The year of Human Rights and the Rights of Baha’i Citizens
Date: Wednesday 20, Farvardin 1393 (9 April, 2014)
HARANA News – Heshmatollah Tabazadi¹ a journalist and political prisoner at the 12th Hall of Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj (also known as Gohardosht Prison²), writes: “We should consider year 1993 to be the year of human rights³, and each of us, in any way possible, should disclose the laws, politics, programs, and practices of the regime in contrast with the declaration of human rights and fundamental rights of Iranian citizens from any creed, gender, ethnicity, class and orientation.”
The full text of this letter, which has been provided to HARANA News, can be read below:
The year ninety three is named the year of human rights by political prisoners. The name refers to the fundamental demands of the Iranian people and the attention of international institutions to this important matter. On the other hand, the clerical state with much useless noise has raised some issues regarding the rights of the citizens. At this time based on one of the bills passed by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, which is confidential but has been leaked through some internet sites, I will show to what extent the rights of citizens have been violated during the reign of this so-called Islamic regime; unfortunately these systematic violations continue to this day. The specific document is a letter that Dr. Seyed Mohammad Reza Hashemi Golpayegani, the head of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution at the time, wrote to Hojatolislam Mohammadi-Golpayegani, the then head of the office of the Supreme Leader [the recently appointedAyatollah Khamenei], and in that letter refered to the bill passed by that council regarding the rights of Baha’is, approved on the sixteenth of Bahman of year sixty nine (5 February, 1991) , and the twentieth of Bahman of the year sixty nine (9 February, 1991).
The Secretary of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution wrote to Mr. Golpayegani: “Turning to letter No. S1/782S, dated December 31, 1990, based on the issuance of the commands of the Supreme Leader to the respected President [at that time, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani] regarding the issue of the Baha’is, he notifies (Golpayegani) that based on the referral of the respected President and the head of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, the topic should be raised with the Supreme Leader and be placed on the agenda for his evaluation, so that while providing him with the necessary reports, he can establish the appropriate course of action. This decision was made at the 138th session of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, dated February 5, 1991, and the 139th session, dated February 9, 1991, and in pursuance of the negotiations and items discussed at the 132nd session, dated 11 August, 1990, between the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, led by the Supreme Leader at that time, about this topic, and the recent opinions and commands of the Supreme Leader related to the topic of the Baha’i issue, was presented to the Supreme Council. According to the Constitutional provisions of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), and Islamic and legal issues, and the general policies of the country, with specific attention to the commands of the Supreme Leader of the IRI to the effect that Iran needs to adopt the correct policies in this regard so that everyone can be clear as to what can or cannot be done, the decision was to refer the matter to the Supreme Leader for a direction to be determined at his discretion.
According to the preface of this document, which reported on the progress of this work until arriving at the desired conclusion, Mr. Khamenei, while he was President and also the head of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, had taken certain actions in regards to Baha’is, and during his tenure as the Supreme Leader had requested the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution to follow up on such actions. Based on this, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, during the leadership of Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, based on the wishes of Mr. Khamenei, prepared a summary of the results of the discussions and the suggestions to which I refer with respect to some such items which were prepared and presented to him. Mr. Khamenei wrote the following regarding this summary: “In the Name of God, the agreements passed by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution seem sufficient. Gentlemen, thanks for your attention and dedication. Seyed Ali Khamenei.”
Now, let’s see just what are these agreements passed by the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution which were prepared and approved under the supervision of Hashemi Rafsanjani and have been sanctioned by Mr. Khamenei?⁴
The first section of the bill emphasizes the following:
1 – “They will not leave the country without a reason.” In reality does this mean that pressuring them to cause them to leave their country is a defensible act?! The question is which part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or of the current Constitution allows pressuring a citizen to leave his or her own country for having a different ideology?
In the next section it says:
2 – They will not be arrested, imprisoned, and punished without having a reason.” Since the general topic of these bills is with respect to the followers of a specific ideology, or a religion, and not for example about criminals, it has to be said that the gentlemen in this specific bill have considered being a Baha’i as a whole a crime, and it is noteworthy that over the past thirty five years, hundreds and or even thousands of Baha’is have been imprisoned, tortured, or executed.
The third section of this bill clearly states:
3 – “The clash of the regime with them must be in such a way that their progress and development are blocked.” Mr. Khamenei and Rafsanjani should be asked which principle of the constitution has given them permission to block the progress and development of a group of citizens!? With what remit have they and their colleagues trampled Constitutional law, which acording to their own interpretation is the result of the blood of thousands of martyrs, and passed a bill directly in violation of its direct verbiage? Deportation, imprisonment, execution, torture, and prevention of progress under what legal authority!? This very same document, in section(b), which is about the cultural place of the Baha’is, and also in section 1, states: “Register them in school if they do not mention that they are Baha’is.” Will the Constitution prevent one from being granted an education based on having a certain ideology? Does not the Universal Declaration of Human Rights oppose any discrimination based on ideology? Why should Mr. Khamenei, who is in charge of leadership based on this very same Constitutional law, trample it? Isn’t this a prime indication that he has betrayed his trust and abused his power?
Paragraph 3 of the same section says:
3 – “At universities, whether at their admission to the program or while already enrolled; as soon as it is expressed that they are Baha’is, they should be suspended from the university.” Had the Constitution given such rights to the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, and Mr. Hashemi as the President at the time, to deprive a section of Iranian citizens merely based on having a different ideology? Has Khamenei consider himself above the Constitution that he ignores the law so easily? With the passing of this bill, since 1991 thousands of Baha’is have been denied higher education in the country, and an educational genocide has occurred. Who besides Khamenei is responsible for such a crime against humanity? Will Rouhani, who claims to be a defendant of civil rights, have the courage to repeal this bill, which has cruelly imposed,contrary to the Constitution, and in opposition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Never! He has no control over this work.
In paragraph 4 of the same section of this bill it is clearly stated:
4 – “Their Political (espionage) activities, …” Which law do Khamenei and Rafsanjani at their positions of Leadership and Presidency rely upon that allows them, without a just court, or a fair trial, consider the political activities of a huge population of Iranian citizens to be espionage? Is this method of dealing with citizens not trampling on the Constitution and civil laws; is it not a cruel judgment about thousands of the women and men whom he does not even know? Isn’t such an unjust judgment a clear example of the abuse of power and a violation of the rule of law, reminiscent of the rule of the jungle? What is the rationale and process of governing which has officials who are supposed to uphold the law, in fact ignore and break the law, and through such ratifications promote a culture of transgression and tyranny?! Equating the political activities of a population with espionage by itself is a crime.
Paragraph 3 of section ( c ) of the Bill refers to the legal and social status of the Baha’i community, and says :
3 – “In case they express that they are Baha’is, they do not have permission to be hired.” And in part 4 of this same section there is:
4 – “Positions of influence (e.g., scientific, etc.) are not to be given to them .” This bill is in fundamental contradiction to the principles of basic individual rights, the Constitution and in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: it frankly, and obscenely, undertakes to legally and systematically discriminate against ideology and religion.
I don’t believe that, other than the Hojjatieh Society⁵ and its sectarian leaders and theorists, I recall any other group so insistent upon dragging the Constitution and civil rights in the gutter, and so intent upon criminalizing an entire population due to their ideology, depriving them of jobs, education, and employment in the government sector.
Let’s consider the year 2014 to be the year of human rights — let each of us in any way possible try to disclose laws, policies , programs and practices of the regime that are in contrast with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the fundamental rights of citizens of every creed, gender, ethnicity, and class.
I began this fight with a defense of the fundamental rights of our Baha’i compatriots. This is because I have known them to be the most oppressed, even more than others, and I have not shown the necessary sensitivity in the past to protect the rights of this population. May this act to some extent make up for the past.
I feel it necessary to remind you that the year 2014 (1393) is the twentieth anniversary of the ban of the Payam-e Daneshjoo (Message of the Student⁶) weekly magazine, Let us hope for a day when we can witness freedom of speech, of thought, and of publication.
Rajai Shahr prison
March 2014 (Farvardin 1393)
1. Also called Heshmat Tabarzadi: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heshmat_Tabarzadi
3. Here is the site of the World Conference of Human Rights, at which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 was reviewed and renewed: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ABOUTUS/Pages/ViennaWC.aspx
4. A full translation of this foundational letter documenting the systematic and official governmental persecution of Baha’is in Iran can be found at http://iran.bahai.us/files/2007/12/5_theisrccdocument_en.pdf
5. The Hojjatieh Society is described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hojjatieh
6. Payam-e Daneshjoo magazine described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Tabarzadi
Translation by Iran Press Watch