Iran: Bahai leaders arrested

An Iranian government spokesman confirmed that a group of Bahai religious leaders have been arrested—but said that the charges against them related to security and not religion. The spokesman, Gholam Hossein Elham, said the group had “acted against the country’s interests” and had links with Israelis, according to the state news agency IRNA. Elham did not mention the number of people arrested, but Bahai exile groups abroad say the sect’s entire leadership, consisting of seven senior members, was arrested last month and in March. (NYT, June 5)

The Bahai World News Service reports that the six leaders arrested in May are being held incommunicado, without access to lawyers or relatives. “Although initial reports indicated they were taken to Evin prison, in fact we don’t know where they are, and we are extremely concerned,” said Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations. (BWNS, May 27)

The arrests come as Bahais were preparing to commemorate the 1892 passing of their founder Baha’u’llah. Some 400 Bahai pilgrims gathered at his burial site in Acre, Israel, May 29. (BWNS, May 28)

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