[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
According to reports and news received, the pressure of security agencies on Baha’i citizens in the City of Semnan has increased. This pressure and sabotage, which includes even the smallest aspects of their lives, has caused huge financial losses to these people, as well as the economy of the region and the country in recent years. Meanwhile, the protests and persecutions of these citizens are also met with unknown responses and sometimes lead to security cases against them.
The City of Semnan is one of the cities in Iran where the number of Baha’i citizens is high and these people have built farms and farmsteads or earthen dams for irrigation at their own expense. In all these cases, the relevant agencies have tried to sabotage the lives and affairs of these people for unfounded reasons. Some of these citizens have been experiencing and continue to experience additional oppression because of their family ties to one of the imprisoned leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani.
Reports indicate that in recent years, a group of Baha’i residents in the City of Semnan, in order to cultivate and consolidate their small holdings and inherited lands located in the mountainous areas of the city, formed a company called the Hazeldar Livestock and Agriculture Company, funding it at personal cost and without the slightest financial support from the government. These people obtained a well-drilling permit from the head office of the Water Department of Semnan Province, at their own expense. With the permission of the Semnan Electricity Department, they transferred electricity from the national grid to their farms. From the relevant departments, they obtained permission to build three earthen dams to store winter water and planted more than thirty hectares of apple orchards and fifty hectares of almond orchards.
In the last four years, the relevant authorities and the security services of the province have tried in various ways to destroy the businesses of the Baha’is. Among these cases, one that is noteworthy is the power outage to the farm and the agricultural fuel quota of the mentioned company without having legal justification. Also, according to some eyewitnesses, the earthen dam, which was for winter water storage, and had more than 6,000,000 litres of stored water, has been destroyed by an unknown order and all its water has been wasted. According to some citizens, “In the judicial process, no legal attention has been paid to the legal permits, and an order has been issued based only on the opinion of the security agencies.”
In the meantime, the defence attorney for these people has also been threatened and intimidated. Also, the contract for a summer pasture, which was leased from Natural Resources for a period of thirty years―an official contract, on which tens of millions of tomans were spent to cultivate―has been unilaterally cancelled with no legal justification. The winter pastures of these citizens have similarly been expropriated, and many Baha’is who have more than fifty years’ history of animal husbandry are now deprived of a suitable place to keep their livestock. According to these individuals, because of the machinations of officials, several people who worked in the Hazeldar Agriculture and Livestock Company and who were pursuing their case with government offices, were faced with accusations related to security and received heavy prison sentences. The company’s managing director is among those sentenced to one year in prison.
Imprisonment, disruption of business, and deprivation of a normal life are among the things that have always affected Baha’i life in the post-revolutionary years. All these years, Baha’i citizens have been regarded as “nth-class citizens” who have neither the right to education nor the right to life. They have always been reprimanded for their beliefs and religion and have always been told to “either change your religion or recant it.” This is an issue that has led to the expulsion of large numbers of Baha’i students from universities and dismissal of the Baha’i employees from their places of work.
The life of the Baha’is has always been overshadowed by fear. They have been oppressed every day for more than thirty years and have risen from oppression again.