“A neighbour noticed a person toss stuff [into the home] and the way they began the hearth,” Ms Motearefi informed SBS Information.
However no motion or investigation was undertaken by the Iranian authorities, which the household suspects was as a result of them being adherents of the Baha’i religion.
It wasn’t the primary time Ms Motearefi’s household had been focused. In 1984, her father’s cousin, Jamshid Pour-Ostadkar, was executed by firing squad alongside 5 different Baha’is.
Mr Pour-Ostadkar was considered one of round 200 different Baha’is who had been killed in focused executions following the Iranian revolution, leaving his spouse a single mom of an toddler son.
Fearing for the household’s security, Ms Motearefi’s father despatched his spouse and kids north of Tehran. From there, the household made the tough journey throughout the border into Pakistan – the place he later joined them.
On the time, the Iranian authorities prohibited Baha’is from acquiring passports.
“The entire expertise of escaping Iran was completely horrifying. That took us three or 4 days,” Ms Motearefi stated.
“That was essentially the most tough factor I’ve ever performed in my life.”
Life for Bahai’s in Iran
Bahai’s – the most important non-Muslim minority faith in Iran – have a protracted historical past of persecution and discrimination.
Quite a few United Nations Special Rapporteurs reports into human rights in Iran have reported Baha’is going through arbitrary arrests, beatings, executions, land confiscations, the denial of employment, restricted entry to larger schooling, and authorities revoking enterprise licenses.
“It is state-sponsored persecution and it is impacted the lives of generations from younger infants to the frail and aged,” stated Venus Khalessi of the Australian Baha’i group.
“Even the useless usually are not spared, graves are desecrated, historic and cultural websites have been destroyed.
“And it is protected to say that no Baha’i in Iran has been unaffected by this persecution.”
Land confiscations affecting Baha’is in Iran
The Australian authorities granted Ms Motearefi’s household humanitarian visas in 1995. However 26 years on, Baha’is in Iran proceed to face discrimination, with a slew of current property seizures by the authorities.
The Iranian authorities has not too long ago confiscated land belonging to Baha’is within the metropolis of Semnan and villages of Roshan Kouh and Ivel. Within the case of Semnan, authorities claimed the land belonged to Baha’i establishments – a violation of article 49 of the Iranian structure.
Baha’i establishments had been banned in 1979 by the Islamic Republic, and formally dissolved in 1983.
“We will see quite a few cases the place the regulation is being misused to deprive Baha’is of the rightful possession of their property,” Ms Khalessi stated.
“That is unfounded spiritual prejudice as a result of Baha’is are peaceable, law-abiding residents. They pose no risk to the federal government.
“They are not aligned with any political ideology or opposition motion. They don’t interact in subversive exercise or violence.”
Ms Motearefi’s uncle, a farmer who has gained many awards for agriculture, has had 50 hectares of farming land seized within the metropolis of Semnan.
Most not too long ago, his son (Ms Motearefi’s first cousin) – together with 5 different Baha’is – has been served with a court docket order for the seizure of his properties in Semnan.
In 2012, the spouse of Ms Motearefi’s cousin, Elham Ruzbehi, was sentenced to a few years over prices of “collusion and meeting in opposition to nationwide safety” and “propaganda in opposition to the regime” after the household’s home was raided by authorities.
Ms Motearefi stated there was “no proof” for the costs and that Ms Ruzbehi was imprisoned together with her seven-month-old child.
The worldwide response
A committee of the United Nations final week handed a decision calling on Iran to get rid of spiritual discrimination in opposition to Baha’is.
Australia was one of many 79 international locations that voted in favour of this decision, with 30 international locations voting in opposition to and 71 abstentions.
Federal Liberal MP Ian Goodenough on Monday put ahead a movement condemning the systemic persecution of Baha’is in Iran.
“We name upon the Iranian authorities to permit Baha’is to freely practise their religion, to not be subjected to arrests and imprisonment for his or her beliefs, to earn a livelihood, to entry larger schooling and to not be subjected to hatred and discrimination because of misinformation about their beliefs,” Mr Goodenough stated.
The movement was seconded by Labor MPs Peter Khalil and Dr Anne Aly, with help from MPs Jason Falinski (Liberal), Sharon Claydon (Labor), and Helen Haines (Impartial).
Leaked minutes of a high-level authorities fee assembly final October revealed a scientific effort to watch and suppress Baha’is in Iran.
The official Iranian directive, revealed by The League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran, instructed native authorities within the metropolis of Sari, within the northern province of Mazandaran, to “conduct strict controls” on Baha’is within the metropolis by “monitoring their operations”, and introduce measures to “establish Baha’i college students” with a view to “deliver them into Islam”.
In a press release to SBS Information, the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Canberra stated whereas Baha’ism was “rejected” as an official faith, “folks of Iran, no matter their ethnicity, take pleasure in equal rights”.
The assertion denied reviews of arrests of Baha’is, their enterprise licences being revoked and the denial of schooling primarily based on religion.
“It’s shocking that, out of all issues, you merely posed curiosity to the claims of Baha’is within the face of all of the injustices performed in opposition to the folks of Iran, together with illegal and unilateral sanctions, particularly within the time of the deadly pandemic that has murdered many Iranians, together with Baha’is,” the assertion stated.
“It’s noteworthy mentioning that the claims of People have been responded duly earlier than.”
Ms Khalessi stated she was grateful to the Australian authorities for its ongoing help to the Baha’i group.
“I’d name on the federal government to proceed to sign to Iran that the world is watching their actions and that they uphold the human rights of Baha’is,” Ms Khalessi stated.
“In order that Baha’i perception and follow just isn’t criminalised, they will entry college… earn a livelihood within the personal sector… that their outlets aren’t closed or enterprise licenses revoked, that they are not subjected to assaults.”
On the event of scholars in Iran receiving college entrance exams outcomes, Amnesty Worldwide stands in solidarity with the numerous college students from the Baha’i religion who’re denied entry to larger schooling in Iran annually. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/T70sIvUjU1
Ms Motearefi is now an endodontist and college lecturer in South Australia, a chance she would possible be denied as a Baha’i in Iran.
“One thing I’ve at all times beloved in regards to the Baha’i religion is that it’s all about peace, generosity, service to the group and society,” she stated.
“We’d love the entire world to be united…we consider within the equality of the human race and the oneness of God. And that provides us peace.”
SBS has contacted the Division of Overseas Affairs for remark.