Interview: Burning Out the Baha’is of Ivel

On 28 June, the Persian-language radio station, Radio Farda, broadcast an interview with Mr. Derakhshan, one of the Baha’is whose property was destroyed in the village of Ivel. Excepts from the interview are transcribed below:

Mr. Derakhshan: We had heard some rumours about the destruction of the village and the burning of homes of the Baha’is but did not believe that such a thing could happen. However, we went to the offices of the governor general, the governor and the deputy governor in that district and informed them that this was what [the villagers] had said they were planning to do, and asked whether it was true. We were told not to worry and that there was not such a possibility; we believed them. However, when Mr. Mahmoud Piri and his family were going to [their home] in Ivel, as soon as they arrived in the village he was severely beaten and verbally insulted. He was told that he should not be there. At that point he noticed that they were destroying his home.

Radio Farda: Who were the people who beat and verbally abused Mr. Piri?

Mr. Derakhshan: The local residents – because they had told him that he should immediately leave the area and that he was not to get close…for 48 hours. Unfortunately, with the help of the local residents, they destroyed 50 houses, using four bulldozers. It is shocking to see 50 houses demolished and burned in one instant.

Radio Farda: What is happening to the residents of these homes and what happened to their belongings?

Mr. Derakhshan: Every house we go to, we hear their lamentations. I should mention that these friends were not living there. During the first few years after the revolution, on [28 June 1983], these people were expelled from their homes. They [the residents of the village] told them that they had to convert to Islam; they were imprisoned in a mosque, threatened and beaten with shovels and axes. They were then thrown out of the village.Since those events, these Baha’is go to the village once a year for two to three days to harvest their crops. Of course they have to obtain a permit from the officials to be able to go there and stay in their own homes for a few days and cultivate their lands, even though most of their lands were confiscated.

Radio Farda: You mean that the owners of these homes and farms were made to obtain permits in order to be allowed to go to their own homes?

Mr. Derakhshan: Precisely. Each time or each year when they wanted to go there they had to obtain permits from the Justice Administration to be allowed to stay in their own homes for two or three days. We complained to a number of authorities concerning this issue and we were treated unkindly. When we went to the office of the deputy governor and told them that they were destroying our homes, we were told that the letters of complaint that we had written were considered to be in opposition to the regime. They even threatened to arrest us. We told them, “Our homes are being demolished right this minute. We are Baha’is and your fellow-citizens. We are not your enemies. We are not from Israel, England or America. By God, we are Iranian citizens. What should we do? God is our witness, we do not know what to do. Please help us.”

Radio Farda: Are the people who are involved in these activities the local residents or some government officials?

Mr. Derakhshan: What do you think? How could 50 homes – each having a wood storage area and a place for keeping animals – be demolished without prior arrangements? We informed [the authorities] before and during the demolition. What do you think the answer is? Besides all our friends [the Baha’i residents of the village also informed the authorities, but unfortunately nothing was done to prevent this event.

Radio Farda: Do you think that the bulldozers were probably brought by the order of the governor or the deputy governor?

Mr. Derakhshan: We do not know and cannot say that it was ordered by someone. All we know is that unfortunately everything has been completely destroyed. It should be mentioned that when we visited the office of the governor general, we told his deputy that there was a possibility that such an incident may occur. His response amazed us; he said, “The governor general is like a physician in any society, if he feels that there is a malignant tumour in the body of the society he tries to remove it.” I now ask you a question, “How could the Baha’i farmers in the village of Ivel be considered as that malignant tumour?”This transcript was added on 29 June 2010 to the original Baha’i World News Service report published on 28 June. 

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