Discussion in 'Victims' started by RonPrice, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. RonPrice Member

    Levon Chorbajian is a two-time Fulbright lecturer in the Republic of Armenia and the Soviet Union. Dr. Chorbajian has written, translated and edited seven books including The Caucasian Knot, Studies in Comparative Genocide and, most recently, Power: A Critical Reader with Daniel Egan, Ph.D. His most recent article is "Genocide and Gross Violations of Human Rights," written for the International Encyclopedia for Policy Studies. He has run workshops and given lectures on the importance of unions. He also is certified in Federal Immigration Court to testify as an expert witness in political asylum for cases originating in the South Caucasus.

    Chorbajian notes in the introduction to Studies in Comparative Genocide by Adam Jones(1) 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 also 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.I had an eye on my retirement from a 30 year teaching career at the time and was looking forward to a sea-change in Tasmania. That 1995 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, represented 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 that 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 from my mother's conversion in 1953 in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe. The literature on genocide in relation to the Bahá'í community of Iran is now extensive, and there is now an extensive documentation that can easily be accessed in cyberspace. Baha’is have been officially persecuted with some 200 executed since 1979, and 1000s forced to convert or be subjected to the most horrendous disabilities. The story, though, is an old one long before that revolution in Iran in 1979.

    Systematic targeting of the leadership of the Bahá'í community by killing or having the leadership disappear without a trace has been 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.

    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. The story goes back more than 100 years. In contrast to other non-Muslim minorities, the 300,000 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, if not 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 Islamic or Iranian 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 this tertiary 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 to say nothing of several other events since 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
    my religious beliefs as long as
    I drink beer or wine....take an
    interest in football, and don’t
    take religion too seriously in
    this land Downunder where
    people are free to believe any
    thing as long as their actions
    are within the law.

    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 people grew up in and so
    hang-on to like an old-doll or
    dummy for psycho-comfort….
    but not everyone, indeed, this
    country is highly secularized
    and for most people religion
    is simply not on their agenda.

    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, & my friends
    found out I actually took my
    religion seriously, & it was not
    the same stuff they all got in a
    church, but did not give ahoot,
    a tuppence for in their lives.

    Ron Price

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