By James Bezan
Mr. Speaker, Saturday, May 14, marks the eighth year of incarceration for the seven Iranian Bahá’i leaders. Their only crime is their religion and their efforts to serve the spiritual and social needs of their fellow believers.
The seven Bahá’i leaders were arrested in 2008, held for more than a year, put on trial, and wrongfully convicted on charges of espionage and “propaganda against the regime”. They were initially sentenced to 20 years in prison, but in November 2015, that term of imprisonment was reduced to 10 years due to the delayed application of the new Iranian penal code. The seven are now eligible for conditional release.
The Bahá’i international community is launching a global campaign calling for their immediate release. The Bahá’i leaders should never have been arrested in the first place and their incarceration, based exclusively on their religious beliefs, is unjust, illegal, and immoral.
I call on President Rouhani and the Iranian regime to follow the rules of its own national laws, respect human rights, exercise clemency, and to immediately release the seven imprisoned Bahá’i leaders.