[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran
Date: 12 Kalimat [Words] 103 [B.E.]
Corresponding to 2 Mordad 1325 [24 July 1946]
The Honourable Prime Minister Ashraf, Mr. Qavam os-Saltaneh,
With utmost respect, following our previous appeals, enclosed we would like to present the details of the events of Zahedan, Birjand, and Borujen of Isfahan, and respectfully request proper orders to be issued for the responsible authorities to put an end to the encroachment of justice and the transgression by the seditious criminals who have taken their atrocity and cruelty to the highest level. The savage actions of those people [would] leave the hearts of any human being wounded. No power, other than the powerful force of the government, can be imagined [as capable] of disciplining them. Please order the government officials, without any partiality and with no bias [in favour of] the prejudiced and tendentious individuals, to extinguish the fire of sedition and corruption with absolute neutrality and seriousness, to rescue a number of innocent, well-wishing peasants of this blessed country, who are caught in the grip of the oppression of the evil-doers and tormented by them, and to free them from the cruelty and oppression of rascals and ruffians.
We specifically request the honourable Ministry of Justice to provide necessary training to the Zahedan Court to be fully aware of the innocence of the Baha’is, and not to take the side of some seditious evil-doers and [support] the rancour and vindictiveness of a group of fanatic and prejudiced people, and not to create fictitious files against a number of respectable government employees who have never shown anything but honesty, trustworthiness and faith, accusing them of murdering the young child of a porter. Indeed, even this accusation is shameful. This is exactly the same scheme as the accusation in Yazd, when a group of honourable individuals of the town, solely for the crime of being Baha’is, were accused, by the seditious and biased people, of murdering a kiln-man. This should not be repeated, and the imprisonment of eight innocent people should not be prolonged. And [they should not] drag a number of defenceless women, whose houses have been plundered by the mobs, their husbands and children beaten and wounded, to the court for fictitious investigation every day. [And they should not] add insult to their injuries instead of showing them kindness and returning their possessions, to correct all the wrong doings.
In closing, with appreciation for the diligent actions of Your Honour, for preventing the continuation of the insurgence of the wicked people, we beseech you to issue explicit orders to punish the instigators and motivators of the events in Birjand, Zahedan and Borujen of Isfahan, and for the return of the plundered belongings, [and also to issue] explicit orders to prevent such similar tragic events in future, and to ensure that such a large number of honest and well-wishing peasants will be protected from the cruel transgressions of the heartless, wicked people, under the mercy and grace of the Imperial Government.
With most sincere respect,
Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran
National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran – Year 91
Painful Event in Zahedan
On 24 Khordad 1325 [14 June 1946], news was circulated in the City of Zahedan that the young child of a porter had disappeared. The next day, the porter went to the police and said, “Since my child was insulting the Baha’is and reciting vulgar poems about them, they have murdered him.” The police did not do anything, due to the claim’s being so baseless. The third day, the porter prepared a proclamation signed by a large number of Zahedan residents, [saying] that the Baha’is had killed his son. This went on for about eleven days in different forms, with everyone cursing and taunting Baha’is in all corners of town, until the lost child was pulled out of the sewage of a Saadat garage, owned by an influential person named Haji Ali Asghar, whose history of animosity towards Baha’is was well-known.
Immediately, a huge uproar against Baha’is started in town. On the afternoon of 4 Tir [25 June], Mr. Davari, an employee of the [Ministry of] Post and Telegraph was attacked by the mob. Three more Baha’is, Mr. Fazlollah Pakazma, his son, Farhad Pakazma, and Mr. Monjazeb were surrounded, beaten and wounded by a huge mob. The injured victims were set free by the interference of a few members of the military and police. Later, on the same day, the invaders attacked the home of Mr Mojgani, a Melli Bank clerk, broke down the door, entered the house, beat up and injured Mr. Mojgani’s mother, who was a frail, elderly woman, and plundered their house, taking many furniture items. Then they attacked the homes of and beat up Messrs. Daroughehie and Khabiri. Also, Mr. Ahmadi, who is a Baha’i of Birjand, who was staying temporarily in Zahedan, was severely beaten and all his money and valuable documents were stolen. Then they set out to attack Mr. Soheili’s home. In the meantime, Mr. Mojgani, Mr. Nazerzadeh and Mr. Abbas Aghaie were arrested and imprisoned, accused of murdering the porter’s son.
On 5 Tir [26 June], the so-called rascal Azadeh attacked a 20-year-old Baha’i who was travelling from Zabul to Zahedan, and severely beat him with an iron rod in the face, blinding him in one eye. They did not spare any cruelty. (The mentioned youth was taken to Tehran for surgery—his broken eyeglasses had torn into his eye socket and injured his eye. He has totally lost his sight in that eye, as attested to by renowned ophthalmologists.) Following this event, another Baha’i from Zabol, named Shabrokh, who was going to Zahedan, was attacked by the wicked mob, beaten and stabbed with knives several times. His body was badly injured, and his head was cracked open in many spots. He had ten thousand rials on him, which was stolen. Another person, named Gholam, was also stabbed. The cries and sighs of the defenceless wounded and the moaning and groaning of the innocent women and children reached the sky, but no one went to their rescue.
Instead of [providing] support for the oppressed, and preventing the actions of the seditious ones, the police station and local court imprisoned a number of Baha’is: Messrs. Nazerzadeh, Abbas Aghaie, Mojgani, Zolfonoun, Nikakhtar, the Mojtabaie and Safari brothers, accusing them of being accomplices in the murder. According to the reports we received, Ali-Akbar Tondari, the security interrogator, treated them very violently and harshly—even to the extent of beating them and reducing their food and sleep. The government officials did not pay any attention to the complaints of the oppressed. Even the clinic doctors refused to give reports of their injuries, and the telegraph office refused to cable their pleas for justice. Only the action of the Zahedan Brigade prevented the spread of further plunder, pillage and murder of Baha’is to some extent. But the hostile actions of the seditious and the malice of the officers in creating fictitious files are still continuing with force. Every day a group of innocent women are being shamelessly summoned to the police station for questioning. No one knows what all this will lead to, and what other atrocity will fall on the oppressed Baha’is of that spot.
The Events of Birjand
On Saturday, 8 Tir [29 June] at 9:00 a.m., Mirza Hosein Estila, the tailor, one of the seditious individuals, [aroused violence in] people by insulting what Baha’is hold sacred, swearing at Mr. Rezvani (a local Baha’i), and cursing Baha’is in the bazaar. The police arrested him. But as soon as he entered the prison, suddenly the whole town erupted in turmoil. The ruffians and rascals came down on the police station like a heavy flood, demanding Estila’s release. The police, scared of the attacks, released Estila. Then, led by Estila, a mean mob numbering in the thousands, attacked the Khairabad locality, where most Baha’is reside. First, they attacked the houses of Mr. Nourollah Rezvani and Mr. Sanaollah Rezvani; luckily, they did not succeed in getting in, due to their strong doors. Then they attacked Gholam-Hosein Sabeti’s home, breaking his door to get in. They broke their furniture and plundered their clothes, dishes and so on. They tore up all the Assembly’s documents, archives and Baha’i books. Then they attacked Mr. Tarazollah Rezvani’s home, plundered all his belongings, worth around 150,000 rials, and stole all his silver. They beat up Mr. Enayatollah Rezvani and Mr. Hosein-Khan Rezvani, who were at home, so severely that they almost killed them, but the [men] were rescued by two or three kind Muslims and escaped death.
From there, the mob attacked Mr. Mohammad Hosein Sabetghadam, the tailor; they plundered and stole all his belongings, carpets and furniture, which were his only wealth. They then attacked the home of Mr. Zabihollah Nabili, Birjand’s postmaster, who happened to be home, so he became a target of the enemy’s attack. He was injured, and all his belongings were plundered. They broke the doors of his rooms, tore up the women’s clothes, and so on. Fortunately, at this time, the head of the gendarmerie and garrison had arrived.
On the other side, the police, gendarmes and [soldiers] attempted to disperse the mob, but no matter how hard they tried, they did not succeed. The Baha’i women and children were terrified; some Baha’is fled to the mountains, and some went into hiding. The townspeople were worried. Houses were being plundered, while the ruffians and rascals were proud of their violent acts. Then they attacked Mr. Mohammad Ali Sabeti’s home; plundered his belongings in such a way that they left nothing behind. Some attacked Mr. Jafarzadeh’s home, the rest attacked the homes of Messrs. Kouchak Majidi, Nematollah Nabili, Zabihollah Masjouni and other Baha’is. All of this happened even though the Baha’is of Birjand had always treated the Muslims with absolute kindness and honesty and had always been leaders in charitable acts and helping the poor of the Birjand community. They never did anything that could have been interpreted as pretence in public. They always sought the happiness of all. The [monetary] damage to all the Baha’is is around one and a half million rials.
On 9 Tir [30 June], the Baha’is sent their plea for help by a special messenger, but he could not reach other Baha’is nor the authorities, as the town was still in turmoil. However, on the evening of the tenth [1 July], our telegram was submitted. But indeed, the authorities, namely the governor, the chief of police and the gendarmes, did not stop their efforts, and sought the help of the clergy and local religious leaders and influential people. They also requested help from Zahedan and Mashhad gendarmeries in order to extinguish the fire of this riot. But the revolt was extended to other places where Baha’is reside. The ruffians and rascals, who had been waiting for such a day, took advantage of the situation, continued the provocation and fanned the flames of the riot.
First, the news came from Sar Chah that the wicked people were planning to attack the homes of the meek Baha’is there and to injure them and plunder their houses. On 10 Tir [1 July] their savage acts started, led by Mohammad Hosein Korneili, Mohammad Hosein Rocky and Mohammad Hosein Matin. The head and side of Haji Saleh Salehi were severely injured. The wife of Mohammad-Ali Shakour, who is a sixty-year-old woman with very weak eyesight, was beaten so badly that she was bleeding profusely and is not able to move. Her son, Gholam-Reza, who is a member of the Sar Chah Assembly, was beaten. He had to hide in the subterranean canal for 24 hours, then went to Zirak. The wife of Ali-Geda Tavakkoli was beaten up, her arm was broken, and her sick daughter was kicked and injured in her bed. All the Baha’is of Sar Chah, young and old, men and women, were threatened and expelled from their homes. They were told “If you return, you will be killed.” You can imagine the situation of the arrival of a convoy of 23 naked, homeless Baha’is; some were injured, some had lost all their belongings, all were worried about their future with the death threats. [In the middle of] this predicament, some weak and sick Baha’is suffered from heart attacks and fainted as a result of these troubles, which added to the disaster.
Molla Hasan Ebrahimi, one of the Zirak Baha’is, with his daughter and [his] two young children, was in Pir Zanuk Village, 12 kilometres away from Zirak. They were there to harvest his crop. They were attacked by an unknown, seditious, ten-person mob, who set his beddings and carpet on fire, and beat him and his daughter unconscious. The daughter managed to run away and reached Zirak on the evening of the twelfth [3 July]. That day, four Baha’is of Zirak went to Pir Zanuk Village and brought Ebrahimi’s wounded body back to Zirak with great difficulty. He is now bed-ridden and close to death, awaiting the will of God. Even though his daughter’s arms and back are all bruised, she is tolerating this calamity in the path of God with absolute calmness and joy—in such a way that the gendarmerie officers are astonished.
The Events of Borujen of Isfahan
On 23 Tir [14 July], Mr. Esmail Vahedian, one of the Baha’is of Borujen, and a few Baha’i youth were planning to leave for Isfahan. As they were about to start the car, a bunch of local rascals swarmed the car, provoked by Seyyed Fakhr Shariat, [the notary public], Mr. Zia Madani, the preacher, Seyyed Hosein Madani, Borujen’s mayor, and Seyyed Yahya Sotoudeh, Isfahan’s education inspector. They blocked the way, to prevent Vahedian from going to Isfahan. When they did not see their target individuals in the car, they headed towards the Haziratu’l- Quds, the administration centre of Baha’is. On their way, they broke the door and windows of Lotfollah Homayouni’s tailor shop. As they entered the Haziratu’l-Quds, Mr. Esmail Vahedian and a few others who saw the mob’s approach, went to the rooftop. Kolahroudi, in charge of the telegraph office, and Madani, the mayor, went to the rooftop and said, “We will disperse the crowd, if you come down.” When, trusting the promise of Madani the mayor, they came down, Madani himself started to beat up Mr. Fereidoun Vahedi and encouraged the crowd to attack. The wicked men injured Mr. Esmail Vahedian and Abdor-Razzagh Vahedian, and also beat up Mahmoud Yazdani, Ebrahim Vahedian, the wife of Abbas-Gholi Motamedi, and a few other women, with sticks and stones and plundered the furniture of the Haziratu’l-Quds. The crowd was finally dispersed by the interference of the military officers. Kolahroudi and Madani went to the garrison and threatened the Baha’i refugees, saying, “We will cut you up in pieces.” Before Madani’s threats were over, his cousin Seyyed Yahya Sotoudeh, in consultation with Seyyed Fakhr, the notary public, stood on the street of the Haziratu’l-Quds and instigated crowds to attack the Haziratu’l-Quds. The mob madly attacked the Haziratu’l-Quds, broke the doors and windows, put the furniture, books and anything else they could find on fire. They also cut down over five hundred trees in the garden and demolished parts of the Haziratu’l-Quds building, [and then] burned and plundered the belongings of the custodian of the Haziratu’l-Quds. Mr. Esmail Vahedian’s condition was worse than the other injured and wounded individuals. Then the town crier announced that all Muslims from seven to 70 years old could take sanctuary at the telegraph office. Those who took sanctuary dispatched baseless telegrams to the government authorities, clergy unions and media, in order to cover up their own savage behaviour, the likes of which had never been seen, even in the backward countries. They wanted to make it look like the oppressed, wounded and plundered Baha’is were the perpetrators. Kolahroudi and Madani, who are both government officials, were indeed the main instigators of this tragedy.
[Official stamp on top of page one]
Received by the Office of the Prime Minister
Date: 19 Mordad 1325 [10 August 1946]
Office of the Prime Minister
Public number: 23367
Date of draft: 15 Mordad 1325 [6 August 1946]
Date of Transcription: 15 Mordad 1325 [6 August 1946]
Date of Registration: 19 Mordad 1325 [10 August 1946]
Mr. Ali-Akbar Foroutan
Content of the letter number 2863 was sent to the Ministries of Interior and Justice, to carefully investigate the matter and take proper legal actions.
The Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minster
Public Number 23267
Date of Draft -----
Date of Transcription -----
Date of Registration 19 Mordad 1325 [10 August 1946]
Ministry of Justice
A copy of letter number 2863 from the Baha’is of Iran is enclosed. Copies of the enclosures are also submitted herewith. Please order the content to be carefully reviewed. Proper necessary actions to be taken and the results reported.
The Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
Public Number 27813
Date of Draft 25 Shahrivar 1325 [16 September 1946]
Date of Transcription 25 Shahrivar 1325 [16 September 1946]
Date of Registration 30 Shahrivar 1325 [21 September 1946]
Ministry of the Interior
A copy of the petition signed by Ali-Akbar Foroutan with the seal of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran is forwarded herewith. Please order proper investigation [illegible] and appropriate measures to be taken; inform us of the results.
[Handwritten notes in the margin of the page]
Direct and Urgent
26 for copies
30 Shahrivar [21 September]