NEW YORK, 15 February (Baha'i World News Service) - The Baha'i International Community has issued a statement of gratitude to the Iranian intellectuals, scholars, writers, journalists, activists, and artists throughout the world who signed an open letter apologizing for their silence during Iran's long-running persecution of the Baha'is.
The open letter from the Iranians - dated 3 February and signed so far by 243 men and women living in 19 countries - had asked Baha'is to forgive them "for the wrongs committed against the Baha'i community of Iran" over the last century and a half.
"We will no longer be silent when injustice is visited upon you," the letter said after enumerating some of the ways Baha'is have been persecuted, from "barbaric murders" to depriving youth of higher education.
In response, the Baha'i International Community told the signatories that the letter "brought a degree of solace and relief to the pain that your Baha'i fellow citizens endure."
"On their behalf and that of the Baha'is throughout the world we convey our profound gratitude and appreciation for a deed of such historical moment," the Baha'i message said, referring to the publication of the open letter.
The letter was particularly significant, said the Baha'i response, in that it rejected the milieu of intimidation created by Iranian authorities throughout the decades that served to silence "those fair-minded and informed individuals who had always wished to rise up" in support of the Baha'is.
Indeed, in a press statement yesterday, the organizers behind the letter said that many more people would like to sign.
"We are confident," their statement said, "that many more individuals, responsible and humane individuals, both inside and outside Iran, will add their seal of approval to it, as they become aware of such a letter, and we hope that the independent and committed Iranian media will join us in disseminating this message."
The open letter began with the heading "We are ashamed! A century and a half of oppression and silence is enough!"
"We are ashamed that during the last 30 years, the killing of Baha'is solely on the basis of their religious beliefs has gained legal status and over 200 Baha'is have been slain on this account," said one clause.
"We are ashamed that a group of intellectuals have justified coercion against the Baha'i community if Iran," the letter continued.
The letter ended thus: "We stand by you in achieving all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights. Let us join hands in replacing hatred and ignorance with love and tolerance."
The Baha'i response also ended with a statement of hope: "The ardent hope of Iranian Baha'is is to be able to labor, shoulder to shoulder, with their compatriots for the progress and exaltation of their country that it may assume its seat of honor and glory among the family of nations."
For a longer version of the article, and to read the Baha'i statement and the open letter, go to: http://news.bahai.org/story/697
We Are Ashamed - An Open Letter from a group of academics, writers, artists, journalists and Iranian activists throughout the world to the Baha'i community.
Quenching The Light - A presentation about the persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran.
Quenching The Light
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