[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

 

Date: 17 Mordad 1384 [8 August 2005]

 

Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran,

With best wishes for your success on your sacred mission, we wish to submit the following for your attention:

For over 26 years, during the reign of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Baha’is of this land have been subjected to various types of unfair oppression and discrimination. Members of the Baha’i Faith have time and again turned to authorities, submitting petitions and seeking justice in this regard; regrettably, however, they have never received any attention and have been constantly ignored. The Baha’i community of Iran decided therefore to submit an open petition to Mr. Khatami, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the highest executive authority in the country.

This letter was submitted with utmost respect to various responsible authorities within the Islamic Republic of Iran by a number of members of the Baha’i community who had been subjected to various types of persecution, violation of rights, discrimination or deprivation, with the hope that effective measures for the removal of these atrocities would be taken and their basic human rights preserved.

In this petition, various injustices were listed in a brief form: The execution of more than 220 members of the Baha’i community of Iran and seizure and confiscation of their properties; confiscation of Baha’i holy places and destruction of some of them; the imprisonment of Baha’is; permanent dismissal from government positions and deprivation of thousands of honest and hard-working Baha’i employees from their pensions; dismissal of even simple workers without any compensation whatsoever; detention of government employees and the [demand] for return of the salaries they had received during their employment period; deprivation of thousands of young university applicants from higher education and even expulsion of students from universities; [refusal to allow] business owners and retailers to continue their existing businesses or start a new business for the mere reason of being Baha’is, under the pretext that they were unqualified; revocation of work permits, including permits of court attorneys; massive expulsion by force from villages; assault, battery and setting fire to their properties; unlawful and unfair discrimination based on government regulations, directives and circulars; and tens of other kinds of discrimination.

At the end of the petition, we respectfully presented to the statesmen and politicians of the Islamic Republic [the fact] that over the past 160 years, since the inception of this Faith, 26 years of which, under the Islamic Republic of Iran, the executive, judicial and legislative authorities―especially by their observations, investigations, trials of members of this community and review of their books and publications of this Faith―must have come to the conclusion that Baha’is, in spite of being subjected to pressures, injustices, atrocities and oppressions, have [always conducted] and will continue to conduct themselves with utmost honesty and trustworthiness. They have not taken and will never take any action with the slightest trace of disloyalty or against the security of the state. They love their homeland, the sacred country of Iran, and their countrymen. They are diligently engaged in education and edification of character and call the people of the world to peace, unity, brotherhood, justice, equity, respect for everyone’s rights and tolerance towards the beliefs of their fellow men, so that by the mercy and confirmations of the Almighty God, this earthly realm will turn into heaven and all its inhabitants will enjoy the God-given bestowals and gifts with love and compassion.

The followers of this Faith [comprise] the [largest] minority in Iran, numbering more than the total of all other religious minorities combined, and [it is] the only minority which, according to its religious convictions, consciously believes in the divinity of all the Messengers and Prophets. [Baha’is] cherish and praise all the heavenly books and confess to the truth of all the religions, particularly the sacred religion of Islam, uphold the Prophethood of His Holiness [Mohammad (PBUH)], and the pure Imams.

Our expectation therefore, from the submission of the above-mentioned open petition, was that, as a minimum, based on the explicit articles of the Constitution and with reference to the international covenants on human rights, the legal status of the Baha’i citizens would be recognized, and that the oppression, aggression and violence against them would cease. However, in spite of the open welcome by most of the authorities in charge at every level, and while expressing their regret and sympathy for the past atrocities against this community, unfortunately and in absolute disbelief, we observed a systematic and negative outcome, [including]: assault, battery, setting properties on fire, detention and prison sentences, searches of homes and confiscation of personal properties, demolition of cemeteries, placing members of this community on a list forbidding them to leave the country or enter into any contractual agreement; repeated summonses using threats, intimidation and fear, and labeling them with baseless accusations (propaganda against the Islamic Republic and disturbance of public opinion).

It is noteworthy that the statements outlined in that petition as well as this letter can be substantiated by reliable sources and documents and defensible in all official and judicial establishments.

With regard to the above-mentioned statements, we wish to present that:

  1. The Constitution is explicit in the provision of equal rights for all Iranians, elimination of discrimination, fair and equal opportunity for all the people, and the guarantee of human rights for non-Muslims. Also, the fatwa[1] by the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran included in the Resaleh-ye Novin[2], indicates that non-Muslims and Muslims should be treated equally by law and their lives and properties should be protected;
  2. Ratification of the law regarding protection of lawful freedom and citizens’ rights, [took place on] 28 Ordibehesht 1383 [17 May 2004];
  3. Efforts by theologians and well-wishers of the regime, in all societies [that respect] human rights, try to prove that Islamic law does not contradict human rights values, arguing that divine religions consider human dignity as God-given and a sacred privilege, and that no one is allowed to deny any human being such a gift.

The Baha’i standpoint on this reaction and treatment is that it cannot be the general policy and approach of the government authorities; therefore, we wish to ask you, in carrying out your weighty responsibility towards God and the noble people of Iran―especially during these current conditions when the new government has been established on the basis of social justice―and with our best wishes for your success towards this noble cause, to take appropriate action regarding the explicit requests listed below and to remedy the violation of rights against the Baha’i community.

  1. Release of all innocent people who have been arrested or sentenced in relation to the recent open petition submitted to the prime minister, and return of their religious books and publications and properties.
  2. Prevention of harassment, deprivation and nuisance towards Baha’is who are being persecuted under various pretexts.
  3. Removal of the existing prohibitions and restrictions on admission of applicants to universities and institutions of higher education.
  4. Reemployment of government employees and payment of salaries and benefits to dismissed and retired employees.
  5. Permission for expelled farmers to return to their villages and to recover their properties and agricultural lands, and prevention of harassment against them.
  6. Cessation of the seizure and confiscation of Baha’i holy places, which belong to all the Baha’is of the world.
  7. Cessation of seizure and confiscation of Baha’i endowments in Iran.
  8. Return of unlawfully confiscated properties belonging to members of the Baha’i Faith.
  9. Elimination of all restrictions, prohibitions and discriminatory acts stated in the law, memoranda and circulars directed against the Baha’is for their choice of employment, job or profession, as well as other social benefits.
  10. Elimination of all restrictions and prohibitions against the Baha’is for performing religious ceremonies, observations and administration of the affairs of the Baha’i community in the blessed land of Iran.
  11. Provision of the right to defence for the Baha’i community against false allegations and accusations and elimination of misunderstanding in the mass media, based on constitutional and press law.

With respect,

The Baha’i Community of Iran

 

 

[1] [Fatwa: A legal opinion or decree handed down by an Islamic religious leader]

[2] [Resaleh-ye Novin: A book by Ruhollah Khomeini]