Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iran's Islamic regime's repression affects not only dissenters and political opponents. Often religious minorities also end up in the crosshairs of the authorities, such as Baha'is. On June 26, in Ivel - a village in Mazandaran province - about 50 houses of the Baha'i faithful were demolished.
Natoly Derakshan, witnessed the demolition and told Radio Farda that the homes were first burned and destroyed by four bulldozers. "We immediately informed the governor of the province, but no one intervened to stop the demolition," denounced the man who is also Baha'i.
The June episode is not the first to target Iran’s largest religious minority, which counts about 300 thousand faithful. Some Baha'i cemeteries were desecrated last May 29 in the city of Mashhad. Derakhshan said that the Baha'is had been driven from their Ivel homes in 1983 and since then have been unable to take up regular residence. “ Baha'i were asked to convert to Islam – he recalls - they refused and were beaten and thrown out of their homes". Since that incident, according to Radio Farda reports, Baha'i must obtain an annual permit from the Justice Department to return to their homes during the period of harvest. The provincial deputy governor has repeatedly said that Baha'i farmers are a tumour for Iranian society and as such must be removed.The Bahai religion was founded around 1860 by the Persian nobleman Baha'u'llah, new self-appointed prophet and continuer of the work of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. In contrast then with the Islamic statement of the last prophet Muhammad. The community is considered heretical by Iran's Shiite authorities and has been persecuted since the Islamic revolution of 1979. The government continues to claim that all Iranians can profess their faith and enjoy the same rights in the country. The reality, however, is that in over 30 years of repression, hundreds of Baha'i faithful have been executed or murdered, with just as many ending up in prison, tens of thousands have been deprived of employment, pensions and denied the right to set up commercial activities. All their institutions are prohibited and their sacred places, cemeteries and properties have been confiscated or destroyed by the government. Young people can not go to university, if they do not declare themselves "Islamic".