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About Yarsan, a religious minority in Iran and Yarsani asylum seekers

From Yarsan Democratic Organization (YDO)                             

To whom it may concern

About Yarsan, a religious minority in Iran and Yarsani asylum seekers

Yarsan are followers of Yari religion. The population of Yarsan are about 2 million, this people are living mostly in the west of Iran spread over several Province like Kermanshah, Hamedan, Kurdistan, Azerbaijan, Klardasht and several other towns in across Iran. Yarsani is the largest non-Muslim minority in Iran.

Yarsan citizens continually exposed to pervasive discrimination by Islamic Republic of Iran. This discrimination applies to all personal and social affairs, including involvement in political affairs, the right to interfere in the decision-making organs, the native language education, the labor market, acquiring government jobs, free education, religious practice, and the right to create prayer centers.

The revolution of 1357 (1979) followed by changes in terms of political structure and establishment of religious role in Iran, turned into serious political and social disturbances and instability. The political anarchy and power struggle lead to insecurity in the society. The result of this political and social transition not only made the life difficult for political parties and organizations with different opinions, but also other social and cultural minorities suffered deeply, in particular the follower of Yari religion.

The conflicting principles of Yari religion with the Iranian Islamic Regime have subjected the Yarsan minority to persecution and discrimination in Iran. The Islamic regime is continuing its suppressive policy against Yarsan, as a religious minority.

Consequentially, this situation forced many people to leave the country and seek protection in other countries.

The Yarsan people have suffered injustice and discrimination during the regime 41 years Board. Although Yari religion is not awarded rights as a minority religion on an equal footing with other minorities in accordance paragraph 13 first Chapter in the constitution, but this action is in the opposite contravention of paragraphs 19.23 in Chapter 3 (nation rights). The action of the regime against the Yarsan community are violations of Articles 1,3,5,7,9 and 18 Human Rights which Iran has signed and is committed to maintaining it.

Yari is a minority religion in Iran not even recognized by the theocratic regime. And according to the Islamic constitution in Iran, paragraph 12 and 13 belonging to Yari considered blasphemy and punishable by death. The audience of this religion is a vulnerable group for continuous oppression and risk not least total assimilation as a result of the regime’s political program.

Hengaw Human Rights Organization

According to Hengaw Human Rights Organization, on Tuesday, January 12, 2021, a Kurdish citizen of the Yarsanis religious community, identified as Javad Ahmadi, a native of Kermanshah resident of Saveh, has been detained and desecrated by the order of Iranian the prosecutor of this city, so that he tried to commit suicide.

The interrogator in the presence of other people said that he had ordered shaving Mr. Ahmadi’s mustachios (Shareb) because he was aware that mustachios are sacred in Yarsanism.

One of the Yarsani activists also told Hengaw’s correspondent that Mr. Ahmedi was temporarily released on bail on Wednesday after shaving his mustachios while being beaten by Iranian officials in Saveh prison. The source also stated that Mr. Ahmadi had desperately asked the prison authorities to stop shaving his mustachios, because it was obligatory for male followers of Yarsanism to have mustachios.

It is worth mentioning that summer 2013, after the officers of Hamadan Prison set fire to the mustache of one of the followers of the Yarsan religion, several citizens of Yarsani set themselves on fire in front of the Hamadan Governor’s Office and the Parliament building in Tehran.  Among them, Hassan Razavi, Nikmard Taheri and Mohammad Ghanbari lost their lives. Iranian government is obliged to observe the freedom and sacred symbols of different religions according to the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, which has been officially joined, but since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran it has always denied and violated the religious and ethnic identity of Yarsan religion followers.


UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran submits his third report to the General Assembly pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 43/24. 21/07.2020

The Special Rapporteur remains deeply concerned at the continued discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities. Changes to the national identity card application process reportedly hinder minority religious groups from gaining access to several essential services. The application form previously listed “other” as a religious option. In January 2020, the National Organization for Civil Registration reported that this option had been removed, meaning individuals could only choose from the four officially recognized religions.142 The removal of “other” raised fears that non-recognized religious groups, such as Baha’is, Christian converts, Yarsanis, Sabean-Mandaeans and non-believers, would be unable to obtain a national identity card, which is necessary to gain access to government and banking services. https://undocs.org/pdf?symbol=en/A/75/213

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The report of Mr. Javaid Rahman, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which was prepared on July 18, 2019, in accordance with statement 40/18 and submitted to the General Assembly of Human Rights.

“The absence of constitutional and legal recognition for non-recognized minorities entails denials of fundamental human rights for their followers. Left outside the national legal framework, unrecognized minority religious groups such as Baha’is, Christian converts, Sufis, including the Gonabadi order, Yarsanis and the Sabean-Mandaeans, are the targets of discriminatory legislation and practices.”

The reports continue:

“The Yarsan community comprises predominately ethnic Kurds who are followers of a syncretic religion that originated in the fourteenth century. Found mostly in the western provinces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including Kermanshah, their population is estimated to be approximately 1 million. Lacking official recognition as a religious minority, the Yarsanis are sometimes referred to by the Government as a “misguided cult”. They have also reportedly faced arbitrary arrest, harassment and detention based on national security-related charges such as “propaganda against the state”.

On 25 September 2018, the grandson of a Yarsani leader was allegedly killed under torture in Hamedan prison. He had been detained for one year on charges of “spreading propaganda against the state”.

The Special Rapporteur received a number of reports concerning discrimination of Yarsan members that affect their everyday lives. According to information received from Yarsan members, individuals have been dismissed from employment after their faith had been discovered. The Special Rapporteur also received information regarding Yarsans being forced to shave their moustache (a holy symbol for the Yarsan community) when they refused to pray during military service. The Government stated that “the soldiers recruited from amongst the members of this sect are exempt from the requirement to shave their moustache during their military service”.

The grievances expressed by the Yarsan community further included restricted access to higher education and the denial of public sector jobs through the application of gozinesh requirements, as well as the lack of Yarsan representation at the local or national levels of Government.

Public notaries and registries reportedly do not recognize Yarsan marriage rituals, meaning that marriages are undertaken in the Shi’a tradition. Yarsan members have spoken of their fear of speaking publicly about their faith or proselytizing, for fear of being arrested, tortured or killed.” https://undocs.org/pdf?symbol=en/A/74/188

In 2017, the Dutch Immigration Service and the state Department issued a circular in which the Yarsanis, they were included in the list of risk groups.

International Religious Freedom Report U.S Department of State

In its yearly International Religious Freedom Report U.S Department of State in 2019 writes the following about Yarsan in Iran:

 “The government often considers Yarsanis as Shia Muslims practicing Sufism, but Yarsanis identify Yarsan as a distinct faith (known as Ahle Haq or Kakai). Yarsanis may also self-register as Shia to obtain government services. The government does not recognize evangelical Protestants as Christian. Authorities reportedly continued to deny the Baha’i, Sabean-Mandaean, and Yarsan religious communities, as well as other unrecognized religious minorities, access to education and government employment unless they declared themselves as belonging to one of the country’s recognized religions on their application forms.

Yarsanis outside the country reported widespread discrimination against Yarsanis continued. They stated Yarsani children were socially ostracized in school and in shared community facilities.

Yarsani men, recognizable by their particular mustaches, continued to face employment discrimination. According to reports, Shia preachers continued to encourage social discrimination against Yarsanis.”

Yarsan community was among those religious minorities that suffered a great deal and became a victim in this political transformation. Currently, thousands of them are spread across Europe and other parts of the world. The severe condition of Yarsan community in Iran on one hand and presumed political changes in the country on the other hand has encouraged Yarsanis in exile to organize.

We hereby confirm that the Yarsan Democratic Organization (YDO) is forbidden in Iran.
YDO is a European-based political organization and fights for Yarsans political, cultural and social rights. Anyone with a link to the YDO will be persecuted by Iranian regime, because the YDO considered as a threat to Islam and the Iran’s national security.

The Yarsani asylum seekers will be persecuted, imprisoned and tortured by the Iranian authorities due to political and religious activities.

Based on the above, we appreciate that the Yarsani asylum seekers be granted refugee status because they are persecuted due to their religion, ethnicity as Kurd and link to YDO. The granting of asylum to Yarsani people are completely based on human rights and political causes, according to the Geneva Convention.

Please feel free to contact us if you need any further information.

Yours sincerely

Mano Azizi

سازمان دموکراتیک یارسان

کمسیون ڕوابت سیاسی و دیپلماسی

 Yarsan Democratic Organization

Political and Diplomatic Relations


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