[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

 

23 Esfand 1359 [14 March 1981]

 

Mr. Hosein Taheri, honourable governor of Western Azerbaijan,

This is to respectfully draw to your attention that adherence to the codified laws and principles of the country, respecting the human standards and moral values, and finally, the implementation of social justice, while observing and securing the rights of every member of society, are elements that provide for the strengthening of the solid foundations of any society. In the beloved country of Iran, which has gone through a revolution, an urgent need for a fundamental structural construction while maintaining national unity is felt more than ever before. It is natural for members of society to expect the authorities to carry out a proper implementation of national laws.

Members of the Baha’i community, who have not had a moment’s respite from the sting of oppression, are also awaiting the realization of justice and the securing of their rightful social rights. In continuation, a brief account of the cruelty and tyranny that has been inflicted upon the wronged Baha’i community since the revolution is provided for your information so that you may, according to your judgement, take action to secure the trampled rights of the defenceless and obedient community:

Early in the month of Dey 1357 [end of December 1978] a large mob, consisting of thousands of people, carrying sticks, clubs and axes, while raising commotion and chaos, attacked the shops, businesses and residential homes of the Baha’is in Miandoab, and looted and pillaged all that they could, and whatever could not be plundered and robbed was set on fire and burnt down. In such a manner, 83 Baha’i families lost all their livelihood, simply because of their Baha’i beliefs, and were made homeless wanderers in the wilderness. Most parents knew nothing of the fate of their children, and as if that were not enough, the mobs attacked a father and son with daggers and axes, killing them and setting their bodies on fire, dragged them into the streets and threw the corpses in a ditch outside of the town. The extent of fear and horror was such that no one dared openly collect and bury the bodies.

This inhumane act was hardly over when the Baha’is residing in other towns and villages of the province, such as Urmia, Mahabad, Piranshahr, Oshnavieh, and the villages around Miandoab and Urmia, also became unsafe from harm and from the organized attacks and persecution of the heedless transgressors, who also launched their attacks on the businesses, shops and residential homes of the Baha’is in these localities, looted their belongings and furniture, set properties on fire and demolished them, and wounded some of the Baha’is with the intention of killing them. Most of the farms belonging to the Baha’is were destroyed; the several-year-old trees were uprooted, and two noble souls from among the Baha’i merchants of Mahabad and Urmia were dismissed from their jobs in the educational and health sectors, simply due to their Baha’s beliefs.

The order had been issued by the relevant minister and with no consideration for their rights. In every case, the Baha’i individuals and families have appealed their cases to the authorities, and have requested their cases to be investigated and for the persecution to stop. This has all been to no avail, and now, during the period of your governance, other unwarranted injustices, resulting from the violation of the regulations and of the clear text of the national constitutional law, have been inflicted upon this community. According to Articles 20, 22 and 23 of this law, the inquisition of any belief is not permissible, and it is explicitly stated that no one can be attacked or reprimanded because of his/her belief. It is firmly stated that the dignity, life, wealth, rights, home and job of every individual are protected against any attack, and that all the people of Iran, from whatever tribe or ethnicity that they may come, enjoy equal rights.

Yet, regrettably, far from paying any attention to the above-mentioned matters and without considering the national administrative and employment regulations and bylaws, Your Honour, as the governor of the province and as one who is responsible for the proper implementation of the regulations and laws, has issued orders instructing all offices in the province to identify and dismiss their employees, purely on the basis of their Baha’i beliefs. According to your instructions, the vast majority of the hardworking and trustworthy Baha’i employees have been dismissed from their jobs by their employers. It is as if these individuals were not Iranians and that they should not be under the protection of the constitutional law.

At this point, it is necessary to draw your attention to a brief summary of the Baha’i beliefs as follows, and then appeal for a reconsideration of the situation:

The Baha’is bear witness to the unity of God, and worship Him, Who is the invisible and unknowable Essence. They recognize the truth of all the Messengers and Prophets of God and acknowledge the authenticity of all the heavenly Books. The Baha’i Faith is a divinely ordained and independent religion, and has its own laws and ordinances, such as the obligatory prayer, fasting and many others. The Baha’is believe in observing moral as well as spiritual standards such as honesty, trustworthiness, piety, righteousness, purity and chastity, and refrain from any improper conduct. They also have other spiritual teachings, including the unity of mankind, which is the supreme goal of this divinely ordained Faith, as well as teachings such as the abolishment of the extremes of wealth and poverty, a [spiritual] solution to economic problems, universal peace, compulsory and universal education, equality of rights for men and women, the abandonment of all racial, political, religious and gender prejudices, etc., and finally, the independent investigation of truth; [these] are among its blessed teachings.

In obedience to their religious laws, the Baha’is are forbidden to interfere in political matters and are prohibited from membership in political parties; the reason being that [they] desire but unity, harmony, fellowship and oneness for all mankind. That is why [they] are unable to accept any political post such as prime minister, minister, ambassador or any other political position. The Baha’is will gladly, and in obedience to the government, serve the country and the nation, and will accept any non-political duty with honour and sincerity. They exert all efforts in cultural, social and civil fields of service. It is based on such beliefs that the Baha’i employees—as attested to by their colleagues and supervisors—are renowned for their efforts to carry out their duties, for their good manners and behaviour, and for observing moral standards. [This is] even to the extent that an injured and disabled Baha’i employee who was injured during his service to the nation and became paralyzed in both legs, and who regularly travelled to his work in a bicycle for the disabled, and who was continuing to work until recently, was dismissed from his work purely because of his belief in the Baha’i Faith―all this at a time when every day in the country, there is such widespread talk of the lost rights of the oppressed and of how to secure their rights, that it has led to the supreme leader of the revolution’s ordering the establishment of a special foundation for the disabled and the afflicted.

Not only have the appeals [of the above-mentioned employee] not borne any results so far, but, uncertain of his destiny, he is hopeful for a manifestation of Islamic justice, and waiting for an answer that would, under the banner of justice, explain why Baha’i employees who have committed no administrative fault would be dismissed from their jobs purely because of their beliefs, as mentioned above.  None of the employers of the mentioned offices have so far been able to provide [an acceptable] explanation to any of their honest and heavy-hearted employees; [they] only [make] reference to the fact that it is an order from the governor of the Province.

Mr. Governor! What is clear and evident is that the Baha’is neither disbelieve in the Islamic system, nor are they ignorant and unaware of the regulations of the Islamic Republic. But what is unclear to them is the multiplicity of injustices and abuses that have been and are being inflicted upon them. For example, on Thursday, 14 Esfand 1359 [5 March 1981] three armed groups, seemingly from the Alimentation Supplies Committee, and without submitting any form of warrant or order, or even being accompanied by the police, entered the homes of a large number of the Baha’is of the city. This is under circumstances when it has been repeatedly stated in the provincial radio and television news that no authority, under any title that may be, has the right to enter anyone’s house without the presence of a representative of the police [or] law enforcement within the city limits, or the rural and roads police (gendarmerie) outside the city. Nevertheless, fully disregarding the mentioned regulations and with no respect for the spiritual and Islamic standards, according to the clear text of the Quran that states, “O ye who believe! Enter not houses other than your own without first announcing your presence and invoking peace upon the folk thereof. That is better for you, that ye may be heedful”[1], these three groups entered these homes.

At the time, there were mostly women and their children at home, and they had imagined that these men were from the Alimentation Supplies Committee, and that their search would be purely about food. But, unfortunately, it turned out that, while going through all the furniture in the houses, they took all the existing Baha’i books, and in some homes they found and confiscated cheques, promissory notes, even property ownership documents, and bank account books. In some cases, they even refused to give a copy of the [notes they had prepared] as a receipt of what they had taken away. They simply invited the owners of the books and documents to go to the centre for the Alimentation Supplies Committee on 16 Esfand 1359 [7 March 1981] to collect what had been confiscated. When these individuals arrived at the appointed time, instead of having their belongings delivered to them, they had to give a written [undertaking] that they are not permitted to leave the city.

In order to prevent such a thing from happening again, and in order to provide the authorities with further trust and confidence and peace and tranquillity, if you consider it advisable, please arrange for and order the formation of a committee consisting of deputies of the Governor’s Office, the Clerical Council, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Police, the Revolutionary Court and a representative of the Baha’i community, so that whenever it is required, the homes of the Baha’is may be inspected.

In closing, we draw your attention once again to the above-mentioned points, and the manifold hardships suffered by the Baha’i community and its rights that have been taken away, and we request the issuance of the necessary orders to restore the rights of this community, which is the largest religious [minority] community in the country. We also request that the authorities act according to the legal standards in returning the books and documents of the Baha’i families, and to not consent to any further deprivation of the rights of this wronged and defenceless community.

May God grant you ever increasing success and confirmations.

The secretary of the Local Assembly of the Baha’is of Urmia

Agahollah Tizfahm

[Signature]

 

[Handwritten note at the bottom of the page]

161

8 Farvardin 1360 [28 March 1981]

In the Name of God!

The greatest oppression and cruelty that you have been inflicted with is that at the time of the peak of the blossoming of the knowledge of God, you have defiled your robes with blasphemy, have turned away from the divine countenance of Prophet Muhammad, and have turned towards those individuals who had shamefully raised the call of “Verily I am God, the forsaken prisoner” and who had wholeheartedly prayed for the actions taken by imperialist Britain to dominate the Middle East. This will surely lead to your clear ruin in this world and in the life to come [illegible]; there is no escape for you from the consequences, but to repent. The Iranian society, in order to uproot [illegible] part [illegible] would be from it [illegible], then [illegible] implement [illegible].

With regards to the entry of the committee members while not being accompanied by members of the police force, the necessary [illegible] have been issued to the authorities.

[Signature]

 

[Handwritten note at top of the first page]

Brother Taheri

27 Esfand 1359 [18 March 1981]

 

 

[1] Quran, 24:27 [Pickthall tr.]