[TRANSCRIPT OF ORIGINAL NEWS ARTICLE IN ENGLISH]

 

 

Foreign Minister of Luxembourg writes to his Iranian counterpart in wave of support for Iran’s persecuted Baha’is

 

BRUSSELS–29 July 2020–

The Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, has written to Iran’s Foreign Minister, Muhammad Javad Zarif, condemning the recent escalation of the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran, the largest non-Muslim religious minority in the country. The letter comes as part of a wave of support by Members of the European Parliament as well as numerous parliamentarians and prominent groups and individuals from Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Finland and Ireland for Iran’s long persecuted Baha’i community.

In the letter sent individually to Mr. Zarif, Mr. Jean Asselborn states that he is “gravely concerned” regarding the situation of the Baha’is in Iran. He later published a public statement asserting that the reopening of the proceedings against “at least 77 members of the Baha’i community in recent weeks” and the “incarceration of members of the community” during the COVID-19 pandemic is “particularly worrying”. 

In recent weeks and months, Baha’is in Fars, Isfahan, South Khorasan, Tehran, and Yazd Provinces have received prison sentences, in most cases of six to ten years, in primary or appeals courts. Moreover, despite international calls to release prisoners of conscience due to the health pandemic, some Baha’is remain in prison. 

At  the European Union level, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iran, Cornelia Ernst, issued a statement of support, stating that the “intimidation and repression levelled against religious minorities, in particular the Baha’i community, must...end.” Vice President of the European Parliament, Heidi Hautala, together with other members of the European Parliament signed a joint statement, calling on the Iranian authorities to “cease the baseless accusations against Bahá’ís, to acquit them of all charges and to let them freely practice their faith.” 

The newsletter of the Sakharov Prize, an award handed out by the European Parliament to outstanding human rights defenders across the world has also condemned the persecution of the Baha’is in the country. 

Moreover, in the past weeks, a group of over 30 German parliamentarians, human rights defenders, health excerpts and non-governmental organizations appealed to the Iranian government in a letter to President Hassan Rouhani to drop the charges against Iran’ Baha’is in the proceedings and to release all remaining prisoners. 

In Ireland, more than 70 politicians and health experts signed a similar statement, writing that “[a]s we in Ireland begin to be released from lockdown, the Iranian authorities are locking up dozens of Baha’is.” The letter further asks the Iranian government to “end the state-sponsored dehumanisation and persecution of their Baha’i citizens” and to “allow Baha’is their basic human rights”. A U.K parliamentarian expressed concern regarding the “escalation in the persecution of the Baha’i community in Iran” calling on the government to end their persecution.

In Spain, the City Council of Terrassa expressed solidarity with the Baha’i community in Iran, calling for an end to their persecution. A Norwegian parliamentarian issued a statement, calling on Iranian authorities to “immediately” stop the “worrying developments” which stem from “prejudice”. The Dutch government has also put the issue on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Committee for September. 

“These moving expressions of support by European officials at the highest levels demonstrate that although the Iranian government has tried, time and time again and city after city, to eliminate the Baha’i community,” said Rachel Bayani, Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the European Union in Brussels. “These discriminatory policies and actions do not go unnoticed and are condemned the world over”. 

Last month, a group of 21 senior law-makers in Canada made an “urgent demand” to the Iranian government to halt the recent escalation of the Baha’is in Iran. This week, too, more than 250 Australian health practitioners signed an open letter expressing their concern about the human rights pressures faced by the Baha’i community in Iran. 

The Baha’is in Iran have been systematically persecuted since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. They are barred from numerous businesses and professions and employment in the public sector. They are denied the right to study in universities, are routinely arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned, their properties are confiscated, their cemeteries desecrated, and their private livelihoods are often disrupted or blocked—all because of their beliefs. This persecution has been widely documented and condemned by UN bodies and the international community for four decades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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