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The Baha’i Dentist Who Was Executed

On 29 July, 1981, 9 Baha’i residents in Iran had been executed by firing squad in Tabriz, capital of East Azerbaijan, with out a public trial and with out entry to a lawyer. Their households imagine they had been executed with out even a closed-door trial. The 9 – who had been well-known figures within the Tabriz Baha’i neighborhood – had been executed due to their religion.

Certainly one of them was Dr. Esmail Zehtab, a revered dentist within the metropolis, who was 61 when he was killed.

Studying Dentistry and the Baha’i Religion

Esmail Zehtab was born in 1920 within the historic neighborhood of Charandab of Tabriz to a spiritual Muslim household. Earlier than changing to the Baha’i religion, he was a devoted Muslim and took part in all spiritual ceremonies.

After ninth grade, Esmail began working as an apprentice at a dentistry clinic and, from the start, he did his greatest to be taught this career. Trendy dentistry didn’t exist in Iran at the moment and the few individuals who pursued dentistry needed to be taught via apprenticeship.

Esmail was 18 when he realized concerning the Baha’i teachings, via his uncle Monir Divan, a Baha’i poet. He studied the faith for 2 years and transformed when he was 20 years previous.

Clinic in Khalkhal

The younger Dr. Zehtab, on the age of 20, had gained sufficient expertise, data and talent to open his personal dentistry clinic. He wished to open it in Tabriz however, on the suggestion of the Native Non secular Meeting of the Baha’is of Tabriz, he determined to relocate to distant elements of the province the place individuals lacked dentistry providers.

Dr. Zehtab first went to Ardebil and, after a while, moved to Khalkhal the place he opened his first clinic.

The arrival of a dentist was a welcome growth for this small city and its surrounding villages. Dr. Zehtab was the primary dentist in Khalkhal and women and men, younger and previous, villagers and metropolis dwellers, all flocked to his clinic. However what made him twice as widespread was his sort demeanor and his benevolence. His sufferers got here from each stroll of life and each class, from heads of presidency places of work and commanders of gendarmerie to the poor and needy. He was beneficiant and charitable: he didn’t cost those that couldn’t afford to pay him and plenty of occasions he even gave them some cash. Relieving a affected person’s ache and treating the affected person was extra vital than cash to him and, because of this, no affected person left his clinic sad.

Harassment and Escape from Khalkhal

In Khalkhal, Zehtab married a younger Baha’i girl and so they had two daughters and two sons, all born in that metropolis.

He was recognized to be a Baha’i and, as his reputation grew, Islamic spiritual fanatics turned decided to drive him and his household out of Khalkhal. Lastly, in 1955, following assaults on Baha’is throughout the nation sparked by sermons given by the cleric Mohammad Taghi Falsafi who incited individuals towards the Baha’is. Dr. Zehtab was pressured to go away town after 13 years. Khalkhal and its surrounding villages had been left with out a dentist as Dr. Zehtab was nonetheless the one one within the space.

Falsafi’s sermons, supported by Grand Ayatollah Hossein Broujerdi, the excessive Shia marja or “supply of emulation” on the time, led to the loss of life of variety of Baha’is. Their houses had been burned down and plenty of Baha’is who feared for his or her lives escaped to wilderness. The perpetrators of those acts had been by no means held to account.

The turmoil additionally reached Khalkhal. Incitement by a number of fanatical clerics led to assaults on the house of Dr. Zehtab throughout Ramadan. The attackers – strange Iranians throwing stones – had been led to imagine that they’d be rewarded within the subsequent world. Safety and police officers who earlier than had claimed to be pleasant with Dr. Zehtab, and all of whom had been his sufferers, didn’t increase a hand to cease these assaults. The governor’s workplace even summoned Dr. Zehtab and requested him to desert his religion and to turn out to be a Muslim.

The police raided his dwelling and confiscated spiritual books and different objects. With out a warrant, they put Dr. Zehtab underneath home arrest and confined him to a room in his own residence, utilizing the excuse of defending him and his household to put two policemen at his residence.

One night time, after residing underneath home arrest for 3 months, Dr. Zehtab succeeded in escaping. He went to Tehran and, after the state of affairs in Khalkhal had calmed down, he went to Tabriz. A couple of months later, he introduced his household from Khalkhal to Tabriz as nicely and so they started a brand new life.

Studying Trendy Dentistry

Esmail Zehtab opened a brand new clinic in Tabriz and, though he was over 30 years previous, he went again to high school and acquired his highschool diploma. The federal government was now providing a course for conventional dentists to be taught trendy dentistry and Zehtab efficiently accomplished this course. He then went to Turkey to proceed his research and graduated from college there as a dentist.

New Threats and Harassments

Dr. Zehtab was devoted to his career and believed that it was his approach of serving the individuals. He was witty and pleasant. His sufferers appreciated him and his buddies and neighbors revered him. He was charitable and infrequently pioneered charity drives to assist the poor and the needy.

However his good status led to many nameless threats, each earlier than and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, geared toward forcing him to shut his clinic. He was crushed a number of occasions by assailants – however he remained at his job and continued treating his sufferers till the day of his arrest.

The First Arrest

Dr. Zehtab’s was elected to the Native Non secular Meeting of the Baha’is of Tabriz the place he was the treasurer. On 19 October, 1979, the Revolutionary Guards raided the house of a Baha’i in Tabriz, the place seven members of Non secular Meeting had been assembly, and arrested them, together with Dr. Zehtab.

All besides one of many Baha’is had been quickly launched. However at 10pm on the identical day, brokers despatched by the Revolutionary Court docket went to Dr. Zehtab’s dwelling and arrested him after looking the house and confiscating spiritual books. For 20 days, he was stored in solitary confinement and was pressured and tortured to surrender his Baha’i religion. He was launched after about six months, on March 22, 1980.

Dr. Zehtab was free however fears that he could be arrested once more continued. Most of his buddies suggested him to go away Tabriz, and to stay on the houses of his acquaintances in different elements of Iran for a time, however he didn’t agree and continued working at his clinic.

“I’ve ready no matter is critical to stay in jail and have put them in a bag, so if I’m summoned to jail or am arrested I can go away for jail with out a second’s delay,” Dr. Zehtab advised his buddies.

The Second Arrest

On 14 July, 1980, Dr. Faramarz Samandari, one of many high microscopic ear surgeons on the earth, and Yadollah Astani, a businessman and a member Native Non secular Meeting of Tabriz, had been executed by firing squad. On 18 July, 5 different Baha’is, together with Dr. Esmail Zehtab and Dr. Parviz Firouzi, a pharmacologist, had been arrested.

The detainees had been put underneath monumental psychological stress to surrender their religion. They had been promised that in the event that they transformed to Islam they’d instantly be launched and would take pleasure in all their rights as residents. They remained in jail for a yr earlier than they had been executed.

The Jail’s Clinic

Tooth issues and toothaches had been rampant amongst inmates. For seven months, Dr. Zehtab voluntarily labored on the jail’s clinic, treating each the prisoners and the jail employees. A while after he was executed, two jail guards went to his household and thanked them for the therapy of their toothaches by Dr. Zehtab.

The Execution

On 27 July, 1981, the households of Baha’i prisoners had gone to Tabriz Jail to satisfy them after they had been advised that three of them had been sentenced to loss of life. They had been turned again; Dr. Zehtab’s household was the one Baha’i household allowed to satisfy their relative in individual that day.

Two days later, on 29 July, households of 9 Baha’is in Tabriz Jail had been knowledgeable that their family members had been executed and that they needed to go to the morgue at Vadi-e Rahmat Cemetery’s to gather the stays. Below tight safety measures, the households succeeded in burying their family members in that cemetery in accordance with Baha’i legal guidelines.

The judiciary of the Islamic Republic has but to clarify why these 9 Baha’is had been executed greater than 30 years in the past.

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