[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

 

To Whom Can We Shout This Oppression [?]

 

On the Eve of the Tenth Month of the Illegal Sealing of the Baha’i Businesses in Mazandaran Province

Respectfully addressing Grand Ayatollahs, the Esteemed President of the Republic, Members of Majlis[1] and All Government Officials

It is hereby conveyed that we, the Baha’i citizens in Mazandaran Province, whose businesses have been sealed since Aban 1395 [November 2016], without [our having committed] any trade union violations during this time, have been waiting for you to hear the call of these oppressed people and to seek the rights of these oppressed ones.

Perhaps some esteemed officials and religious leaders may ask what this has to do with them since they seem to have had no role or involvement in cutting off bread from the Baha’i tables, which has taken place in about 25 cities and towns.

Yes, although a certain group of lawless officials should apparently be held accountable for such injustices, as you know, every Muslim, according to his or her religious duty and belief, is obliged to defend the oppressed of any religion, belief or nation, especially if he or she has extraordinary power and influence. In this, all are included, as in this statement of Imam Ali, who addresses one of the rightly guided caliphs in Nahj al-Balagha:

“[If] the slightest harm is inflicted on others by your agents in the corners of the country, his first sin will be written on you…”

To the extent that His Holiness also considers his own blessed person not an exception:

“On the Day of Judgment, all those who lived under My rule will be questioned.”

We Baha’is have been and are waiting for all the esteemed officials, especially the grand ayatollahs, to stand up to such denial and blatant oppression in accordance with their religious duty and belief, in view of such advice given to the people of power by their infallible authority, and not to discredit Islam anymore in the eyes of the world.

We also urge the government of prudence and hope, with the publication of the Charter of Citizenship Rights, which instilled new hope in the hearts of the deprived and oppressed, to live up to its campaign promises regarding citizenship rights, at least in the remaining years of its presidency. Unfortunately, it must be said that none of the officials, either in this province or in others, who are somehow involved in the economic strangulation of a large group of Baha’is, are making the slightest effort to implement the principles mentioned in the Charter. Whomever of these officials that we have met in this province (from esteemed governorate general officials to the public prosecutor’s office and the head office of judiciary and many state and military officials), and have questioned the reason for all this oppression, has pretended to be innocent, and most of them say that they cannot do anything in this regard.

Strangely enough, in the meantime, the esteemed governor general of Mazandaran has completely withdrawn from this case, and during this period, whenever any of the business owners have gone to the governor’s office to meet with him, his esteemed secretaries have explicitly stated that His Honour the governor general did not want to meet with us; that is to say, it is not as if in the realm of his rule, a number of lawless officials have cut bread from the tables of more than a hundred Baha’i families and citizens in the province, and have placed more than four hundred people under economic strangulation.

Of course, the governor general’s reason is that he was not involved in this case, while the secret letter of the “Commission on Sects and Religions”, which has been prepared against the Baha’is and apparently published by a lawyer, was produced in the same governor general’s office in the presence of some relevant officials.

Of course, one of the deputy governors delivered a powerful speech in that assembly regarding the Baha’is’ affiliation with Israel and Zionism, and other allegations, which have not been proven by any competent and impartial court, and the defence of the accused Baha’is has never been heard by our dear compatriots.

It should be noted that in another letter prepared by the attorney general of Mazandaran Province and communicated to all prosecutors in the cities of Mazandaran, he also, after making false accusations, ordered that in order to have their shops unsealed, the Baha’is had no other choice but to sign the prepared undertaking form in the Public Places Supervision Office.

Here, it is necessary to mention with regret that those who should be the leaders and role models in enforcing the laws, by economic pressure and sanctions, want to force the law-abiding people of this society to break the laws and submit to their irrational and illogical demands, because they themselves are better aware that the said undertaking is completely illegal and is contrary to Article 28 paragraph b.

The truth is that the observation of these injustices and this discrimination against the Baha’is during the Revolution―even before the Islamic Revolution―is not new and appears and will always appear in an incredible way. For this reason, most of the intelligentsia and the philanthropists in the world, and those who consider the observance of human rights as an indicator of humanity and an important factor in resolving the ambiguities and differences between human beings, are aware that during the last 38 years, some administrators and officials in different categories―contrary to all the issues raised in the laws of Iran and the world―are constantly moving in the path of repression against the oppressed and defenceless Baha’is by spreading all kinds of insinuations and lies, and they have not given up any hostile action. Of course, as it has been experienced, this group of opponents of this religion―due to their religious prejudices or lack of proper knowledge of the Baha’i teachings―constantly take steps towards anti-Baha’ism and witness with their own eyes the pressures and oppressions which have been inflicted upon Baha’is, such as:

(The killing of more than 230 prominent Baha’is during the Revolution and dismissal of all the Baha’is from government offices and ministries, expulsion of Baha’i students and professors from universities, and even termination of pensions). The result was nothing but the growing popularity of this religion in the world; therefore, their last weapon, in their own estimation, which can be effective and workable is that they have turned to cutting bread from the Baha’i tables by closing and sealing their shops in cities such as Hamadan, Kerman, Rafsanjan, Semnan, Karaj, Bandar Abbas, Miandoab, Salmanshahr, Rasht, Sari, Qaemshahr, Babolsar, Amol, Babol, Bahnamir, Fereydunkenar, Nowshahr, Chalus, Ramsar, Tonekabon, Ahvaz, Urmia, Shahroud, etc. Such hostile actions will definitely have no result other than the hatred and disgust of those who are in the process (from our dear compatriots to other conscious and intelligent people of the world).

In this way, they themselves inflict the greatest blow on the honour and dignity of Iran and Islam and expose their ill-disposed faces, because not even a day has passed when some Iranian and foreign scholars and members of the intelligentsia have not written in condemnation of this kind of wrongdoing in various ways, and their cries of protest have not reached the ears of international human rights organizations.

Here it is appropriate to refer to a very strange and unbelievable incident, and that is the order by the Court of Administrative Justice to unseal several shops in Tonekabon. A few weeks have passed since the issuance of such a just and unprecedented verdict and it has not yet been performed. Several Baha’is went to the attorney general of Mazandaran Province to pursue the matter, and he publicly said, “As long as I am in this position, no shop will be opened in this province.” This is the same person who, in the first months of the sealing of the shops, swore that he had nothing to do with it.

But another noteworthy and important point is that we Baha’is, because of our beliefs, consider it our duty to obey the civil and social laws of the country we live in―as long as it is not contrary to our spiritual and conscientious issues―and to provide honest service to all the people of the world, especially our dear compatriots in Iran; although, with the enactment of extrajudicial regulations by some institutions and the issuance of fatwas by some grand ayatollahs, we Baha’is have been prohibited from many individual, social and human rights, such as freedom of speech, going to university, employment in government offices and ministries, publishing relevant books and publications, etc.

Until the amendment of discriminatory rules and regulations is in place, we Baha’is do not demand from the respected officials of the regime, and especially of the grand ayatollahs who claim Islamic justice and compassion, anything beyond what is currently enshrined in the Constitution as “citizenship rights or the rights of the nation.” In these days, one of the obvious examples mentioned in these laws is having a suitable job and lawfully earning money, without any terms and conditions, for the entire Iranian nation unrelated to any religion, creed or ethnicity.

It is clear that in this regard, no factor, not even the propagation of religious beliefs―according to the claims of some relevant officials―can be a pretext for preventing people from making a living and drying up the roots of the economy of the families of the Baha’i community.

Of course, experience has shown that even if there had been propagation, it was mostly after the shops had been sealed and non-Baha’i friends keep asking questions and seeking the reason behind the sealing of our businesses, which must be answered. It must be explained that these illegal acts are carried out solely because of our affiliation with the Baha’i Faith. If there is an impartial court that will honestly, fairly and impartially listen to our defences, then many facts will become clear and obvious, and all the officials, like our dear compatriots, will acknowledge our innocence and be sure that we did not commit any crime that the law has defined.

With respect

A. Rowshani

 

 

[1] [Majlis:  The Islamic Consultative Assembly]