[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

 

In the Name of God

 

For what sin should we be so oppressed? Have you not “…pledged not to forgive any man’s injustice…?[1]

Persecution, imprisonment, torture and martyrdom, displacement and banishment from homeland, the destruction of homes, dismissal from work, deprivation of education, destruction of the holy places and the cemeteries, prohibition of burying the dead and insulting the religious sanctities, sealing the business premises, and, this time, the expropriation of agricultural lands of one of the villages located in the northern province of the country, Mazandaran, the evergreen [province].

The Village of Roshan Kouh is one of the pleasant villages of Mazandaran Province, in which, thanks to Almighty God, the hearts of the inhabitants of this land have been illumined with the light of the candle of the Blessed Beauty since the earliest days of the Cause of God and they are proud that their place of residence was named by the Guardian. For that they are as faithful and steadfast as the mountains of Mazandaran rising to the sky.

Description of Event

During the past five years, at first, the order was to demolish sixteen residential houses under the pretext that these regions are falling within Natural Resources jurisdiction. Now, agricultural lands have been occupied, which have been cultivated for generations, for more than a hundred years.

On 3 Aban 1399 [24 October 2020] at 10:00 a.m., the head of the Natural Resources Protection Unit, accompanied by the forest rangers of the region, fifteen rangers from the whole region, and fifteen members of the relief unit, completely armed, entered the village of Roshan Kouh with the police from the Kiasar police station. With the intention of expropriating the lands, they expelled the loved ones who were cultivating wheat in the fields.

The landowners and the residents requested a court order and a written notification order. Since there was no legal order, the officers, after repeated contact with the judge and other departments, returned to Kiasar with a Kiasar police car, bringing a letter from the Natural Resources Department, signed by the judge of Branch 1 of the Public Court of Kiasar, the text of which indicated that the land was (to be seized under Article 55), and they sent new law enforcement officers to carry out the seizure.

At the insistence of the landowners and the honourable and zealous people, this shameful situation lasted until three in the afternoon. The authorities demolished the farmland border hedges that had been cultivated for over a hundred years, laid new foundations and placed barbed wire. The landowners were asked to sign a report stating that the land had been handed over to the Natural Resources Department. All landowners refused; afterwards all (landowners) were directed to the court and the Kiasar police station.

On 5 Aban 1399 [26 October 2020], five of the landowners appealed to the Kiasar police station, where the head of the police station asked about the documents of the lands. The documentation was presented to him and, without asking any questions, or providing a ruling, he directed the landowners to the Kiasar court. The landowners appealed to the presiding judge of the Kiasar court and he (the judge) declared that he was not aware of the case and that the Kiasar court did not have jurisdiction.

He directed everyone to the [Branch] 15 Court of Law of Sari (which specializes in natural resources), where they filed a petition to have the verdict annulled, announcing the recognition of Article 56 of Natural Resources. After consulting with the lawyers, it was announced that with this lawsuit, they had acknowledged that their lands were under national jurisdiction, despite their having the ownership documents. So, in the lawyers’ view, the best way would be to file a complaint against the destruction and aggressive occupation of the natural resources of the province and the city.

After various consultations, it seemed that a verdict might have been issued before, in the absence of the landowners. It must be explained that four years ago, the authorities had come to Roshan Kouh Village and ordered the expropriation and demolition of sixteen houses. After a four-year follow-up, the friends had succeeded in making the claims of Natural Resources and other departments ineffective. In the meantime, complaints and testimonies were prepared and presented to the Mazandaran governor’s office, the governor’s political deputy, the Sari governor’s political deputy, the general director of natural resources of the province, the prosecutor of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Sari and the judicial deputy of the province.

At the lawyer’s suggestion, we referred to [Branch] 15 of the Court of Law. There was no case for the landowners. When we referred to the implementation of criminal and civil sentences, we were advised that there was no sentence. When referring to the Sari city prosecutor―despite a great deal of insistence, they did not allow a face-to-face meeting―they directed us to the head of the secretariat. The head of the secretariat did not give a full explanation―only letters that were in the possession of law enforcement were referred to them.

At the next hearing, after two hours of insistence from the landowners, the prosecutor ordered under the registered letter to investigate and enquire on 14 Aban 1399 [4 November 2020]. On that same day, friends and local residents announced that the police and the guards of the whole area had come to the village again, with machines that could travel in the cultivated lands to complete their unfinished work. The inhabitants and owners of the land and the zealous women of Roshan Kouh were able to prevent this; all the officers left the place and the project was left unfinished.

Meanwhile, the residents and landowners took photos of the letter that was in the hands of the officers, which was the letter from the Security Police to Natural Resources, dated 27 Mehr 1399 [18 October 2020], ordering the Natural Resources Department to investigate and enquire. Natural Resources requested a judicial representation from the judge of Kiasar without any investigation, all of which lasted four days. It must be explained that a week before the execution, the head of the foresters of the area measured the seized lands with GPS and announced them as part of the national resources.

We have continued the follow-up and we had a face-to-face meeting with the judicial deputy of the province, and the following official requested that the court of Branch 1 of Kiasar follow up. The landowners went to the Kiasar court on 24 Aban 1399 [14 November 2020], submitted the letter, and pursued the complaint of 14 Aban 1399 [4 November 2020] which had not yet been registered. The judge became angry when he saw the complaint against the Natural Resources Department about the destruction and aggressive illegal occupation, because the friends did not go in the predetermined direction; the judge asked everyone to make their statements, and all of them insisted on their complaint.

Enclosure 1: Landowners’ documents, ownership, land reform and documents of [illegible]

Enclosure 2: Security police letter and request for judicial representation of natural resources

Enclosure 3: Petition to provincial and city officials

Enclosure 4: The testimony that was signed and sealed by the Muslim residents of villages around Roshan Kouh, Hajji Kola, Akhvord and Sadat Mahalleh villages.

Enclosure 5: Sample of a complaint about destruction and aggressive illegal occupation

Enclosure 6: Aerial maps of the Natural Resources [area] in 1345 [1966/1967] and current maps drawn with Google Earth on the previous maps.

It should be noted that we are the only village that lost a lot of land and became part of the National Resources Department, but we did not make the slightest seizure.

 

 

[1] [Baha’u’llah, Hidden Words, Persian, No. 64] https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/bahaullah/hidden-words/3#718768059