[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
In the Name of God
Subject: Sealing of the business premises of Baha’is in Sari
We, the signatories to this letter, convey that we are Baha’i citizens residing in Sari, whose business premises were sealed illegally by the officials of the Public Places Supervision Office on 11 and 12 Aban 1395 [1 and 2 November 2016].
We are law-abiding citizens of the Islamic government of Iran. We have nine Holy Days in the year, and on these days, a few of which coincide with official national holidays, we close our business premises and do not work. The closing of the business premises of Baha’is on Holy Days does not merely go back over the last three decades. Our Baha’i fathers and ancestors were also doing the same for nearly a century and a half. We have no bad intentions by closing our businesses on these days. We believe that working on these days is analogous to bringing ill-gotten bread to our home and feeding it to our family. However, the officials of the Public Places Supervision Office ask us not to close our businesses on our Holy Days. Is such behaviour in agreement with the Holy Quran and the indisputable religion of Islám? We observe this blessed verse from the Holy Quran, “For every religion We have appointed rites which they perform.” (Verse 67, Ḥaj Chapter) The Public Places Supervision Office makes this requirement even though, according to section ‘b’ of Article 28 in the Trade Unions Regulations, any business owner can close his commercial unit for up to 15 days a year, without coordination with the subject union, and the number of Holy Days of Baha’is in a year is only nine.
Within the past number of days in which our business premises have been sealed, we have gone to the relevant government offices. None of them have taken any action. The Supervisory Commission refused to even register our complaints. Despite this, the reasons for sealing our business premises were orally conveyed to us, each of which we briefly describe below:
- To maintain order in the market, we completely cooperated with the Trade Union, Businesses Unions and the Public Places Supervision Office, within the bounds of law.
Some officials of the Public Places Supervision Office indicated that the closure of our business premises on Baha’i Holy Days disturbs the order in the market. For that reason, we informed the related trade unions or the Public Places Supervision Office prior to closing our business premises on 11 and 12 Aban [1 and 2 November 2016], so that necessary preparations could be made by the officials. However, the officials made no response to these attempts. Moreover, the closure of merely 42 Baha’i businesses (which were sealed during those two days) out of several thousand businesses in Sari, and all from different trades, cannot disturb the market order. In addition, if the closure of 42 business premises for one or two days disturbs the market order, their being sealed by the officials of the Public Places Supervision Office for several continuous weeks will certainly cause more damage.
- The closures of our business premises are due solely to our personal and heartfelt beliefs, and not a religious display to teach the Baha’i Faith
Some officials at the Public Places Supervision Office have stated that the closure of Baha’i owned businesses on Baha’i Holy Days is the same as teaching this religion, as well as a religious display. However, it is clear that we have never had, nor do we ever have any intentions to teach a religion by closing our commercial units. The proof of this are the affidavits attached to this letter, which have been signed by the Muslim owners of our neighbouring businesses. These affidavits provide proof that we did not teach the Baha’i Faith at our places of business, our relations with other tradespeople were not based on religious matters, and they were not informed of the reason behind our closures on 11 and 12 Aban [1 and 2 November 2016]. We have not used the closure of our businesses as a tool for religious propaganda. However, even if there were the slightest possibility of this, the Exalted God says in the Holy Quran, “And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah….” Verse 108, An‘ám Chapter The Baha’is believe both in God, and in Muḥammad as God’s messenger. Additionally, there is no reason to believe that we have taught our religion at our places of business. Despite this, our beliefs have been repeatedly insulted by some of the officials of the Public Places Supervision Office. It is not limited to this, either. Within the past two years, the business premises of tens of Sari citizens have been repeatedly sealed owing to their belief in the Baha’i Faith. Your Excellency, what can be the true reason behind this discrimination and the iniquity of the Public Places Supervision Office against the Baha’i business owners of this city, which is expanding in a clearly organized and integrated manner? Can such behaviours be true interpretations of what God has asked Muslims to do in the Holy Quran? Are such actions not an indication of inquisition of beliefs, as well as a violation of Article 23 of the Constitution?
- We have gone through, and completely met, all the legal procedures, which include obtaining business permits and other trade commitments.
The reason given on some notices of sealing installed at our business premises has been our not having business licence. Therefore, we are prepared to provide our business licence or any other trade document to you, if necessary. We believe in this quote by Muhammad, “Truthfulness will bring the salvation and the lying brings abasement”.
- Throughout all these years, we have never taken, nor will we ever take, any action against the security of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As we have heard, some officials have described the fact that Baha’is do not work on their Holy Days as an act against national security. Based on this accusation, the case of Baha’i business owners has apparently been brought up at the Security Council of the Province; because we went to the Public Places Supervision Office, some of the officials have indicated that the case of Baha’is is security related.
How can one connect the temporary closure of a few businesses to an act against national security? What documents do they offer which prove this charge? We are the well-wishers of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the people of this country, from the depths of our souls. We have no aim or wish but prosperity and honour for our ancestral land, meaning our beloved Iran. We are law-abiding citizens who are eager to be treated based on the verse of the Holy Quran, which says, “Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes, from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” Verse 8, Mumtaḥanih Chapter). We wish to be subjected to kindness, good treatment and Islamic justice, based on Article 14 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to have our human rights safeguarded. These charges against us are in complete disagreement with Article 498 of the Islamic penal law. Those responsible for this sealing, which is illegal according to the trade union laws, deserve to be punished at the appropriate courts of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
We have conveyed the truth to Your Excellency with honesty and pure intentions. We hope that the officials of the Public Places Supervision Office will deal with us based on the Holy Quran, the indisputable religion of Islám, and the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran. God willing, your kind attention to the foregoing issues will cause our innocence to be confirmed, so that we will be able to benefit from our civil rights as law-abiding citizens. Moreover, we hope to God that your instructions regarding the impartial handling of the case will result in the unsealing of our business premises. Certainly, eliminating such discrimination against us—as a group of citizens of this land—by the officials in Mazandaran Province will be an indication of justice and fairness in our beloved Iran.
[Signatures and fingerprints of the authors]
[Stamp on top of page 2:] True Copy
 [Public Places Supervision Office (Amákin): Reportedly responsible for the enforcement of accepted moral codes in places of work and other offices.]