[TRANSCRIPT OF ORIGINAL NEWS ARTICLE IN ENGLISH]
GENEVA—30 November 2020—
Over a hundred government agents raided the shops and homes of tens of Baha'is across Iran, on 22 November 2020, and demanded that they hand over their property deeds. The simultaneous raids were staged in at least seven cities around the country and came just hours into a 15-day national lockdown imposed to slow coronavirus infections in the country.
“The coordinated raids against so many Baha'is represents a gross violation of the basic human rights of Baha’i citizens without any grounds except religious prejudice. Specifically, invading these homes, seizing numerous items, and demanding property deeds, may signal that the authorities are mobilizing to confiscate properties belonging to Baha'is on an even more concerted and widespread scale,” said Diane Ala’i, Representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.
The belongings that were taken included smartphones, computers and tablets, books, including Baha'i texts, and other items. Several of the raided homes belonged to Baha'is who had previously been targeted by the authorities. The Baha'is were also ordered to report to Iran’s Bureau of Investigation.
The raids took place in the capital Tehran, as well as Karaj, Isfahan, Mashhad, Kerman, Shahin-Shahr and Baharestan. Witnesses reported that the agents ignored all the government’s own health protocols while at the homes of the Baha'is.
“Iran’s health crisis is dire,” Ms. Ala’i said, “and yet the government has targeted the homes of law-abiding people, including those with young children, the elderly and the sick, perhaps exposing them to the coronavirus and worsening the psychological and material pressures on these innocent people.”
“The Baha'is are being terrorized, threatened with asset seizures, and treated like criminals,” Ms. Ala’i added, “but who has committed the crime here? The innocent Baha'is or the authorities who have raided their homes without legal justification?”
These developments are the latest in a pattern of property confiscations since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Since that time large numbers of private and business properties belonging to Baha'is have been arbitrarily confiscated, including homes and farms.
“Iran’s government has long used property confiscations to impoverish the Baha'i community,” Ala’i added, “however Iranians of good conscience know that the Baha'is only wish is to contribute to the progress of Iran and that they are innocent. The true crime is Iran’s government placing its hands on the hard-earned livelihoods and properties of its Baha'i citizens.”
- The Baha'is are Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority and have been systematically persecuted by the government since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
- More than 200 Baha'is were executed in the years after the Islamic Revolution.
- A 1991 policy document signed by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for the progress and development of Iran’s Baha'i community to be “blocked” and for Baha'is to be denied education and livelihoods. Thousands of articles of propaganda against the Baha'is are published in Iran’s state media each year.
- Hundreds of Baha'i-owned private properties, including homes, small businesses and farms, have been confiscated since the Islamic Revolution.
- See BIC.org for comprehensive information on the persecution of the Baha'is in Iran: https://www.bic.org/focus-areas/situation-iranian-bahais
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