[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
In the Name of God, the Almighty
Further to the previous notes regarding the passing and burial of [my] dear mother, Mrs. Farhang Enayati, who ascended to the heavens on high at six o’clock in the morning of 21 Dey 1367 [9 January 2009], I will explain below the following:
I, Nahid Enayati (Faridian), the daughter of the deceased, was with my mother to the last breath of her life. Right after her passing, a doctor was called and a death certificate was issued. Then the person in charge of Golestan-e Javid [meaning the “Eternal Paradise”, Baha’i cemetery] was contacted. At 8:30 a.m. the ambulance arrived and we were told that we should wash and prepare the body at home. God knows what happened to me in those hours. I was worried and sad. [O] God, how could I wash my [deceased] mother’s body alone? As I was wondering how to find a solution, by God’s will, Mrs. Maryam Tale’i and her sister arrived to visit my mother, and when they were informed of the situation, they consoled me and told me not to be worried. They said, “[Your] mother, during her lifetime, asked us to be present at the hour of her passing”. We decided to warm up the bath and then we washed her body and shrouded her with the material she had already prepared for her interment. We placed the Baha’i ring on her finger and recited the prayer for the departed for her, in the presence of a large group of relatives and friends. The authorities forbade me to accept and take the flower garlands for her funeral, and added that not many people should follow the funeral procession. They said the number of people accompanying her for the burial should be very limited and it was not advisable to take the flower garlands.
We went to new Golestan-e Javid, which is now called Khatounabad, in the car of Mr. Mehrdad Razavi. The person in charge of new Golestan-e Javid [Khatounabad] took the body to Behesht-e Zahra [the Muslim cemetery] to obtain the burial permit. We went to Khatoun Abad [the land allocated for the Baha’i cemetery] along with Mr. Mehrdad Razavi, Mr. Banapour and Mrs. Maryam Talei.
It was a cold day in the month of Dey [December/January] and we had waited for hours when Mr. Shayegh, the representative for Golestan-e Javid, returned and informed us that the burial fee had now increased from 1,000 toumans to 10,000 toumans. We explained that we could not afford to pay that amount, since Baha’is were out of jobs or had been expelled from their offices; others are also forbidden to conduct business or do trade; therefore they could not afford to pay this large amount. He said that they had kept the body of [my] mother in the Behesht-e Zahra morgue, promising that within the next two or three days they would resolve this issue. They said [for us to] go ahead and arrange the memorial service, so we held two days of wonderful memorial service, where all the friends, relatives and neighbours attended and prayers were said. God bless her soul! Everybody was saddened and mourned her passing.
On Saturday, 24 Dey 1367 [14 January 1989] at 7:00 a.m., Golestan-e- Javid’s representative told us to go to Behesht-e Zahra and claim the bodies. We [Baha’i families who had a deceased person and wanted to bury our loved ones] assumed that the issue had been resolved. So Mr. Banapour and I took a taxi and went there immediately. They told us to wait in there until they could see the mayor and get permission to release the bodies. Unfortunately, he refused to give the permission and we returned home disappointed. During these uncertain times, we had tried to persuade the authorities with kindness and reason to solve the problem, but to no avail.
In consultation with those in charge of Golestan-e-Javid, we decided to send a telegram to the authorities informing them of this situation. So on Friday, 30 Dey 1367 [20 January 1989], we, [who were the families of 12 deceased persons], sent a 200-word telegram to six senior authorities, explaining the whole situation.
On Saturday, 10 Bahman 1367 [30 January 1989], we were told to go to Bahesht-e-Zahra again, so Mr. Banapour and I went there right away. There we met with a gentleman named Mr. Joghataie. He asked us to pay 10,000 toumans, so they would release the bodies. I explained the situation to the responsible person there, Mr. Joghataei, who was asking what business we had over there. After I told him that we were Baha’is, he expressed his dissatisfaction and told us we would have to pay 10,000 toumans so that we could bury our dead. I explained to him our financial situation; because we had been expelled from work and all our belongings had been confiscated, and we were even prohibited from working, we could not provide this amount. He said this was not any of his business and that we were all wealthy. Again we contacted the person in charge of Golestan-e-Javid, and were told that the general mayor [of Tehran] had given permission for the release of the bodies but the mayor of Behesh-e-Zahra was the one who had refused.
On Sunday, 30 Bahman 1367 [19 February 1989], forty days had gone by since the passing of my mother, and they told us to go to Khatounabad (new Golestan-e Javid) immediately and take a worker along with us. He said they would bring the bodies from Behesht-e Zahra. I got up at 5:00 a.m., and along with my brother-in-law and Mr. Banapour, went to the cemetery and tried to dig the graves. It was a very cold and freezing winter day with a lot of snow. Finding transportation was very difficult; not being able to find a bus, we got the private driver who lived nearby and was ready to take us there. It was like a miracle. It was so hard to find a labourer to assist with digging the grave; without proper tools, we started digging the graves ourselves. Mr. Banapour dug a grave and my brother-in-law dug another grave. Suddenly, the Pasdaran [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] vehicle arrived and angrily ordered us to stop. We were not supposed to dig the graves in that spot, so we had to refill the graves. They [Pasdaran] also called the morgue by radiotelephone and told them to stop the release of the bodies. They took our shovel and pick and told us that they were the authority in here. We explained to them calmly that we were Baha’is and we wanted to bury the body of our deceased relative. They heard our story, then they left and came back after a few minutes. This time they were calm and told us that they had orders from Mr. Montazeri to cooperate with us and give us water and electricity and [use of] the washroom. They said “We do not accept you; however we obey the instructions of Mr. Montazeri. Fill in the graves you have dug and go to the upper [section], next to the wall. Today it is late; you must go and come back tomorrow.
It was a cold day, and counting the times that we had come and gone, we were thinking how they play with the life of innocent people. So we left that place, with no result, for home again at 4:00 p.m.
The following day, Monday, 1 Esfand 1367 [20 February 1989], I got up again at 5:00 a.m. It coincided with the birthday of His Holiness Imam Ali (PBUH). As usual, Mr. Banapour and I left for Behesht-e Zahra and went to the office. The families of the other 12 deceased were also present. One person from each family went to the morgue to identify the body, and the rest went to Khatounabad to dig the graves. We had to wait a long time in the line, because there were many bodies in Behesht-e Zahra to be identified and when the “saffe marg” [death line] is formed you have to wait a long time, so we had to wait. It was 12:00 noon when Mr. Joghataie called us to go to identify the body [of my mother], and they took us to the morgue. First, two men went to identify their deceased [relatives], but they could not find the bodies of their loved ones and were upset. When it came to my turn, I also searched with a lot of difficulty, but could not find the body of my mother. He [Mr. Joghataie] showed me a body, which was wrapped in a shroud covered with blood, but it was a man’s body. Then he showed me the body of a woman. I said she was not my mother, because she had black hair and my mother had gray hair. He got mad at me, and slammed the door of the morgue. In order to cover up his wrongdoing, he accused me of not being able to recognize my mother’s body. I told him, “But I even have my mother’s photograph with me and this behaviour is unfair”.
We returned to Khatounabad again, disappointed and with teary eyes. We [helped to bury] those bodies that had been identified and returned home at 5:00 p.m.
O my Lord! After 50 days of wandering around I still did not succeed in burying my mother. Later on, we met the person who had buried the bodies of the missing persons. We asked him if he knew where my mother was buried. He told us that he would come to show us the graves. I told the representative of Golestan-e Javd. He told me that five bodies had been decomposing, so they had had to bury them quickly. My mother’s body was one of them. Their grave was along the row of the martyrs’ graves.
We tried to see if we were allowed to exhume, and get my mother’s body, place it in a coffin and bury it according to our religious laws. They would not allow us, since to exhume is forbidden in Islam, but not in the Baha’i Faith. This is the story of my mother; may God bless her soul.
Sunday, 14 Esfand 1367 [5 March 1989] I went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I had received an invitation from them regarding my mother. The person in charge asked me who Dr. Enayati was. I replied, “Professor Dr. Enayati, the oncologist who lives in Frankfurt, is my brother.” He said there had been a complaint that my mother’s body had not been released to me. I answered in the affirmative. Then I was taken to another Haji’s office. In response to his enquiry, I replied that my mother had passed away 50 days before, but they had refused to release her body to me. He asked if she had been in an accident. I replied in the negative, and gave him an account of what had happened. He then explained that, in order to release they body, they had increased the charges from 1,000 to 10,000 toumans. We have now 12 [Baha’i] corpses in the Behesht-e-Zahra morgue, but we cannot afford to pay this price. As I was crying, I said that I did not know where my mother’s corpse was. He dismissed me and said that he would be in touch with me.
I went to the hallway and waited to see a higher official. A person offered me a seat and started asking me about the Baha’i Faith. He wanted to know what my religious background was. I replied that I am a Baha’i and my parents were, too. He asked if I believed in other prophets. I replied that I believed in all of them, and in addition, I believed in the Twelfth Imam. I said that He came from Shiraz and after eight years He was martyred in Tabriz. He asked if I was also from Shiraz. I replied in the negative. He asked about Baha’i burial and whether we used camphor and cedar. I explained that we use soap and rosewater. He laughed. I went on to say that although ten families had each paid 10,000 toumans, they had not released the bodies. I told him that I wanted to know where my mother’s body was. He asked about our prayer for the dead and I said it is in Arabic, but I had not memorized it. The Baha’i books had been confiscated. [I told him that] we had had a very nicely kept cemetery with all needed facilities; that had also been confiscated. Instead, we had been given a piece of barren land in Khatoon Abad, so we had to wash and prepare the bodies of the deceased in our homes. I then asked him to let me have my mother’s body. He replied that it was forbidden in Islam to exhume. I replied that my mother was a Baha’i and in the Baha’i Faith exhuming a body is not forbidden. He said they had to follow the laws of the Quran. Then he said he had to go and if there was anything else they would call him.
This was the story of my mother’s burial; they had buried her without my permission.
Ayatollah Montazeri has helped us a lot so far. I would also like to acknowledge that my husband,
Mr. Nourollah Faridian, has been very supportive, and helped me a lot through this difficult time; although he has been ill and bed-ridden, he has always assisted me and has always been praying and supporting me. I beseech God to grant him health, so that he may see his children and loved ones.
May God confirm us all, till the end of life.
Nahid Enayati (Faridian)