May 14, 2014 – Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, today issued the following statement:
“A year after President Hassan Rouhani’s electoral campaign promises of equal rights for all Iranians, regardless of ethnicity and religion, the situation for Iran’s minority communities has not improved. Indeed, since President Rouhani’s election, we have seen an increase in detentions and executions of Iranians because of their faith.
“Today, on the sixth anniversary of the illegitimate arrest and imprisonment of seven of Iran’s national Bahá’í leaders, we are sadly reminded that the situation for Iran’s religious minorities remains dire, with nothing to show but President Rouhani’s empty promises.
“Iran’s Bahá’ís, Christians, Dervishes and Sunni Muslims continue to face harassment, arbitrary arrest, imprisonment and mistreatment by Iranian authorities for practising their faith and participating in their religious communities.
“Earlier this month, the Iranian regime reportedly desecrated a Bahá’í cemetery in Shiraz, a violation of religious freedom that Canada condemns.
“It is simply not enough to speak words of support for rights and freedoms; action must be taken.
“Canada urges Iran to release all those who have been imprisoned in Iran for merely practising of their faith, including Bahá’í leaders Behrouz Tavakkoli, Saeid Rezaie, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi and Mahvash Sabet, and the more than 100 Bahá’ís currently being held in Iranian prisons whose only supposed ‘crime’ was to practise their faith. We urge Iran to take action to uphold its international obligations to protect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, including freedom of religion.”
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