The Baha'i International Community has accused Iran of excavating a cemetery where hundreds of Baha'i followers are buried. The community called on Iranian authorities to halt the work in the graveyard in the southern city of Shiraz.
According to a report by Baha'i World News Service, among the prominent individuals at rest in the cemetery are the "ten Baha'i women of Shiraz," who were hanged on 18 June 1983. The ten women, who ranged in age from 17 to 57, were convicted of "crimes" such as being "Zionists" and the teaching of children's classes - the equivalent of "Sunday school" in the West.
The U.S.-based Baha'i community's spokesperson, Farhad Sabetan, said on May 2 that the excavation has begun and that some 40 trucks are lined up to remove earth.
Sabetan said it's not clear if the move is aimed at putting pressure on the religious minority or if the authorities plan to use the land to construct buildings.
Sabetan said the land belonged to the Baha'i community but was illegally seized by authorities several years ago.
Sabetan said more than 40 Baha'i-owned cemeteries have been desecrated in Iran since 2005.
Baha'is routinely face persecution in Iran.
With reporting by AFP
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