[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:] Jaras
[Date:] 17 Ordibehesht 1393 [8 May 2014]
Letter from former members of the Board of Directors of the Baha’i Community of Iran to Ardeshir Larijani
Jaras: Following the recent allegations by Mohammad-Javad Ardeshir Larijani about the situation of Baha’is in Iran, who said that “No one is in prison for being a Baha’i and their citizenship rights will be protected if Baha’is do not act illegally,” the former members of the board of the Baha’i community, in a letter to the supreme judicial authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran, recounted aspects of the atrocities, discriminations, security crackdowns, and human rights abuses against this group of citizens, and called for a change in the attitude of regime officials toward citizens and minorities.
According to Jaras, the text of the letter of the former board members of the Baha’i community of Iran, addressed to Mohammad-Javad Larijani, head of the High Council for Human Rights, Judiciary of Islamic Republic of Iran, is as follows:
In the Name of God
Dear Mr. Mohammad-Javad Larijani, Esteemed Head of the High Council for Human Rights, Judiciary [of the Islamic Republic of Iran],
Greetings and regards
Your Honour’s thought-provoking remarks in a news talk show that aired on IRIB TV2 on 26 Esfand  [17 March 2014] for millions of people, led seven former members of the board of the Baha’i community in Iran, who are currently in prison, to stay away from every intention and purpose to disturb the minds and avoid any political views and tendencies. We will mention a few points just out of duty and invite you to investigate further.
There is no doubt that the issues of the Baha’is and the atrocities committed against them are not new, and some media outlets, led by the Islamic Republic [of Iran] Broadcasting, have always systematically and unilaterally directed many unjust attacks and accusations against this group of their compatriots; this is while, during these many years, not even a single Baha’i has been allowed by law to respond to unfair allegations in the same media outlet.
Your Honour, in your speeches, you have said that you consider the issue of human rights a matter of global importance and consider it necessary to pay attention to its various dimensions. That is a promising move, but more importantly, in an unprecedented act, you stated that the basis of behaviour toward the Baha’is in the Islamic Republic is the duty of the government to protect and secure their civil rights. Welcoming your view, we would like to state that the expectation of the Baha’is of Iran is that their citizenship rights will be recognized and respected.
It is quite pleasing that you said that you considered the Baha’is as citizens of this country in your speech, and it could promise a better tomorrow with regard to interactions with this oppressed community. As you say that no one is in prison for being a Baha’i and if the Baha’is do not act against the law, their citizenship rights will be protected, you imply that wherever the Baha’is have been dealt with, they must have done something illegal. That indicates that many facts are hidden from you in this regard; therefore, we will submit some questions, in order, on the one hand, to attract your attention to these realities and help you to fulfil your inherent duty as the head of the High Council for Human Rights, and on the other hand be a testimony to the history and conscience of our free-thinking compatriots. Unfortunately, the Baha’i community in Iran has always faced gross violations of civil rights and severe security and judicial crackdowns due to religious intolerance and bigotry regarding dissent. Let it be that from now on, with the respected officials of the regime changing their views, we will witness the real fulfilment of the rights of this society.
- Mr. Larijani, was the execution of more than two hundred and twenty Baha’is, from a young girl of sixteen to a man of ninety-five years, carried out in accordance with citizenship laws, while according to the vast majority of their documents, it had been announced that if they were to recant their beliefs and convert to Islam, they would be saved and released from death and imprisonment? And if a person has committed a crime, does the recantation of his beliefs exonerate him of the crime attributed to him?
- Is the dismissal of tens of thousands of Baha’i workers and employees from government offices and organizations, even the termination of their pensions―and, in many cases, the ban on their employment in the private sector―supportive of their citizenship rights? Because no crime had been committed by them and the authorities in the judgments rendered the reason for their expulsion “membership in the perverse Baha’i sect”. Finally, Mr. Larijani, can you now introduce one Baha’i working in government offices? The answer is definitely no, because no government agency is currently allowed to employ Baha’is.
- Has the mass confiscation of the property of the Baha’is of Yazd and their being banned from conducting business transactions, been done in respect of their citizenship rights? Mr. Larijani, at the beginning of the revolution, those who were infants at the time of the issuance of the order, have today established a life and still have many problems in carrying out any business transactions. At the time of issuance of the order, were the infants―or the deceased who had been dead for many years―all guilty?
- Since the Cultural Revolution, is the expulsion of thousands of Baha’i students from universities, and the deprivation of tens of thousands of young people interested in pursuing higher education over the past thirty-some years only because of their beliefs, in agreement with their citizenship rights? And is this in accordance with the regime that supports the innocent Baha’is? Certainly, Your Honour, you do not consider the issuance of several circulars to the universities of the country, directing them not to register the Baha’i students, and their expulsion, under any pretext, a move to provide academic support to the Baha’i community and to respect their citizenship rights. These circulars are available and, unfortunately, have been issued by a government that you consider to be dealing with Baha’is based on citizenship rights.
- We invite you to consider the decree of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, which was issued for the Baha’is under the supervision of the highest officials of the country in Esfand 1369 [March 1991], and compare it to the country’s Constitution, human rights laws and citizenship rights laws. This decree stipulates that:
a- People who declare themselves as Baha’is should not be registered in schools.
b- Baha’is should not be allowed to enter government jobs.
c-. Baha’is should be expelled from universities if they are admitted, or during their studies.
d- The progress of Baha’is should be prevented.
For your further information, it is stated that in 1386 , when a group of Baha’i students expelled from university complained to the Court of Administrative Justice, the verdicts stated, “Your expulsion was based on the decision of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution.” The question is, what does this decree have to do with supporting the Baha’is and respecting their citizenship rights? And if we look at it with justice, does not this decree indicate the kind of view and the way the regime treats the Baha’is?
- Mr. Larijani, we sincerely want you to face this question with your conscience: Those Baha’is who have provided conditions in their homes for young people deprived of education in their community so that they can continue their education through virtual networks without using government facilities―what crime have they committed? Is home-tutoring a crime under the national law? Is it fair for people who sincerely teach and further the education of young people to be sentenced to long terms in prison? Is not this an attempt to hold back the culture of this community? How can all these measures be considered as the regime’s support for the Baha’is’ right to education?
- Mr. Larijani, dismissal of all government employees and workers in semi-public and even private institutions, confiscation of Baha’i personal properties in the agricultural and industrial sectors and, based on available documents, closure of hundreds of Baha’i businesses in various cities under false pretences, the expulsion of many rural Baha’is and the confiscation of their ancestral agricultural lands and livestock, and the numerous and persistent problems that always exist in the employment and business transactions of Baha’is, are not at all comparable to the activities of those who work under auspices of the regime? Of course, it goes without saying that any support is an inherent duty of any government towards its citizens, and the question is whether these various and continuous obstacles and problems are not to fulfil one of the provisions of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution―namely, preventing the economic growth of Baha’is.
- Mr. Larijani, from what aspect should the confiscation of holy places and Baha’i endowments throughout Iran be considered? Which Baha’i crime has led to the confiscation of all Baha’i places of gathering and worship in various cities and villages? You who believe in dealing with the Baha’is on the basis of citizenship rights will certainly agree that a Baha’i has the right to be buried after his death in accordance with the rites of the Baha’i Faith in a proper place that the government of any country is obliged to provide, but it is surprising that even this right has been taken away from the Baha’is during these years. Mr. Larijani, does the confiscation and destruction of Baha’i cemeteries agree with the observance of their citizenship rights? What do you think is the sense of exhuming corpses from graves, which is a very abominable practice in any religion?
What has been said is part of the universal deprivation and violation of Baha’i citizenship, and of course the violation of Baha’i citizenship is not unique to Baha’is. Other dissidents in the cultural, artistic, political and social spheres also call for equal rights based on constitutional principles and universal human rights declarations. As we have already stated, what is urgently needed to guarantee the citizenship rights of the honourable people of Iran is, firstly, the enactment of laws that explicitly protect these rights, and secondly, the establishment of structures that do not allow the implementation of these laws to be subject to arbitrary and authoritarian interpretations. We believe that the unity, equality, and freedom of all peoples is not merely a civil and legal structure, but a spiritual principle whose source is from the Creator, Who has created all human beings from the same dust. Despite civil and legal structures, unity, equality, and respect for the rights of others are principles that must come from one’s conscience and belief. On this basis, it would be very appropriate for the esteemed authorities of the Islamic Republic to use the capacities of the law to strengthen the unified view of the Iranian nation and allow the honourable nation of Iran to enjoy the advantages of being Iranian, regardless of belief and ethnicity.
Former Members of the Board of Directors of the Iranian Baha’i Community