[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
In the Name of God
Subject: Sealing of Baha’i Commercial Units in Sari
We, the signatories of this letter, submit that we are Baha’i citizens living in Sari whose commercial units were illegally sealed on 11and 12 Aban 1395 [1 and 2 November 2016] by the officials of the Public Places Supervision Office.
We the citizens obey the laws of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We have nine days of religious holidays during the year, and a few of these days usually coincide with the official holidays of the country, where we do not work and close our shops. The closure of a Baha’i shop in these nine days is not just about the last three decades; our Baha’i forefathers and ancestors have been doing this for about a century and a half. God forbid, we have no bad intentions in closing our shops on these days. We believe that working on these days is like taking forbidden bread to the table of our spouses and children, but the administrators of the Public Places Supervision Office have asked us not to close our shops on our religious holy days.
Is such behaviour in accordance with the Holy Quran and Islamic law? We refer to the blessed verse of the Holy Quran which says: “For every community We appointed a code of life to follow” (Sura Al-Hajj, verse 67). This request is made at a time when, according to Article 28 (b) of the Law of the Trade Union, any owner can close his commercial unit for up to 15 days a year without coordination with the relevant union, while Baha’i religious holidays are only nine days in the year.
During the last few days, when our shops have been illegally sealed, we have contacted relevant authorities. None of them took any action to follow up on our cases, and even the Supervisory Commission has refused to register our complaints; however, we were verbally told the reasons for the sealing of our shops, which are briefly described below:
- In order to maintain market order. We have cooperated fully with unions, guilds and Public Places Admin within the framework of the law.
Some officials at the Public Places Supervision Office stated that the closure of our shops during the Baha’i religious holiday disrupted the market order. For this same reason, before closing our commercial units on 11 and 12 Aban [1 and 2 November], we informed the relevant unions, or the Public Places Supervision Office, for the respected officials to make the necessary arrangements, but these referrals did not receive any feedback from the authorities. In addition, the closure of only 42 shops of Baha’i citizens of various guilds (which were sealed during these two days), among several thousand commercial units in Sari, could not disrupt the market order. Also, if the closure of 42 union units for one or two days disrupts the market order, their sealing by the officials of the Places Supervision Office for consecutive weeks will certainly cause more damage.
- [We are closing our shops to promote our religion]. We close our shops based on a personal and heart felt belief, and this action is neither a religious symbol nor a way to promote this religion. Some officials at the Public Places Supervision Office have pointed out that the closure of Baha’i shops on Baha’i holy days is like propaganda for this religion and is a religious symbol, but it is quite clear that we have not had and do not have any intention of promoting our religion by closing our guilds. The reason is [indicated in] the testimonies attached to this letter, which were signed by Muslim businessmen who operate in the vicinity of our guild units. These testimonies indicate that we did not preach the Baha’i Faith at our places of business, that our contact with other merchants was not due to religious issues, and that they did not know the reason for the closure of our guilds on 11 and 12 Aban [1 and 2 November]. The closure of our shops has not been used as a tool for religious propaganda. Even to think the impossible possible, God Almighty says in the Holy Quran, “Do not insult what they invoke besides Allah” (Sura Al-An’am, verse 108).
The Baha’is believe in both the one God and the mission of Prophet Mohammad Mustafa (BPUH) and there is no evidence that we have preached religion through our guilds. Our beliefs have been repeatedly insulted by some officials of the Public Places Supervision Office, and as if that has not been enough, in the last two years, tens of shops in Sari have been closed several times due to the belief of the owners in the Baha’i Faith.
Your Honour, what could be the real reason for this discrimination and oppression by the Public Places Supervision Office against the owners of the Baha’i guilds of this city, which is spreading with a certain order and coherence? Can such behaviours be considered as examples of what God, the Merciful and Compassionate, has asked of Muslims in the Holy Quran? Are not such actions an inquisition and violations of Article 23 of the Constitution?
- [We have not completed the legal steps]. We have fully completed all the legal steps, including obtaining a business licence and other union obligations.
On some of the seal labels that have been fixed on our guild units, the reason for the sealing has been indicated as lack of a business licence. For this reason, we declare our readiness to hand over our business licences or any other trade documents to you, whenever it is necessary. We believe in the words of Prophet Mohammad Mustafa who said, [Arabic verse]
- [Our action is against national security]. During all these years, we have not taken and will not take any action against the security of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Some officials have reportedly described the fact that Baha’is do not do business on their religious holidays as an act against national security. According to this accusation, a case of a Baha’i businessman has been filed with the Provincial Security Council, and some officials of the Public Places Supervision Office have stated in our visits to this authority that the “the case of the Baha’is is a security one.”
How can the closure of several shops be understood as action against the security of the Islamic Republic? What documents do they provide as evidence to support this accusation? We are wholehearted well-wishers of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the people of this country. We have no intention or desire other than happiness and pride in the land of our ancestors, namely our dear Iran. We are law-abiding citizens and eager to be treated according to this holy verse of the Holy Quran, which says, “Allah does not forbid you from dealing kindly and fairly with those who have neither fought nor driven you out of your homes. Surely Allah loves those who are fair.” (Sura Al-Mumtahanah, verse 1) and according to Article 14 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, we should be subjects of compassion and good morals, recipients of Islamic justice, and our human rights should be respected. Such an accusation against us is in complete violation of Article 498 of the Islamic Penal Code, and according to the trade union regulations, the perpetrators of these illegal sealings are subject to punishment in the competent courts of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
With all sincerity and honesty, we have submitted to you, as the supreme authority, what is the truth. We hope that the officials of the Public Places Supervision Office will treat us in an Islamic way according to the Holy Quran, the religion of Islam and the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran. God willing, your attention to the above will lead to establishment of our innocence and we will be able to enjoy our citizenship rights as law-abiding citizens. Also, in the hope of the Almighty, your orders to pursue the case fairly will result in the unsealing of our commercial units. Certainly, the elimination of such discrimination against us, as a group of citizens of this land, by the responsible authorities in Mazandaran Province, will be a symbol of fairness and justice in our beloved Iran.
We plead with God Almighty for ever more confirmation in your endeavours.
[Signatures of complainants]
 [The original text is as follows: "النجاة فی الصدق کما ان الهلاک فی الکذب"]