The Bahai International Community (BIC) to the United Nations in Geneva has called upon human rights activists in Iran and outside to condemn the confiscation of Bahai's properties in the country and demand returning the properties to them.
The community fears that the government will confiscate more of their properties in a piecemeal fashion, in an attempt to evade the notice of the international community.
The latest is the order of a Revolutionary Court in the Iranian province of Semnan to transfer properties belonging to six Baha’is to a parastatal body called the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO), also known as Setad), which controls large assets across Iran. The order came on a complaint filed by EIKO Semnan Province manager, Hamid Ahmadi.
“The seizure by the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order of Baha’i properties is a novel and very worrying development for Iranian Baha’is,” said Diane Ala’i, Representative of the BIC. “This development demonstrates that the highest levels of Iran’s leadership are orchestrating the persecution of the Baha’is in the country.”
Last month, an apartment in Mazandaran Province belonging to a Baha’i, Sheida Taeed, was ordered to be confiscated; in December last, 13 irrigated farmland plots belonging to Baha’is in the village of Kata in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province were appropriated in the midst of a water crisis; farms owned and cultivated by Baha’i families for over a century in the village of Roshankooh, also in Mazandaran, have been seized; and last March, a global campaign that trended under #ItsTheirLand brought attention to years of official efforts to uproot dozens of farming families from the Mazandaran village of Ivel.
A Judge of the Special Court for Article 49 of the Iranian Constitution, Mr. Muhammad-Qasim ‘Aynu’l-Kamali, gave the verdict on Semnan. Article 49 requires the government to prove the legitimacy of such seizures under Islamic law. Misusing this law to justify the confiscations demonstrates the religiously-motivated purpose behind the seizures.
“Iran’s leadership is enriching itself while impoverishing and displacing the Baha’is,” Ala’i said.
“Seizures in Semnan, Mazandaran and Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad provinces may be just the beginning. The risk is that more properties will continue to be seized, in a piecemeal fashion, in an attempt to evade the notice of the international community. Supporters of human rights inside and outside Iran must condemn this outrageously unjust ruling and demand that it be rescinded without delay.”
The BIC has previously called attention to the fact that Semnan — where asset seizures stretch back decades — has been used as a laboratory for preparing systematic campaigns of persecution against Baha’is across Iran.
Attacks on Baha’is in Semnan have been notable for their particular intensity, for the mobilisation and coordination of official and unofficial elements, including police, courts, local authorities and the clergy, and for persecution ranging from hate speech to economic strangulation, arrests and physical attacks.