A file photo of the Khavaran Cemetery in Tehran

US Condemns Destruction Of Baha'i Graves In Iran

Friday, 03/08/2024

The US State Department's Office of Religious Freedom on Thursday condemned the destruction of 30 graves of Baha'i citizens in Tehran, as government persecution against the minority continues.

"We condemn the destruction of 30 graves by authorities at the Khavaran Cemetery near Tehran this week," the office said in a statement. "Baha'is in Iran continue to face violations of funeral and burial rights."

The act, which involved the removal of grave markers and the flattening of resting places using bulldozers, was also slammed by rights activists, the latest in a series of actions taken against the community which has been systematically targeted since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

The statement also noted other methods of pressure and intimidation. “We have also seen the regime dramatically increase Baha’i property seizures and use sham trials to subject Baha’is to extended prison sentences,” the statement said. “We will continue to use all available tools to confront the regime’s human rights abuses.”

Simin Fahandej, Representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva, said, “In the last few months, the deceased loved ones of the Baha’is have been forcibly buried by government agents in the Khavaran mass grave site, further desecrating a burial place sacred to many.

Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Tehran's Baha'i community owned two large cemeteries, both of which were confiscated by the Islamic Republic in the 1980s.

Unofficial estimates suggest that more than 300,000 Baha'i people live in Iran. However, the Constitution officially acknowledges only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, thereby rendering Baha'is the most significant non-Muslim religious minority in the country. Iran's clerical rulers regard the Baha'is as heretics.

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