[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:] Human Rights in Iran

[Date:] 28 Khordad 1396 [18 June 2017]

 

Complaint of a Baha’i Citizen Living in Mazandaran Province Addressed to Hassan Rouhani

A Baha’i resident of Mazandaran Province sent a [letter of] complaint to Hassan Rouhani regarding numerous violations of the rights of Baha’i citizens, especially in the field of economic activities, calling for the removal of existing deprivation against Baha’is in Iran.

According to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, quoted by Baha’i News, the letter, which was provided to this news agency, listed a number of areas where places of business of the Baha’is have been sealed by the Governmental Discretionary Punishments Office, enumerating the cases of citizenship rights and the Charter of Citizenship Rights. The Baha’i citizen also wrote about the treatment by provincial officials of Baha’is whose businesses have been sealed: “Those officials who caused the closure of shops do not allow us to speak at all.” In the text of the complaint it states, “Whenever we tried to meet either of them and inquired about the reason for all these injustices (from the esteemed governor general’s officials to the prosecutor’s office and the general justice department, as well as many state and military officials), they all tried to acquit themselves and have often stated that they are innocent and guiltless and mostly stated that there was nothing they could do, or that the issue had nothing to do with them at all. Strangely enough, in the meantime, the esteemed governor general of Mazandaran has completely withdrawn, and it seems as if in his area of rule, a number of law-violating officials and agents have stolen the bread from the table of more than a hundred Baha’i families and citizens in this province and more than four hundred people have been placed under economic siege.”

 

The text of this complaint provided to the Baha’i World News Service is as follows:

Esteemed President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Rouhani

Respectfully submitting,

We, the Baha’i citizens in Mazandaran Province, whose businesses have been sealed without any violation of the trade union regulations since 11 and 12 Aban 1395 [1 and 2 of November 2016], have been waiting during this time for you to hear the call of these oppressed ones, to stand up and administer the rights of these aggrieved people and with determination―as it has been stated in the Charter of Citizenship Rights―firmly ask the relevant authorities not to brutally trample the citizenship rights of their compatriots, which have nothing to do with their ethnicity, race, religion or faith, and:

“Like Ali”, without asking “their religion”, return the bread to their family’s table.

It was this hope that the government instilled in our hearts with the publication of the Charter of Citizenship Rights, and it was thought that at least some government officials would be obliged to implement the principles mentioned in the Charter of Human Rights. Unfortunately, it should be said that none of the officials who have been involved in some way in the economic strangulation of a large group of Baha’is have made the slightest effort to implement the principles set out in the Charter.

Whenever we tried to meet any of them and enquire about the reason for all these injustices (from esteemed officials of the provincial governor general to the public prosecutor’s office and the head office of the judiciary, as well as many state and military officials), they all cleared themselves and have often stated that they are innocent and guiltless and mostly stated that there was nothing they could do, or that the issue had nothing to do with them at all.

Strangely enough, in the meantime, the esteemed governor general of Mazandaran has completely withdrawn himself from the case, and it seems as if in his jurisdiction, a number of law-violating officials and agents have [stolen] bread from the table of more than a hundred Baha’i families and citizens in this province, and more than four hundred people have been placed under economic strangulation, while during this period of seven months, none of the business owners whose shops have been closed for no legal reason, were given a minute’s visit with them. One or two of their esteemed deputies have explicitly stated that to unseal our shops, we would have no choice but to sign the letter of undertaking prepared by the Public Places Supervision Office.

Here, it is necessary to mention that it is very regrettable and disheartening that those who should be exemplary in enforcing the laws themselves want to force the law-abiding people of this society to break the laws with irrational and illogical demands and pressure through economic sanctions, and in this regard, they do not and will not refrain from spreading any calumny and slander.

Of course, the relevant authorities themselves are well aware that our refusal to sign the said letter of undertaking is only because it is illegal; however, in connection with not being allowed to visit the esteemed governor general, it is necessary to mention that even some time ago, some of these business owners received a letter from the Islamic Consultative Assembly to follow up on this issue in the governor general’s office. Once they presented themselves at that office, the guards, upon noticing they were Baha’is, prevented them from entering the governor’s office; it was even more surprising when a Baha’i succeeded in going to the governor general’s office to meet with the governor in one of his Mulaghat-i-Mardumi[1]. After talking to one of the esteemed secretaries, he asked to be allowed to meet with the governor for only one minute, but the esteemed secretary explicitly stated, “The governor-general will not give you an audience”.

Upon hearing this, the statement of Imam Ali came to our mind, in letter number 46 of Nahj al-Balagha, where he addressed one of the agents and government officials: “Receive people with open arms, be open and humble with people and be equal in the eyes and gestures.”[2] It is also one of the wise statements of His Holiness in Nahj al-Balagha where he states: “Justice is a deliberation which benefits all.” (Observe how great the difference is between the two ways).

Of course, the observation of these injustices against us Baha’is during the Revolution―even before the Islamic Revolution―is not something new, and every now and then, it appears in an unbelievable way. For this reason, in the world today, most of the intelligentsia, philanthropists and those who consider the observance of human rights as an indicator of humanity and an important factor in resolving the ambiguities and differences among the human beings, are aware that during the last 38 years, some officials at different levels―contrary to all the issues raised in the laws of Iran and the world―by publication of all kinds of slanders and lies, are constantly moving in the direction of repressing the oppressed and defenceless Baha’is and have not and will not refrain from any hostile action. Of course, as it has been experienced, the group of opponents of this religion—who, due to their religious prejudices or lack of proper knowledge of the Baha’i teachings—are constantly moving in the direction of anti-Baha’is when they witness that the pressures and the oppression of the Baha’is continue, such as the killing of more than 230 prominent Baha’is in the early years of the revolution and dismissal of all Baha’is from government offices and ministries, expelling Baha’i students and dismissal of professors from universities, and even termination of pensions.

The result has been nothing but the growing popularity of this religion in the world; therefore, they think that the effective and feasible weapon is to [steal] bread from the Baha’i tables, shut down and seal their shops in cities like Hamadan, Kerman, Rafsanjan, Semnan, Karaj, Bandar Abbas, Miandoab, Salmanshahr, Rasht, Sari, Qaemshahr, Babolsar, Amol, Babol, Behnamir, Fereydunkenar, Nowshahr, Chalous, Ramsar, Tonekabon, etc. Certainly, such hostile actions will have no result other than generating the hatred and disgust of those who have been and will be caught in it, from our dear compatriots to other conscientious and intelligent people of the world. In this way, they inflict the biggest blow on the reputation of Iran and Islam and display their harsh face. Not even a day passes on which some Iranians and foreign scholars and members of the intelligentsia have not written in condemnation of this kind of wrongdoing in various ways, and their cries of protest have not reached the ears of international human rights organizations.

Another noteworthy and important point is that we Baha’is, according to our beliefs, consider it our duty to obey the civil and social laws of every country where we live—as long as it is not contrary to our spiritual and conscientious beliefs—and to serve honestly all the people of the world, especially our dear compatriots in Iran. Now, although the same laws in Iran deprive us, the Baha’is, of many individual, social and human rights such as freedom of speech, going to university, employment in government offices and ministries, publication of relevant books, journals, etc., until the reform of these kinds of principles and laws and the elimination of discrimination, we, the Baha’is, do not want anything more than what is currently referred to in the law as “citizenship rights or the rights of the nation” from respected officials of the regime, which, in these days, is one of the clear indications. We want to be declared in these laws to be allowed to have a suitable job and to earn lawful money without any condition for the entire Iranian nation regardless of any religion, creed or ethnicity.

In this regard, no factor, even the propagation of religious beliefs—except to some officials—can be a pretext for cutting off the livelihood and drying up the roots of the Baha’i family’s economy. If there has been any propaganda, it is apparently because of the sealing of shops, where non-Baha’i friends are constantly asking questions and inquiring why our businesses have been sealed, and it must be said that these illegal actions are carried out solely because we are Baha’is. If there exists an impartial court, unlike the perpetrators behind the shop closure, who do not allow us to speak, it would look at our defences honestly, fairly and impartially, and many truths would be revealed, and all the authorities, like our dear compatriots, would acknowledge our innocence and attest that we had not committed any crime defined by law.

In the next complaint, the reasons for the illegality of the sealing of Baha’i shops (in terms of domestic and foreign laws) as well as Islamic rules and teachings will be brought to the ears of the president and other sympathetic officials.

In the hope that the law will rule in society one day,

Regards – A. Rowshani

 

 

 

 

 

[1] [Mulaghat-i-Mardumi where general public meets with the official for grievance]

[2] https://www.sryahwapublications.com/journal-of-public-administration/pdf/v1-i3/5.pdf