Bahá'í Relations with Dictators


Pinochet assumed power in Chile following a United States-backed coup d'état on 11 September 1973 that overthrew the democratically elected socialist Unidad Popular government of President Salvador Allende and ended civilian rule.

Bahá'ís and Pinochet

The Continental Board of Counsellors for South America and members of the National Spiritual Assemly of Chile had a 15-minute interview with the country's President, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who showed a marked interest in the Bahá'í holy places. Seen here (left to right) are National Assembly Member Elena Velasquez, Alejandro Reid of the Bahá'í public relations department (hidden), Counsellor Peter McLaren, Gen. Pinochet, National Assembly member Carlos Rivera (seated), National Assembly Member Lina Smithson de Roe, and Counsellors Mas'ud Khamsi, AthosCostas (hidden) and Donald Witzel
(Bahá'í News, Vol. 9, p. 757).
Four members of the Continental Board of Counsellors for South America and three members of the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile had a half-hour audience in December 1977 with the President of Chile, Augusto Pinochet. During the interview the President asked for and received photographs of the teaching work that is going on in Chile. News of the interview, with accompanying photographs was published in all the country's major national newspapers
(Bahá'í News, Vol. 9, p. 857).
Peace message delivered to President Augusto Pinochet Ugarte through his personal Secretary who orally confirmed that it was received by the president, December 23, 1985. A reply was sent to the NSA by the Secretary General of the Presidency on May 22, 1986
(Bahá'í News, Vol. 12, p. 228).

Amin was born in either Koboko or Kampala to a Kakwa father and Lugbara mother. In 1946 he joined the King's African Rifles (KAR) of the British Colonial Army. Initially a cook, he rose to the position of lieutenant, taking part in British actions against Somali rebels in the Shifta War and then the Mau Mau rebels in Kenya. Following Uganda's independence from the United Kingdom in 1962, Amin remained in the armed forces, rising to the position of major and being appointed Commander of the Army in 1965. Aware that Ugandan President Milton Obote was planning on arresting him for misappropriating army funds, Amin launched a 1971 military coup and declared himself President.

During his years in power, Amin shifted from being a pro-western ruler, enjoying considerable Israeli support to being backed by Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko, the Soviet Union, and East Germany.

Bahá'ís and Idi Amin

Uganda: The New President, General Idi Amin Dada, invited the heads of religions and churches to a meeting at his home a few days after the military take-over of the Government of Uganda. Among those present who were invited to attend were two members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Uganda [...] Upon the conclusion of the meeting the Vice-Chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly came forward and wanted to hand the President a copy of the Publication entitled Loyalty to Government, and the President stopped and asked him to read it to the people present. The Bahá'í representative then read the entire statement on Loyalty to Government, and when he concluded his reading the President, General Idi Amin Dada said in a very decided manner and tone "This is right." The radio and newspaper men present immediately gathered around the Bahá'í representative and took the statement from him and it was read several times on Radio Uganda in English and in the vernacular languages. The newscaster on T.V. gave a summary of it when he was reading the national news that night. Uganda has never before had such good sound and good publicity for our beloved Faith
(Bahá'í News, Vol. 7, p. 873).
On the Presidency of Idi Amin in August, the Bahá'ís were among those invited to a meeting with the President. At the meeting the Bahá'ís offered a statement outlining the basic principle of the religion of obedience to government
(Wikipedia, "Bahá'í Faith in Uganda").
On Thursday, 11th November at noon a telephone call was received advising the National Spiritual Assembly that the President of Uganda, General Idi Amin Dada had accepted our invitation to attend the one hundred and fifty-fourth anniversary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh at the Mother Temple of Africa [...] President of the Republic of Uganda General Idi Amin Dada, (extreme right) attending the celebration of the Birthday of Bahá'u'lláh in the House of Worship at Kampala
(Bahá'í News, Vol. 8, p. 32).
President of Uganda [Idi Amin Dada] reading his speech on the commemoration of the Birthday of Bahá'u'lláh. The President of Uganda receiving The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh from Enos Epyeru, Chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda. At the left is Mrs. Edith Senoga, Chairman of the Public Relations Committee [...] In the President's [Amin's] speech he referred to the followers of Bahá'u'lláh as being free from the misunderstandings and disputes which are found within other religious denominations in Uganda. "The fact that there is so much peace and tranquility among the followers of Bahá'u'lláh may mean one or more important things. They are truer in their faith, they take pains to ensure that the tenets of their religion are always upheld to the exclusion of other considerations. They are sincere and match their actions to the commandments in the holy books. They truly love one another . . . They are truly shining examples of what a believer in God should be and do." In thanking the president for his fine address, Mr. Hassan Sabri described the President as a man who had brought God back into the picture. He also assured the President of the Bahá'ís loyalty to the Government and our prayers
(Bahá'í News, Vol. 8, p. 33).

Bahá'ís really do love their dictators, unless something bad happens to them under their regimes of course.
Baha’u'llah wrote directly to rulers to reprimand them for their brutality and repression, while we today pose for pictures with Pinochet and Amin (thank God for your reference to the Pinochet photograph — I thought I was the only person who had noticed it). Yet, the moment anyone lifts a finger to harm Baha’is, in however a minor way, there is a universal outcry and we appeal for aid to the UN and suchlike. The Iranian regime has been massacring its people for decades, and thousands are dying in the present troubles, but the only thing to excite protests from the Baha’is has been the threat of violence to themselves. No mention is made of the fact that Jews or Christians have been threatened or attacked. The fact is that we seem to judge the justice of a regime according to how well it treats the Baha’is. An unjust regime treating us well is tolerated or even extolled, while a popular regime which deprives us of certain freedoms (perhaps along with other religious groups) is regarded as evil. No one has asked, for example, what the people of Iran, as a whole, want, but what would ensure the safety of the Baha’is there; so if thousands of Shi’i Muslims are killed, who cares? — they deserve it anyway for having persecuted the Baha’is
(Denis MacEoin, "Letter on Bahá'í attitudes towards politics and scholarship").

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