Translation by Iran Press Watch
HRANA News Agency – The petition by 22 Baha’i citizens in Urmia whose businesses have been shut down for over a year has been reviewed by the Superior Administrative Court and denied. The businesses were sealed solely for closing briefly to observe a Baha’i holy day.
As reported by HRANA, the news agency for Human Rights Activists in Iran, on August 16h the court issued its judgement refusing to hear the case, and the denial of the petition was communicated to the petitioners.
Earlier a source close to Baha’i business owners in Urmia told the HRANA reporter: “From July 9 to mid-August of last year, 24 businesses owned by Baha’is were closed by agents of the Office of Public Places. In the past year, several complaints have been filed with all relevant authorities, such as the Office of Public Places of Western Azerbaijan, the trade unions, Urmia’s Intelligence bureau, the Justice Department, the Supreme Court, the members of parliament who represent Urmia, office of the Imam-Jumeh, and many other agencies, but so far no response has been received from the authorities.”
According to this source, no agency has accepted responsibility for the closures, but the Office of Public Places has told these business owners that their businesses may be unsealed only if they sign a pledge not to close their businesses during Baha’i holidays.
In the period between June 22 and mid-August of last year, the businesses of Firooz Lotfi, Shahrooz Samandari, Arman Noroozi, Elham Abdi, Ali Latifi, Nasser Panahi and Mr. Dargahi (clothing businesses), Mohammad Ali Derakhti (locksmith business), Vahab Moghaddam (crystal gift shop), Navid Morghi (housewares business), Siavash Abdi and Siamak Abdi (photography supplies business), Fardin Aghsani (appliance repair business), Fereydoun Aghsani (supermarket), Eynollah Aghdasi (refrigerator repair business), Changiz Shahmohammadi (toy store), Sassan Karimi and Bonyan Maghsoudi (automotive parts business), Ghorban Najafzadeh and Shahab Najafzadeh (washing machine spare parts business), Kaykavous Dargahi (facilities installation business) and Mr. Soleimani (first name unknown – housewares business) were sealed in Urmia, and remain closed after the passage of a year.
Baha’i citizens, in accordance with their religious beliefs, on certain days during the year, close their place of business in order to attend religious observances. However, in spite of the specific legal and civil rights in Iran guaranteeing that individual citizens may freely practice their religions, and how to manage their places of business, security forces have closed these businesses.
The sealing of these Baha’is’ businesses has occurred despite the fact that, according to item B of article 28 of the commercial union law, business owners are allowed to close their place of business for up to 15 days a year without informing the union.
The closure of these Baha’i-owned businesses continues, even though Shahindokht Molaverdi, special assistant to the President for civil rights issues, speaking to the media over 20 months ago, on December 3, 2017, said: “Regarding the sealing of businesses and the economic repression of Baha’is: there have been inquiries made to the President’s legal deputy, and we are pursuing this discussion through legal avenues to find a solution for this issue.”
Throughout the existence of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary regime, United Nations rapporteurs for human rights in Iran have repeatedly denounced the persecution of the Baha’i Community, considering it a blatant example of the Iranian government’s disregard for human rights treaties of which it is a signatory.
Baha’is in Iran have been deprived of their freedom of religion. This systematic deprivation is occurring, although in accordance with article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which have been signed by the Iranian regime, every citizen has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change their religion or belief, and the freedom, either alone or in community with others and, in public or private, to manifest their religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
According to unofficial sources, there are more than 300,000 Baha’is in Iran, but Iran’s Constitution only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism; it does not recognize the Baha’i Faith: as a result, through the years the rights of Baha’is have been systematically violated.