Call for Immediate Release of
the Seven Bahá’í leaders by the Iranian Government
We, add our voices to the vast and growing numbers of individuals, agencies and governments the world over who out of a sense of outrage and distress have spoken up in defense of the seven innocent Iranian Bahá’í leaders who have been sentenced to twenty years imprisonment by the Government of Iran on patently false and unjustifiable charges.
The legal process that was followed to arrive at this appalling judgment has been found to be riddled with the most glaring anomalies. These seven honest and law-abiding individuals were first arrested in 2008 and were held for nine months before the charges against them were announced. They were given no more than an hour’s access to their lawyers before their trial began. Throughout this period, they were denied bail and were held under conditions of great physical and psychological hardship. This catalogue of abuses and illegal actions reached its crescendo with the announcement of the prison sentence. Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Laureate whose Defenders of Human Rights Center represented these seven Bahá’ís said in a television interview on the day they were sentenced, “I have read their case file page by page and did not find anything proving the accusations, nor did I find any document that could prove the claims of the prosecutor.”
The 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 Bahá’ís. They are peace – loving and obedient to the law of their land and have worked for the betterment of Iranian society.
The Iranian Bahá’í community has been the object of persecution from the time of its inception in 1844. Ever since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, these persecutions have intensified. Bahá’ís have been expelled from jobs in public institutions, they have been deprived of higher education, their marriages are not recognized, their shrines and sacred places have been destroyed, their graves have been vandalized, their institutions and literature have been banned and they have been denied any means to express their beliefs or defend themselves. In speaking up for these seven Bahá’í leaders we are therefore also standing up for the 3,00,000 Iranian Bahá’ís, 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.
As citizens of India, a country that has rightfully prided itself in exemplifying for the world the spirit of coexistence and tolerance, we feel impelled to voice our strong condemnation of this travesty of justice. We also express our deep concern for the imprisoned Bahá’ís and their families.
We call upon all those who are committed to peace and justice in India to join us in petitioning the Iranian government to immediately and unconditionally release these and other Bahá’ís who have been unjustly imprisoned in Iran.
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.
We remind the Government and leadership of Iran that they must honour their own historic action of 1948 in supporting and adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Both Iran and India were prominent among the countries that voted for this landmark declaration — which confers upon all its signatories the obligation – and the privilege — to uphold, honour and defend human rights without distinction of any kind.
We call on the Indian Government to use its good offices with Iran to ensure that the seven detainees are immediately released and given a fair hearing in accordance with the international standards of jurisprudence.
JUDICIARY AND OFFICIAL AGENCIES
Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India
Fali Nariman, Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India and President of the Bar Association of India
Soli Sorabjee, Former Attorney General of India – President, United Lawyers’ Association
Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission of India
R.B. Singh, Distinguished Professor IFFCO Foundation, Ex Assistant Director General of FAO
Amitabh Kundu,Centre for the Study of Regional Development, JNU – Former Member, National Statistical Commission
Zia Mody, Founding Partner, AZB & Partners (Advocates & Solicitors)
Mohini Giri, Founder, Guild of Service India – Former Chairperson, National Commission for Women
Tahir Mahmood, former Member, Law Commission of India, Prof. Amity
Vrinda Grover, Lawyer, Supreme Court of India
Archbishop Vincent Concesso, Archbishop of Delhi, Sacred Heart’s Cathedral, Chairperson, All India Council of Religions for Peace
Swami Agnivesh, President, World Council of Arya Samaj
Rev. Dr. Dominic Emmanuel, Spokesman of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese
MEDIA AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Miloon Kothari, Coordinator, Housing and Land Rights Network – Former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing
George Verghese, Senior Columnist – Visiting Professor, Center for Policy Research
Suhas Chakma, Director, Asian Centre for Human Rights
Maja Daruwala, Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
Mira Shiva, South Asian Focal Point, International People’s Health Council
Rajesh Tandon, President, Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA)
Ashok Khosla, President, Development Alternatives
Ajay Mehta, Executive Director, National Foundation for India
Razia Ismail, Convenor, India Alliance for Child Rights, Women’s Coalition for Peace and Development with Dignity
Asghar Ali Engineer, Vice President, People`s Union for Civil Liberties
Martha Farrell, Director, PRIA Continuing Education
Neelima Khetan, Chief Executive, Seva Mandir
Rohit Gandhi, International Correspondent
Ashok Aggarwal, Member, Social Jurist
Deep Joshi, Freelance Development Consultant- Former Executive Director, PRADAN
Debolina Kundu, Associate Professor, National Institute of Urban Affairs
Satish Jain, Professor, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning
Sunita Singh Sengupta, Professor, School of Management Studies, Delhi University
Source: http://www.bahai.in, and also see press release here.
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