[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]

 

[Newspaper:] Salam

[Date:] Saturday 21 Mehr 1375 - 28 Jumada al-Awwal 1417 - 13 October 1996

[Issue No.:] 1550

[Page:] 5

 

This Caravanserai Was Loyal To No One

Ensaf-Ali Hedayat

A house in Tehran has been the subject of dispute by various organizations and individuals in different periods, and we have attempted to investigate it. Apparently, the story is a kind of show from the same caravanserai.

Extracted from the case file: “Conspiracy against the Islamic Republic, efforts for its overthrow, financial assistance to groups, … [and] movement of substantial currency out of the country.”

In the same file: “Even though the defendant has denied some of the charges, all the contents of the present case, papers, documents and reasons for proving the accusations of the anti-Islamic, anti-humane anti-regime betrayals are so substantial that it is not possible to count and include all of them in this judgment…. The court considers him as a mofsed-e fel arz [corruptor on earth] and a rebel against the Islamic regime, and thus issues the death sentence against him.”

In the continuation of the court order it is stated: “All his moveable and immoveable assets, and those of his family and next of kin, will be confiscated to the benefit of the Bonyad-e Shahid [Martyrs’ Foundation].

With the sound of a few bullets, he is executed and some members of his family escape from the country, and his assets, including a property from the top of the Keshavarz Boulevard to the second [alley] of North Palestine Avenue, measured at 782/40 [m2] , and a building with an area of 1170 m2, are confiscated.

 

Act One: The Execution

According to court order number 4121/59/4, dated 7 Shahrivar 1360 [29 August 1981], by Branch 2 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court and confirmation number 1057/6/3, dated 7 Farvardin 1361 [27 March 1982], by Branch 3 of the Supreme Islamic Revolutionary Court a property with a living area of 1170 m2 and measurements of 782/40 m2 on the second alley of North Palestine Avenue, No. 6, 8 has been claimed and transferred to the Bonyad-e Shahid of the Islamic Republic. (These statements are noted on the third page of the deed of the subject property.)

In case reference 4121/59/2, dated 7 Shahrivar 1360 [29 August 1981], issued by the Prosecutor’s Office of the Islamic Republic in the Central Province, the owner of the property is identified: “I, Habibollah Azizi, son of Morteza, 66 years old, occupation: businessman and tailor, am a Baha’i, born in a Baha’i family. I am native and resident of Tehran at North Palestine Avenue, second alley. I live at the home of Masoud Azizi, and I have four children who are all…”

 

Act Two: From Night to Day

Mrs. Farrokh Azimi Etemadi, expert officer of the Judiciary in the field of civil engineering, evaluated this building on 18 Aban 1371 [9 November 1992]—a two-block, three-storey old residential building, with a separate unit [on each floor], with private stairway and hallway. Each storey has one apartment facing east and one facing west. The third floor is a half-size floor facing east.

Mrs. Azimi Etemadi has added, “The living spaces of other apartments are similar, each with four rooms, main hall, kitchen with metal cabinets, tile work, mosaic floors, toilet and wash basin with tiled and mosaic floor, and bathroom with a bathtub or shower. The half-size unit on the third floor has one room, toilet and wash basin.”

She writes, “This property has a live-in basement with three rooms, main hall, kitchen, toilet, wash basin and a bathroom. In the yard of the property, there is only a pool.”

This expert of the Judiciary has evaluated the area of the apartments on the first, second and third floors, excluding the third floor’s east-facing half-floor unit at approximately 180 [m2], the east-facing half-floor at 30 [m2] and the basement at 240 m2. She adds: “The property is an old structure with an overall area of 1170 m2.”

In continuation, her assessment of the structure is that “it needs to be demolished,” and offers an appraisal, based on an expert valuation on 12 Bahman 1363 [1 February 1985], as follows: “The basement is appraised at 800,000 tomans, the east-facing unit on the third floor at 250,000 tomans, and the rest of at 1,200,000 tomans [per apartment], for a total value of 7,050,000 tomans . Whereas, the appraised value of the land based on suggested daily public bid is 21,900,000 tomans.

In this evaluation, she also ignores the value of the living area of the structure.

According to the four yellow cards in this building’s file, four of the units have been sold to their residents. For example, according to code B-462 and B-463, these two apartments were sold on 25 Shahrivar 1370 [16 September 1991] for 35 million rials.

 

Act Three: Life Settles

Many years prior to the selling of the apartments to the tenants and before the representative of the Bonyad-e Shahid at the  Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office identified and appraised them, on 12 Aban 1360 [3 November 1981], a letter titled L–3–4546, addressed to “Veteran Brother Saleh Sharifat” stated: “Respectfully, based on this letter and following the recommendation from the Bonyad-e Shahid, permission is given to you and your family to reside in an apartment unit, located on North Palestine Avenue.… No need to mention that the above named has paid 210,000,000 rials of the transaction amount of 250,000,000 rials. Kindly take action for the final transfer of the property to his name with the payment of the balance.”

Approximately two months after this transaction, on 20 Dey 1371 [10 January 1993], a bidding ad that was published in newspapers by the Bonyad-e Shahid was discussed in a meeting. This is what it said: “A list of properties and real estate (sold after bidding and outside?!...) [sic], on line 70 of the advertisement, this property’s specifications are detailed as: “Code 1860, an old three-storey building, North Palestine Avenue, at the beginning of the second alley, No. 6 and 8, 330 m2 land, 1370 m2 living space, expert appraisal at 580,000,000 rials.”

Mrs. Azimi Etemadi Keshavarz, suggests a street level [illegible] at 630,000 rials: “Entire land and living space is assessed at 492,000,000 rials.” This evaluation is 912,000 rials below her own expert appraisal.

In her report of 18 Aban 1371 [9 November 1992], Mrs. Farrokh Azimi Etemadi identifies the property’s tenants as Mohammad Hosein Heidarhayi, first floor, east-facing; Saleh Sharifat, second floor, east-facing; Akram Giahi, third floor, half unit, east-facing; Mrs. Ejarehdar, first floor, west-facing; Ghaffarzadeh, second floor, west-facing; Gholamreza Ahmadi, third floor, west-facing, and Mrs. Zohreh Niazi, basement tenant.

According to the building’s file records, the representative of Bonyad-e Shahid had identified the building one month before Mrs. Azimi Etemadi’s assessment and had it appraised by an expert at the Judiciary on 8 Mehr 1371 [30 September 1992], based on which the basement was appraised at 23,000,000 rials, other floors at 35,000,000 rials, and the third floor half unit at 8,500,000 rials. In this expert assessment there is no reference to the value of 782/40 area of the building.

The opinions of these two experts were not accepted and the Bonyad-e Shahid asked Mr. Hosein Naseri, an expert at the Judiciary, for his professional opinion. He presented his report in relation to the value of the property or registered house number…3745/2, Division 3, on 11 Azar 1371 [2 December 1992] based on the expert value of 12 Bahman 1363 [1 February 1985] at “value of the basement at 800,000 tomans, apartment…”

…any problem, you can contact this division. In addition, you will be responsible for all general expenses, such as water, electricity, telephone, etc.” Similar instructions were issued from the authorities of the Bonyad-e Shahid at that time to the mother of martyr Ejarehdar, wife of martyr Eini, on 1 Azar 1360 [22 November 1981], Heidarhayi on 23 Mordad 1361 [14 August 1982], Gholamali Ahmadi on 24 Aban 1368 [15 November 1989] and Zahir Niazi on 25 Aban 1368 [16 November 1989].

 

Act Four: Eleven Years Later

These tenants, who were given the use of these buildings without paying any fees, continued their lives in them, free of care, until 1371 [1992/93] when the father of a martyr and a disabled veteran whose spinal cord had been severed by 70 percent, suggested purchasing the building after the expert appraisal was provided to the Bonyad-e Shahid. According to item 13, in the minutes of 2 Aban 1371 [24 October 1992] of the sales unit of the Bonyad-e Shahid, signed by three of the authorities at the time:

“The undated request of Mr. Seyyed Asghar Mirsarabi, father of a martyr and a 70 percent disabled veteran, and the buyer of the property with code number 1860, was discussed. With due attention to the fact that the forenamed has paid an amount of 210,000,000 rials out of the transaction amount of 250,000,000 rials, it was decided to complete the transfer of the property to the name of…”

 

[Title in large print in the middle of the page:]

A Building, the Original Owner of Which Was Executed, and Which Was Confiscated by the Bonyad-e Shahid, And Was Rented Out and Then Possessed by Families of Martyrs, Is Sold at a Pittance

The sales unit indicated on 14 Azar 1371 [4 December 1992]: “The file of one building, code 1860, was addressed in the 2 Aban 1371 [24 October 1992] meeting, and it was decided: after receiving the balance…”

Despite the slow process of the contract, there is still not a full agreement on how item 21of the minutes of the 28 Bahman 1371 [17 February 1993] meeting is going to be executed. Therefore, on 14 Farvardin 1372 [3 April 1993] a letter referenced number…”

Respectfully, in reference to the letter dated 24 Khordad 1372 [14 June 1993], the property located at Felestin-e-Shomali Avenue… has been sold for 25,000,000 tomans to Mr. Seyyed Asghar Mirsarabi, father of …., as instructed by the current esteemed head of the Bonyad-e Shahid. Notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Mohammad Hosein Haydarhayi had failed to gain priority, and that he could not afford to purchase the subject property at the mentioned price, he had not submitted a request regarding the purchase of the property to this unit for its consideration.

In 1372 [1993-94] the process of selling and transfer of the building was moving forward slowly and the families were being evicted from the building one by one, when something happened which the security office of the Bonyad-e Shahid referred to in letter H- D 323, dated 16 Shahrivar 1372 [7 September 1993]: “Unfortunately, without any former plans, the rented property of the family of martyr (Hasan) was sold. The martyr’s family has not yet been relocated to another rental property. The buyer has acquired an eviction notice from the court and has put the martyr’s family in an inconvenient situation, which is noteworthy.”

It further adds: “These issues will have consequences for the Bonyad [Foundation]… including the press and… It is requested that the sale of properties be conducted with prior planning and coordination with the Properties Institution, so that they will hopefully not have consequences for the holy institution of the Bonyad-e Shahid

 

[Picture of a Building]

Caption: One of the Buildings of the Disabled Veteran’s Foundation, Where Supports the Disabled Veteran, While the Disabled Veteran and His Family Sleep in the Streets.

For nearly 12 days they broke the seal on the door of his home and threw his furniture out of the building, and even though he was the guest of one of his veteran friends from the war period, he has returned again to the Bonyad Building and has sat there outside the building in protest.

 

Act Six: The page turns

…In letter 32944, dated 9 Khordad 1374 [30 May 1995] addressed to “the esteemed head of the court…”, Mohammad Hosein Haydarhayi has written: “I, Mohammad Hosein Haydarhayi, 45 percent disabled, [with my leg] amputated from the thigh down, residing on ….”

 

Act Seven: What is gained for free is plundered.

Regarding the request to purchase the building and the tenants’ right to have priority over others, he says, “Until approximately one and a half years ago, when the court order was issued, we had no knowledge about the sale of the building. They had sold this building for too little, even then.” He continues, “Its current value is approximately 400,000,000 tomans.”

He was accused by the employees of the Property and Real Estate Organization of the Bonyad-e Shahid [of not going] to the Disabled Veterans Foundation, because that foundation is his custodian.

His response to that accusation was, “Who says that I…”

We go down all the way to Enghelab Avenue. A real estate office at the beginning of Yousefabad asks, “Where is the building? Is it old or newly built? What does it have? How many [square] metres is it and how many [square] metres of improvement does it have? And…”

After getting our response, he says he has bought each [square] metre for approximately 12-13 thousand tomans, which in the years 1370- 1371- 1372 [1991- 1992- 1993], was worth about 50-60 thousand tomans. If it is 25 years old, it is currently worth about 180-thousand tomans.

He reminds us, “You should keep in mind that government buildings are usually sold 20 percent under the market rate.”

After a few questions and answers, Mr. Saki from Maskan-e-Bayani [Bayani Real Estate] says, “If you multiply each [square] metre by 200,000 tomans, the current value is obtained, and in 1370 [1991], the value was less than half of this amount.”

Also, the head of Maskan-e-Haghighat says he has had large pieces of land which are currently worth between 130,000 and 140,000 tomans.

The average price which a few real estate offices on Felestin-e-Jonoubi suggests it is about 45,000 to 50,000 tomans in 1371 [1992]. One of them, on Felestin Square, adds “From 1370 [1991] to the end of the first half of 1374 [1995], the real estate market was slow. The prices have not increased that much; therefore, not much time has passed for us to have forgotten the situation.”

 

Last Act: Begging for prayers

After looking at the map of the property, which on one side faces Keshavarz Boulevard with a façade of more than 24 metres, and on another side faces the second alley, one of the analysts [experts] says. “So inexpensive! Very inexpensive! Boy, what can be done there! One can build anything, can become partners with a wealthy person, build a shopping mall, a tower, etc., and be comfortable without working for many generations!”

And Zarifi says, “God knows! He may have heard and answered the prayers of those who buy such buildings. Ouch…