To tackle effectively the pervasive violations of human rights worldwide, the civilized world needs to stand up and be counted. “Never again’’ was the promise humanity made in the aftermath of the Holocaust. The UN signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a guideline to help us move forward towards a global neighborhood of nations who appreciate their unity in diversity. The Baha’i teachings announced the principle of the oneness of all humanity as one of the fundamental prerequisites for world peace and the advancement of civilization. Different countries, groups and individuals have demonstrated various degrees of understanding of and advocacy for the importance of human rights in recent years. The beleaguered Baha’i community of Iran, which has been the target of systematic persecution ever since its inception in 1844, has experienced an ever-increasing set of attacks under the Islamic Republic Regime of Iran and has served as the canary in the coal mine for those who have been wondering about the promise of “Never Again.” Many governments and organizations including the European Union, The United States, Canada, and Amnesty International have been outspoken in defense of the human rights of the Iranian Baha’is. The United States government, for example, has passed numerous resolutions to condemn the Islamic Republic’s inhumane treatment of the Iranian Baha’is. Recently, Congressman Adam Schiff of California’s 29th district impressed every one by the breath of his knowledge and the depth of his commitment when he spoke at length about the global concern regarding the critical situation of the Baha’is in Iran.
In recent years we have seen unprecedented awareness and advocacy among the Iranians in defense of the human rights of Iranian Baha’is. Iranian intellectuals, media groups and the community at large are for the first time unwilling to silently condone injustice towards minorities including the Iranian Baha’is. Among these media groups is The Moslem Network for Baha’i Rights, which states: “We are Moslem interfaith activists who are deeply concerned with the treatment of Baha’is in the Moslem world and choose to fight for their rights.” The group’s website offers information including a very helpful Timeline chronicling the systematic and on-going violations of the human rights of the Iranian Baha’is.
I will use the context of the persecution of the Baha’is of Iran to explore the rising consciousness of humanity especially Iranians in defense of human rights and highlight the importance of the progress we have made among ordinary people defending human rights since the time of Holocaust.