Iran's Secret Blueprint for the Destruction of the Bahá'í Community

A Translation of the 1991 Iranian Government document on "the Bahá'í question"
The emergence in early 1993 of a heretofore secret Iranian Government memorandum aimed at establishing policy on "the Bahá'í question" has convincingly demonstrated that Iran's policies toward the Bahá'ís are in fact centrally orchestrated, as the worldwide Bahá'í community has claimed for many years.

Indeed, the memorandum confirms every allegation the Bahá'í International Community has made at the United Nations concerning the deliberate and systematic persecution of the Bahá'ís. It also removes all doubt that Iranian authorities have been and continue to be motivated solely by religious intolerance and hatred. No other Government document has revealed so clearly the determination of Iran's highest officials to uproot the Bahá'í Faith from Iran and even to attack it abroad.

The House of the Báb in Shiraz, one of the holiest shrines in the Bahá'í world, was demolished by Iranian authorities soon after the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. Its destruction stands as an ominous symbol of the Iranian Government's attempts to destroy the Bahá'í community of Iran.

Drawn up by the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council in 1991, the secret memorandum is nothing less than a Government blueprint for the quiet strangulation of the Bahá'í community of Iran.

Stamped "confidential," the document indicates clearly that it was prepared at the request of the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei, and the President of Iran, Hahsemi Rafsanjani. The memorandum was signed by Hujjatu'l Islam Siyyid Mohammad Gulpaygani, Secretary of the Council, and approved by Mr. Khamenei, who added his signature to the document.

The memorandum came to light in the 1993 report by Special Representative Reynaldo Galindo Pohl to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. According to Mr. Galindo Pohl, the document came as "reliable information" just as the annual report on Iran to the Commission on Human Rights was being completed.

The memorandum specifically calls for Iran's Bahá'ís to be treated so "that their progress and development shall be blocked," providing for the first time conclusive evidence that the campaign against the Bahá'ís is centrally directed by the Government.

The document indicates, for example, that the Government aims to keep the Bahá'ís illiterate and uneducated, living only at a subsistence level, and fearful at every moment that even the tiniest infraction will bring the threat of imprisonment or worse.

Although some of its provisions appear to grant a measure of protection to Bahá'ís, its overall impact is to create an environment where the Bahá'í community of Iran will be slowly strangled without arousing international attention.

The memorandum says for example that all Bahá'ís should be expelled from universities; that they shall be denied "positions of influence," and instead only be allowed to "lead a modest life similar to that of the population in general"; and even that "employment shall be refused to persons identifying themselves as Bahá'ís."

The provisions regarding arrest, imprisonment and punishment can be read in two ways. The document says:

  1. With regard to the general condition of Bahá'ís, the following guidelines are hereby adopted:
    1. they are not to be expelled from the country without reason;
    2. they are not to be detained, imprisoned or punished without reason;
    3. the Government's treatment of them shall be such that their progress and development shall be blocked;
At first glance, it might seem that the term "without reason" is a move towards greater justice, in as much as virtually all of the detentions, arrests and imprisonments of Bahá'ís in the past have been without cause. However, when the entire memo is understood in the context of what to do about "the Bahá'í question," it is clear that the directive is merely instructing officials to be sure that they justify their actions before they make any moves against a Bahá'í. It in no way promises any sort of protection.

The memorandum also belies its underlying intentions when it says that Bahá'ís will be allowed to go to school only if they do not identify themselves as Bahá'ís, and that they should be sent to schools "with a strong religious ideology." The aim here, obviously, is to wrest Bahá'í children from their faith.

Ominously, the memorandum says that "a plan shall be formulated to combat and destroy the cultural roots which this group has outside the country." That Iran would like to reach outside its borders to stamp out the Bahá'í Faith makes clear the degree of blind animosity felt by the Government towards Bahá'ís.

For years, the Bahá'í community has experienced well-documented persecution in all of the areas outlined by the memorandum: Bahá'ís have been detained, imprisoned, and falsely charged with "spying"; they have been deprived of access to education and of the sources of livelihood; they have been stripped of all influence in Iranian society and deprived of their right to religious freedom.

The secret memorandum covers all of these points, proving conclusively that the persecution of the Bahá'ís originates and is directed from the highest levels of the Iranian Government.

A photocopy of the 1991 memorandum from the Iranian Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council on 'the Bahá'í question.'

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