International support for Iran’s Baha’is highlights growing rights violations

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Source: www.bic.org

 NEW YORK—16 December 2020—A United Nations resolution calling on the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect the rights of its citizens—and which refers to the violations faced by Iranian Baha’is—passed today at the General Assembly in New York. The resolution was cosponsored by 45 Member States, from all regions, with 82 Member States voting in favor.

The UN resolution joined a global wave of fresh support for Iran’s Baha’i community from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, as well as Germany, and a number of European parliamentarians.

The United States Congress passed a bipartisan resolution, on 7 December, condemning the Iranian government’s persecution of the Baha’i community and calling on authorities to uphold the rights of all Iranian citizens.

The Congressional resolution cited the 2019 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, its own 2019 international religious freedom report, as well as a recent 50 percent increase in hate propaganda documented by a Baha’i International Community report, to press Iran’s government to release detained Baha’is, end state-sponsored propaganda campaigns and to reverse policies that deny Baha’is equal opportunities in education and other fields, and to earn a livelihood.

Further, UK member of Parliament Jim Shannon raised the issue of the Baha’is of Iran in the House of Commons, on 9 December, saying that Iran’s Baha’i community is under “massive pressure” and continues to be subject to “persecution, discrimination and violence”.

Canadian Senator Mobina Jaffer, speaking during a 9 December session of the Senate, said that the “persecution of Baha’is has increased” and that Iran’s government has continued to detain Baha’is on “baseless charges” even as the coronavirus pandemic has spread through the country’s prisons. Senator Marc Gold, the government’s representative in the chamber, thanked Senator Jaffer for “shining a light” on the “disturbing” situation facing Iran’s Baha’is.

member of European Parliament as well as members of parliaments in Ireland and Norway also raised the persecution of the Baha’is in their respective chambers.

And in Sweden in October, a question raised by member of parliament Anders Österberg led to a meeting between Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Ann Linde, and representatives of the Swedish Baha’i community to discuss the situation of the Baha’is in Iran.

An Iranian human rights activist in Germany, said during a 9 December presentation of the German government’s human rights report that Iran was “violating” its legal obligations under the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Also, Article 19, a human rights group, released a statement on December 10, Human Rights Day, calling on Iran’s parliament to reject a bill that would “further erode the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief” for religious minorities “including Baha’is”.

Article 19 said that the proposed amendments to Iran’s Penal Code would allow security agencies to “criminalise” fundamental rights and freedoms.

Background

  • The Baha’is are Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority and have been systematically persecuted by the government since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

  • More than 200 Baha’is were executed in the years after the Revolution.

  • A 1991 policy document signed by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for the progress and development of Iran’s Baha’i community to be “blocked” and for Baha’is to be denied education and livelihoods. Thousands of articles of propaganda against the Baha’is are published in Iran’s state media each year.

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