Editor’s Note: Committee of Human Rights Reporters has published a story based on undisclosed sources about the situation of a Baha’i family in Valishahr, near Isfahan. A translation of this report is provided below.
By Committee of Human Rights Reporters
The situation of minorities in small towns is critical due to the absence of a free press and the lack of reporting on the confinement of individuals. The following report is a description of severe threats and harassment against Baha’i citizens who has long been oppressed by groups that introduce themselves as members of the Basij militia [vigilante groups under the Revolutionary Guard] or as Ministry of Intelligence inspectors, though no formal authorities have taken responsibility for them.
Mr. Arya Ferdowsian and his family live in a small town called Vilashahr, 3 miles from Najafabad in Isfahan providence. Harassment and threats against them by phone began in winter of 2006. In one of these phone calls the intruder mentioned that he knew the address of Mr. Ferdowsian’s children’s schools and that he would kill them. Interestingly, that caller mentioned “We will meet you in the near future at the office of the Ministry of Intelligence!”
In these phone calls, Mr. Ferdowsian was threatened that if he would not close his shop, his car would be set on fire! After one and half a months passed, when the family was returning home late at night, they became aware that some burglars had entered their home without breaking any locks and had stolen some jewelry. Also, the manager of the company where Mrs. Ferdowsian had been working threatened to keep his distance from “corrupt” Baha’is!
Due to this harassment, the Ferdowsian family moved to another residence. Ten days before the destruction of the Baha’i cemetery of Vilashahr [Vilashahr has been the scene of a number of incidents over the years – translator], harassment began for the second time. After the windshield of their car was broken, they were again threatened that their car would be set on fire.
In response to these threats, the Ferdowsian family again moved to another place; however the threats continued. This time Mr. Ferdowsian was being harassed as well. Their phone calls were interrupted by anonymous persons, and their window-glass was broken. In one phone call the caller warned them: “Behold the destruction of your cemetery – one day it will be your turn!”
Mr. Ferdowsian’s daughter was chased by a Peugeot RD [a small car made in Iran]. All their relatives, friends and acquaintances were threatened by phone calls from an unknown source many times.
Ultimately, on Nov 10, 2007, Mr. Ferdowsian went to court to file a complaint (1st attachment). After some time a warrant to search their home was issued without a date or signature (2nd attachment).
Every time Mr. Ferdowsian took legal steps to identify the intruder’s telephone number, no action was taken by the court or the sheriff office (3rd attachment).
In the meanwhile, phone calls and harassment continued.
In July 2008, burglars broke into their house for the second time without harming the locks, and stole jewelry – necklaces and gold chains. Phone calls and harassment continued through the next month as well, by people who introduced themselves as intelligence inspectors. Similar harassments were perpetrated against Mr. Ferdowsian’s daughter at the same time.
The above account describes only a small portion of the problems that have been brought upon the Iranian Bahai community. What is noteworthy is the reaction of the judiciary and police authorities. A 911 call about an ordinary car, a missing police report, a warrant to search a home without date or signature, a case file which lasts only 20 days from being opened to being closed are some questionable aspects of this case! If a family which has been deprived of its legal rights cannot file a police report, what should they do?!
According to Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 3, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” According to Article 7 of the same Declaration, “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.” The above-mentioned citations are only two of many Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which have not been respected, but which have been violated with respect to Baha’i citizens of Iran.
[Original Persian posted on July 26, 2009, http://chrr.us/spip.php?article4706. Translation by Iran Press Watch.]