In the name of God
Your Excellency, Mr. Mohammad Javad Larijani, the honorable head of the Human Rights Division of the Judicial Branch
With Greetings and Respect,
Your thought-provoking remarks on the News Discussion program on Iranian Television’s Channel 2, which was broadcast to millions of viewers on March 17th, caused us – members of the former ad hoc committee of the Baha’i community of Iran (Yaran) who are currently in prison – to bring up a few points for your further information, purely out of our sense of responsibility, far from any design or intent to express disturbing thoughts, while avoiding any political view or orientation.
There is no doubt that the problems of Baha’is and the cruelties imposed on them is not a new topic. Some of the media – in particular the Islamic Republic’s Television Stations as their primary leader – have continuously made unilateral and systematic attacks and unsubstantiated accusations against this group of their compatriots. This has occurred even as, over many years, not evan a single Baha’i has been allowed by law to respond to these unjust accusations or eliminate these suspicions.
The fact that in your remarks you treated the issue of human rights as an important topic of universal importance and considered it necessary to pay attention to its many different dimensions is a promising point. But more importantly, what is cause for joy is that in an unprecedented move, you stated that in the Islamic Republic the basis for treatment of Baha’is is their citizenship rights, and that securing their protection is the government’s responsibility. Welcoming your view, we would like to affirm that Baha’is also expect their citizenship rights to be recognized and observed.
The fact that in your remarks you considered Baha’is to be citizens is very pleasing, and promises a better future geared toward interaction with this oppressed community. However, when you stated that “no one is in prison for being a Baha’i” and “if Baha’is do not commit illegal acts their citizenship rights will be protected”, you implicitly concluded that when Baha’is have been attacked they must have performed an illegal act. This statement indicates that in this respect, many facts must be unknown to you. Therefore, by outlining some questions, we hope to bring to your attention some realities, hoping that on one hand this will assist you in realizing your essential responsibility as the head of Human Rights Division of the Judiciary Branch, and on the other hand it will be a testimony clarifying the historical record so as to move the vigilant conscience of our fair-minded compatriots. This is because, regretfully, the Baha’i community of Iran has always faced egregious human rights violations and severe security force and judicial encounters caused by religious intolerance and a lack of acceptance of other beliefs. We hope that with the change of view of your honorable government officials, we can witness the realization of the human rights of this community.
- Mr. Larijani, the execution of more than 220 Baha’is – from a young 16 year old girl (4) to a 95 year old man – who, based on existing documents were all told they would be saved from execution if they denied their beliefs and turned to Islam – is that based on citizenship rights? If a person has committed a crime, would he be cleared of his alleged crime just by denying his religious faith?
- Dismissal of tens of thousands of Baha’i laborers and employees from government organizations and offices, stopping payment of retirement benefits, and in many cases, preventing Baha’is from having jobs in the private sector – is that the meaning of observing human rights? As no crime had been committed by these people, the reason given in their dismissal papers was “membership of the misguided Baha’i sect”. And to this date, Mr. Larijani, can you let us know of a single Baha’i who works for a government organization? Surely, the answer is no – because at this time no government entity is allowed to hire any Baha’is.
- Did the collective confiscation of the properties of the Baha’is of Yazd and their prohibition from any business transactions take place based on their citizenship rights? Mr. Larijani, those who were newborn babies at the time this rule was issued are now adults with their own families who still face numerous problems in their business transactions. Were the newborn babies and those who had been dead many years before this ruling all criminals?
- Was the expulsion of thousands of Baha’i students from universities after the Islamic revolution and the prohibition of tens of thousands of enthusiastic young people from higher education in the past thirty-five years, purely due to their religious beliefs, in agreement with citizenship rights? Surely, you don’t consider the issuance of numerous memoranda to universities, ordering them not to register or to finally expel Baha’i students, consonant with support for the education of the Baha’i community and observance of its human rights. These memoranda exist, and sadly, they have been issued by a government whose interactions with the Baha’is are, in your opinion, based on observance of citizenship rights.
- We invite you to reflect on the March 1991 Resolution about the Baha’is which was produced by the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council (5) and issued with the supervision of the highest officials of the country, and to compare it with the country’s constitution, human rights laws and citizenship rights. This resolution has clearly stipulated that: a) Students should not be registered in schools if they express that they are Baha’is; b) Baha’is should not be employed in government agencies; c) They should be expelled from universities either at registration time or during their university tenure; if they express that they are Baha’is; d) Their social and economic progress should be halted. For your further information, we should mention that when a group of expelled Baha’i students complained to the Administrative Court of Justice in 2008, the edicts issued in response confirmed that: “You were expelled in accordance with a resolution of the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council.” The question is: How is this resolution related to the support of Baha’is and observance of their citizenship rights? And if we consider this impartially, doesn’t that same resolution best explain the regime’s view, and its method of interaction with Baha’is?
- Mr. Larijani, we would truly like to have your conscience address this question: What kind of crime have Baha’is committed, when they have created an opportunity for higher education for their young ones who are deprived of it and have enabled them to continue their education, virtually, without any government assistance, in their own homes? Is private tutoring a crime according to the laws of this country? Is it fair to issue long prison sentences for those who sincerely dedicate their time to the education of youth? Aren’t offical actions against this effort intended to halt the cultural progress of this community? How could the sum total of official responses be considered to be expressions of the regime’s support of Baha’is’ right to education?
- Mr. Larijani, dismissal of all Baha’i workers and employees in the governmental, semi-governmental and even private sectors, confiscation of the private property of Baha’is in the agricultural and industrial fields, and, based on available documentary evidence, the shackling of hundreds of Baha’i businesses in different cities based on unsubstantiated excuses, eviction of many Baha’i residents of villages and confiscation of their herds and ancestral lands, and the countless and continuous problems that Baha’is face to earn a living, are in no way in response to the actual activities of a group who are, as you say, under the protection of the regime. Of course, it is unnecessary to state that protection of its citizens is the inherent duty of any government. The question is: aren’t these various and continuous barriers and problems meant to realize one of the mandates of the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council’s resolution – namely, the prevention of the economic progress of Baha’is?
- Mr. Larijani, how can one view the confiscation of Baha’i properties and sacred places in the entire country? What criminal act of any Baha’i has caused all Baha’i places of worship and gathering in various cities and villages to be confiscated? You, who believe in interaction with Baha’is based on their citizenship rights, surely agree that a Baha’i has the right to be buried as he wishes, according to Baha’i rituals and customs at a suitable location, which the government of each country is responsible to secure. However, it is surprising that even this right has been taken away from dead Baha’is. Mr. Larijani, is the confiscation and desecration of Baha’i cemeteries in agreement with their citizenship rights? What, in your opinion, is the meaning of the removal of dead bodies from their graves?
What has been mentioned is a small example of the deprivations and human rights violations that Baha’is have endured from all directions. Of course, human rights violations are not limited to Bahai’s. nor to dissidents in the cultural, artistic, political and social spheres who are asking to have their equal rights secured based on explicit principles of the constitution and the universal declaration of human rights. As we stated before, what is urgently needed to realize citizenship rights for the noble people of Iran is primarily the creation of laws that explicitly safeguard these rights; and secondly establishing governmental structures that do not allow the implementation of these laws to be dependent on tyrannical and arbitrary interpretation. We believe that unity, equality and freedom of all people are not merely civil and legal matters, but are rather spiritual principles whose source is the peerless Creator Who has created all humanity from the same dust. Civil and legal structures, belief in unity and equality, and respect to the rights of others are also among those principles which must flow from one’s conscience and faith. Therefore, it would be most appropriate if the honorable officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran were to take advantage of legal capacities to strengthen an integrated view of the Iranian nation and allow the noble people of Iran – regardless of belief or ethnicity – to benefit from being Iranians based on their citizenship rights.
The members of the former ad hoc committee of the Baha’i community of Iran (Yaran)
1. JARAS is a news group reporting from outside Iran from the perspective of the Green Movement, based on the views of protesters after the contested 2009 election. See http://ejc.net/magazine/article/from-outside-iran-jaras-reports-on-the-green-movement#.U2_O0nZZimg
2. The Yaran, or “Friends” of Iran – see http://news.bahai.org/human-rights/iran/yaran-special-report/profiles
4. This is the famous case of Mona Mahmudnizhad, who was executed in 1983 for teaching children who had been expelled from school for their beliefs and serving in an orphanage. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mona_Mahmudnizhad
5. Printed in full at http://news.bahai.org/human-rights/iran/education/feature-articles/secret-blueprint
Translation by Iran Press Watch
Source : http://www.rahesabz.net/story/82536/