[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]
[Adapted from website:] HRANA - Human Rights Activists News Agency
[Date:] 2 Dey 1392 [23 December 2013]
HRANA News Agency – Letter From Baha’i Prisoners In Rajaei-Shahr Prison To The Vice President
HRANA News Agency – In a letter to Elham Aminzadeh, a group of Baha’i prisoners in Rajaei-Shahr Prison in Karaj wrote: “For a second, imagine how painful it would be if a Muslim in a corner of this world were to be deprived of the right to bury his/her loved ones respectfully, or if their cemeteries, where their loved ones are buried, were to be destroyed.”
You can read the full text of this letter provided by HRANA News Agency below:
Mrs. Elham Aminzadeh, the Honourable Vice President for Citizenship Rights
Respectfully, we would like to inform you that the promise of a Citizenship Rights Charter has created a glimmer of hope in Baha’is like us. Finally, after years, a comprehensive document will be drafted which will put an end to the oppression and problems caused by the violation of the rights of minorities. The publication of the mentioned charter is, in itself, a very big step and deserves praise and honour; however, unfortunately, there is silence about the largest religious minority in the country, which has hundreds of thousands of followers and has more followers than does the total number of other religious minorities in the country.
This silence could lead to the continuation of the same path that has led to the killing of Baha’is and looting of their properties over the past few decades; the confiscation of their property; the seizure and destruction of their holy sites; their expulsion from the universities and some schools; the insults and denigration of each one of them; the destruction and confiscation of Baha’i cemeteries; insults and dismissal from work; the imprisonment of a large number of them; and the undesirable and forceful displacement of some of them due to security and economic pressures, social deprivation, and many other forms of restriction.
Dear Mrs. Aminzadeh, you are perfectly aware that throughout its history, people of this oppressed minority in any land where they have resided, have lived with all honesty and commitment in such a way that they have been considered to be honest and trustworthy citizens. Ignoring their rights in the holy land of Iran is contrary to justice and fairness.
A close look at the situation of these oppressed people makes it clear that the Baha’is of this country are a group of obedient Iranians, born to Iranian parents, scattered and settled in different cities of this land. They have studied in this country’s schools; they are occupied with small business and have treated all their neighbours and citizens with trustworthiness; have pioneered in social activities; paid taxes to the government; participated in military service; rushed to the front during the imposed war; were captured; and even in the path of defending their homeland, have been martyred and have always endeavoured to develop this country. These Baha’is shape this country. If they cannot be called “citizens”, then who is a citizen?
If they have the right to life, why is the dignity and respect that all the citizens of this land deserve not observed for them?
If these citizens have the right to marry and divorce, why is their personal status not recognized?
If these citizens have the right to higher education, why are a large number of these students being expelled from the universities, and every year Baha’i youth are barred from entering universities on the pretext of “incomplete file”?
If they have the right to work, why have they been fired from government departments and why is their progress blocked in the private sector where a business permit is required?
If Baha’is have the right to die, why are their cemeteries confiscated and their bodies forced to be buried in the desert, or in undisclosed places without a sign? Why are these places later destroyed?
Why do dozens of organizations, including the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, with large budgets, prepare and broadcast programmes filled with calumny and defamation against the [religious] belief of this group? Why are the rights to defend the Baha’is taken away? Why can't they use the minimal opportunities to dispel suspicions?
Madam Doctor, if we mention all the atrocities against the Baha’is, the story will be prolonged. It could be good to think for a moment about the injustices inflicted on them and compare them, in order to find out the extent of their oppression.
For a second, imagine how painful it would be if a Muslim in a corner of this world were to be deprived of the right to bury his/her loved ones respectfully, or if their cemeteries, where their loved ones are buried, were to be destroyed.
Imagine how heartbreaking it is when a Muslim youth is prevented from continuing his/her education in a non-Muslim country and his/her progress is blocked. The Baha’i teachings do not endorse any discrimination anywhere in the world that violates human rights. Baha’i teachings, more than 130 years ago, invited Iranian intellectuals and scholars to participate in the prosperity and development of this country. During this period, the Baha’is have always been pioneers in the construction, development, education, and health promotion of this land, which has a special sanctity for them. They consider the transcendence of this country as their spiritual and conscientious duty. Do they not deserve to enjoy decent and appropriate rights?
Madam Doctor, it is time to respect the rights of all minorities, including the Baha’is, in accordance with the principles set forth in the International Charter of Human Rights, and stipulated in Article 3 of the [Iranian] Constitution. Please strongly advise your colleagues, while setting forth the decent rights for these citizens in their homeland, to take into consideration devising laws that eliminate the means for abuse and oppression and guarantee their appropriate implementation.
The Baha’is have always been ready to work cooperatively to build, revitalize, and elevate Iran, and are willing to help eliminate discrimination among Iranian citizens; to develop and expand citizenship rights, and move toward a desirable society with the transcendent values deserving the great nation of Iran.
And salvation will be for whomever follows the “right” guidance.
A group of Baha’i prisoners in Rajaei-Shahr Prison
28 Azar 1392 [19 December 2013]