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Iran: Religious Freedom

Volume 471: debated on Wednesday 30 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the safety of members of the Baha’i faith in Iran; and if he will make a statement. (178746)

We continue to be very concerned by the treatment of religious minorities in Iran, including Baha’is.

The Baha’i faith is not recognised under the Iranian constitution and as a result Baha’is routinely face discrimination and persecution. In recent years Baha’is have been subject to arbitrary arrests, confiscation of property and restrictions on employment. Denial of access to higher education has been a long-term problem for Baha’i students. We are also concerned about reports that Iranian newspapers, including hard-line Keyhan, have been carrying out a propaganda campaign against the Baha’i community.

We are concerned by the recent sentencing of 54 Baha’is for “anti-regime propaganda”. The EU presidency raised concerns about the treatment of Baha’is in a meeting with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 22 January. They specifically raised the case of this group and requested the Iranian government to abandon all proceedings against them.

The Government continue to press the Iranian authorities to take seriously their international human rights obligations, uphold the right to freedom of religion and belief, as described in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and address the discrimination suffered by Iranian Baha’is. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and raise our concerns about the treatment of Baha’is with the Iranian authorities, both bilaterally and through the EU.