[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]

 

[Adapted from website:] Noor Dar Ghafas

[Date:] 14 Shahrivar 1388 [5 September 2009]

 

Letter from a Baha’i Citizen to the Head of the Judicial System

 

In the Name of God

Mr. Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani Amoli

Esteemed Chief Justice of Iran

While saluting and congratulating you for achieving this position and wishing the acceptance of the obedience to Your Highness, I considered it my duty to further promote our country— which has had a very bright past, spiritually, and to establish justice in this land, by expressing my heartfelt desires to help those dear ones whose only wish is to serve the people. I hope that the following few issues that come to my mind will fade and disappear during your presidency in this sensitive position of the country.

As you know, the Baha’is of Iran have not enjoyed civil and citizenship rights for a long time, and in recent years their inalienable right to citizenship has been violated. I will start with the least of them, and that is the “right to home and housing”. In the noble Quran, in some verses, the citizenship right is clearly defined: “O believers! Do not enter any house other than your own until you have asked for permission and greeted its occupants. This is best for you, so perhaps you will be mindful.”[1] “If you find no one at home, do not enter until you have been given permission. And if you are asked to leave, then leave. That is purer for you. And Allah has ‘perfect’ knowledge of what you do.” (1) The content of this noble verse in Persian is as follows: [Persian Translation]

Despite this explicit command from God, the Baha’i homes are being invaded and their property confiscated throughout this sacred land. Time and again it has been observed that there has been no legal court order at hand, and for this reason, by all sorts of ways, including lies such as “I am a postman, etc.” they enter the houses and start their search. Following these aggressions, many remain silent, supposing that it is within the remit of national security advocates. But Your Honour knows better than I that there are only three exceptions to the right to housing immunity in the Penal Code; “search and confiscation of Baha’i property” is not seen within these three exceptions.

I am not sure if the next issue will be dangerous once it is mentioned; that is, “the right of immunity of correspondence, conversations and communications”. In this respect, the noble Quran mentions: “O believers! Avoid many suspicions, for indeed, some suspicions are sinful. And do not spy, nor backbite one another.” (2) ([Persian translation])

Also, according to Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Iran is a signatory, the protection of communications and correspondence must be a normal right of every citizen. The Article reads: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”[2]

The constitution of our country also declares the same right for every citizen. But why are Baha’is deprived of this right?

According to Article 25 of the Constitution: “The inspection of letters and the failure to deliver them, the recording and disclosure of telephone conversations, the disclosure of telegraphic and telex communications, censorship, or the willful failure to transmit them, eavesdropping, and all forms of covert investigation, are forbidden, except as provided by law.”

As you know, there are exceptions to this Constitutional principle: one in case of emergency according to the order of Article 79 of the Constitution and the other regarding the detection and prosecution of a crime. Fortunately, in these 30 years, no crime has been proved against the Baha’is. So, the first case (emergency time) may be the reason for this eavesdropping; is not 30 years a little too long to be considered an emergency?

My next issue is about the “right to personal security” and the “right to freedom of belief”. In recent years, in relation to the Baha’is, whatever they have seen of these rights, it has been nothing but the opposite. Physical violence, threatening and torturing of several Baha’is in Shiraz, arresting and making false accusations against citizens of Shiraz, Semnan and Mazandaran, keeping seven Baha’is [responsible for the community] in prison in the hope that one day a better charge will be produced against them, all in all, speaks of acting in violation of the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All of the above people have been involved in these attacks because of their beliefs. Is it not true that “the investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief”? (Article 23 of the Constitution). Is it not true that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”? (Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) So why are those people still in prison?

Islam also invites people to freedom of belief and it is stated in the Holy Quran: “And those who shun the worship of false gods, turning to Allah ‘alone’, will have good news. So give good news to My servants ‘O Prophet’[3], those who listen to what is said and follow the best of it. These are the ones ‘rightly’ guided by Allah, and these are ‘truly’ the people of reason.” (3) The content of this noble verse in Persian is as follows: [Persian translation]

Let us say that in the opinion of some authorities, having an opinion is a crime and they deserve to be arrested, but why are they under pressure in prison? Why are they not advised of their charges within 24 hours? As you know, Articles 32 and 39 of the Constitution contain the following statements in this regard:

Article 32 of the Constitution: “No one may be arrested except by the order and in accordance with the procedure laid down by law.  In case of arrest, charges with the reasons for accusation must, without delay, be communicated and explained to the accused in writing, and a provisional dossier must be forwarded to the competent judicial authorities within a maximum of twenty-four hours so that the preliminaries to the trial can be completed as swiftly as possible.  The violation of this article will be liable to punishment in accordance with the law.”

Article 39 of the Constitution: “All affronts to the dignity and repute of persons arrested, detained, imprisoned, or banished in accordance with the law, whatever form they may take, are forbidden and liable to punishment.”

The expectation of every citizen from a just chief of the judicial system is [that he will] act in accordance with the constitution of his country. My hope, Your Honour, is that, according to the mentioned holy verses and the Constitution, you will change the existing attitude of the society towards the Baha’is and you will do justice for all Iranians, including the Baha’is of Iran.

My other reminder is regarding the “right to education”. The right that the Constitution, in Articles 19 and 20, enshrines is the same for everyone and does not declare a certain stratum of society as the superior stratum.

Article 19: “All people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights; colour, race, language, and the like, do not affect those rights.

Article 20: “All citizens of the country, both men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, in conformity with Islamic criteria.”

As you know, since the revolution, no Baha’i has been able to continue his/her education in any of the universities in the country and to write about them will take a long time to write, and in fact much longer. As one of the young people who have been deprived of this right, I ask you to return this right to all Baha’i youth so that we can all share in the prosperity of our country.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you for paying attention to some of the thoughts and cases that exist in our country. I hope that this term of your presidency will be full of great progress.

An Iranian Baha’i citizen,

Erfan Vafaie,

14 Shahrivar 1388 [5 September 2009]

 

Postscript Notes:

(1) [Quran, An-Nur, Verses 27, 28][4]

(2) [Quran, Al-Hujurat 49: 12][5]

(3) [Quran, Az-Zumar 39: 17, 18][6]

 

[1] [Quran 24:27] https://quran.com/24

[2] https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights

[3] [Quran 39:17] https://quran.com/39

[4] [Quran 24:28] https://quran.com/24

[5] [Quran 49:12] https://quran.com/49

[6] [Quran 39:18] https://quran.com/39