین شکنجه های جانی، روحی و روانی قرار داده اند، که بارزترین این موارد را می توان در نوع برخورد "مکر منشانه" با رهبران بی گناه و بازداشت شدهء بهایی ایران، مشاهده نمود.

در تازه ترین خبر، جناب آقای حدّاد، معاون امنیت دادسرای تهران از صدور قرار مجرميت براي 7 تن از رهبران جامعهء بهاییان ایران و ارسال اين پرونده با صدور كيفرخواست به دادگاه

Adib Masumian

Save the Baha'i Leaders from Possible Execution

by Adib Masumian on

Dear hamvatanan,

 The Islamic Republic's punishment for "spies" is execution.

Please contact your federal Congressional Representatives from both the House of Representatives and the Senate, by telephone or email, or in person at their district offices. Express to them or their staff your deep concern for the Iranian Bahá'í leaders whose lives are in danger. Most of the members of Congress will be in their home districts the week of February 15, as there is aCongressional recess at that time. You may find the following websites useful in identifying your Congressional Representatives: 


and type in your Zip Code + 4


and select your state. Thanks very much for helping save innocent lives.  


Adib Masumian

Bahá'ís as Israeli Spies and Agents of International Zionism

by Adib Masumian on

One of the government-fabricated accusations against the seven Baha'i leaders is that they are Israeli spies. These kinds of trumped up charges have been leveled against the Baha'is for years. However, no evidence has ever been presented to the public, for the obvious reason that none exists. The excerpt below is from the book I'm publishing next month that responds to these kinds of baseless allegations. The book is titled:

Debunking the Myths: Conspiracy Theories on the Genesis and Mission of the Baha'i Faith


Since the early days of the Islámic Revolution, Bahá'ís have been accused of espionage and treason, especially for Israel and Zionism, an international political movement that was formed to support the re-establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. Based on that pretext, many Bahá’ís of different ages and backgrounds have been arrested, kidnapped, tortured, assassinated, or executed.

However, labeling Bahá’ís as spies creates several issues for the accusers. First, they should point to a teaching, guidance, or instruction in the Bahá’í writings that instruct the followers to engage in espionage. Yet, no such materials can be found in Bahá'í scripture. Also, spies are expected to hide their true identities so they could continue to engage in espionage activities. If Bahá’ís were indeed spies, once arrested, they would be expected to deny their religious affiliation so they could continue their mission.

Yet, historical records of the past decades show that arrested Bahá’ís have overwhelmingly declared their religious affiliation, rather than engage in dissimulation (Taqiyyíh), an accepted Shí’ah practice to avert dangerous situations. There are also severe consequences for the individual to accept membership in the Bahá’í Faith. These range from loss of job, pension, property, and access to higher education, to long-term imprisonment, torture, or even death. Yet, arrested Bahá'ís have generally accepted these consequences, rather than deny their Faith.[1]

A common way in which spy claims against Bahá’ís are advanced is by pointing out that the most sacred shrines and holy places of the Bahá'ís are located in today’s Israel and that Iranian Bahá'ís send money to Israel to support their anti-Muslim activities.[2] Bahá'ís counter that there are numerous holy Muslim and Christian sites in the state of Israel, too. Yet, the existence of these sites does not suggest that Muslims and Christians are agents of Israel or international Zionism.

Regarding the location of the Bahá'í sites in Israel, what is overlooked or easily dismissed is the fact that the establishment of Bahá'í shrines in today’s Israel were brought about by the forced exiles of Bahá'u'lláh via edicts from two Muslim rulers. First, in 1853, Bahá'u'lláh was banished from Persia by Násiri’d-Dín Sháh to Baghdád in the Ottoman Empire. Ten years later, Násiri’d-Dín Sháh who was afraid of Bahá'u'lláh’s growing influence near the Persian border, asked Sultan ‘Abdu’l-’Azíz – the Ottoman Emperor – to send Bahá'u'lláh to territories further away from Persia. The Emperor first invited Bahá'u'lláh to Istanbul and then, within four months, exiled him to Adrianople (Edirne) in 1863 and then `Akká (Acre) in 1868. At the time, `Akká was in fact part of the Palestinian region of Syria. Bahá'u'lláh eventually died in `Akká on May 29, 1892.

Following his death, Bahá'u'lláh's son `Abdu’l-Bahá took over the leadership of the religion until his passing in 1921. He was buried in Haifá, in what was then Palestine. Another important figure for Bahá'ís who is buried in current-day Israel is the Báb whose remains were secretly transferred to Palestine and buried in Haifá in 1909. Israel was not formed until 1948, almost 60 years after Bahá'u'lláh's passing, 39 years after the Báb's remains were brought to the region, and 27 years after `Abdu’l-Bahá's death. Thus, the accusation that ties Bahá'ís to the state of Israel based on the location of their shrines disregards the historical circumstances that led to the construction of those holy places in what was then the Palestinian region of Syria.

It is true that Bahá'ís from Iran (and in fact all parts of the world) send contributions to their international headquarters in Haifá, Israel. However, these contributions are not sent to sponsor anti-Muslim activities but rather for the maintenance and upkeep of the Bahá'í shrines and historical sites as well as for attending to the administrative affairs of their global community.[3] Incidentally, while Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious organizations receive regular financial assistance from the state of Israel for the maintenance and upkeep of their holy sites, the Bahá’ís cannot (by principle) and do not accept contributions from any non-Bahá’í entity for their projects or activities. That includes funds from the state of Israel for the upkeep of their holy sites in that country.

Despite this, in 1983, the Islámic government of Iran ordered all the Bahá'í administrative bodies in the country to disband. As Bahá’ís are bound to obey the governments of the lands in which they reside, the Iranian National Spiritual Assembly obliged with the government’s order. However, they also wrote an open letter on the occasion to share the Bahá'í position on the government’s decision and the accusations made against their community. One of the issues addressed in that letter was the often cited accusation of espionage for Israel, which the Iranian government has repeatedly suggested without ever producing any evidence to support the claim:

The honourable Prosecutor has again introduced the baseless and fictitious story that Bahá'ís engage in espionage, but without producing so much as one document in support of the accusation, without presenting proof in any form, and without any explanation as to what is the mission in this country of this extraordinary number of "spies": what sort of information do they obtain and from what sources? Whither do they relay it, and for what purpose? What kind of "spy" is an eighty-five-year-old man from Yazd who has never set foot outside his village? Why do these alleged spies not hide themselves, conceal their religious beliefs and exert every effort to penetrate, by every stratagem, the Government's information centres and offices?

Why has no Bahá'í "spy" been arrested anywhere else in the world? How could students, housewives, innocent young girls, and old men and women, like those blameless Bahá'ís who have recently been delivered to the gallows in Iran, or who have become targets for the darts of prejudice and enmity, be "spies"? How could the Bahá'í farmers of the villages of Afús, Chigan, Qal’ih Malik (near Isfahan), and those of the village of Núk in Birjand, be "spies"? What Secret Intelligence documents have been found in their possession? What espionage equipment has come to hand? What "spying" activities were engaged in by the primary schoolchildren who have been expelled from their schools?[4]


[1] Náder Sa‘eidí, The Accusation that Bahá’ís are Spies, Iranemrooz;

[2] H.E. Chehabi (2008), “Anatomy of Prejudice”, in Brookshaw; Fazel, Seena B., The Baha'is of Iran: Socio-historical studies, New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 190-194.


Eliz Sanasarian (2000), Religious Minorities in Iran, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 119.

[4] Bahá’í International Community Website, An Open Letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iran about the Banning of the Bahá'í Administration, Sept. 3, 1981; //info.bahai.org/article-1-8-3-19.html

Lover of Iran


by Lover of Iran on