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A Faith Denied: The Persecution of the Baha'is of Iran

The desecration of Bahá’í cemeteries occurred across the country; in Sangsar, Bahnamir, Koshkak, Shahsavar, Babolsar, Manshad, and Chabahar, local Bahá’í cemeteries were destroyed.256 In Sa’adi, Yazd and Shiraz, Bahá’í remains were exhumed by vandals, and families were prevented by the authorities from re-burying their dead.257 On December 5, 1981, the Bahá’í cemetery in Tehran was confiscated and closed, and thirteen cemetery employees were arrested, by an order of the Central Revolutionary Court.258 Only one month later, on January 14, 1982, the Bahá’í cemetery of Bab-salman, a village near Tehran, was also closed, and the Bahá’ís of Tehran were compelled to bury their dead in an area reserved by the authorities specifically for “infidels” - a barren area known as La’nat-Abad (“City of the Accursed”).259 In December 1983, the Bahá’í cemetery in Babolsar was confiscated by the Foundation for the Dispossessed260 and Bahá’í representatives were forced to seek judicial intervention in order to bury their dead.261

Destruction of Bahá'í Community Property

Government authorities also confiscated and closed down Bahá’í community properties such as schools, hospitals and playgrounds. The Institution of Higher Education, the Summer School (Hadíqih), youth recreation grounds in Shiraz and Tehran, and the School of Húshangí in Yazd were all closed in the postrevolutionary period.262

Mítháqíyyih Hospital

One of the best documented cases of confiscation is that of the Mítháqíyyih Hospital, a Bahá’í-owned and run hospital in Tehran. In early June 1979, Professor Manúchihr Hakím, the founder of the hospital, learned that the Mehrabad Komiteh had labeled the hospital “anti-Islamic and anti-revolutionary” and had demanded the right to supervise the hospital’s activities.263 Arguing that such interference by a Komiteh would be illegal, Prof. Hakím contacted the Komiteh and the Medical Association of Iran, requesting that any such action be supported by a written order.264 His request provoked a visit from two men who presented Prof. Hakím with a letter from the Deputy Chief Administrator of the Office of Confiscated Material Foundation for the Dispossessed, Abulqasim Sarhadizadih.265 The document stated:

According to this order, Dr. Khosrow Sadiqi Tehrani and Mr. Mohammad Raziqi are assigned to investigate and identify all of the affairs of the Mítháqíyyih Hospital that was confiscated according to the Revolutionary Court and take necessary actions regarding the [confiscated hospital].266

Professor Hakím recorded the details of this meeting:

These two people, Dr. Khosrow Sadiqi Tehrani and Mr. Raziqi, questioned [me] the whole day, and while Dr. Tehrani was doing the interrogation, Mr. Raziqi… was interjecting remarks… [asserting that] 1) one-half of the people in charge of torturing others were Bahá’ís; 2) Mr. Hoveida, General Nasiri and Mr. Sabiti were Bahá’ís; 3) the Shah and Queen Farah were Bahá’ís.267

[256]See Map of Cemeteries destroyed (April-May 1979) in National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, Attacks on the Bahá’ís of Iran (September 9, 1979)..
[257]Id.
[258]Major Developments During December 1981/January 1982, Bahá’í International Community, supra note 239, at 1..
[259]Id.
[260]This is one of the most powerful of the various state-run foundation-corporations established after the revolution to help the government consolidate economic and political control. This foundation controls thousands of workshops, factories, hotels and other properties obtained when they were nationalized in the earlier years of the revolution. The Foundation for the Dispossessed is under the authority of the Supreme Leader and exempt from oversight by other government organs. See Ali Aboutalebi, State- Society Relations and Prospects for Democracy in Iran, MIDDLE EAST REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, Vol. 5, No. 3. (September 2001). It was reported that the Foundation for the Dispossessed controls as much as $80 billion in assets and has an annual turnover of $10 billion. See Amir Taheri, Who Rules Iran, IRAN PRESS SERVICE, March 2004, available at http://www.iran-press-service.com/articles_2004/Mar_04/who_rules_iran_29304.htm (accessed November 28, 2006).
[261]Namiyyih Ra'is Shubiyyih Yik-i Dadgah-i Babolsar bih Shahrdar-ih Babolsar Darbariyyih Ghabristan-i Bahá’í ha [Letter from the Ministry of Justice of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the mayor and district governor of Babolsar regarding arrangements for burying dead Bahá’ís in confiscated Bahá’í cemetery], dated December 26, 1983 (on file with the IHRDC).
[262]Id.
[263]Namiyyih Doctor Manúchihr-i Hakím Darbariyyih Bimaristan-i Mítháqíyyih [Letter from Professor Manúchihr Hakím regarding confiscation of Bahá’í hospital], dated 26/4/1358 (July 17, 1979) (on file with the IHRDC).
[264]Id.
[265]See Copy of Warrant dated June 13, 1979, reproduced in: National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Germany, Die Bahá’í im Iran: Dokumentation der Verfolgung einer religiosen Minderheit [The Baha’is in Iran: Documentation of the Pursuit of a Religious Minority] 131 (1985).
[266]Id.
[267]Namiyyih Doctor Manúchihr-i Hakím Darbariyyih Bimaristan-i Mítháqíyyih [Letter from Professor Manúchihr Hakím regarding confiscation of Bahá’í hospital], dated 26/4/1358 (July 17, 1979) (on file with IHRDC).

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Baha'i, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Illegal Search and Seizure, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Conscience