Freedom House Demands Immediate Release of Baha’is in Iran | Freedom House

Freedom House Demands Immediate Release of Baha’is in Iran

Washington

The Iranian government should immediately release the seven Baha'i leaders who received twenty-year prison sentences Monday on charges of espionage, propaganda against the state and collusion with Israel, Freedom House said.
 
The seven leaders, part of a group that oversees the welfare of Iran's 300,000 Baha'is, were arrested in 2008 and have been held in Evin prison with limited access to legal counsel and their families. The sentence was relayed to the defendants' lawyers after six brief, closed-door sessions in court, according to Bani Dugal, who represents the Baha'i community at the United Nations. Dugal noted that the seven will likely appeal the decision.
 
“These prisoners of conscience, held solely for their beliefs, are the latest victims in an ongoing campaign against religious minorities in Iran,” said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House. “Freedom House demands that the Iranian government discontinue its persecution of Baha’is and other religious minorities and release the prisoners immediately.”
 
Shiite Muslims form the majority in Iran and comprise the ruling council of clergy. Religious minorities face persecution and exclusion throughout the Islamic Republic, a country notorious for its egregious human rights violations. Baha’is in particular are not recognized in the constitution, enjoy virtually no rights under the law, and are banned from practicing their faith. Hundreds of Baha'is have been executed since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and many more have been banned from universities, arrested and jailed. Since the arrest of the seven, two dozen more Baha'is have been detained and Baha'i leaders have reported thatthere are currently 47 in prisons throughout Iran.
 
Iran is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties.
 
For more information on Iran, visit:
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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