Baha'is of Ivel
Happening now, people around the world join together to draw attention to the persecution of the Bahá’ís of Iran. #ItsTheirLand #ایول_خانه_آنهاست
Displacement and Expulsion of the Bahá’ís of Ivel and
the Demolition, Flattening and Confiscation of their Properties
The village of Ivel is situated in Chahardangeh of Hezarjarib in Mazandaran Province in Iran. It is 90 kilometres southeast of Sari, at 53°41’ longitude/36°14’ latitude. It is 1,700 metres above sea level.
The Bahá’í community was established in Ivel around 160 years ago and by the late 1800s, half of the population of Ivel were identified as Bahá’ís.
From its inception, the Bahá’í community participated in social, economic and cultural developments, including the construction of schools and bath houses, and assistance to war and earthquake victims.
Similar to other rural communities with a Bahá’í populace, Ivel too has had its own share of persecutions, suffering, and oppression from its inception and throughout the years. On 25 November 1941, the head of the village council, Mirza Agha Jan Jazbani, a Bahá’í who was well respected by the villagers, and even the nearby districts, was killed for his beliefs.
Following the victory of Islamic Revolution, the persecutions systematically continued. The widespread attack on 28 June 1983 led to the expulsion and displacement of the Bahá’ís of Ivel. The story in brief is that the clergy and the local authorities incited the Muslim crowd in the village and nearby communities to bring the Bahá’ís out of their homes, direct them into a bus that was prepared outside the village, transport them to Sari, and drop them off there. However, when the bus arrived at the city of Sari, the authorities protested and strictly opposed such a plan, only to make the bus return the Bahá’ís to Ivel. But upon their return the village did not allow the Bahá’ís to return to their homes; instead, they were imprisoned inside the local mosque. More than 130 of them―including children and the elderly―were held captive for three days without food and water. When pressure to make them recant their faith failed, they were allowed to return home. However, that same night, they were attacked by villagers. A few were taken off by the mob, others were injured, and more were forced to hide in a nearby forest.
The Bahá’ís who managed to keep their ancestral homes in Ivel, and some of whom had a piece of land for farming in order to make a living would go there every summer and stay in their homes temporarily to farm. Even under these circumstances, the authorities would not hesitate to try and take their homes and farms away from them. Their plan was for the Bahá’ís to never return to Ivel so that their lands could be taken over.
On 23 June 2010, some individuals demolished and flattened approximately 50 Bahá’í houses in Ivel with four bulldozers and a number of trucks.
Since 1983, the Bahá’ís in Ivel have tried to appeal for their rights in writing and in person to all the government institutions, the leader of the parliament, the judicial system, etc. These appeals still continue.
The majority of the lands belonging to the Bahá’ís have been confiscated. For the remainder of the lands, the Bahá’ís are required to obtain written permission from the police and the court every year to be able to stay on their own property for a few days in order to organize their farming. During this time, even with the permission of the court and with the presence of the police, they are regularly harassed.
Today, after 37 years, many grievances and complaints have been filed with the authorities in Kiasar at the provincial level, and even in the highest offices in Tehran. In some cases the verdicts have been in favour of the Bahá’ís. However, putting the verdict into effect has not been possible on site. The local authorities state that due to the nature of the opposition from the residents there is nothing the law can do; in fact, the authorities are indifferent. In addition, some of the residents of Ivel hold key government offices and have been blocking the implementation of the verdict.
On 1 August 2020, Branch 54 of the Special Court for Article 49 of the Constitution in Tehran issued a final and binding order endorsing the decision of the preliminary provincial court (Special Court for Article 49 of the Constitution, Mazandaran Branch). This order, which was handed down on 4 November 2019, determined the ownership of the lands belonging to the Bahá’ís of Ivel to be illegal. Despite repeated visits to the appropriate authorities, and without a chance for the lawyers to see the files in order to prepare a statement of defence and produce documents and disclosures, Branch 8 of the Court of Appeal of Mazandaran held an extraordinary session on 13 October 2020 and ruled against the legitimacy of the ownership of 27 of the Bahá’ís’s homes and land in Ivel. The order also endorsed the decision in favour of the Sitád-i-Ijrá’íy-i-Farmán-i-Imám (The Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, known as EIKO) in Sari to sell the farmlands and lands owned by the Bahá’ís. Following this order, the court (Branch 8 of the Provincial Court of Appeal) closed the case brought by the Bahá’ís pertaining to the destruction of Bahá’í-owned buildings in Ivel based on the decision of the Special Court for Article 49 and endorsement of the said ruling.
Ivel tagged on the Iran Bahá’í Persecution website: