[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

 

Life and Soul, Not Just Homeland

 

It would be difficult to think of a group in a situation similar to that of the Baha’is in their current situation in Iran―a group that has continually trod the path of service, kindness, and truthfulness; a group that has never cut its connections to Iran and Iranians; a group that has never turned away from the people and the government and has never joined agents of opposition; a group that has, under all circumstances, avoided the tarnish of politics; a group that has in no way befriended agents of betrayal. Even so, through the pen of its detractors, a hideous, frightening, and strange image of them has been depicted that epitomizes treason, lies, hypocrisy, and enmity, or political connections and engagement in spying. They have hidden the true face of the Baha’is behind this horrific mask, and then normalized this falsified depiction by taking away every religious, customary, legal, and moral means of defence from them and throwing the generality of people into confusion regarding the truth of the matter.

It is in such a way that the Baha’is, ever since the dawn of their religion in Iran, have continually found themselves faced with tribulations, turbulence, and tests, and have not taken a peaceful breath for any period of time. The change in monarchy from Qajar to Pahlavi in 1304 [1925/1926] did not reduce its calamities. The few years of democracy after Shahrivar of 1320 [August/September 1941] did not untangle its difficulties. The change in Iran from autocracy to constitutional monarchy in 1324 [1945/1946] did not bring about any attenuation in the extent of atrocities being inflicted upon this group.

Following the change in the political situation of the country on 28 Mordad 1332 [19 August 1953], it fell under a severe and astonishing affliction. [The Baha’i Faith] experienced the destruction of its buildings and closing of its establishments, and its members faced attacks, assaults, killings, looting, exile, and insults. During the incidents of 1357 [1978], in the last years of the previous regime, it was ensnared by such a hurricane of calamities that it was unimaginable to bear. The level of injustice against this group reached such heights that close to eight hundred of their homes in various cities and villages were set on fire and thousands of individuals were turned into homeless wanderers. After the Revolution of the Islamic Republic on 22 Bahman [February 1979], there was initially some hope that this group, like other communities among the people of Iran, would gain their basic and fundamental rights, whether as human beings or as citizens of the Iranian government. However, not long after that, various types of calamities once again began to arrive from all directions.

Some people, who felt longstanding enmity toward this group and would take advantage of favourable conditions to attack them at any time and opportunity—and were continually supported by the governments of the time in these assaults and attacks—strangely changed course and showed themselves to be recipients of the support of the new government. First, they began their assaults from the fringes. Then, they expanded the extent of their attacks and, openly and using weapons, raided the homes and offices of the Baha’is and pillaged and stole their papers, documents, books, furniture, and belongings. Not seeing any resistance or prevention, they increased their impudence.

They continued their incitement, enmity, and slanders against the Baha’is as much as they could. They hurled various allegations with utmost cruelty and injustice against this forbearing and persevering group and continued to publish [those allegations] in newspapers, announcements, books, and pamphlets. Given that this group did not have the opportunity to defend its rights, was not allowed to act in response, and was deprived of the privilege of publishing, and its appeals to the authorities in charge were ineffective, gradually the propaganda by the opposition group proved influential in some respects and incited the minds of the people against the Baha’is and muddled the thoughts of the leaders in charge of the country’s affairs in many provinces; it got to a point where they tried, openly and bluntly, to compel a number of Baha’is under force and pressure to recant their faith, using various forms of threats, pressures, and intimidations.

When they faced the resistance of the Baha’is who tried to protect their faith, religion, and freedom of conscience, they began to expel them from their homes in cities and villages that had for many long years been the residence of their ancestors, and turned a large number of people in various parts of the country, including Fars, Khorasan, Azerbaijan, Kermanshah, Hamadan ... into homeless wanderers. But they did not limit themselves to this level of cruelty; rather, they followed these refugees to the other cities and threw out those among them who had sought refuge in some of the places belonging to the Baha’is. Even now they continue with utmost cruelty to inflict coercion, compulsion, pressure, and persecution upon these homeless and beleaguered wanderers in order to force them to leave their places of refuge.

They deprived the Baha’is of their jobs and left them in need of the barest sustenance by cutting their means of livelihood. In some cases, they were even dismissed from service as a group, plunging tens of families into deprivation and poverty. Then, in order not to lose any opportunity in any way, and not to shy away from any type of possible pressure, they prepared the means of confiscating all of the properties belonging to the Baha’i community, including historic sites, holy places, administrative offices, and the lands designated for houses of worship. It got to a point where even hospitals, cemeteries, and mortuaries were not spared from their follow-up efforts, as if they had decided that it was not enough to take away the necessary means of life, but also to deprive the Baha’is of the right to sickness, death, and burial so that, just as the living among this community are deprived of residing in their homes, their dead would also not have any place to be buried in. Little by little, they decided to destroy similar places in various provinces at opportune moments and to hurt and bewilder the people who hold the burial places of their martyrs in high esteem and maintain their spiritual connection to Iran in this way.

Finally, on Saturday, 17 Shahrivar of this year [8 September 1979], they equipped a group in Shiraz with picks and shovels and sent them along with armed individuals toward the House of the Bab in the Shamshirgaran neighbourhood. They destroyed this house in the light of day, razed it to the ground, and brought down its roof. In this manner, they proved that they are not only enemies of the life, property, reputation, honour, thoughts, and beliefs of the Baha’is, but also cannot stand the dirt and mortar of a house which, 136 years ago, was the place of the declaration of the Baha’i Faith. [It proved] that, in all cases, the only thing that is important for this cruel and aggressive group is to satisfy their spiteful hearts and beastly instincts; otherwise, they know full well that the call that has issued forth from this House is reverberating across the planet today and has been established in 100,000 cities, towns, and villages in the East, West, North and South of the world, and it has so penetrated the hearts and souls of a large number of human beings that it is no longer possible to conceal it under a pile of rubble, no matter how severe the destruction, or to hide it behind a veil of dust, no matter how thick it might be.

The Baha’is of Iran have repeatedly called the attention of the government authorities to the actions of these agents of intolerance, as well as to the repercussions that the continuation of such cruelty and injustice, or its repetition, might have around the world. Given our utmost regard for maintaining the reputation of our beloved homeland―and [we] love the good name of this country, which is considered sacred all over the world―by writing this letter we once again ask for your attention to these incidents and to the perpetuation of these injustices. Perchance, a small group of individuals will not succeed in causing a loss of respect for the people and take away the honour of this country in the eyes of the world by the actions they are taking against the Baha’is; perhaps they will not inflict hopelessness and sadness upon the lovers of Iran by destroying and impounding a House that belongs not only to the Baha’is of this country, but is also honoured, in 130 countries, by a large number of people representing 1,600 tribes and ethnic groups.

[We also wish] to convey to the opposition group, with clear certainty, that the continuation of these actions will not remove the bonds of love between the Baha’is of the world and the country of Iran. The bond of love with this renowned country, signed with the blood of tens of thousands of martyrs from among the Baha’is, is unbreakable. The Baha’is have always been, and will always be, supporters of the country, devotees of the people, and loyal to the government. The more they endure injustice and betrayal, the more persistent they will be in their love for Iran, which is an inseparable part of their adherence to their Faith.

[Persian poem][1]

The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran

9 Mehr 1358 [1 October 1979]

This is specifically for the Baha’i Community

 

 

[1] [Divan Hafez: The original text is as follows:]

ور باورت نمی شود از بنده این حدیث، از گفتۀ "کمال" دلیلی بیاورم، گر بر کنم دل از تو و بردارم از تو مهر، این مهر بر که افکنم این دل کجا برم