[On Saturday, 18 October 2008, the following report was posted in Persian by the prestigious Human Rights Activists of Iran at http://www.hrairan.com/Archive_87/1123.html — it is shared below in translation. It should be noted that the desecration of thousands of trees at this cemetery has previously been reported on this site, under the title, “What Crime Did These Trees Commit?” and also on the widely read Iranian.com: http://www.iranian.com/main/albums/what-did-trees-do-wrong. A video of this destruction has been prepared by Human Rights Activists of Iran and is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHKboiwlQIo. Ahang Rabbani.]
Ten years ago, on 29 September 1998, in a completely orchestrated and synchronized plan, the homes of many Baha’is across Iran were ransacked by authorities, and all religious and nonreligious books were confiscated. In addition, many other household items, such as recording devices, videos and even personal effects, such as family pictures, were seized.
Now, precisely a decade later, on the early morning of Sunday, 28 September 2008, the Baha’i Cemetery of Isfahan, known as Gulestan-e Javid [Eternal Garden] was attacked by a certain group and many trees and gardens raised with enormous difficulty in that desert-like field were cut and destroyed. Moreover, windows of a hall at the end of the cemetery were broken and the walls were blackened by incendiary materials.
The Baha’i Cemetery of Isfahan is located a distance of 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) from the city, in proximity to the Espiral factory and in the Kuhpayih district, on the road connecting Isfahan to Yazd. The Cemetery takes up more than three hectares, or about 7.5 acres, and has about 900 graves.
According to one of the custodians of this cemetery, 2500 trees were cut and completely destroyed in this attack. The system used for watering the trees was known as Drip Irrigation, which delivered water precisely to each plant with a minimum waste of such a precious commodity in this barren area. All the pipes in this system were also entirely severed and no piece of it is now useable. In consideration of the extensive irrigation system used at this site and their total ruin, a significant financial loss has been sustained by this cemetery. In addition, traffic and other directional signs at the site were also pulled up.
It should be noted that six years ago, the trees of the same cemetery were cut and destroyed, and all plants removed from the area.
In considering this incident from a legal perspective, we encounter the following points worthy of serious contemplation:
Article 5 of the Protection and Expansion of Green Space and Prohibition on Unjustified Cutting of Trees Act (enacted on 2 August 1973) states, “It is prohibited to cut trees of any size on the sides of thoroughfares, public parks, traffic circles within the city limit, and also on main roads and highways outside the city, unless other provisions of this enactment have been met.”
We are witnessing a pregnant silence by governmental agencies, including those responsible for environmental protection, municipalities and the intelligence and security ministries when it comes to the cutting of the trees at the aforesaid cemetery and also the violation of the personal property of our Baha’i countrymen. Most certainly, Iranian laws consider attack and destruction of a large quantity of trees a matter worthy of criminal investigation and punishment by the law. For this reason, the punishment of the perpetrators of this shameful deed is the least that should be expected from governmental agencies and the police.
Denial of rights to the religious minority of the Baha’is of Iran since the inception of the Islamic Revolution has always been among the most important issues and has comprised the principle segment of reports concerning Iran by the United Nations and human rights organizations throughout the world. Even though in recent years we have not witnessed executions of the followers of this religion, we see a vast difference between the discrimination against the Baha’i community of Iran and standards of human and social rights accepted all over the world.
October 20, 2008 10:57 am
I suppose all we can be grateful for is that the group did not resort to destroying the graves and their remains. What wanton destruction! Even environmental groups should be incensed by the needless violence against trees and shrubs. To me it is a clear sign of the frustration of these people that the Baha’i Faith survives in spite of serious and long-term persecution of its members and assets, especially in light of the fact that the Baha’is wish only the best for their countrymen and their homeland.
October 21, 2008 2:34 am
When asked to define who may be called a Muslim, the Prophet Muhammad responded that ” A Muslim is one from whose hand and mouth humanity is sees no harm.
In light of this weighty pronouncement, one may ask: how could the perpetrators of such an inhumane deed call themselves Muslims.
October 25, 2008 11:13 pm
I hope we don’t forget what happened to the Baha’i Cemetry (Golestan Javid) of Isfahan soon after the mocked revolution, situated at the time near the city’s airport. They razed it and covered the whole area and built a building over it. I think the acts haven’t changed but just another wayward generation playing their role. A very sad prospect for Iran.