Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Rahmatu'llah Vujdani

About

Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Unknown

Case

Date of Killing: August 31, 1985
Location: Bandar Abbas, Hormozgan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Unspecified execution method
Charges: Religious offense

About this Case

The Baha’is in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Background

"Baha'i is not a religion, it is a political party. It is a party that was initially supported by the British and is now supported by America. They [the Baha'is] are spies...”

Ayatollah Khomeini, Founder of the Islamic Republic*

“The Qur’an recognized only the People of the Book as religious communities. Others are pagans. Pagans must be eliminated.”

Iranian Attorney General, Seyed Moussavi-Tabrizi**

“the punishment for a Mortad-e Fetri [apostate who was born in a Muslim family] is death and his repentance is not accepted.”

Head of the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Courts, Ayatollah Gilani***

The authorities of the Islamic Republic have subjected the members of the Baha'i religious community of Iran (the largest minority, with approximately 300 thousand members) to systematic harassment and persecution, depriving them of their most fundamental human rights. The Baha'i religion is not recognized under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, and Iranian authorities refer to it as a heresy. As a result, the Baha'is have been denied the rights associated with the status of a religious minority; they cannot profess and practice their faith and are banned from public functions. Discrimination under the law and in practice has subjected them to abuse and violence.

The Islamic Republic Penal Code grants no rights to Baha'is, and the courts have denied them the right to redress or to protection against assault, murder, and other forms of persecution and abuse. In so doing, the courts have treated Baha'is as unprotected citizens or "apostates," citing eminent religious authorities whose edicts are considered to be a source of law equal to acts of Parliament. The Founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, made execution a punishment for the crime of apostasy and decreed that a Muslim would not be punished for killing an apostate.

Banishment from public functions has seriously damaged the Baha’is’ professional, economic, and social lives. Soon after the revolution, a Ministry of Labor directive called for the dismissal from public office and all governmental organizations and associations those "who belong to any of the misguided sects recognized by all Muslims as heretical deviations from Islam, or to organizations whose doctrine and constitution are based on rejection of the divinely-revealed religions." Finally the mandatory requirement of specifying religion in application forms and official documents (lifted recently in some areas under international pressure) has seriously limited Baha'is' freedoms and opportunities in all areas of their lives including divorce, inheritance, access to universities, and travel.

In practice, since 1980, thousands of Baha'is have lost their jobs, pensions, businesses, properties, and educational opportunities. By banning the Baha'i organization, an elected spiritual body that administers the affairs of the faith at both local and national levels, the Islamic Republic has denied Baha'is the right to meet, elect, and operate their religious institutions. Further, the Iranian government has executed at least 200 Baha'is and has imprisoned, tortured, and pressured to convert to Islam scores more.

Because of the unanimous international condemnation of the persecution of this quietist (apolitical) religious community, Iranian authorities do not always admit that the Baha'is are being punished for their religious beliefs. Therefore, judicial authorities have often charged Baha'is with offenses such as "being involved in counter-revolutionary activities," "having supported the former regime," "being agents of Zionism," or "being involved with prostitution, adultery, and immorality."

Mr. Rahmatu'llah Vujdani is one of the 206 Iranian Baha’is listed in a 1999 report published by the Baha’i International Community. The report, Iran’s Secret Blueprint for the Destruction of a Religious Community, documents the persecutions of the members of the Faith in the Islamic Republic of Iran and lists the Baha’is killed since 1978. Additional information has been drawn from various issues of the The Baha’i World. See for example: Vol. XIX, 1982-1986, Haifa 1994.

Arrest and detention

No information is available on the circumstances of this defendant's arrest and detention.

Trial

No information is available on Mr. Vujdani's trial, including whether or not he had legal counsel.

Charges

The charges against Mr. Vujdani are not known.

Evidence of guilt

No information is available on the evidence presented against the defendant.

Defense

No information is available on Mr. Vujdani's defense.

However, the representatives of the Baha'i community stress that their members are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. They note that Baha'is' requests to access their files are usually denied, and access to attorneys is often denied. They refute the validity of charges such as counter-revolutionary political activities or spying leveled against them in Iranian courts. They point out that the fundamental principles of their religion require them to show loyalty and obedience to their government and refrain from any political involvement. They believe that the accusation of espionage for Israel is unfounded and based solely on the fact that the Baha'i World Centre is in Israel. They point out that this centre was established on Mount Carmel in the late 19th century, long before the establishment of the State of Israel.

Judgment

This defendant was sentenced to death and executed. Baha'is have reported to human rights organizations that the text of sentences is often not communicated to them.

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* Speech May 28, 1983, Sahife-ye Emam, Volume 17

** Iran, Secret Blue Print for the Destruction of a Religious community, p. 27).

*** Kayhan, October 19, 1981

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