[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:] Habilian Association

[Date:] 5 Dey 1384 [26 December 2005]

 

The Untold Stories of the Controversial Death of a Baha’i in Prison

In a report, the Baztab correspondent from Yazd published the unspoken details of the arrest and death of Zabihollah Mahrami, a Baha’i prisoner.

According to the report, Zabihollah Mahrami was arrested in 1374 [1995] on charges of espionage and having links with foreigners, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. At the time of his death, he was serving his tenth year in prison, during which time he enjoyed all the rights of prisoners, including several days of leave and regular family visits.

Zabihollah Mahrami died of a heart attack on 23 Azar [14 December], on the eve of his sixtieth birthday.

After the death of Mahrami in prison, forensic medicine diagnosed a heart attack as the cause of his death. His family was also informed that, if they wished, the body of this Baha’i prisoner would be handed to the family-approved physician for examination and diagnosis of the cause of death, but by order of the House of Justice, the highest-ranking Baha’i organization, headquartered in Israel, the Mahrami family refused to do so.

The report added, “[After the announcement of] the opinion of the Mahrami family, which does not need to re-examine the cause of his death, his body was given to the family, and after his burial in Yazd, several memorial services (the prayer services of the Baha’is) were conducted for him.”

Last Friday, the U.S. government attacked the government of the Islamic Republic for what it called “systematic repression” of religious minorities.

The deputy spokesman of the Department of State, Adam Ereli, described the cause of death of Zabihollah Mahrami as unknown. He said, “The arrest of 59-year-old Mahrami was not a unique case; the Islamic State systematically suppresses its citizens, including persecution, for religious, political and other reasons. A spokesman for the U.S. government said that followers of the Baha’i sect, which was founded in the 19th century, were systematically deprived of the right to assemble, maintain institutions, or worship freely.

Some foreign media outlets had reported the presence of 300,000 Baha’is in Iran, citing the United States Department of State report. According to current statistics, the number of Baha’is living in Iran is estimated at between 90,000 and 110,000, and the U.S. State Department still cites pre-revolutionary Baha’i figures in Iran.

Meanwhile, a well-informed official told Baztab, “Currently, no one is imprisoned in Iranian prisons for converting to the Baha’i sect, and only one of the sect’s followers is in detention.”

The formation of the Baha’i sect dates back to the reign of Mohammad Shah Qajar, at which time Seyyed Ali-Muhammad Bab, and then a person named Mirza Husayn-Ali Nuri, first claimed to be related to the Lord of the Age and gradually [designated] themselves as the Lord of the Age and the Prophet. Some people followed them and by this following, the Baha’i sect was formed.

During the Pahlavi regime, the number of Baha’is in Iran increased with numerous facilities and the regime granted the Baha’is high positions. However, after the Islamic Revolution, a number of these individuals recanted [their belief in] the Baha’i sect and a number emigrated out of Iran.