[Personal information has been redacted.]

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]


25 February 2021

An Open Letter to Iranian Authorities on Recent Farm Seizures


Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi and acting Minister of Agriculture Abbas Keshavarz,

We are a group of persons involved professionally in the global food and agriculture system and international development. We are concerned about the plight of smallholder farmers throughout the world who often face injustice from arbitrary authority. Consequently, we are alarmed to learn of a new stage in the ongoing persecution of Iran’s Baha’i minority involving the confiscation of farmlands in the village of Ivel.

We understand that, in late 2020, two Iranian courts issued orders that declared ownership of lands by 27 Baha’is in Ivel to be illegal. The judges responsible for the decisions against the Baha’is of Ivel are Mr. Mohammad Sadegh Savadkouhi and Mr. Hassan Babai. The court documents indicate that the confiscation of their land is due to the owners’ religious beliefs.

These decisions followed decades of persecution against the Baha’is of Ivel, who are hard-working, low-income agricultural workers with no other assets and means of earning a livelihood aside from their homes and farmlands.

These recent land seizures take place within the context of escalating raids on Baha’i- owned homes and businesses in Iran. On 22 November 2020, over a hundred government agents raided the shops and homes of dozens of Baha’is in seven cities and demanded that they hand over their property deeds.

We understand that Baha’i families have farmed land in Ivel for over 150 years and that these families have been constructive members of the local community, by, for instance, starting a school for children of all faiths and by carrying out measures to improve the hygiene and health of all community members. Despite their contributions to the community, they have faced a series of persecutions throughout the years, characterized by mass expulsion and displacement, and the demolition, bulldozing and confiscation of their homes.

Despite these persecutions, the Baha’i farmers were at least able to continue working their land. Now, the recent court decision means their farmland will be seized. Clearly, these and other confiscations of Baha^ properties in Iran are part of an organized persecution based solely on religion.

We write as fellow agriculturists to bring attention to this instance of persecution and urge the Iranian authorities to overturn their decision with regard to the farmers of Ivel.


Mary Beckie

Professor and Director, Community Engagement Studies, School of Public Health, University of Alberta

Khalid Bomba

Founding CEO, Agricultural Transformation Agency, Ethiopia

Joseph Devries

President of the Seed Systems Group

Mehrdad Ehsani

Managing Director, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation

Martin Entz

Professor, Cropping Systems and Natural Systems Agriculture, University of Manitoba

Victor Freiberg

Founder, Foodshot Global

Paul Hanley

Author, Rockefeller Food System Visionary

Eric Harmsen

Professor, Agricultural Engineering, University of Puerto Rico

Hugh Locke

President, Smallholder Farmers Alliance

President, Impact Farming Foundation

Sara Menker

CEO Gro Intelligence

Paiman Milani

Consultant, World Food Programme

Jacqueline Novogratz

CEO of the Acumen Fund

Guillaume Nyagatare

Principal and Senior Lecturer, College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences, and

Veterinary Medicine, University of Rwanda.

Soroush Parsa

Lead Innovation Scientist, CIP, Consultative Group for International

Agricultural Research

Tim Porch

PhD Crop Breeding

Gary A. Reusche

Senior Operations Officer (Retired), World Bank Group

Rene Sahba Shahmohamadloo

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph

Ricardo J. Salvador

Director and Senior Scientist, Food & Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

Roy A. Steiner

Senior Vice President, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation

Oumar Barou Togola

Founder/CEO Savanna Logistics, Mali

Neil Whatley

Professional Agrologist, Canada

Christian Witt

PhD Soil Science




















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