New Delhi, August 31, 2010 – Deeply distressed by the sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, for the seven Iranian Baha’i leaders, on patently false and unjustifiable charges, 31 prominent Indians have issued an open letter appealing to the Iranian government to release the seven immediately and to ensure a fair and open appeal process in accordance to international standards of jurisprudence.
Signatories include prominent leaders from religious communities as well as leaders in various fields of endeavour: judiciary, civil society organisations and academia. Justice Krishna Iyer, Mr. Fali Nariman, Mr. Soli Sorabjee, religious leaders – Archbishop Vincent Concesso, and Swami Agnivesh, as well as champions of human rights groups such as Miloon Kothari, Maja Daruwala, Suhas Chakma, and other civil society organizations, Rajesh Tandon, Ashok Khosla, George Verghese, Ajay Mehta, and the academia such as Prof. R. B. Singh, Prof. Amitabh Kundu, Prof. C. Raj Kumar, Prof. Tahir Mahmood, have jointly expressed, “ India and Iran have had historic ties of language, poetry, architecture, music and religion. In the name of these ancient ties that bind our two nations, we call on the Government of Iran to act according to the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which it has ratified. These provisions mandate the upholding of the principles of justice and freedom-principles cherished by all great religions of the world and all nations.”
Maja Daruwala, Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, on behalf of all the signatories sent the open letter to the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The letter says, “truth is that the only crime that these seven individuals – two women and five men, the oldest among them being 77 years old – have committed is that they are Baha’is. They are peace – loving and obedient to the law of their land and have worked for the betterment of Iranian society.”
“In speaking up for these seven Bahá’í leaders we are therefore also standing up for the 300,000 Iranian Baha’is, who constitute that country’s largest religious minority, whose lives have been blighted and whose progress has been crippled by the injustices that have so systematically and remorselessly been visited upon them.”
UN agencies, governments, parliaments, NGOs and prominent individuals across the globe – including an increasing number of Iranians – have raised their voice against this unjust verdict and the systematic persecution of the Baha’is in Iran. United States, UK, Netherland, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and the European Union have issued statements condemning this sentence. Amnesty International, Human Watch and the International Commission for Religious Freedom, amongst others have issues statements.
In this open letter, these concerned citizens of India have also called on the Indian government to use its good offices with Iran to see that these detainees are immediately released and they be given a fair hearing.