Posted in the Iran Forum
#1 Nov 18, 2012
Levon Chorbajian notes in the introduction to Studies in Comparative Genocide by Adam Jones1 that "our current state of theorizing about genocide is the product of a recent, incomplete and evolving process as well as a contested one." Chorbajian points out that the "systematic study of genocide is only 25 years old. The relative newness of this field of inquiry lends the subject of comparative genocide studies much of its urgency and vigour. It also accounts, as Chorbajian suggests, for continuing debates over core definitions and applications.-Ron Price with thanks to 1Adam Jones, Studies in Comparative Genocide, edited by Levon Chorbajian and George Shirinian, Macmillan, 1999.
The book has its origins in a conference on genocide held in Yerevan, the capital of the Republic of Armenia, in 1995. The conference brought together many of the most prominent names in this young field, including Yehuda Bauer, Vahakn Dadrian, Helen Fein, Henry Huttenbach, the Cambodia specialist Ben Kiernan, and Ervin Staub, author of The Roots of Evil. The published papers from the conference, though predictably uneven, represent an exceptional contribution to the theorizing of genocide, and the continuing search for markers and "early warning" signs that might allow outside forces to intervene more intelligently and directly in cases of genocide and other mass atrocities.
The book was published the year I took a sea-change and retired early after a 50 year student-working life: 1949-1999. I have taken an interest in the subject of genocide due to my association with the Baha’i Faith for nearly 60 years. The literature on genocide in relation to the Bahá'í community of Iran is now extensive and can there is now an extensive documentation that can easily be accessed in cyberspace. Baha’is have been officially persecuted with some 200 of whom have been executed and the rest forced to convert or subjected to the most horrendous disabilities since the revolution in Iran in 1979. Systematic targeting of the leadership of the Bahá'í community by killing or disappearance was focused on the Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly and Local Spiritual Assemblies across Iran in the last 30+ years. Like most conservative Muslims, Khomeini believed Bahá'ís to be apostates and issued a fatwa stating:
It is not acceptable for a non-Muslim to change his religion to another religion not recognized by the followers of the previous religion. Jews who become Baha’is have a choice to accept Islam or be executed.
Khomeini emphasized that the Bahá'ís would not receive any religious rights, since he believed that the Bahá'ís were a political rather than religious movement. Allegations of Bahá'í involvement with other political powers have long been repeated in many venues with resulting denunciations from the president. Conversion from Judaism and Zoroastrianism to the Baha’i Faith is well documented since the 1850s; such a change of status removed any legal and social protections.
#2 Nov 18, 2012
More recently, documentation has been provided that shows governmental intent to destroy the Bahá'í community. The government has intensified propaganda and hate speech against Bahá'ís through the Iranian media; Bahá'ís are often attacked and dehumanized on political, religious, and social grounds to separate Bahá'ís from the rest of society. Of all non-Muslim religious minorities the persecution of the Baha’is has been the most widespread, systematic, and uninterrupted. In contrast to other non-Muslim minorities, the Baha’is are spread throughout the country in villages, small towns, and various cities, fuelling a social-paranoia throughout Iran.
Since the 1979 revolution, the authorities have destroyed most or all of the Baha'i holy places in Iran, including the House of the Bab in Shiraz, a house in Tehran where Bahá'u'lláh was brought up, and other sites connected to aspects of Babi and Baha'i history.
These demolitions have sometimes been followed by other crimes like the desecration of cemetaries in a deliberate act of triumphalism. In addition the Bahá'í Institute for Higher Education(BIHE), "an elaborate act of communal self-preservation", has been systematically raided. Between 1987 and 2005 the Iranian authorities closed down the Institute several times as part of the pattern of suppressing the Bahá'í community. Between September 30 and October 3 1998, and most recently again on 22 May 2011, officials from the Ministry of Intelligence entered the homes of academic staff of the BIHE, seizing books, computers and personal effects as well as shutting down buildings used for the school.-Ron Price with thanks to “Cultural Genocide,” Wikipedia, 19/11/’12.
It is such a long story going
back to the 1840s and in my
lifetime to the 1950s, & me
in a culture where people do
not give a tuppence what are
your religious beliefs as long
as you drink beer or wine, &
take an interest in football, &
don’t take religion too seriously.
Religion here is like a custom;
It’s something you take on like
a feeling you get when you go
into a church. Catholic, Jew, &
Protestant—a complacent trinity,
part of a small, safe & familiar
world they grew up in and so
hang-on to like an old-doll or
dummy for psycho-comfort….
Ah well, it’s better than all that
fanatical anti-Baha’i stuff I’ve
been reading about in Iran all my
Baha’i life. I think I’ll take the big
doses of indifference that have been
my lot since I was in my teens, and
my friends found out I actually took
my religion seriously and it was not
the same stuff they all got in church
and did not give a tuppence-apeny for.
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