May 14, 2010
HRANA – Following the decision of the City of Mashhad’s Mayoral Office to build a park in Rebat, over sixty households in a poor neighborhood are in danger of imminent demolition. Due to extreme poverty, the residents of these homes are unable to retain a lawyer.
ILNA, A semi-official news agency, has reported that when the City of Mashhad’s Mayoral Office drafted comprehensive plans for development of the city’s 7th District, it signed a contract with the Razavi Shrine Authority (RSA) and leased a 60,000 square-meter land to the RSA for a ten-year period for its development. Apparently, the City had reported to the RSA that the land is unused and barren.
However, on this land live over sixty families whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. The lawyer defending the case has noted that the City failed to disclose this information in its contract with the RSA.
In an interview with ILNA, Reza Alizadeh, the lawyer representing the owners of the land, stated, “The size of the land is nearly 60,000 square meters. Previously, it was used for agricultural purposes. However, its use has been changed due to water shortage and the change in climate. The land is now considered property of the City.”
He continued, “About three hundred citizens have built nearly sixty homes in the area that now falls within the City’s Comprehensive Development Plan.”
He added, “The rest of the land constitutes barren areas where some individuals have illegally taken residence and the owner of the lands have complained to the City. t;/span>The owners of the sixty homes, however, have not retained legal counsel due to their severe poverty.”
After the signing of the contract, the City, which had reported the entire land as “barren” to the RSA, has proceeded to demolish four homes and plant multi-year old trees near several other homes, presumably so that the roots will cause significant damages to the homes in the future.
The residents of the homes are demanding that the contract between the two authorities be voided.
Of note, majority of the residents of Rebat are impoverished working class laborers who have assembled to protest the demolition of their homes but were not able to retain legal counsel.