[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]
[Date:] 19 Tir 1334 [11 July 1955]
[Issue No:] 1679
A Thrilling Scene Happened At the Criminal Court, The Day Before Yesterday!
One of the defendant’s attorneys said, “Baha’is oppose the slogan of “God, King and Homeland”. They have declared war against God, His Prophet and the Imams.
Attorneys of the private complainants act as the public prosecutor!
“Indeed, God orders you to justice and kindness”
[Photo of a group sitting in court]
Mr. Khodaverdian, the provincial assistant prosecutor, participated.
Following his preliminary investigation of the defendants, Mr. Khodaverdian read the bill of indictment, stating that the defendants were initially supposed to have been tried at Kerman Criminal Court; however, as recommended by the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court was requested to hand over the case from the Judicial Branch in Kerman to [the one in] Tehran and it was agreed to forward the case to Tehran Criminal Court. Therefore, the defendants were transferred from Kerman’s prison to Tehran’s prison.
The prosecutor’s bill of indictment stated: “Following the start of the propaganda and the campaign against the Baha’is by the government on 16 Mordad 1334 [8 August 1955], some of the influential people in Sakhvid began to persecute the Baha’is of that region. In particular, some of the inhabitants of Sakhvid complained about the Baha’is’ using the public bathhouses, to the point where they were unable to stop them.
“One of the officers of the gendarmerie was dispatched to investigate, and after attending to the complaint made by the Baha’is of Hormozdak, he went to the farm where the Muslims resided. It was there that some inhabitants insulted and resisted him and they gathered in the centre of the district. They gradually walked towards the Village of Hormozdak and murdered seven Baha’is.”
The prosecutor of Yazd had requested that 39 of the perpetrators be sentenced, based on Articles 170 and 175, as well as Article 257 and another article of the penal code; however, Mr. Khodaverdian, in reference to the bill of indictment at the court of law, stated that he did not feel Article 170 pertained to this case and insisted on three to ten years of imprisonment with hard labour, based on Article 175. In addition, Mr. Khodaverdian did not agree with the relevance of the bill of indictment in regards to the accusation that the gendarme had supported the Muslims during his investigation and was acting against the Baha’is, and returned it.
Following the statement of Mr. Khodaverdian, Mr. Ziaoddin Neghabat, as the attorney for the [families of the] murdered individuals, stated that, in fact, the defendants are muhareb [heretics, by law applied to the defendants present here], and based on the holy verse [of Quran, Sura: 5, Verse :33], “Indeed, the penalty is none but that they be killed”, must be carried out. He stated that Article 70 of the penal code applied to the actions of the perpetrators, stating that anyone who instigated others, leading to looting and killing in any region, should be sentenced to execution. Then, he stated that since the trial was political, it had to be in front of a jury; considering that there was no jury present, he could not present all his points, whether political or judicial. [He said], “I am unable to continue litigating, and I hereby resign from representing the private complainants.”
Following him, the other representatives of the private complainants made statements, backed with documentation, on the bill of indictment of Yazd, with the prosecutor stating, “The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is studying and evaluating the matter and it is expected to adopt a major resolution on the subject.” The official added that, although no action had been taken to date on the subject, since the news had officially been approved and reflected in several Arab countries, while foreign news agencies had also published the decision of the American government in Bahrain, the Iranian government had acted [illegible]…
…These events took place following Mr. Falsafi’s sermon on Radio Tehran, and as a result, incurred one million rials in damages. It was requested that, when the order is issued to sentence them for the crime they perpetrated, they be [directed] to pay the private complainants.
Statements made by the private complainants’ representatives continued for two days, and then each defendant was brought to the court, one at a time, for questioning. Every one of them denied having committed a crime and each of them stated in their own special dialect and rural expressions that they were not guilty, did not participate in killing the Baha’is. We are poor peasants, they stated, and other people’s crime was brought against us.
The first attorney who stood to defend was Mr. Adib Razavi. He started his statement with these words of the Holy Quran: “Indeed, God orders justice and kindness”.
He said, “This holy verse has forever been the slogan of the Judiciary. These words were also printed, years ago, on the court letterheads [case files], along with another sentence under His Majesty the King. This slogan, along with his name, has always been the pivot of the Judiciary, which turns the wheels of justice in this country. According to the principle of justice and fairness, the court order should be issued based on the law, which, in accordance with Article 27 of the Constitution, must be issued in the name of His Majesty the King, and it must be fair. It is unfortunate for me that in this court the attorneys of the private complainants play the role of the prosecutor and overreach their legal jurisdiction, while the prosecutor has stated that the alleged crimes by the accused are consistent with Article 175, which I will discuss in more detail later. These gentlemen have, with falsity and sophistry, tabled Article 70.
“Let us see how relevant this Article is for the accused. From ancient days, the slogan in Iran has ever been, ‘God, the king, and the homeland’, and similarly, the religious slogan has always been ‘Love for homeland is one’s faith.’ Even wisdom and logic guide us to patriotism and nationalism, and those who have beliefs contrary to this are not only outcasts but are considered as the fifth column and the enemies of the country.
“The Baha’i community in Iran follows these words of Mirza Husayn Ali: ‘Glory not in love for your country, but in love for all mankind.’ It is following this commandment that they have their own separate marriage registry offices. They determine their inheritance according to their own special laws. They hold different birth certificates and there are currently hundreds of criminal cases related to these illegal religious marriages at the Judiciary. In accordance with the first Article of Amendment to the Constitution, the official religion of Iran is Islam, and its rightful sect is Shi’a Asna Ashari [Twelver], and the king of Iran and his dynasty are the promoters of this religion. However, contrary to all these laws, these people follow the Universal House of Justice. They have committees that, except [for creating] propaganda against the independence of this country, do nothing else.
“All these riots and cries are over this effort to somehow force-feed this sect as an independent [religious] minority. In the case documents on hand, in which they have distorted the facts, we shall prove that they created this turmoil themselves, in order to stand up against Muslims in the court and achieve the expected results for their own promotion. Therefore, it is the sect of Baha’ism that is covered under Article 70; they are the ones to whom the title of mohareb-e be hagh [fighter against God] applies; they are the ones who have arisen against God and His Prophet [His Holiness Mohammad]; they are the ones who have rebelled against the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, causing murder and looting in some regions.”
Mr. Adib Razavi, after making this introduction, said that the present case is not reliable at all because from the beginning of the case it was diverted from its normal course with the explanation that Mr. [illegible], the interrogator’s acting officer, did not have the authority to interfere. At the time of the incident there were two interrogators in Yazd and it is unknown…