The seizure of lands owned by Baha’is in the village of Roshankuh, in Iran’s Mazandaran province, was captured on video on November 3. Two videos shared by the Baha’i International Community on Twitter show crowds of people watching as men in military fatigues fenced off a field belonging to a Baha’i family.
The narrator of the video, apparently that of the woman who filmed the scene, said “They have come several times and are enclosing [fencing off] the lands and they have no justification ... They are perpetrating this oppression ... because of the beliefs of the villagers.”
The uniformed men erecting the fence reportedly asked the Baha’is why they were filming. “We say, if your actions are illegal [then] you should not do it,” the narrator said. “If it is a legal action, why are you afraid?”
One elderly woman in the video, distraught by the seizures, and protesting as a man in fatigues looked on, said: “You think we don’t understand? I don’t care if you kill me. You are taking away my children’s rights, my husband’s rights. God, for what crime are they doing this to us?”
Roshankuh has a large number of Baha’i residents and, as a result, has long been targeted by the Iranian authorities. Property seizures and the razing of Baha’i-owned homes occurred in August 2021 and go back to at least 2017 – when 14 homes were slated for destruction.
In February 2021 the homes and farms of 27 Baha’i families in the village of Ivel, also in Mazandaran, were also targeted for confiscation. The Ivel seizures attracted global condemnation for the actions of the Iranian authorities.
Depriving the Iranian Baha’i community – the country’s largest non-Muslim religious minority – of livelihoods and economic rights is part of a pattern of systematic persecution dating back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Hundreds of Baha’is were executed after 1979 and, since then, under a 1991 policy signed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, they have been denied access to higher education, dismissed from employment, robbed of their properties, their cemeteries have been desecrated and they and have been targeted by hate speech in official and semi-official media channels.
The Roshankuh video narrator summed up 42 years of oppression and the latest property seizures as the “pick-axe of tyranny.”