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

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs further stated that government officials were forbidden from overturning such dismissal orders. Bahá'í employees, it was argued, had been legally prohibited from government employment since the adoption of the 1922 legislation and therefore, they were required to return all and any wages earned from the National Treasury.298 In some cases, this would require the employees to return many years’ worth of wages or face jail time.299

Sometime after a series of circulars had been distributed by the central government, public announcements were made of dismissals of Bahá’ís from corporations. These notices were either published in large newspapers or were in the form of personal letters to Bahá’í employees.

On August 31, 1980, the Ministry of Oil notified a Bahá’í employee of the National Iranian Oil Company that his salary and pension had been suspended and that he should not come into work until further notice. However, the letter stated that if the employee denied his affiliation with Bahá’ísm in a written statement, his employment might be reconsidered.300 In Ahvaz, the Board of Reconstruction of Human Resources of the Ministry of Oil notified Bahá’í employees that they had 15 days to report to the Office of Public Relations, or face prosecution. The Board of Reconstruction’s circular also called on all Ministry employees to identify Bahá’ís or anyone in communication with them.301

In a letter to the ZamZam Company, the judge of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Kermanshah announced that “if Bahá’í workers and employees are willing to repent, and write in the personnel files that they adhere to the Islamic Ithna Ashari creed (the followers of the twelve Imams), and reproduce and publish this in the widely circulated newspapers along with their photographs” they could keep their jobs. They were given 20 days to fulfill this demand.302

In a February 1982 meeting of the Supreme Council of Banks, the Secretariat stated that Bahá’í employees “should be suspended from work and receive no money pending a final decision by the Board of Reconstruction of Human Resources.” Following this decision, a letter was circulated at Mellat Bank requesting a list of Bahá’ís who refused to recant be sent to the Personnel Department “so that the necessary action [could] be taken.”303

Irsaco Company in Tehran notified its Bahá’í employees in 1982 that “as long as they have not cut off their relation with this sect, and have not accepted the Islamic Republic, they do not have the right to enter this factory.” The company emphasized that they were being fired purely on the basis of their faith, not because of any subversive actions.304

Bahá’í public servants typically received notification of their dismissal through a letter from their employer, instructing them to refrain from coming to work in the future unless they were prepared to publicly recant their faith. Letters of dismissal commonly noted that if the employee would simply recant, their employment or pension could be reinstated.

Some employers appear to have been reluctant to enforce the dismissal orders and provided letters which attested to the skills and contributions of those Bahá’ís who were fired. Warehouse manager CD was dismissed from the army because he was Bahá’í, despite the fact that his superiors testified that he “performed his duties to perfection.”305 In a similar instance, CE was dismissed from as an employee of Tehran Travel Agency. The Agency’s termination letter recognized his “sincere services” and wished him “every success,” before adding regretfully: “[Because] you refused to conceal your belief and explicitly stated in this questionnaire [that was filled earlier] that you were a Bahá’í, hence… your employment is hereby terminated.”306

Occasionally, Bahá’ís employed in the private sector were also affected by the prohibition on Bahá’í employment. CF was instructed by the Revolutionary Committee in Gorgan to close down his independent business because of his “suspicious connection with anti-revolutionary elements and religious minorities is a danger to the revolution.”307

[298]Namiyyih Vazir-i Kishavarzi va Umran-i Rusta'i bih Karmand-i Ikhrajiyyih Bahá’í [Statement by Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Construction, Stopping Payment to Bahá’ís], dated 26/6/1360 (September 17, 1981) (on file with IHRDC) [attached as Appendix 6]. Id.
[299]Fergus M. Bordewich, Holy Terror: Moslem Zealots Wage a Deadly War Against Bahá’í Heresies, THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY, Vol. 259 (April 1987) at 26.
[300]Namiyyih Mu'avin-i Umur-i Idari va Maliyyih Manatiq-i Naftkhiz-i Vizarat-i Naft, Mohammad Reza Shammasi, bih CC [Letter of Deputy Financial and Administrator officer of the Oil Producing Regions of the Ministry of Oil, Mohammad Reza Shammasi to CC], dated 8/6/1359 (August 30, 1980) (on file with IHRDC).
[301]See Itila'iyyih-yih Hay'at-i Badaviyyih Bazsaziyyih Niruyeh Insaniyyih Vizarat-i Naft-i Mantaqiyyih Ahvaz [Announcement of the Board of Reconstruction of Human Resources of the Ministry of Oil in Ahvaz], dated 25/3/1361 (June 15, 1982) (on file with IHRDC).
[302]See Namiyyih Qaziyyih Shar'-i Dadgah-i Inqilab-i Islamiyyih Kermanshah bih Shirkat-i ZamZam-i Kermanshah [Letter of Judge of Islamic Revolutionary Court of Kermanshah to ZamZam Company] dated 10/6/1360 (September 1, 1981) (on file with IHRDC).
[303]See Namiyyih Umumiyyih Bank-i Mellat bih Karkunan [Mellat Bank Circular], dated 25/12/1360 (March 16, 1982), a followup to a circular dated 6/12/1360 (February 25, 1982) (on file with IHRDC).
[304]See Namiyyih Shirkat-i Irsaco bih Karmandan Darbariyyih Bahá’íyan-i Shirkat [Letter from Irsaco Company], dated 9/3/1361 (May 30, 1982) (on file with IHRDC).
[305]Namih az Dayiriyyih Makhazin – Shubiyyih Khudruha-yeh Artish Darbariyyih Agha-yih CD [Letter from Army (Storage- Automotives Branch) about Mr. CD], dated 20/11/1358 (February 9, 1980) (on file with IHRDC).
[306]Namih az, Ra'is-i Shirkat-i Mosafiratiyyih bih Agha-yih CE [Letter to CE from his employer], dated 21/6/1373 (September 12, 1994) (on file with IHRDC).
[307]Namiyyih Sitad-i Amaliyatiyyih Pasdaran-i Komiteh-yeh Inqilab-i Islamiyyih Fazil Abad-i Gorgan bih CF [Letter to CF from Islamic Revolutionary Guards of Fazil Abad in Gorgan], dated 4/3/1360 (May 25, 1981) (on file with IHRDC).

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