Translation by Iran Press Watch
HRANA News Agency- On the morning of April 20, 2016, agents from the Chamber of Commerce illegally and concurrently shut down sixteen Baha’i-owned businesses in Qaemshahr and at least two in Babol; both cities are located in the northern province of Mazandaran. The reason given for this action was that these businesses were not open on April 20th, which coincides with a Baha’i holiday1.
According to the news from HRANA (Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran), agents of the Chamber of Commerce in Babol closed down two Baha’i businesses, as they had closed on April 20th in observance of their religious holiday.
The Ironworks of Akbari and a security systems company belonging to Mr. Armin Sobhani were the two businesses shut down by authorities in Babol.
Sixteen other Baha’i businesses were closed down in Qaemshahr at the same time.
According to Clause B of Article 28 of the Iranian National Business Law, business owners may close their businesses for up to fifteen days without prior notice to authorities.
These Baha’i businesses in Qaemshahr are subject to Article 28 of the Iranian National Business Law, as none of their closures have caused any hardship to their customers. It is mentioned in Clause B of Article 28: “Based on the assessment of the Supreme Supervisory Board, businesses may close for up to 15 days without justified excuse unless this closure would cause hardship to consumers.” If this were the case, the Chamber is allowed to shut them down.
Recently fifty-four internationally known businessmen and economists in a signed statement asked Ayatollah Khamenei to stop harassing Baha’i business owners in Iran.
According to reports received by the No to the Harassment and Imprisonment of Baha’is campaign, agents from the Chamber of Commerce went to the shops of three Baha’is in Sari in northern Iran, named Yaghoub Akbari, Anbar Aghaie, and Payam Taghavi, and closed their places of business at noon on Tuesday, June 30th.
The same morning, other agents of the same office shut down the business of Mr. Mahin Bakhtroo, a Baha’i from Sari, for the second time, because of his religious beliefs.
That brought the total number of business closures due to religious issues on that day to four, counting the morning incident.
In the current year, the economic pressure on Baha’is in Iran has grown considerably. In the past few months, the Chamber of Commerce of Sari, after closing three Baha’i businesses because of their observance of the Ridvan festival ‒ a Baha’i holiday ‒ shut down eleven more shops of Baha’is in Sari in the following days to increase economic pressure on these citizens of that city.
The recent punitive closure of Baha’i-owned shops by authorities of the Islamic Republic has gained momentum. In recent weeks, twelve Baha’i business owners in Rafsanjan in southern Iran faced closure of their shops by the judicial authorities because they closed their shops in observance of the Baha’i Ridvan holiday.
1. This holiday is the celebration of the first day of Ridvan, which is a 12-day anniversary of the day when the Founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah, declared his mission. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ridv%C3%A1n