Translation by Iran Press Watch
April 23, 2015
“Harassment of the Khanjani family is systematic”
The country home of Jamaleddin Khanjani’s family in Semnan was demolished by Security Forces yesterday. Jamaleddin Khanjani is a member of the Baha’i Yaran Committee who is in prison. Based on reports from the Khanjani family, a day earlier they were given 48 hours to evacuate the house and even though they had succeeded to obtain a ruling from the Supreme Court to stop the demolition, the home, which was in the middle of their farmland, was demolished.
Jamaleddin Khanjani is one of the members of the Yaran (the Baha’i 7-member Committee in Iran) who was sentence to 20 years imprisonment and has been in prison without furlough since May 14, 2008. His grandson, Foad Khanjani and another family member, Navid Khanjani are also currently in prison.
In an interview with Rooz, Siavash Khanjani – Jamaleddin Khanjani’s nephew –said pressures on their family have increased since his uncle was arrested. He also explained that these pressures have been very systematic, however: “This whole issue goes back to 2008 when my uncle who is a member of the Yaran Committee was arrested and right away the pressures against our family started to increase. They started harassing our family in that same farmland which belonged to our family even before the inception of the Baha’i Faith. They started systematic harassments and objections against a house that had been built completely according to standards and with a City permit 18 years ago, and this is a home where our family lives. For example, this is a property that has had a title deed since 100 years ago and they claim that the owner of this property is unknown and the deed is not acceptable. They use excuses such as the size being larger than was allowed or other vague excuses, even though the house was built after obtaining a City permit.
Mr. Khanjani further explained: “ They had given us a 48 hour window before the demolition would be made. However, they demolished 270 square meters of the house yesterday. They claimed that the house was built larger than it was supposed to be built even though this issue had been reviewed and investigated by the court earlier and the court had ruled in favor of the family.”
He said: “These problems have been ongoing for a few years and are not new. The family had formed a company with its own money, without any assistance from the government or any bank. Family members were all small property owners and had planted more than 40 thousand fruit trees. However, in the past few years they have consecutively blocked the road during harvest time to prevent more than 200-300 Tons of apples and peaches from reaching the market. A few years ago they demolished a water storage facility that the family had legally constructed (the government permit and other documents are all available) and where more than 100 million Liters of water was stored for farming. This act wasted millions of liters of water. Furthermore, we had a thirty-year permit for a pasture for our cattle. They violated the terms of the permit, we were forced to sell our cattle and had to purchase forage for the rest of our cattle and bring it to the area.”
He called these confrontations systematic harassment and continued: “This farming area has belonged to our family for more than 200 years, prior to the inception of Baha’i Faith. The Khanjani family includes both Baha’is and Muslims. They have erected a security station to enter this area and don’t hesitate to inspect our cars or perform bodily search. Everyone has to be inspected to be able to go to his/her home. Even my 85-year old mother has to obtain an access card to go home.”
Mr. Khanjani added: “Semnan’s Revolutionary Guard and Ministry of Information have declared here as a military area. They have built a Post of Duty right next to our demolished home, which I am not sure if it is a mosque, a Hosseinieh (1), a base or something else. Not only is our family not secure, but also not our cattle, animals or even trees. Last year, they didn’t allow us to transfer the animals to a warmer climate in a truck. As a result a number of the sheep died.”
About the current condition of Jamaleddin Khanjani in prison, he told us: “Mr. Khanjani is over 80 years old. He was a businessman and a successful individual since before the revolution. He was responsible for managing the affairs of the Baha’i Community of Iran, but he and his colleagues who managed the Community were arrested in 2008 and have had no furlough so far. He was transferred to the hospital once for a heart surgery and was returned to prison right away without even getting a medical furlough. Foad, who is Mr. Khanjani’s grandson has been in prison since four years ago without any furlough. His sentence should be over soon. His sister, Leva completed her sentence and was released. My nephew, Navid who had filed a complaint with the Judicial System for having been deprived of education, was faced with fictitious charges and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. Approximately two weeks ago, he was taken to the hospital for severe backache and had a surgery. He was in a really bad condition and one side of his body was constantly numb. However, they returned him to prison after two weeks and didn’t give him any medical furlough. He is very young but has dealt with many medical problems in prison.”
He added: “A few months ago, they raided the place of work of Mr. Khanjani’s son who worked in the optical field. They confiscated all his belongings and property based on unfounded accusations such as illicit deals. He was in prison for a while and has recently been released. Also, my brother had a factory in Semnan and had imported equipment from Germany for making prescription lenses. They confiscated his factory based on different excuses. He had closed his factory for the anniversary of passing of Baha’u’llah, which is a Baha’i holy day. The ministry of Information asked him why the factory was closed that day and he said it was his religious holiday. So, they closed the factory for good, confiscated all the equipment and auctioned it all. There is more than $200,000 worth of merchandise that they will not give us to return to companies. And about two weeks ago, they sentenced the CEO of our farming company to one-year imprisonment. He had been in prison a few times before and is now back in prison again.”
Siavash Khanjani said: “A large number of our family members are Muslim. We lived together, the Muslims participated in our ceremonies and we participated in theirs. It is the harassments of the Revolutionary Guard and the ministry of Information that has caused problems. It continues on a daily basis and is vexatious and systematic. I really don’t know how much longer these conditions will continue.