Washington DC, April 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Continuing Iran’s decade-long persecution of its Baha’i community from cradle to grave, Iranian authorities have now banned Baha’is in Tehran from burying loved ones in the election campaign space previously allocated to them in Tehran’s Khavaran Cemetery. The destruction and desecration of Baha’i cemeteries in Iran is part of the government’s long-standing policy of persecuting Baha’is in Iran.
After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Iranian government began to desecrate, and in some cases demolish, Baha’i cemeteries in Tehran and across the country.
In 1981, Tehran’s central Baha’i cemetery was confiscated and more than 15,000 graves were demolished. Later a piece of land in this cemetery was assigned to the Bahá’ís in a part of the cemetery colloquially known as “the place of the damned.” However, the government refused to sell the property to the Baha’is and has substantially increased the price of each burial site since then.
The cemetery land allotted to the Baha’is should be sufficient for several decades. However, agents from the Behesht-e Zahra Organization security bureau, which runs Khavaran, have banned the community from using these plots. The security officer reportedly issued threats against the Baha’is who were attempting to use the assigned land.
Baha’is are now forced to choose between impossible options. One is to use the narrow spaces between existing graves to bury loved ones, while another is to use a mass burial site that authorities say they have recently emptied. This site is known to be the burial site of thousands of political prisoners killed in the early years of the Islamic Revolution, as well as at least 50 Baha’is as part of the government’s campaign to systematically persecute Iranian Baha’is for their religious beliefs. .
“Forbidding people to bury loved ones properly when they are already in pain is beyond inhumane,” said Diane Ala’i, Baha’i International Community representative to the United Nations in Geneva. “Baha’is respect everyone’s resting places and, as the Bahá’í community has faced the desecration of their cemeteries for many decades, they do not want anyone to feel the same pain by burying their dead where others recently lay. “
“A dignified burial according to one’s own religious laws is among the most basic human rights,” added Ala’i. “The Iranian authorities must respect this and stop preventing the Baha’is from exercising this right.”
Bahá’ís are Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority and have been systematically persecuted for 42 years, widely reported by the United Nations. More than 200 Baha’is were executed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and since the 1980s they have been denied higher education and livelihoods, been vilified by the media and even their cemeteries have been desecrated.
In early 2009, a group of unidentified individuals using bulldozers demolished an area of the cemetery known as the “cemetery of the infidels”, the area where many of the people executed in the early years of the Revolution were buried.
CONTACT: James Samimi Farr U.S. Baha'i Office of Public Affairs 202-833-8990 [email protected]