[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]

 

[Newspaper:] Bamdad

[Date:] 24 Mordad 1377 - 15 August 1998

 

A Baha’i Was Hanged in Mashhad

 

Rouhollah Rowhani was found guilty of attempting to convert a Muslim woman to become Baha’i.

The head of the Islamic Revolutionary Court denied the news of his execution four days later, yet Rowhani’s brother confirmed his execution and interment with the French press.

The Baha’i Community declared that the government of the Islamic Republic had hanged one of the Baha’is in Mashhad, and that his body had been handed to his family; but the Islamic Republic described the news as “a pure lie”.  The Baha’i Community in North America on Wednesday, 31 Tir [1377] [22 July 1998], declared, “Rouhollah Rowhani, 52, a dealer of medical instruments, was hanged in Mashhad on Tuesday 30 Tir [21 July 1998]. He had been arrested ten months prior to the date, being accused of converting a Muslim woman to the Baha’i Faith”.

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of North America[1], in a declaration issued for this purpose, announced that Rouhollah Rowhani had denied the accusation; nevertheless, he remained in solitary confinement for ten months. The Baha’i sources declared there was a lack of evidence that he had had access to a lawyer, and they reiterated that his accusation had not been announced publicly and the death sentence was decreed in secret. Rouhollah Rowhani is the first Baha’i to be executed within [the last] six years.

Rouhollah Rowhani’s family stated in Mashhad that they had not taken the death sentence seriously; they only believed the truth of the matter when they were called from the prison to receive the body. They said that on the neck of the body, the marks of the hanging rope were clear. Regardless of this, on Monday, 5 Mordad [27 July 1998], the Islamic Revolutionary Court denied the sources of the foreign news.

Gholam-Hosein Rahbarpour, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Courts, four days after the publication of the news of the execution of this Baha’i all over the world, denied the news. He said, “No branch of this Court has issued any death sentence against a person by the name of ‘Rouhollah Rowhani’ related to the ‘Baha’i sect’ and such news is totally devoid of truth.” The news agency of the Islamic Republic wrote that “foreign radio” had broadcast this news. But the agency did not explain why it took four days for the authorities to deny this news. Also, the authority which delivered the body to the Rowhani family was not clear.

After the circulation of the denial of the news of the execution of Rouhollah Rowhani, his brother, Feizollah Rouhani, confirmed to the French press that the hanging and the interment had indeed taken place.  Reuters News also circulated the news from Geneva that the Baha’i Community had reiterated that, in spite of the official rejection and refutation of the Islamic Republic, Rouhollah Rowhani had been hanged in the prison of Mashhad on the past Tuesday.

Diane Ala’i, the representative of the Baha’i International Community at the United Nations in Geneva said, “He was killed on July 21. The body was given to the family on the same day and they were given only one hour to inter the body.” She added: “He was buried at 11:00 in the morning in Mashhad.”

Ala’i said the Baha’i Community was worried that three other imprisoned Baha’is may also be hanged soon. According to her statements, these three, together with Rowhani, had been sentenced to death at a secret court. She mentioned their names as Ataollah Hamid Nasirizadeh, Sirous Zabih-Moghaddam and Hedayat Kashefi.

The Baha’i Community announced that, up to now, 200 of its members had been executed by the Islamic Republic. According to the previous reports, the membership of the Iranian Baha’i community is more than 350,000, making it the biggest religious minority of the country; yet, it has not been [officially] recognized in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. The members of the Baha’i community of Iran are deprived of the right of inheritance, higher education, government jobs and other human rights.

Firuz Kazemzadeh, the speaker for the American Baha’i Community, whose membership has been stated as 130,000 said, “We hoped President Khatami’s [assurance] of freedom, justice and a government of law would become a reality for the Baha’is of Iran.”

All over the world, many countries officially condemned the execution of this Baha’i individual. The speaker for the White House, in a statement whose wording was stronger than ever regarding the Islamic Republic, condemned the execution of Rowhani. Referring to the repeated statements of the officials of the Islamic Republic, such as Mohammad Khatami, the president of the Islamic Republic, in regard to government of law, reiterated that “government of law will be meaningless unless and until the human rights of the Iranians, such as religious freedom, are effected.”

The speaker for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United States, in a meeting with the reporters, reading the statement against the action of the Islamic Republic in murdering this Baha’i, and the foreign ministers of Australia and Canada, as well as Mary Robinson, coordinator of the [United Nations] Human Rights Commission, complained about the execution of Rowhani.  Alexander Downer, the foreign minister of Australia, said that the execution of this Baha’i and the statements of the officers of the Islamic Republic regarding the improvements of social policy and personal rights are contradictory. Lloyd Axworthy, the foreign affairs minister of Canada, called the execution of Rowhani “a savage act” and asked Ali Khamenei and Mohammad Khatami to clearly state that this action had been done without their knowledge.

 

[1] [The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States]