Glasgow UK: A Glasgow based human rights organisation is calling upon the Iranian Government to protect human rights and freedoms for all its religious minorities following the recent sentencing of four Christians to 80 lashes for drinking ceremonial wine.
Global Minorities Alliance, which advocates for the rights of minority groups the world over, highlights that Iran should act in accordance with the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as one of its signatory nations.
In Iran, minority religious communities undergo systematic persecution under strict rules which discriminate against groups such as Christians, Bahá’ís and Shia Muslims.
Members of minorities are often subject to torture, ill-treatment and various kinds of legal discrimination and arbitrary detention. They are also denied access to employment and education.
The most recent episode of persecution against Christians included the sentence of 80 lashes for four Christians, Behzad Taalipasand, Mehdi Reza Omidi, Mehdi Dadkaka and Amir Hatemi, for drinking ceremonial wine during a communion service as well as possessing a satellite and radio antenna.
The four men are reported to have been arrested in the middle of a Christmas service last year. They were sentenced on 6 October. They were given ten days to launch an appeal.
The latest UN report on Iran reveals similar and harsh treatment of religious communities like Bahá’ís, in spite of the promise to regard the rights of religious minorities by President Hassan Rouhani.
The UN report, written by Ahmed Shaheed as the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, observed Iran’s high level of executions, ongoing discrimination against women and ethnic minorities, poor prison conditions and limits on freedom of expression and association.
The report states that in July 2013 at least 30 Christians were put in custody amidst arrests on Christian house churches. More than 300 Christians have been arrested since 2010.
Commenting on the state of minorities in Iran, GMA’s Vice-Chairperson, Shahid Khan, urged President Hassan Rouhani to fulfil his promises to secure and protect the rights of minorities and ensure religious freedom in Iran:
“Religious minorities are facing the worst persecution in Iran and live under fear of intimidation and harassment. Attacks on house churches, targeted killing of Bahá’ís and legal discrimination are in stark opposition to Iran’s international obligation under the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights.”
Bahá’í s in Iran are subject to systematic persecution which denies them access to employment and education. Attacks on cemeteries, societal prejudices, false imprisonment and discriminatory laws are common and make life difficult for members of the Bahá’í community.
In August, 2013 a Bahá’í activist, Ataollah Rezvani, from the city of Bander Abbas became a victim of religiously-motivated killing by unidentified men.
In September 2013, an Early Day Motion was tabled by Mark Williams MP urging the Iranian Government to bring the people behind the murder of Mr Rezvani to punishment. He was killed after being harassed at the hands of the Ministry of Intelligence and after receiving threatening messages from unidentified people.
So far, 23 MPs from across all parties have signed the motion, which can be accessed here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/517
Since 2004, nine Bahá’ís have been suspiciously murdered and many more have been physically attacked.
“We believe that every human being has the right to life and freedom to exercise their faith in accordance with their beliefs so long as they are not posing any threat to others or the state,” said Mr Khan.
About Global Minorities Alliance
Formed in 2012, the Global Minorities Alliance is a Glasgow-based human rights organisation, committed to raising the voice of marginalised minority communities around the world.
GMA advocates for the rights of persecuted minorities thorough parliamentary lobby sessions, awareness-raising projects, education, empowerment of women and interfaith work.
As stated by GMA’s Vice-Chairperson, Shahid Khan, on the organisation’s website www.globalminorities.co.uk:
“The absence of fairness, transparency, meritocracy and the rule of law in general in some countries leave minorities more vulnerable to abuse as the mighty and influential in these lawless lands take it as their birthright to mistreat minorities as they choose. In some parts of the world the integration of minorities into mainstream society is restricted by design due to the subjugation forced upon them.
“We call for an end to the systematic discrimination of minorities in any shape or form and urge the governments of such countries to push through reforms aimed at providing equal rights to the poor and the disadvantaged sections of their societies.
“No-one can choose where they are born or who they are born to. To be born into a minority community should not mean that you have to live a life where you suffer at the hands of your own countrymen.
“We say enough is enough and call upon the international community and like-minded organizations and individuals across the world to support us in our commitment to help the minority communities across the world.”
GMA reaches out to different faith communities in the UK and abroad to help promote tolerance and peace. Through presentations and seminars and working with likeminded organizations, GMA hopes to make sure every human being is treated with honour, dignity and respect.