[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:] Sunday, 7 Esfand 1328 [26 February 1950]
[Issue No.:] 32
This Physician Was Invited to Visit a Patient and They Assassinated Him in a Tragic Way.
Circumstances Surrounding the Murder of Dr. Berjis and the Manner [Process] of This Strange Plot in the City of Kashan.
Was the Head of Kashan’s Police Headquarters Involved in This Killing?
It has been a while since a Society was created by the name of “Hey’at-e Do’at-e Eslami” [Association of the Callers to Islam], which was affiliated with the “Anjoman-e Tablighat-e Islami” [the Islamic Propaganda Association]… and they committed crimes in the name of Islam and the holy Sharia.
Recently, this group, according to a special plan, started harassing and harming the Baha’is that were residing in Kashan and its environs who used to visit the town, and some adventurous and idle individuals were provoked and commissioned to harass them in public.
The Baha’is would [complain] to Colonel Fatemi, the head of the police headquarters, in order to prevent such actions and protect their own lives and properties and implore justice, but he has not prevented the inciters and perpetrators of corruption from their malicious acts as he should have.
This negligence of the head of the police emboldened the adventurous people and they added to their provocations; they used the presence of two individuals in this regard.
Dr. Berjis, who became aware of the plotting and sedition of this board, [complained] several times ferredto the police headquarters on behalf of the Baha’is, and seriously begged and pleaded with the head of the police headquarters to prevent their [illegal] actions. He even gave the names of the conspirators to the head of the police in writing; yet the reports of Dr. Berjis were totally ignored. Apparently the head of the police purposely showed the list of the inciters to Mr. Nabavi, the head of the society [board], adding even more to their animosity and hostility, and within the meetings of the said board the conspiracy to assassinate Dr. Bejis was being plotted.
This was a part of the information that our envoy to Kashan, Mr. Seyyed Mohammad Saadat-Yar, sent us.
Our assigned agent Mr. Shirzad, who was commissioned to impartially investigate this matter, has prepared the following, which will be presented to the readers:
“Dr. Soleiman Berjis, about 50 years old, was born in Kashan. Up to 16 Dey 1327 [6 January 1950], he was [employed at] the Ministry of Health, performing his duties in the health centre of the City of Kashan. After that date, due to some administrative issues and for other reasons, he was [dismissed] from his position and started his own clinic.
Dr. Berjis also had a pharmacy, in addition to his clinic, where he would attend to most of the deprived and needy patients and supply them with free medicine. It is said that he would even give money to the destitute patients, [time and again]; [this is] the reason for his having a very good reputation in town, and he was much respected by the generality of the people (this fact has been confirmed by our envoy to Kashan).
Invite to visit a patient?!
Around 11:00 on the morning of Friday, the fourteenth of the last month of Bahman [3 February 1950], two individuals, by the names of Abbas Tavassoli and Ali Naghipour, reached the clinic of Dr. Berjis and said, “Doctor, our begging hands are stretched out to you; we have a sick person at home in very bad condition, and we plead with you to come to visit him.” At the clinic, there were seven or eight patients waiting for their turn, [so] the doctor answered “No problem; please allow me to attend to these patients and then we will go to visit your patient.” But those two individuals pleaded and insisted that by delaying, their patient might die. Finally, Dr. Berjis [felt] obligated, and in order to alleviate their grief and sorrow, he picked up his briefcase and some medicine, as well as other necessary medical items, and accompanied them.
Those who have seen Kashan know that most of its streets are narrow and constricted; walking through them, especially during the snowy winters, is indeed very difficult. That is why the doctor took the lead and the other two followed him, passing lane after lane.
Usually when a physician pays a visit to a patient, before they reach their destination, inquiries are made on the way, regarding the condition of the patient, his problem and how many days the patient has been in bed. The gullible and simple Berjis has been asking his questions every now and then: “How many days has the patient been in bed? When did his fever arise? Does he cough? Does he have a chill?” Such questions were repeatedly asked by the physician and they would, every now and then, try to provide adequate answers to his questions. In summary, by the end, they had invented so many diseases for the fake patient that the poor doctor was bewildered as to which of the symptoms to concentrate on.…
Such conversation continued until they reached the street lane by the name of “Golhar”[Kalhor]. In that street lane of Kashan, as in most of them, which are quite narrow and restricted, there were three houses; one of them belonged to a clergyman by the name of Sheikh Mohammad-Bagher Masa’aleh-gou. When the physician had turned into that street lane, he was guided to the house next to that of Sheikh Mohammad-Bagher, where eight other unknown men had followed them onto the patio of the house, locking the gate from inside. The distressed faces of the newcomers and their irregular movements had made the physician suspect that these terrified faces had a sinister plan for him, as their actions had indicated an internal uneasiness; yet, keeping his calm as always, he jokingly and teasingly asked of the whereabouts of the patient. “Where is the patient?” At first everybody kept silence in answering the question, but the scornful voice of one of the men present broke the amazing silence, saying, “Which patient? Is there any better patient than yourself?” His derisive [comment] had not yet ended when another one took the physician’s tie and with the help of others pushed him to the upper room of the house.
When they had reached the upper room, he told [the doctor], “In this instant we will show you the patient.” The unfortunate physician looked around the room and found no sign of any patient. It did not take long for knife blows, fist punches and club blows and kicks to be hurled at his defenceless body, drowning it in blood.
Berjis, trying to get help and fleeing from the blows of the attackers, had rushed towards the window facing the patio intending to cry out for help, but they threw him into the courtyard, [attacking him] without giving him a chance. The unfortunate physician, hitting the ground from a height of five metres, was not able to talk anymore. The assailants start beating him with their kicking blows. One of them, Mohammad Rasulzadeh, took out his knife and stabbed the jugular vein of the physician with utmost cruelty, while others also inflicted fatal blows on his half-dead body.
Meanwhile, an old woman in the neighbouring house, listening to the groans and lamentations of the victim, had ascended to the rooftop of her house, observing the situation, and had cried aloud, pleading for help. The assassins, who intended to hide the lifeless body in the water well of the same house, as a result of the screams of that woman and the gathering of the crowd, started cleaning their bloody hands with snow, and with brawl and uproar, took to the streets and the city market of Kashan, confessing to the people, “We assasinated Dr. Berjis”. In this course, due to the growing mob, the shop owners closed their shops and refused to open their businesses for two consecutive days.
The assassins, after their demonstrations and rallies [unrest], approached the police headquarters, presenting themselves as members of the “Anjoman-e Tablighat-e Islami” [the Islamic Propaganda Association] and the slayers of the Baha’i, Dr. Berjis.
After the slaying, the relatives of the victim became aware of the incident and, with the help of the police agents, removed the bloody and mutilated body of Dr. Berjis from the scene of the event.
In an autopsy on the corpse, in addition to the cutting of the jugular vein, signs of eighty-one knife wounds were discovered on his body. Thus, according to the inhabitants of the city, Dr. Soleiman Berjis, who spent thirty years of his life in the service of the people, attending the indigent and the poor, was murdered in such a tragic way…
Plans for Killing 9 Individuals
According to the information, the reason for the killing of the mentioned physician was his belief in Baha’ism. The assassins had planned to kill nine individual Baha’is of Kashan, and in this decision, Dr. Berjis [was the first]. When the relatives of the slain were asked, “How did this news reach you and what was your reaction?” Their answer was, “Of course we too, as any human beings and as family members, have felt deeply saddened by this cowardly killing of our brother and father; yet, as he has lost his life in the path of performing his conscientious and social duties and he has become a martyr in the path of his belief, we are indeed joyous and we are grateful for the special blessings bestowed upon him; we only plead with God to guide everyone to the straight path.”
It should be remembered that the practice of killing, plundering, taking captive and banishing the Babis in the early periods of this religion, and torturing and ill-treating the Baha’is, was a common and widespread practice up to some thirty to forty years ago, and many stories have been written on this subject in the histories and books. It was even a custom of the day that when looking for a pretext to condemn an innocent person to death, they would accuse him of being a follower of this religion.
Yet, years later, such practices were abandoned in Iran and with the creation of international laws, such as the Atlantic Charter, the law of freedom, the human rights [legislation] and the like, the abuses of all the minorities and leaders of beliefs, whose activities would not be detrimental to the national interest, were abolished.
There have been, in recent years, incidents in some Iranian cities, [similar to] the killing of Berjis; for example, the Shahroud episode and the murder of Engineer Shahid-zadeh in Shahi could be mentioned.
Some believe that these three events are interrelated. In any case, at present, some of the murderers have been prosecuted and their cases are being followed up at the Justice Department of Kashan. The attempts of their collaborators [murderers], due to the resistance of Mr. Rafiei, the public prosecutor of Kashan, have remained ineffective.
At the end, the telegram from the Medical Association of Iran to the presence of His Majesty the Shah, is printed here and we are expecting to see the punishment of the perpetrators of this event so that this can be a lesson for the rest, [that they should not] use religious matters as a pretext for murdering people…
To the blessed threshold of His Imperial Majesty,
As Your Majesty is well aware, Dr. Soleiman Berjis, who had spent his entire life in practicing honourable medical service, was recently murdered in Kashan by a number of adventurers in a tragic way, in the path of performing his sacred medical duty, on the pretext of taking him to visit a patient. Although the perpetration of such crimes during the just reign of His Imperial Majesty is [very rare], the repercussions of such news, which has travelled around the world, from the international point of view and that of the Charter of the United Nations, is indeed very undesirable. In addition, performing medical duties, which is the protection of lives and the cause of human existence, will now be difficult in all parts of the nation. Therefore, the Medical Association of Iran, which has been created and organized for the protection and safeguarding of the rights of the medical practitioners, pleads with the threshold of His Majesty to issue an imperial order for the inciters and perpetrators of this bloody act to be severely punished within the shortest possible time, teaching a lesson for the criminal elements and adventurers.
The order is yours, as you deem it fit.
Medical Association of Iran