[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:] Saham News
[Date:] 5 Azar 1393 [26 November 2014]
1,000 Years in Prison For the Baha’is of Iran
In recent months, economic and social pressures on the Baha’i community in Iran have increased in parallel with the widespread arrest and imprisonment of members of this community to such an extent that the study of the process of these dealings shows the pursuit of the project of gradual annihilation of the Baha’i community in Iran since the founding of the Islamic Republic.
According to Saham, more than 130 Baha’is, men and women, are currently being held in various prisons in the Islamic Republic. These people have sentences of one to 20 years in their file. The maximum sentence was given to the seven leaders of this community, each of whom has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. In recent months, economic pressures on this community, such as widespread and continuous closure of businesses in Semnan, Hamadan and Bandar Abbas, and confiscation of the properties of some of their business people, along with increasing social pressures, such as a widespread ban on continuing education of the young people of this community in Iranian universities and the threat to university life that the government has created for the continuation of education of its youth, has been on the rise.
In this year’s National University Entrance Examination, more than 30 Baha’i youths were able to successfully break the exam barrier, but were unable to advance against the selection blockade, and, just like their other co-religionists in previous years, had no choice but to go to the underground university of the Baha’i community in Iran.
A study of the behaviour of the officials of the Islamic Republic since its establishment until now shows that in the past 35 years, three economic, social and security strategies have been adopted and implemented in parallel to the gradual annihilation of this community in Iran.
In the economic field, it is estimated that at today’s values, the Islamic Republic has confiscated more than one trillion dollars of the public and private property of the members of this community in the last 35 years. These properties are scattered throughout almost all of Iran. The most important and largest figures can be found in Tehran, Semnan, Yazd, Isfahan and Mazandaran. The 17 million-square-metre complex of Mahallati Town that is now in the possession of the Revolutionary Guards; the Haziratu’l-Quds building, which is the current location of the Hawzah Honari [Cultural Centre] at the intersection of Hafez and Taleghani Avenues in Tehran; their religious centres that officially existed in 22 provinces; all the northern side of Sepah Street, which belonged to the Azizi family and is still the Azizi Passage in Tehran, and is a relic of that family in the Republic; along with the Arj home appliances factory, which belonged to the Arjomandi family; and all the properties and belongings of Hojabr Yazdani, which is the largest meat, leather and livestock production complex in the Middle East, all of which were created in Semnan, is a small part of the public and private property of the Baha’i community in Iran that has been confiscated by local and political officials of the Islamic Republic over the past 35 years. The evacuation of residents of several villages around Tabriz, Sari and Yasuj in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad and the confiscation of their land have been other measures to weaken the Baha’i community in Iran.
As a result of these economic pressures, there was widespread geographical displacement within the community, and many of them migrated to other cities or foreign countries, abandoning their properties, land, and homes. This action has caused their properties to be looted as derelict properties. They are not able to get these properties back, even with the legal documents. These properties have been being sold for years and are inhabited by other people, while their original owners are living in unfavourable economic conditions in cities, such as Tehran and Isfahan.
In the security sector, the weakening and annihilation of this community has been accompanied by weaknesses in different periods of the Islamic Republic. In the first decade of the revolution, 225 members of this community were executed, and hundreds of them spent many long years of their lives in various prisons, especially in Rajaei-Shahr and Evin. Twice, all of the nine-member board of this community were arrested and killed, and their fate is still unknown.
At the beginning of the revolution, the members of this community numbered more than 600,000, but now, despite the increase in population growth rate, this community is facing a decrease in its membership, and estimates show that at best, their number reaches 400,000 people. Many of them have been scattered around the world for years.
In the social sphere, with the restriction of the possibility of education and work for the members of this community, the project of paralyzing and exterminating the Baha’is of Iran is being completed. The dismissal of these people from government offices began with the victory of the revolution, and they have been barred from studying in the country’s universities for many years now.
A number of Iranian Baha’i families are in prison en masse. In one case, the grandfather, the father and grandson are even together in prison. The simultaneous imprisonment of the parents of the family with their children has become a matter of [course] for the members of this community.
Studies show that people in this community have now been sentenced to more than a thousand years in prison, and 135 of them are serving prison sentences through these years.