[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:] Iran Times
[Date:] Friday, 31 July 1998
[Issue No.:] 20
The Baha’i Community Announced That a Baha’i Was Hanged in Mashhad
Rouhollah Rowhani Was Found Guilty of Teaching Baha’ism to a Muslim Woman
The head of the Islamic Revolutionary Court denied the news of his execution four days later, but the brother of Rowhani confirmed the news of his execution and interment with the French news agency.
The Baha’i community declared that the government of the Islamic Republic had hanged one of the Baha’is in Mashhad; his body was delivered to his family, but the Islamic Republic described the news as “a pure lie”.
On Wednesday, 31 Tir [22 July 1998] the Baha’i community in North America [the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States] declared that Rouhollah Rowhani, 52, a trader of medical instruments, was hanged in Mashhad on Tuesday, 30 Tir [21 July 1998]. He had been arrested [illegible] earlier on because of teaching the Baha’i Faith to a Muslim woman.
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of [the United States], in a press release issued for this purpose, announced: “Rouhollah Rawḥani had denied the accusation; nevertheless, he remained in solitary confinement for 10 months.
The Baha’i sources declared there was [no] evidence that he had access to a lawyer, and they reiterated that his accusation was not announced publicly and the death sentence was decreed in secret. Rouhollah Rowhani was the first Baha’i to be executed within the past six years.
The family of Rouhollah Rowhani in Mashhad stated that they had not taken the death sentence seriously, but they only believed the truth of the matter when they were called from the prison to receive the body. They said, “On the neck of the deceased, there were clear marks of the hanging rope.”
Nevertheless, on Monday, 5 Mordad [27 July 1998] the Islamic Revolutionary Court denied the information of the foreign sources of news.
Four days after the dissemination of the news of the execution of this Baha’i across the world, Gholam Hosein Rahbarpour, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Courts, denied the news. He said, “None of the branches of this Court has issued any death sentence against a person by the name of Rouhollah Rowhani, belonging to the Baha’i sect, and such news is totally devoid of truth.”
The news agency of the Islamic Republic wrote, “Three foreign radio stations had broadcast this news”. But this news agency did not expand on the denial of this news. Neither did he clarify anything regarding the handing over of the body of Mr. Rowhani to his family.
Following the circulation of the denial of the news of the execution of Rouhollah Rowhani, his brother Feizollah Rowhani confirmed the news of his execution and interment with the French news agency.
Also, Reuters news agency reported from Geneva that despite the official denial of the Islamic Republic, the Baha’i community has confirmed that Rouhollah Rowhani was hanged last Tuesday in the prison of Mashhad.
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 is worried about three other imprisoned Baha’is who may also be hanged soon. According to her, these three [Baha’is] were also sentenced to death together with Rowhani at a secret court. She mentioned their names as Ataollah Hamid Nasirizadeh, Sirous Zabih[i] Moghaddam and Hedayat Kashefi.
The Baha’i [International] Community announced that 200 of its members had been executed so far by the Islamic Republic. According to 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 rights to inheritance, higher education, government jobs and other human rights.
Firouz Kazemzadeh, the spokesperson of the American Baha’i community, whose members are said to number 130,000, said, “We expected that the statement of President Khatami, reiterating freedom, justice and the rule 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.
The spokesperson for the White House, in a statement whose wording was stronger than ever, condemned the execution of Rowhani, and, referring to the repeated statements of the officials of the Islamic Republic, such as Muhammad Khatami, the president of the Islamic Republic, regarding the rule of law, he emphasized that “Speech about the rule of law would be meaningless unless and until the human rights of the Iranians, including religious freedom, has become respected [solidified].”
The spokesperson of the U.S. State Department dedicated a part of the meeting to reading the statement against the action of the Islamic Republic in hanging this Baha’i, and the foreign ministers of Australia and Canada, as well as Mary Robinson, the secretary of the Human Rights Commission, condemned the execution of Rowhani.
Alexander Downer, the foreign minister of Australia said, “The execution of this Baha’i is against the statements of the Islamic Republic’s officials regarding the improvements of the social policy and personal rights to freedom.
Lloyd Axworthy, the [Canadian minister of foreign affairs], called the execution of Rowhani “a savage act” and asked Ali Khamenei and Muhammad Khatami to clearly state that this action had been carried out without their knowledge.