[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]
[Adopted from website:] Radio Farda
[Date:] 7 Tir 1389 [28 June 2010]
Destruction of 50 Baha’i Homes; “Every house we go to, we hear their lamentations”
By Fahimeh Khezr Heidari
News from Iran indicates that 50 Baha’i homes in a village near Sari, capital of Mazandaran Province, have been destroyed, involving government authorities.
This is not the first time that the news of the destruction of Baha’i homes in Iran has been published. The Baha’i cemeteries were also demolished, earlier.
Radio Farda conducted an interview with one of the Iranian Baha’is who has detailed information about the recent destruction of the homes of his fellow-believers.
Derakhshan: The Village of Ivel is a sub-region of Sari, close to Kiasar. According to them, through coordinated efforts, about 50 homes belonging to the Baha’is were destroyed by four bulldozers and burned to the ground.
What do you mean by “them”?
Derakhshan: The local people claimed that they had done this with prior coordination. We had heard some rumours about the plan for destruction. They said they were going to destroy the village and burn Baha’i homes, but we did not believe that such a thing could happen.
Still, we went to the offices of the governorate, governor general and the deputy governor in that district and informed them that this was what [the villagers] had said they were planning to do, and wondered if that could be possible.
When we went to the office of the deputy district governor, we told them that they were destroying our homes, but they criticized us, saying that the complaint we had written was in opposition to the regime. They even threatened to arrest us. We told them, our homes are being demolished as we speak, we are Baha’is and your fellow-citizens; we are not foreigners. We are not Israelis, English or Americans. By God, we are Iranian citizens. What are we to do? Help us. God is our witness, we do not know what to do.
Mr. Derakhshan is a Baha’i who lives in Ivel, Mazandaran
They said that was impossible; they said do not worry at all; so we were comforted. But it happened that Mr. Mahmoud Piri and his family were going to Ivel, and as soon as they arrived in the village, he was subjected to severe physical assault and verbal abuse. He was told that he should not have been going there. Just then, he noticed that his home was being destroyed.
Who were the people who physically assaulted and verbally abused [Mr. Piri]?
Derakhshan: The local residents; because they immediately forced him to leave the area and told him he was not allowed to get close to that area for 48 hours.
I should report that, unfortunately, 50 homes were destroyed with the help of four bulldozers, and in fact with the help of the local residents. It is shocking to see 50 houses demolished and burned all at once.
Mr. Derakhshan, what is the condition of the residents of these homes? What happened to their belongings, and how are they coping?
Derakhshan: Every house we go to, we hear their lamentations. I should mention that these friends were not living there. In the first years after the revolution, on 7 Tir 1362 [28 June 1983], these friends were expelled from their homes. They [the local residents] told them that they had to convert to Islam. They threatened them with picks and shovels and imprisoned them in a mosque. Then they threw them out of the village.
Since then, they [the Baha’is] had been going to the village once a year for two to three days, with permission from the local police and judiciary, to stay at their homes and cultivate their lands. Even though most of their lands had been confiscated.…
You mean that the owners of these homes and farms were forced to obtain permits every time to be allowed to go to their own homes?
Derakhshan: Precisely; each time or each year they wanted to go there they had to obtain permits from the judiciary to be allowed to stay in their own homes for two or three days. We complained to a number of authorities concerning this issue, but everywhere we went we were treated unkindly and with indifference.
They criticized us, saying that the complaint we had written was in opposition to the regime. They even threatened to arrest us. We told them, our homes are being demolished as we speak; we are Baha’is and your fellow-citizens; we are not foreigners. We are not Israelis, English or Americans. By God, we are Iranian citizens. What are we to do? Help us. God is our witness, we do not know what to do.
The people who do these things, are they mostly government authorities or local residents?
Derakhshan: What do you think? How could 50 homes––each with a barn and a shed for storing wood––be demolished without prior arrangement? We informed [the authorities] before and during the demolition. What do you think the answer is? Besides, all our friends [the Baha’i residents of the village] also informed [the authorities], but unfortunately they did nothing to prevent this incident.
Do you think that the bulldozers were probably brought by the order of the governor or the deputy governor?
Derakhshan: We do not know and cannot say who brought them. All we know is that, unfortunately, everything has been completely destroyed. Interestingly enough, we visited the office of the governor general a day or two before the incident. We told the deputy governor that there was a possibility that something like this would happen. His response amazed us; he said, “The governor general is like a physician in a society, if he feels that there is a malignant tumour in the body of the society he can remove it.” Now, I ask you a question; were the Baha’i farmers in the Village of Ivel that malignant tumour?