Translation by Iran Press Watch
HARNA News – A Baha’i citizen has written an open letter to the Presidential candidates of Iran, outlining the lack of protection offered by the law to the rights of Baha’is. Of particular emphasis are a lack of security in the economic endeavors of the Baha’is, and the confiscation of their properties. He asks, “What are your programs for the elimination of these discriminations?” According to this Baha’i writer, “when promises of attracting foreign investment are made, yet there is no security for Iranian citizens in their own economic activities, all these promises yield no results.”
A copy of the letter from Payam Vali to the candidates was given to HARNA as follows:
In the Name of God,
Greetings to all respected Presidential candidates and the dear people of Iran.
I, Payam Vali, am an Iranian citizen and a member of the religious minority of the Baha’i Faith. Within the last nine years, as it is known to many people, I have written and submitted more than one hundred petitions to the responsible officials of the country concerning the deprivation of my rights in my own country.
Honorable Presidential candidates of my beloved country, Iran,
I, a Baha’i citizen, lost my 12-year-old brother at the age of 10 due to the blind prejudices of the people. However, here, my purpose is not to write about my personal predicaments, such as those I suffered during the last nine years in the official sealing and closing of my family shop. I do not intend to mention issues related to the deprivation of my higher education and numerous unwarranted arrests. Neither will I mention issues about the little child of a citizen who has been falsely accused and wrongly defamed.
I would like, here, to talk about the pain and suffering of the people of my dear country due to economic pressures on their livelihoods.
Dear candidates, it appears that one of your concerns is the economic growth and development of the country and the attraction of foreign investments!
Did I hear this right?
- I have a question in my mind as to what the result will be!
How is it possible that those who, for years, have sought to make the economic lives of a cross section of society impoverished by sealing up their shops, in the provinces of Semnan, Hamadan, Kerman, Bandarabas, Mazandaran and Karaj, are now interested in improving the lives of the Iranian people by attracting foreign investments?
When foreign investors realize that the economic life of a portion of the community is illegally destroyed, its investments and properties not protected by law, though it be composed of citizens of this country, how will they take the risk of investing in Iran?
- You also suggest improving the wellbeing of the Iranians by attracting tourists to the country.
The reality is that, all over the world, people are witnessing how the Baha’is in Iran are arrested and imprisoned under various and numerous false accusations.
For example, as you are all well aware, seven leaders of the Iranian Baha’i community (Yaran) have been imprisoned for nine years because they helped members of the oppressed Baha’i community in their social dealings and daily lives. Over these long years, these individuals were deprived of their most basic human rights. Today, 15th May 2017 is the first day of the tenth year of their incarceration.
Unfortunately, from time to time, a small number of people have been imprisoned for the mere crime of teaching Baha’i youth, who have been denied access to higher education. These teachers have been arrested for teaching such subjects as painting, chemistry, and computer science!
Group arrests of Baha’is have risen markedly over recent years. Such arrests have easily been made under accusations of rising against national security and spreading anti-government propaganda. This trend threatens the security of Baha’i citizens simply because of their beliefs.
With all these atrocities, visible to the people of the world, how could anyone expect tourism to improve the economic life of the people, while Baha’is in their homeland are deprived of their basic rights?
- As you know, and distinguished industrialists and producers are fully aware, Baha’is have been in the forefront of industrial production, but in recent decades have been marginalized in the economic activities of the country. Don’t you think that now is the time for all of the potential of our country to be utilized and internal investment be encouraged?
To conclude, as a citizen of this land whose sole concern is to attain a livelihood, and who has suffered tremendously in attempting to do so, I would like to know how you plan to address these issues? How will you remove all of the obstacles that have been placed in the lives of the Iranian people?
Your fellow countryman,
15th May 2017