USCIRF Condemns Destruction of Baha’i Homes in Iran

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)

Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today strongly condemned the destruction of Baha’i homes in the town of Roshan Kuh in Mazandaran Province, Iran.

“We strongly condemn Iran’s destruction of Baha’i homes in Mazandaran Province, the latest example of its targeting of Baha’is,” said USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza. “It is imperative that the U.S. government impose individual sanctions on Iranian officials responsible for Baha’i persecution to hold them accountable for these outrageous actions.”
Following a court order in early 2020, Iran expropriated land owned for decades by 27 Baha’is in the village of Ivel in Mazandaran province in October of last year. The government has continued throughout 2021 to arrest, detain, and sentence Baha’is to years in prison, and intensify anti-Baha’i messaging over state-owned media outlets. Officials from Mazandaran’s Natural Resources Department, aided by police and officials from the Prosecutor’s Office of Mazandaran, reportedly conducted the most recent demolitions. National and local government agencies have long targeted Baha’is in Mazandaran province and the Iranian government has escalated its persecution of Baha’is across the country in 2021.
Iran’s parliament also passed two amendments to Iran’s penal code earlier this year that further criminalize the activities of Baha’is and other religious groups lacking official recognition by Iran’s government.

Destruction of Homes

USCIRF Condemns Destruction of Baha’i Homes in Iran

On Monday, August 3, the homes of at least three Baha’i families in northern Iran were torn down without warning by state forces. Police and municipal agents demolished the homes of the Sabetian, Derakhshan and Enayati families in the village of Roshan Kuh, Mazandaran province, without any warning and on questionable grounds.

An eyewitness told IranWire the houses were ransacked by staff from Mazandaran’s Natural Resources Department, backed up by police and the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s deputy was onsite and gave the order for the homes to be pulled down.

The Sabetian family was at home at the time of the onslaught. The other two were away, and all three are understood to not have been notified in advance.

Most residents of Roshan Kuh are Baha’is and locals said they have been subjected to harassment and discrimination for years on end. One manifestation of this has been the refusal to grant building permits to local Baha’is, while these are unproblematically issued to Muslims in neighboring villages.

In 2016, the Natural Resources Department had claimed that 14 plots of land in Roshan Kuh – all owned by Baha’is – were part of a protected forest zone and the homes had been built on it illegally. The Department then asked the courts for an eviction order. It came despite the fact that the same Baha’is had been in possession of this land for more than 70 years, and aerial images clearly show it does not form part of the forest.

The Committee to Suppress Religious Freedom

Last year on September 21, 2020, some 19 representatives from Iran’s security and intelligence agencies held a session of the so-called “Committee on Ethnic Groups, Sects and Religions” in Sari, the provincial capital of Mazandaran.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss “the latest situation with dervishes and the deviant Baha’i sect”. According to an unpublished document later obtained by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the League for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI), those present discussed methods to intensify the suppression of Iran’s religious minorities, especially the Baha’is.

This was quickly followed by expropriation of 27 Baha’i farming families from Ivel village near Sari on October 13, 2020. The destruction of Baha’i homes in Roshan Kuh appears to be the next step of the program.
The Baha’i Office of Public Affairs in Canada has extensive coverage of land confiscation and displacement of Bahá’ís in Iran


United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)


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