[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]
[Date:] 17 Tir 1333 [8 July 1954]
The Honourable Kayhan Newspaper,
The news published in Kayhan Newspaper in issue No. 3325- 17 Tir 1333 [8 July 1954] under the headline, “One of the Perpetrators of the Heinous Murder of Abarghou Was Sent to Yazd Today to be Hanged―Mohammad Shirvani is a Member of the Baha’i Assembly of Yazd”, is not true; it is contrary to the truth. The content of the case file is false, and the issued verdict is not correct, since Mohammad Shirvani, who is condemned to execution, is Muslim and is a resident of Rabat Abarghou. He is not member of the Assembly of Yazd nor any other place. It is requested that you correct the news and publish the correct news―and this letter―in your next issue, according to the law of liable.
Navidi, lawyer for the accused In Yazd
In the month of Ordibehesht [May], a criminal trial was held in Branch 1 of the Criminal Court of Tehran, which was significant and popular, in terms of dealing with public religious sentiments, especially for those who have a prejudice and insistence on the religion. We waited for the result to be known and now we are informing the readers about it.
In the Village of Rabat Abarghou, located in the City of Yazd, the Baha’i community increased its propaganda activity on the Baha’i faith among the people of the village. In the vicinity of the assembly, there was a poor and impoverished family. They were staunch believers and fanatics, who looked at this propaganda with pessimism and had thwarted their activities, and there were constant quarrels, insults and possibly slanderous swearing between the assembly [Baha’is] and this family.
This poor family consisted of a widow named Soghra, with five young children, the oldest of whom was 14 years old and the youngest of whom was six. The woman’s occupation was [doing] laundry, and since she did not have a husband or a breadwinner, she provided for herself and her children in this way.
On the night of 13 Dey 1328 [3 January 1950], 19 members of the Baha’i community went to the home of this poor family and dismembered the six women and children brutally, and with cruelty, with shovels, pickaxes, knives, scissors, and similar tools.
At the dawn after that night, these people were arrested by the gendarmes and handed over to the judicial authorities. After a year and a half, their trial took place in the Tehran Criminal Court, and after 22 sessions of trial, yesterday, the verdict of the Tehran Criminal Court was issued as follows.
According to the confessions and definite evidence and reasons that were in the case file:
- Four people, by the names of Mohammad Shirvani, Hosein Karambakhsh, Hasan Hemmati, and Mohammad Refahi, were accused of complicity in the murder of Banu Soghra and her five children; they were sentenced to death and payment of one thousand rials in court costs.
- Three people, by the names of Abbas-Ali Pourmehdi, Hasan Shamsi, and Ali-Mohammad Shirvani, accused of participation and complicity and in the crime, were each sentenced to ten years in prison with hard labour and payment of one thousand rials [each] in court costs.
- Nine members of the Baha’i Assembly of Yazd, Dr. Mohammad Manshadi, Dr. Kaykhosrow Rasti, Habibollah Rafati, Hosein Salekian, Esfandiar Majzoob, Abdol-Khalegh Malakoutian, Mahmoud Meshki, Mohammad-Ali Afnan and Badiollah Afnan, were sentenced to three years in prison each for complicity in the murder and the payment of one thousand rials in court fees.
- Mohammad-Hosein Nekouei and Ahmad Nekouei were acquitted in the court due to lack of evidence.
- The trial of Jalal Binesh, another defendant, was suspended because he had already died.
Following the announcement of the verdict, the convicted defendants appealed the verdict issued by the court. According to our correspondent, the court’s verdict was written in 30 large pages. Each of the defendants’ cases was argued separately and in detail, and their convictions were determined.
In more information, the readers are reminded that the sessions of this trial were full of spectators every day. The spectators had fierce feelings for the defendants and sometimes there were demonstrations. As a result, for several days, a large number of soldiers around the courthouse were watching the situation during the trial.