Department of Natural Resources Sues Baha’is Over Their Land

HRANA News Agency – A series of hearings regarding “Rowshan Kooh’s Baha’i residents’ lands” were held in Mazendaran province, based on complaints which had been made by the Department of Natural Resources, in the General Court in Kiasar within the first two weeks of February. Baha’i citizens, who were sued by the Department of Natural Resources, do not have access to adequate documents to defend their case.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), a series of hearings were held in Branch one of Kiasar General Court regarding “Rowshan Kooh’s Baha’i residents’ lands”, on February 7, 12, 14, and 15, 2017.

Department of Natural Resources is the plaintiffs in this case – headed by Mr. Mehdi Shokri Saravi- who has requested “extermination and expropriation” of the land. This Department claims that this land which is now owned and occupied by Baha’is had previously been forests.

A source close to Baha’i families living in this village, in this regard, told HRANA’s reporter: “One of the problems with this case is the value of the land, which have been determined something about 5 to 6 times higher than their actual value, by the Department of Natural Resources – as the plaintiff in this case. For example, the value of the land with an area of one hundred square meters has been set as one billion, two hundred and forty million IRR. In this case, the value of land in the outlying village of Rowshan Kooh has almost equal value with the best places in Sari city – Mazandaran center.”

According to this source, one of the problems that “the high prices” requested for Rowshan Kooh villagers has created, is that, if the case goes to appeal, legal fees and stamps, based on existing tariffs for each case, will be about seventy million IRR. Of course, in such circumstances, following the case on appeal court will be very hard for the villagers, who cannot afford it. Baha’is of Rowshan Kooh village, have objected the price which has been asked in the lower court. According to Article 63 of Civil Procedure, the judge must collect the experts’ opinion to determine the actual value of the land.

This source continued: “Another unclear issue in this case is the lack of access by the Rowshan Kooh village farmers to aerial maps of the 60s and 70s. Department of Natural Resources has declined providing the maps and aerial images related to these lands in this dispute. Also, other agencies have been ordered to refrain from providing aerial images and maps to Baha’is of Rowshan Kooh village.”

Rowshan Kooh Village Bahá’ís’ claim is that, if these maps and aerial imagery would be compared, it would become clear that, not only they have not done any natural resources’ violation, but in recent decades, tens of thousands of meters of their agricultural land have been seized by the Department of Natural Resources.

According to this report, based on the Diagnose Advertisement No. 8752-31 / 2/54 Rowshan Kooh village is one of the exceptions on national resources. However, the Department of Natural Resources declines to provide the prepared map which is part of annexes of that Diagnose Advertisement.

The landlords who have been summoned to the court are as follows:

Morad Gholinejad, Human Gholizadeh, Saed Gholizadeh, Shahrokh Nabipour, Anvar Moslemi, Navid Derakshan, Mansour Rohani, Hojatullah Naimi, Mino Naderi, Ehsanullah Rohani, Behzad Zabihi, Ghobad Hashemi, Kiavash Hashemi, Nader Derakhshan

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