September 13, 2016
Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein
Office of the United Nations for Human Rights
OHCHR-Palais Wilson, United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Dear Honorable High Commissioner:
Re: Baha’is in Iran Denied Access to Basic Human Rights at Burial
In August 2016, I met with a constituent who spoke to me regarding a dire situation that he and his brothers faced in Tabriz Iran, when Iranian officials would not allow their grief-stricken family to bury their deceased mother in accordance with the requirements of their Baha’i Faith. Unfortunately, this human rights violation is commonly experienced by the Baha’i community when they attempt to bury their deceased according to the procedures of their faith.
As part of a widespread and coordinated campaign to force Baha’is to deny their religious identity, Iranian officials have increasingly blocked or interfered with the burial of Baha’is and sanctioned the destruction of their cemeteries. I understand that since 2005, virtually every Baha’i cemetery in the country has been vandalized or desecrated with impunity, and at least two have been demolished. This is in spite of the fact that in many Iranian cities, Baha’is have been denied access to Muslim cemeteries, and were therefore permitted to create their own ‒ only to have them damaged and destroyed.
Baha’i traditions on burials outline a few basic principles which the Baha’i community follows. However in order to stop Baha’is from practicing their customary practices, Iranian officials have begun denying them access to cemeteries that once belonged to Baha’i communities.
For Baha’is, having faced far-ranging injustices, being denied the dignity of a decent burial is, without a doubt, among the most disturbing aspects of the ongoing persecution being perpetrated against them.
The international community must be made more aware of this human rights abuse in Iran, and action must be taken to put an end to such terrible acts of inhumanity against the Baha’i community.
Thank you for your considerationn and assistance with respect to this pressing humanitarian issue.
Reza Moridi, MPP
Copy: Amnesty International, Canada
Corinne Box, Director of Government Relations, The Baha’i Community of Canada