[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
14 Aban 1358 [5 November 1979]
Honourable Ayatollah Eshraghi,
With humility and respect, it is hereby conveyed that the Baha’i community of Iran, which has existed in this country for 136 years and is considered its largest religious minority, professes the Oneness of God and believes in the righteousness of the Seal of the Prophets and the Imams, affirms the truth of the sacred scriptures of all religions, including the Quran, follows the path of unity and oneness with all of humankind, obeys the government and national authorities at all times and is continuously engaged in serving the interests of our homeland. Yet, throughout the history of its existence, from its inception, its members have constantly been subjected to a plethora of persecutions, killings, and pogroms. Numerous forms of discrimination have been imposed against this community and baseless allegations and false accusations have been made against them. This has resulted in looting of their possessions and pillaging of their houses and burning of their homes. Over one thousand homes and workplaces have been destroyed, substantial losses have been sustained by them and a number of Baha’is have been killed. After the announcement of the Islamic revolutionary government in Iran, these same actions were, unfortunately, repeated. Armed individuals in various places attacked the offices and institutions of this community and took all of the deeds, papers, documents, books, and publications with them. Later, they confiscated the places and entities associated with this [religious] minority. They even confiscated their cemeteries arbitrarily and without due process.
Recently, in early Shahrivar, some opportunistic individuals, accompanied by a number of influential local authorities and in the presence of the police, destroyed the point of adoration of the followers of Baha, namely the House of the Bab in Shiraz, which is held sacred by the believers in more than one hundred and two localities around the world, and brought anguish to the hearts of a multitude of people. They have evicted the destitute Baha’is from the places designated for them by this community and made them homeless. Numerous teachers and government employees have been fired from their jobs merely for their belief in the Baha’i Faith; whereas, based on all legal standards, the sole reason of adherence to a belief is not a crime. They have also disregarded the civil rights [of the Baha’is], and when this was appealed to various authorities in writing and through meetings, no consideration was given.
Perhaps the main reasons for these injustices and atrocities are the baseless allegations and false accusations that, contrary to its religious teachings, are levelled against the Baha’is and that are distorting the minds of the government authorities; among them is associating the Baha’is with Zionism. The principal foundation of every claim is burden of proof, which puts the onus on the one who makes the allegation to prove an association between the Baha’i administration and Zionism based on substantive evidence; otherwise, the slanderer is subject to legal prosecution. Essentially, denial [of the allegations] by the person accused is sufficient; proving the allegation rests on the one making the claim. The principle of presumption of innocence is an unequivocal right of every individual, unless guilt is proven based on evidence and legal reasoning. Otherwise, no one has the right to revile others. And since no legitimate proof has been proffered, the baseless claims fabricated by the opposition and enemies are unacceptable, and the baselessness of such allegations has become clear and evident to the authorities upon full investigation of the offices, archives, and files of the Baha’i community.
Given that the Baha’is, based on their sincere beliefs, are united with all mankind in every region and are in harmony with the people of the world, they cannot take sides with any specific race. Rather, in their view, all races are equal; they desire the prosperity of all and are deeply saddened by the distress of any race. Given that they are strictly prohibited from interference in political matters, it is the height of injustice and unfairness, or a result of extreme religious prejudice, or lack of knowledge, to associate them with Zionism by simply making such a claim. The existence of the Baha’i holy places in Israel cannot be automatically considered a political connection, just as the existence of the Islamic and Christian holy places in that land, including Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is the primary point of adoration for Muslims, cannot be a sign of political affiliation between these religious societies and the Israeli government. Furthermore, Zionism is a movement that has the aim of establishing a nation for the Jewish people in Palestine. In other words, Zionism is a political process particular to a specific race. Given that the Baha’is believe in the elimination of all racial prejudice, such an allegation cannot be made against them, as they believe in the oneness of humanity and reject all forms of destructive prejudice. After the baseless allegations that were brought against the Baha’i community regarding connections with colonial powers such as Russia, Britain, and the United States, the falseness of which has been proven and established by the research of reputable historians, Islamic scholars, and other fair-minded authors, now a new song is being sung with the false assumption that these nonsense will stain and sully the pure attire of the Baha’i community.
Mr. Eshraghi, this community intended to share the account of these and other injustices with Grand Ayatollah Imam Khomeini, the great leader of Iran. However, given that so far we have not succeeded in doing so, we briefly share them with you, so that, first, you would please arrange for a meeting where we can present to him the account of what has been taking place, and secondly, you, with your alert conscience, would consider the facts and truth about this wronged community and take appropriate actions, as you see fit, to alleviate these injustices and have the confiscated properties of this community returned to it.
On behalf of the Baha’i community of Iran
Dr. Hosein Naji
Address – [Redacted]