Translation by Iran Press Watch
HRANA NEWS AGENCY – The optician business of Baha’i citizen, Payam Vali, has been shut down and sealed by government agencies for approximately twelve years, with his most recent request to reopen his business rejected.
According to the HRANA news agency, the news arm of the Human Rights Activists in Iran, Payam Vali is a Baha’i citizen of Nazarabad whose place of business was shut down and sealed, by the security agencies, in October of 2008 (almost twelve years ago).
Mr. Vali’s has appealed for relief multiple times through the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, the Administrative Court of Justice, the Islamic Human Rights Commission of Iran, and other government agencies. However, Mr. Vali’s business continues to be closed and sealed by authorities.
In the last stage of the process, on February 1, 2020, Mr. Vali wrote a letter to the prosecutor of the city of Nazarabad asking for removal of the closure seal on his place of business. his request was rejected by the prosecutor of the city of Nazarabad in the Alborz province.
Mr. Vali has now written a letter regarding the rejection by the Nazarabad prosecutor. The full text of this letter, which was provided to HRANA by a source close to Mr. Vali, as follows:
“Today, the esteemed prosecutor of the city of Nazarabad in Alborz province rejected my request to reopening of my place of business, which was shut down and sealed twelve years ago due to my being a Baha’i. This was by the order of and with coordination between “The city of Nazarabad Security Council, The Intelligence Office, Health and Wellbeing Offices of Nazarabad, and the Office of Public Places of the city of Nazarabad.” In February of 2020, I submitted my request for the reopening of my business to the new prosecutor of Nazarabad Prosecutor’s Office. In a face-to-face meeting with him, the esteemed prosecutor had told me: “We will investigate and notify you by the next month.” However, today, my request was rejected by him. Over the last twelve years I have submitted multiple requests and appeals to the judiciary (Department of Justice, Administrative Court of Justice), as well as most of local and national governmental authorities, and Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran, for the reopening of my business, for attending to the denial of my rights, and the injustices against me. All of my appeals and request have been rejected due to the pressures and influences of the intelligence offices against all my grievances over the years.
For example, nine years ago, one of the esteemed judges of the Administrative Court of Justice, who felt desperately helpless due to the pressures and exertion of influence from Ministry of Intelligence, in the case related to my complaint against the Security Council, the Department of Public Places and the Health Offices, told me: “It is out of our hands, we cannot do anything in the Administrative Court of Justice. The Ministry of Intelligence is active behind the scenes, they say you are spreading propaganda, go to the Ministry of Intelligence and give a commitment that you will not propagate!”
I told him that if he means propaganda against the regime, in the Baha’i Faith, we Baha’is are warned against propaganda against any government or regime, and according to Baha’i teachings we are not allowed to propagate against any regime. However, if the intention is regarding the propagation of the refreshing and peace promoting teachings of the Baha’i Faith, the reason for this is that for years, some people have publicly slandered and propagated hate against the Baha’i citizens, in the minds of the public, through the use of the media, and various tribunes and pulpits. However, now that the majority of Iranians have come to know Baha’is over the years, maybe as neighbors, for example. They have found out about all the lies and slanders and the false accusations. These biased actions towards Bahá’ís have caused people to become curious about the reality and the truth of the beliefs of the Baha’is. People want to know, what is the reason for such strong hate propaganda against us?! And I, as a citizen, have the right, by law, to restore my dignity and answer the questions of the people who are curious, because of the slanders and accusations that are systematically leveled against me. For example, the teachings of the Baha’i Faith promote the unity of mankind, universal peace, and equality of men and women among human societies. Such humane teachings are by no means propaganda or action against any country, nor will they ever be. Now that the Corona virus has severely hampered all businesses in Iran, all of which are under financial pressure, officials continue to use economic apartheid to keep Baha’is from reopening their businesses.
Vali’s message, Sunday, May 5, 2010.”
Mr. Vali had previously written open letters to the authorities and institutions. Portion of the previous letter reads: “On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the closure and seal of the place of my business and the eleventh sentence, I request the annulment of the illegal approvals of the Security Council, if not false. I request the committal of the health offices to issue spectacle licenses to the optometrist of my choice, committal of the Office of Public Buildings to determine legal authority, the committal of the Assembly of Trade Affairs and the Trade Union to renew my business license, the immediate removing of the seal of my place of business and the determination of the resulting financial and moral damages imposed on me and my family during these past 10 years in violation of Articles 19 and 23 of the Constitution.”
Persecution of member of the Baha’i Faith has been ongoing for many years and has impacted Mr. Vali’s family before. His brother was killed in 1990 (age 12), by a number of extremists in Hosseinabad village in the outskirts of Nazarabad, after the killing of Baha’is was declared permissible with impunity. Mr. Payam Vali was only 10 years old when he found the lifeless body of his brother callously discarded in a well.
Baha’is in Iran are systematically deprived of freedoms related to their religious beliefs. This systematic deprivation occurs while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), “All persons have the right to religious freedom, the right to change their religion or beliefs, and the freedom to express their beliefs individually or collectively, in public or private”
In Article 77 of the Citizen’s Rights Charter, it is indicated that “it is the right of citizens to freely and without discrimination and by the law, choose and apply to the profession they are willing to pursue. No one can deny this right to citizens for reasons of ethnicity, religion, gender, or disagreement in political or social orientations.”
According to unofficial sources in Iran, there are more than 300,000 Baha’is living in Iran, but Iranian Constitution officially recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. As a result, the rights of Baha’is in Iran are systematically violated.