Chelsea, Quebec Baha’i community lauds Cannon protest of Iran actions


by admin on August 25, 2010

The Editor,

An open letter to Lawrence Cannon, Foreign Affairs Minister and MP for Pontiac:

The Chelsea, Quebec Baha’i community and, indeed, all Baha’is in your riding, wish to express our deep appreciation for the strong statement you immediately issued as Canada’s minister of foreign affairs Aug. 10, concerning the 20-year prison terms announced the same day by the Iran government for seven leaders of the Baha’i community in that country: Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm.

This was the first such public statement by a national government, following this flagrant violation of human rights and freedom of religion. We wish to sincerely thank you for your prompt and clear Canadian response, which has been quickly followed by expressions of acute concern from the international community around the world.

These prison terms have been described as “a judgment against an entire religious community” and as a case of “religious cleansing.” It is one element of a policy designed to eradicate the Baha’i community as a viable entity.

With 300,000 members, the Baha’i community is Iran’s largest religious minority. It has faced unrelenting persecution by the Iranian government since the inception of the Islamic revolution some thirty years ago.

This has taken the form of a wide range of human-rights violations as documented by the United Nations: the listing and monitoring of Baha’is, dawn raids on Baha’i homes and the confiscation and destruction of Baha’i properties, destruction of Baha’i cemeteries and holy places, summary arrests and interrogations of Baha’is, denial of access to higher education, refusal to grant business licenses, incitement to hatred of the Baha’is in government-controlled media, symposia organized by clergy followed by orchestrated attacks on Baha’i homes and properties, and vilification of Baha’i children in school by teachers.

This outcry must grow, pressing the Islamic Republic of Iran to expedite a fairly conducted appeal hearing that respects international standards of jurisprudence and, meanwhile, to release the prisoners on bail without further delay.

With sincere thanks and deep appreciation,

Brian Baskerville

Chairman, The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Chelsea