Attaollah Rezvani, a prominent member of the Bahai community in the port city of Bandar Abbas was shot and killed on Saturday night by a bullet that struck him in the back of the head. Authorities have not yet released the body, and relatives, who believe he was killed because of his Bahai faith, tell Iranwire they are concerned about the course of the investigation.
Koroush Rezvani, his son, began searching for Rezvani on Saturday night after he failed to return home and his mobile phone became unreachable. He dropped by local hospitals and contacted police. On Sunday morning, authorities informed his that Rezvani had been killed.
Until now authorities have not released his father's body, Koroush says, and neither his mother nor his aunt have been permitted to see it.
Though authorities have not permitted Rezvani's wife or son to view the body, one relative who was allowed said a bullet had entered his head from behind and that the body bore several bruises. Koroush Rezvani says police investigators told him that theft is being ruled out as a motive.
Navid Aghdasi, Rezvani's cousin, similarly told Iranwire: “Police investigators confirmed that all of his belongings were in their custody, that his car was undamaged, and that theft is not being considered in his killing. The only thing that his killer or killers took was his mobile phone.” Relatives say Revani had no debts or financial problems that might have led to conflict, and that his finances were transparent and in good order.
According to relatives, the last person to have seen Rezvani on Saturday evening was one of his employees, who says that before dropping him off at home, Rezvani had a 30 minute phone conversation with someone on his mobile phone, but that because he was standing outside the car, he was unable to discern whom he was talking to. Some time after dropping off his employee, whatever circumstance led to his killing befell Rezvani.
Koroush Rezani says the family is deeply concerned over the investigation. Aghdasi, his cousin, says “We're greatly distressed, and waiting to hear the results of the forensic doctor's report. We hope the investigation will be undertaken justly, and that no individual or institution will seek to influence it. The Bahai community in Bandar Abbas know Mr. Rezvani well, and believes that no motive, apart from ideological reasons, can be behind this.”
Asked about why he believes Rezvani was killed for being a Bahai, Aghdasi explains further: “Mr. Rezvani was the famous and widely loved Bahai in the whole province of Hormozgan. He was an expert and an activist. Security officials had threatened him repeatedly in the past. In all of the various interrogations that Bahais in the area have undergone, Mr. Rezvani's name has come up. They tried to blacken his name and establish relationships between him and various detainees.”
Rezvani previously served on a three person committee that was involved in charity work in Bandar Abbas and the surrounding area. Under pressure from security agents the committee dropped its charitable activities, but both Muslim and Bahai citizens of Bandar Abbas, along with institutions, including the local branch of the state's Social Welfare Organization, continued to seek them out and benefited from Rezvani's support.
In addition to his professional work as a technical expert in the field of water purification, Rezvani had also recently opened up an optometrist's shop, according to his son. An agent from the intelligence ministry had stopped by the shop on several occasions, and on ideological grounds harassed Rezvani about his son's military service, relatives said.
The Intelligence Ministry in Bandar Abbas, his son said, also pressured various customers of his father's water purification firm to stop doing business with him. Aghdasi said that some conflict had also risen when intelligence agents sought to force local authorities to cease working with him.
“Mr. Rezvani had considerable expertise in water purification, and had helped local officials for years in addressing problems in this area, particularly in the Minab province. But after intelligence officials pressured these local authorities to stop dealing with him, a number of problems emerged with water purification in the area. During one of Ahmadinejad's provincial trips to the area, a number of local officials complained about intelligence and security agents interference in this area and submitted a report detailing this.”
Rezvani's son hopes that authorities will release his father's body today or tomorrow, so the family can hold burial rites for him. “Nothing is clear yet. We're worried, but waiting to see the report of the investigators and the forensic doctor. We're waiting to see how they cooperate.”