COOK ISLANDS NEWS
SATURDAY 10 JULY 1993
BAHA’I GRAVES DESTROYED IN IRAN
The plight of the Baha’i of Iran is again brought to world attention even as far as the Cook Islands. Earlier in the month, bulldozers started excavating a section of the Baha’i cemetery in Tehran to prepare for a building site. As of to date, the excavation has seen graves destroyed and bodies loaded into trucks and removed to unknown destinations. The cemetery is being cleared from the building of the Kh’avar’an Cultural Center as part of a plan by the Iranian Governments Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council to destroy the cultural roots of the Baha’is.
This plan was revealed in a secret document drafted in February 1991 and publicized by the United Nations earlier this year. The Khavaran cemetery contains thousands of graves of historic significance to the Baha’i community of Iran and to the entire Baha’i World. The grandfather of regular visitor to Rarotonga Duane Veran is also buried there. While Baha’i cemeteries have been pillaged before, this is the first time that bodies have been exhumed and removed without the knowledge of relations and friends.
Since the Iranian revolution, Baha’is have been assigned barren pieces of land in which to bury their dead. They have been refused permission to mark individual graves or to build proper mortuary facilities. In view of these circumstances, it is feared that all traces of the bodies now being removed from the cemetery will be lost. The Iranian government insists that they are not persecuting the Baha’is because of their belief. The Baha’i community of the Cook Islands has urged several leading figures in Iran to intervene in the current desecration of a Baha’i cemetery in Tehran.
In a message begging an immediate halt to the destruction of the cemetery the local Baha’is have expressed shock and sadness at such an act of inhuman disrespect for the dead. The message decries the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Councils latest persecution of the Iranian Baha’is as a violation of both spiritual and human principles.
The message from the national Baha’i council was sent to the leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamerei, the President of Iran, the Speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly and the Head of the Judiciary Branch of Tehran.