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Iranian Authorities Prohibiting Baha’is From A Dignified Burial

Iran’s decades-long cradle-to-grave persecution of its Baha’i community has reached new heights with the Iranian authorities banning Baha’is use of a previously allocated space in Tehran’s Khavaran cemetery. “Denying the community access to their burial site is the latest blow to the Baha’is who, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, have had their cemeteries desecrated and, in some cases, demolished by government authorities,” says NZ Baha’i Community spokesman, Paddy Payne.

The cemetery land assigned to the Baha’is was deemed sufficient for several decades. However, agents from the Security Office of the Behesht-e Zahra Organization, which manages Khavaran, have banned the community from using their plots. Threats were reportedly made against Baha’is attempting to use the allocated land.

Mr Payne said Baha’is were now being forced to choose between impossible options. “One is to use the narrow gaps between existing graves to bury their loved ones, while another is to use a mass burial site authorities claim to have recently emptied.” The site, known to be the burial place of thousands of political prisoners killed in early years of the Islamic revolution, also contained at least 50 Baha’is put to death due to their religious beliefs.

As Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, Baha’is have been systematically persecuted for 42 years, extensively reported by the United Nations and well documented.

The Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva has raised its voice in protest against the latest injustice. “A dignified burial according to one’s own religious laws is among the most basic human rights,” said Mr Payne.

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