SIR – There are two important lessons to be drawn from the Covid19 pandemic.
The first is that we live in a deeply interconnected world, one in which solidarity and co-operation in all spheres of life are essential to our collective wellbeing. The worldwide scientific, medical and humanitarian response to this emergency is one testimony to this fact. The many sacrifices we’ve had to make in how we live our day-to-day lives in almost every society is another.
The second lesson is that authoritarian regimes that disregard the human rights of its citizens will take advantage of any crisis, even a global health crisis.
The Islamic Republic is a case in point. Iranian authorities are using this period to intensify persecutions against the largest non-Muslim religious minority in the country - the Baha’is. Amid the pandemic we have seen a wave of anti-Baha’i propaganda and arbitrary arrest. Last month at least 77 arrests were made across the country of people whose only ‘crime’ is their belief. The sentences that follow are absurdly harsh and send them to prisons where the Covid19 virus is rapidly spreading.
Indigenous to Iran, the Bahá’i Faith is a world religion which recently celebrated the bicentenary of the birth of its prophet-founder, Bahá’u’lláh. The central tenet of His teaching is the essential unity of humankind.
Baha’is in Ireland, including those of us in West Cork and the Macroom district, are gravely concerned by the state-sponsored dehumanisation and campaign of persecution faced by fellow believers in the cradle of the Faith. We are also proud of the fact that more than 60 Irish TDs, senators and leading medics have signed a statement calling on the Iranian government to cease arrest and imprisonment of their Baha’i citizens.
As matters stand today, the safety of an entire community relies completely on the vigilance of the international community.
Aodhán Rilke Floyd,