Editor’s Note: On January 30, 2009, Iran Press Watch published an account by Abdollah Shahbazi (http://www.iranpresswatch.org/2009/01/condemn-publication/) in which Shahbazi brought to public notice the fact that the names and particulars of many Baha’is of Shiraz had been broadly published and distributed throughout the city. Among these names, there were several Baha’is who had passed away some time ago. The following is a translation of a letter from the son of one of these deceased Baha’is. For the record, Iran Press Watch wishes to inform its readers that while for the last two months we have been in possession of this shameful publication – list of Baha’is of Shiraz – we decided that we would not publish this list and would not contribute to the reprehensible and appalling action of the Iranian authorities.
I have seen your name on the list of occupations of Baha’is in Shiraz. It has been seven months since you passed on. It was about seven years before that when you were forced to leave your job. Old age, the trembling of your hands and the sorrow of mom’s death took away your ability to continue working.
You were living on the meager donation bestowed upon you by the “respected authorities”. Twenty years after your pension was cut off, you thought, there had been a little improvement in the treatment of the Baha’is. The only thing that you asked for from these beloved authorities was to be paid from your own contribution to the pension fund which you had made during your thirty years of honest service, teaching children in the hot weather of Abadan. You did not expect a comfortable life, just a modest lifestyle in the last years of your existence. After much correspondence, you were given a meager monthly amount, one sixth of what you were legally entitled to.
Now, your name is in the long list of workers, each of whose occupations somehow requires usage of “water” or “other liquids” making the object that is touched by the Baha’is “unclean” or “untouchable”. It is ridiculous. It is explained that since car repair requires using “water” the car becomes “untouchable”; since an optician uses liquid solutions for cleaning glasses, the glass becomes “untouchable”. In the 21st century, don’t civilized people laugh at such rationalizations? In one case they lacked enough creativity to label occupations in the clothing industry “untouchable”!!
On top of the list is written: “Baha’is who have occupations in Shiraz”. Was it expected that Baha’is, after getting fired from their jobs or having their pensions cut off, should sit and stare at the walls, or were they expected to work in an “imaginary” work place?
Always and all over the world, retirement is anticipated as a time for rest and the enjoyment of life. However, instead of retirement, you started your new occupation and worked another fifteen years, providing for your family with pride. You did not give them the satisfaction of seeing you give up in despair. If it had been anywhere other than Iran, there would have been stories and movies about the strength and determination of you and people like you. Alas, with “unclear intentions” and of course “fruitless effort”, they published lists of those who lived with integrity, and who repaid enmity with kindness.
Dear Dad, when I saw your name on the list, it brought back memories of the past. I recall that we were laughing and saying: make up your mind and decide which country we are spying for — is it Russia or England, America or Israel? Dad, were you getting sensitive and classified information from poverty-stricken children of oil refinery workers or from clothing markets and shopkeepers? How is it that we are spies without pay and based on testimony stated at the beginning of the aforementioned “list”, we even provide financial help to Israel!! What kind of spies are we that openly introduce ourselves and write “Baha’i” in all the forms that have a religion column? Dad, if you had not filled out the religion column with honesty, you would have received your pension and I could have graduated from university 17-18 years ago!!
In any movie or story that I have ever seen or read, spies kept their identities secret. Why are we so stupid? This is complicated, my brain can’t figure it out, maybe the announcers of such comments can offer clarification!!
Is honesty so devoid of value that if you had lied, and instead of “Baha’i” had written “Muslim” in the religion columns of employment forms or registration forms of schools and universities, they would now be clapping, would have made life easy for you and would now say welcome to our religion?
There are many like that young man who remembered you from ages ago when you were his teacher. When he was handing you your dismissal letter, he was feeling ashamed of doing what he was ordered to do. In his eyes you could see his appreciation and respect for you.
Hoping that someday honesty and steadfastness will bring results, and that more and more people will start defending basic human rights.
With much love,
March 5, 2009 5:05 am
thank you for posting this touching piece. it says a lot about how Baha’is have been living in Iran under the IR.
March 5, 2009 5:38 am
What a nicely written letter, so thought provoking! Thank you for sharing!
March 5, 2009 1:38 pm
This letter breaks my heart. What heroes, what brave souls, the Iranian Baha’is. Such sacrifice will never be, cannot be forgotten.
I hope that Baha’i scholars are writing a book concerning the precise treatment the Baha’i are living through in this period. My dear Iranain friends have been noble and silent about their incredible stories of mistreatment for far too long. The world needs to be awakened to the present Iranian regime’s treatment of minorities.
Again, I beg someone at this website to inspire the work of getting a book published on the situation of Baha’is in Iran.