New Delhi, 17 December, 2010 – The former Indian Deputy Prime Minister speaking to international journalist Rohit Gandhi called upon Iran to uphold justice and treat its minorities with respect. He said “I appeal to Iran and join the UN and the rest of the international community to treat the Baha’is with respect and provide justice to the imprisoned seven leaders of the Baha’i community.”
The persecution of Baha’is has increased since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran. This present wave of systematic attacks on the Baha’i leadership came in 2008 when the seven former leaders were arrested without charges and kept in temporary detention for nine months. As an afterthought they were charged with espionage and threat to national security and insulting religious sanctity.
Mr. Advani pointed out that a country’s civilization can be best judged from seeing how it treats its minorities, “The attitude of a country and a nation towards minority religion is the touchstone of how civilized a country it is.” He further said, “The Lotus temple is a very important place in New Delhi where tens of thousands of people visit and is a good example of how India treats its minorities with respect.” Advani said that the Parsi community came to India centuries ago facing persecution from Islamic fundamentalists and today they live in India as a prominent minority community and are very successful.
In addition to the former Deputy Prime Minister, other eminent Indians have raised their concern against the handling of the case of the seven Baha’is currently facing a ten-year prison sentence without the due process of law. The former UN special Rappatouer on Housing Rights said that “There is a contradiction of the unjust treatment of Baha’is and the minorities in Iran with the state not according them the same rights and means of redress that it is championing around the world.” Mr. Kothari was addressing Iran’s position on the treatment of Muslims in Palestine and other places around the world. He went on to say that in its own country Iran continues to violate the rights of the minorities including the Baha’is.
The contradiction stems from Iran’s own adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights not to mention its ratification of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights as well as Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. “We hope that Iran will make its internal policies, law and administration, consistent with its International Human Rights commitments and the standing that it wants in the International community as a civilization with long history of assimilation of different Faiths,” Kothari remarks.
Dr. Amitabh Kundu, Professor of Economics at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development and former Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University endorsing the Open letter of the Baha’i International Community to the Head of the Judiciary in Iran, emphasizes that “this mistreatment [of the Baha’is] also epitomizes the injustices being wrought against scores upon scores of their fellow citizens who are condemned to suffer merely because they yearn to be liberated from the prejudice and religious fanaticism that have so undermined the advancement and ravaged the well-being of their society.”
Dr. George Verghese, Senior Columnist and visiting Professor at the Centre for Policy Research says “I have supported the Baha’i movement and I will always continue to do so.”
In defiance of all reason, the prisoners are now in the third year of what is shamelessly termed a “temporary” detention –leaving them without any option of bail, and in turn, any prospect of freedom. Justice demands no less than the immediate release of these seven Baha’i leaders.
also see India PRWire: http://www.indiaprwire.com/pressrelease/other/2010121772045.htm