Deceased Bahai girl denied burial in Tabriz

HRANA News Agency – Over a week has passed since twelve-year-old Mahna Samandari died from an illness, on October 21, but her parents have not been allowed to bury her.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Mahna’s parents, who suffer from physical handicaps, are not only grieving the loss of their daughter but are devastated by “regulations” that deny them the right to bury their child in the local cemetery of Tabriz.

After her death in hospital, her parents wanted to take the body home for the ritual washing and Bahai prayers, but when the ambulance driver heard that she was a Bahai, he stopped the vehicle and insisted that she could only be taken to the Wadi Rahmat cemetery in Tabriz.

Eventually he relented and took the body to her parents’ home. After the body had been washed and wrapped in a shroud, and the prayer for the dead read, in accordance with Bahai rites, it was taken to Wadi Rahmat cemetery and placed in the mortuary, where it remains.

Before the Islamic revolution the Bahai community in Tabriz acquired a cemetery that was later confiscated by government authorities. The community was able to bury their dead in the cemetery until August 2011, when the authorities announced that they no longer allow Bahai interments. In the past three years at least twenty Bahais have been denied burial in this cemetery. As an alternative, authorities are suggesting a burial ground in Urumia or Miandoab, located more than one hour from Tabriz. Common sense and Bahai religious laws prohibit remote burial grounds, and this is especially impractical for the Samandaris, who are physically disabled.

Mahna suffered from a form of paralysis that impaired the use of her hands. Despite her handicap, she pursued her passion for art and painted with her mouth. A gifted artist with determination, Mahna obtained the first prize in art in a national competition.

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