Agricultural Land Of A Bahai Civilian Confiscated In Semnan

HRANA News Agency – Fifty hectares of land and the livestock on it, belonging to Zia’ullah Muta`arifi, a 65-year-old Bahai from Semnan, was confiscated on October 15. The decision was made at a court hearing in Semnan, attended by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture in Semnan, the Public Prosecutor, and representatives of the security forces.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Mr. Muta`arifi has been working this land since 1982, and purchased it in 1999, paying in installments.

He was told his title would be confirmed once he paid a fee to confirm the area and improvements, and this last cheque had been cleared. But afterwards, the sellers denied having sold the land.

A lower court decided against Mr. Muta`arifi, and the case was referred to the Provincial court of review. According to Mr. Muta`arifi, the review court judge initially overturned the lower court ruling, but later said that this was a mistake and referred the case to another court, which ruled that the land should be confiscated. Mr. Muta`arifi has been allowed to retain 3552 square meters, which he says is not suitable for use due to its location.

The confiscated land had 17,000 mature trees and vines: pistachio nuts, olives, pine trees, grapes, pomegranates and others. Mr. Muta`arifi was not permitted to remove his belongings and implements from the land.

Mr. Muta`arifi had also written to an advisor to the President, who passed his letter to the Ministry of Agriculture, who said that this was a political case, and they could not interfere.

Mr. Muta`arifi introduced the first pressurized irrigation system in the province, and planted the first olive trees. He has received several awards from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agricultural Development, and a recognition from the international Food and Agriculture Organisation.

According to another report, by the Campaign against the harassment of Bahais, the farm employed about seven staff, some of whom lived on the land with their families.

Mr. Muta`arifi said that his only concern was to serve the people of Iran, and his only fear was that the trees would be left to dry out and die. In January, 2010, Mr. Muta`arifi’s license to run an animal husbandry unit was revoked by the Department of Agricultural Development, who levelled accusations which Mr. Muta`arifi denied.