[TRANSCRIPT OF ORIGINAL NEWS ARTICLE IN ENGLISH]

 

[Personal information has been redacted.]

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]

 

5 February 2021

An Open Letter to the Chief Justice

of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi,

 

We are a group of Canadians in the legal profession – including former Ministers of Justice and Attorneys-General, retired Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada, retired judges, legal academics and practicing lawyers – who are deeply concerned about new and intense violations of the basic human rights of the Bahá'í religious minority of Iran.

Members of the Bahá'í Faith have been persecuted in Iran since the Faith’s establishment over 170 years ago. Under the current Iranian government, Bahá'ís have experienced home raids, attacks on properties, confiscation of possessions, dismissals from employment, denial of access to higher education, imprisonment, and execution. Bahá'ís have sought legal remedies, but to little avail.

Recently, one of the oldest Bahá'í communities in Iran has come under intense attack.

The Bahá'í community in the village of Ivel (pron. ee-VELL) has existed since the founding of the Bahá'í Faith in the mid-1800s. At one time this was a thriving and peaceful multi-generational community largely made up of farmers and small business owners. Over decades, however, this community has faced severe persecution. Since the 1940s, many of Ivel’s Bahá'ís have been forced from their homes, imprisoned, harassed, and their property torched and demolished.

The year 2020 brought an alarming new chapter in this saga, when two Iranian courts issued judgments that declared ownership of lands by 27 Bahá'ís in the village to be illegitimate on the basis of their religious belief. In a novel interpretation of Article 49 of the Iranian Constitution which permits confiscation of illegitimately obtained property, on August 1, 2020 Judge Hasan Babaie of a constitutional court in Tehran pronounced that ownership of property by adherents of the “perverse sect of Bahá'ísm” was illegal. This decision was affirmed in an appeal court judgment of Judge Mohammad Sadegh Savadkouhi on October 23, 2020, after a legal process that denied the Bahá'ís and their lawyers any opportunity to see the relevant files, to prepare a statement of defence, or to produce any documents or arguments.

On its face, Article 49 of the constitution allows the government to confiscate “illegitimate” properties that were obtained through “usury, usurpation, bribery, embezzlement, theft, gamble, misuse of Islamic government endowments, misuse of government contracts and transactions, uncultivated lands and others belonging to the public, houses of ill repute, and other illegitimate sources.” The 2020 rulings now establish a dangerous constitutional precedent of judicially sanctioned confiscation that nullifies legitimate property interests based only on the owners’ religious affiliation, thus departing not only from international human rights standards but also from the text and intent of the Iranian constitution itself.

History is filled with examples of unjust and oppressive governments arbitrarily deciding that the race, gender, religion, or beliefs of an individual determines whether or not they can own land and participate in the public and economic life of society. The Iranian authorities, like some other governments around the world today, are continuing this heinous practice that violates the most basic international human rights norms. Religious and political discrimination against law-abiding citizens of Iran, and its Bahá'í community in particular, not only results in Iran remaining condemned and isolated in the international community, but also can provide solid grounds for prosecution of Iran’s authorities before international criminal courts and other international institutions. Conversely, swift restoration of the rights of the Bahá'ís of Ivel can serve as a precedent to correct abuses suffered by other Iranian Bahá'ís, and indeed all those who have experienced persecution and confiscation merely because of their beliefs.

We know the Bahá'í Faith to stand for values of peace, justice, and unity – values which have been under sustained attack by the Iranian authorities for decades. Violations of the human rights of Iran’s Bahá'ís have already been decried by the Canadian government, the United Nations and numerous human rights organizations. Today, as members of the Canadian legal profession who believe in the rule of law, we too stand with the Bahá'ís of Iran and call upon you, as the head of the Iranian judiciary, to address this new abuse inflicted upon the Bahá'ís of Ivel.

 

The Right Honourable / Le très honorable Brian Mulroney

18th Prime Minister of Canada

Companion of the Order of Canada

Senior Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

 

Irwin Cotler

Former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada

Professor Emeritus, McGill University Faculty of Law

Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights

 

Allan Rock

Former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada

President Emeritus, University of Ottawa

Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Queen’s Counsel

 

Jody Wilson-Raybould Puglaas

Former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada

Member of Parliament for Vancouver-Granville

 

Ian Binnie

Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (retired)

Companion of the Order of Canada

Queen’s Counsel

 

Frank Iacobucci

Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (retired)

Companion of the Order of Canada

 

Louis LeBel

Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (retired)

Companion of the Order of Canada

 

Marshall Rothstein

Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (retired)

Companion of the Order of Canada

Queen’s Counsel

 

Harry S. LaForme

Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario (retired)

 

John I. Laskin

Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario (retired)

 

Marion Allen

Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia (retired)

 

Marilynn C. Borowicz

Judge, Provincial Court of British Columbia (retired)

 

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

Professor, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia

Director, Indian Residential School History & Dialogue Centre

British Columbia Representative for Children and Youth (2006-16)

Judge, Provincial Court of Saskatchewan (retired)

 

Melanie Adrian

Associate Professor, Department of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University

 

Payam Akhavan

Senior Fellow, Massey College

Distinguished Visiting Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

 

Benjamin L. Berger

Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

York Research Chair in Pluralism and Public Law

Member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada

 

Faisal Bhabha

Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

 

John Borrows

Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria

Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law

Order of Canada

Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

 

Lisa Dufraimont

Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

 

Mohammad Fadel

Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Former Canada Research Chair for the Law and Economics of Islamic Law (2006-16)

 

Robert Leckey

Samuel Gale Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University

 

Larissa Katz

Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Canada Research Chair in Private Law Theory

 

Ravi Malhotra

Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

 

Louise Mandell

Former Chancellor, Vancouver Island University

Partner Emeritus, Mandell Pinder LLP

Queen’s Counsel

 

Errol P. Mendes

Professor, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law

Order of Ontario, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Law Society Medal

Editor-in-Chief, National Journal of Constitutional Law

President, International Commission of Jurists, Canadian Section

 

Bradford W. Morse

Professor of Law, Thompson Rivers University

Former Dean of Law, Thompson Rivers University (Canada)

Former Dean of Law, Te Piringa - Faculty of Law, University of Waikato (New Zealand)

Professor Emeritus, University of Ottawa (Canada)

 

Nicole O'Byrne

Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of New Brunswick

 

John Packer

Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Director, Human Rights Research and Education Centre

 

Hossein Raeesi

Adjunct Professor, Department of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University

 

Darryl Robinson

Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University

 

Craig M. Scott

Professor and Director, Graduate Program, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

 

Mark Walters

Professor and Dean of Law, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University

 

Jeremy Webber

Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria

Former Dean of Law at University of Victoria (Canada)

Former Dean of Law at University of Sydney (Australia)

 

Rolando E. Aguilera

Legal Counsel, Indigenous Justice Division, Ministry of the Attorney General, Ontario

 

Noora Akhavan

Barrister and Solicitor

 

Aref Amanat

Founder, Amanat Law Corporation

 

Frank S. Borowicz

Queen’s Counsel

Nash Johnston LLP

Governor, Vancouver Board of Trade

 

Gary Caroline

Principal, Caroline Law Corporation

President, Ofelas Group

 

Mark G. Carter

Mark G. Carter Law Corporation

 

Renata Colwell

Associate, Mandell Pinder LLP

 

Roshan Danesh

Queen’s Counsel

 

Ramin Erfanifar

Erfanifar Law Corporation

 

Nika Farahani

Barrister and Solicitor

 

Michael Feder

Queen's Counsel

Partner, McCarthy Tetrault LLP

 

Erin E. Fitzpatrick

Barrister and Solicitor

 

Brenda Gaertner

Partner, Mandell Pinder LLP

 

Raymond Gemmill

Partner, Gemmill, Johnston, Jeffries PC

 

Lawrence Greenspon

Founder, Greenspon Granger Hill Lawyers\ Member, CIJA Legal Task Force

 

Donald B. Johnston

Partner, Aird & Berlis LLP

Honorary Consul of Belgium in Ontario

 

Howard J. Kaufman

Counsel, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

 

Richard Marceau

General Counsel & Vice-President for External Affairs, Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs

 

Brock Martland

Queen’s Counsel

Partner, Martland & Saulnier

 

Julie Mouris

Associate, Conway Baxter Wilson LLP

 

Clarine Ostrove

Partner Emeritus, Mandell Pinder LLP

 

David Paterson

Paterson Law Office

 

Leslie Hall Pinder

Founder, Mandell Pinder LLP

 

Geoff Pollock

(Bencher, Law Society of Ontario)

Geoff Pollock & Associates Professional Corporation

 

Natalia Rodriguez

Partner, Conway Baxter Wilson LLP

 

Laylee Rohani

Partner, Cook Roberts LLP

 

Stuart Rush

Queen’s Counsel

 

Erica Stahl

Associate, Mandell Pinder LLP

 

Tim Thielmann

Founding Partner, Sage Legal LLP

 

Dana Urban

Queen’s Counsel

International Criminal Law Consultant

 

Douglas S. White III Kwulasultun

Queen’s Counsel

Chair of BC First Nations Justice Council

 

International Supporters

Payam Beheshti

Partner, Simmons & Simmons Middle East LLP

 

G.V. Rao

Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India

 

 

Add your signature

We welcome further expressions of support for this letter from judges, lawyers, legal scholars, and other legal experts.

To add your name, please send a message from your professional email address with your full name and how you would like to be identified. All names are verified prior to public posting.

Contact us at: openletter.ivelbahais@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[The content above was transcribed from the original document. If you find any typographic error, kindly email us using the 'Contact' page form.]