The UN Human Rights Council’s overwhelming vote to extend the mandate of its special investigator on Iran was greeted with prompt affirmation from the Baha'i community. From local to international levels, Baha'is have been concerned with the ongoing persecution in Iran beginning with the Faith’s inception in the 19th century.
New reports by Dr. Shaheed, the Council’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Iran continues to make numerous and serious human rights violations including high rates of improperly adjudicated executions, the ongoing oppression of women, the use of torture, and the wrongful imprisonment of journalists, human rights defenders and minorities.
Diane Ala’i, the representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva, emphasized that “The vote to extend the mandate of Ahmed Shaheed is a powerful signal that the world expects action – not just words – from President Rouhani and his government on human rights,” said Ms. Alai. She indicated that “Iran can begin by releasing, among others, the 136 Baha’is who are in prison solely for their religious beliefs. The government can also easily allow Baha’i youth to attend university. And the practice of raiding Baha’i homes and arbitrarily arresting occupants can be halted with the stroke of a pen in Tehran... Given that Baha’is are committed to non-violence and obedience to legal authorities, these measures would pose no threat to the government and could be rapidly instituted.”
“Hundreds of individuals reportedly remain in some form of confinement for exercising their fundamental rights, including some 39 journalists and bloggers, 92 human rights defenders, 136 Baha’is, 90 Sunni Muslims, 50 Christians, and 19 Dervish Muslims,” said Dr. Shaheed during the presentation of his report to the Council last week.
The list of the oppressed includes seven members of a former leadership group serving the Baha'i community of Iran, now imprisoned since 2010. This matter has been of special concern to Baha'is on Kaua’i and around the world. The group was wrongly sentenced to 20 years in prison.
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