Religious Burial Sites In Iran

Religious Burial Sites In Iran – 1 in 12 mourners attend the funeral of a man who died of Covid-19 at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Cemeteries are struggling to keep up with the coronavirus pandemic ravaging Iran, with twice as many bodies arriving each day and gravediggers digging thousands of new plots. (AP Photo/Ibrahim Nouroozi) 1 of 12 mourners attend the funeral of a man who died of Covid-19 at Beheshat-e-Zahra cemetery on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. . There is a cemetery. As Iran struggles to keep up with the ravaging coronavirus pandemic, twice as many bodies arrive every day and gravediggers dig up thousands of new plots. (AP Photo/Ibrahim Nouroozi)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — For more than half a century, a vast cemetery on the outskirts of Iran’s capital has been the final resting place for the country’s war dead, its celebrities and artists, its thinkers and leaders. are in between

Religious Burial Sites In Iran

But Behesht-e-Zahra is now struggling to keep up with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping Iran, with twice as many bodies arriving every day and gravediggers digging up thousands of new plots.

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Sayed Khal, director of the cemetery, said, “All the crises we have experienced during the past 50 years of this cemetery’s history have lasted only a few days or a week at most. Never before, neither during earthquakes nor during the country’s war with Iraq in the 1980s, has the rate of body flow in Behesht-e-Zahra been so high for so long, he said.

“We have been in crisis for 260 days and it is not clear how many more months we will have to deal with this crisis,” he said.

Covering more than 5 square kilometers (1,320 acres) with 1.6 million people buried on its grounds, Behshat-e-Zahra is one of the largest cemeteries in the world and the main cemetery for Tehran’s 8.6 million residents. is The golden minarets of the Imam Khomeini Shrine, the burial place of the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, can be seen for kilometers (miles).

But it wasn’t big enough for the coronavirus, which broke out in Iran earlier this year, seeding the region’s worst outbreak.

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Iran has reported more than 715,000 infections and said 39,664 have died from the coronavirus so far. The country has recorded 10 deaths in a single day in the past month. Another record came on Wednesday, with 462 deaths. Almost half of the country’s virus deaths have occurred in Tehran, putting pressure on cemeteries.

Far from Iran’s war with Iraq and the graves of politicians, the cemetery has expanded into a new area. Tehran’s leaders announced in June that they were preparing 15,000 new graves, about 5,000 more than a normal year. Satellite images from September show the plots, each deep enough to hold three bodies, freshly dug, each separated by a layer of dirt and bricks.

For Khal, sometimes referred to as the “mayor” of this vast necropolis, the pace beats anything he’s seen before.

“Earlier, we were accepting 150 to 170 bodies every day, but these days when we are seeing an increase in deaths, we are accepting an average of 350 bodies,” he told The Associated Press.

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It is unclear how other cemeteries in Iran are faring. In March, authorities arrested a man for posting a video of corpses wrapped in white shrouds and sealed in black body bags at a cemetery in the Shiite holy city of Qom, claiming they were all “infected with the coronavirus.” At the time, officials at that cemetery said they were testing the bodies for the virus.

At Beheshat-e-Zahra, or “Paradise of Zahra” in Persian, named after one of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughters, the bodies of known coronavirus victims arrive daily by ambulance. Mortuary attendants prepare each body for the ritual bath required of the Muslim dead. During epidemics, that now includes the use of disinfectants.

Next, an imam leads the prayer, while mourners stand in spaced squares that ensure they keep their distance from each other.

“These days I offer an average of 25 to 30 death prayers (for COVID-19 victims), just me,” said Maulvi Mesam Rajvi. “There are about 12 of us who pray for the same deaths every day. That’s a big number.”

No Mercy For Iran’s Baha’i

Mourners carry the body to the cemetery, where another masked staff member wearing disposable gloves and a shroud carries the body to its final resting place.

The cries of loved ones echo through the expanse of freshly dug graves awaiting the next funeral.

Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Nasir Karimi and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report. The International said today that the cemetery near Tehran, which it has been using for decades, is insisting instead of burying them among existing graves within the cemetery or in the nearby Khawaran mass grave for victims of the 1988 prison massacre.

The Khawaran mass grave, which is believed to contain the remains of several hundred victims of the 1988 mass disappearances and secret extrajudicial executions, has been demolished several times in recent decades and gained national prominence in the fight for truth and justice. is By pressuring Baha’i families to bury their loved ones, Iranian authorities are putting mass graves at greater risk of destruction, tampering with vital forensic evidence, and committing crimes against humanity of enforced disappearances, torture and other inhumane acts. are continuing to do against families. Those who were forcibly disappeared and secretly murdered.

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“This is the latest in a series of criminal attempts by Iranian authorities over the years to destroy the mass graves of victims of the 1988 prison massacre to remove vital evidence of crimes against humanity, deny truth, justice and reparations. families of those who were forcibly disappeared and secretly extrajudicially executed,” said Diana Eltahawy, International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“In addition to inflicting further pain and suffering on the already persecuted Baha’i minority by denying them the right to properly bury their loved ones in accordance with their religious beliefs, Iranian authorities are deliberately destroying the crime scene.”

Relatives who visited the mass grave on April 23 saw eight newly dug empty graves and two new graves marked with the names of the deceased. Photos reviewed by International confirmed this and showed lines drawn in the dirt to mark future graves as well. The families have also noted an increase in security and intelligence at the location over the past two months.

International spoke to a Baha’i human rights group and families of victims of the 1988 prison massacre based outside Iran, who obtained reliable information from those who visited the grave site on April 23, as well as examined photographic evidence. Due to the current climate of fear and reprisals by the authorities against those who speak out, the organization was unable to speak directly to affected families inside Iran.

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Last month, in a significant departure from established practice, a senior official at the Behesht Zahra Organization, a state body that regulates burials in Tehran, banned Baha’is from burying their loved ones in the vacant grounds of the Golestan Javid cemetery, according to the NGO. Done, NGO baha ‘I International Community (BIC). The official said that henceforth they will have to be placed among the existing graves inside the cemetery or buried in the nearby Khawaran mass grave. Due to lack of space between existing graves in Golestan Javid Cemetery, families have no real option to bury their dead in mass graves.

The Baha’i community has strongly opposed attempts by the authorities to force the desecration of the Khawaran mass grave site. The International has received distressing reports from the BIC of bodies lying in morgues while Bahá’í families refuse to bury their loved ones in mass graves.

At least one Bahá’í family reported that, in April, a deceased relative was buried in an empty field outside the Golestan Javid cemetery, without their knowledge or consent, without Bahá’í funeral rites or rites. The family refused to be partners. Destruction of the Khawaran mass grave.

According to Iranian law, burials must only take place in official cemeteries and cemeteries with the written permission of official bodies. People found guilty of illegal burials can face criminal prosecution and result in jail time and fines.

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“The international community must press Iranian authorities, including municipal authorities in Tehran and other cities, as well as the Ministry of Interior, which oversees the management of graves in the country, to identify Khavaran and other mass graves and To treat. the whole country..” Iran requires professional forensic expertise as a crime scene to exhume bodies and preserve evidence and corpses.

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