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Iran: Baha'i Faith

Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the arrest and charge of seven members of the Baha’i leadership in Iran on 11 February 2009; and if he will make a statement. (258481)

We have received several worrying reports confirming that the seven leading members of the Iranian Baha’i community have been charged with spying for Israel, “insulting religious sanctities” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”—charges which could carry the death penalty. We are concerned about the conditions under which they are being detained and that they have been systematically refused access to their lawyer. Reports suggest that the seven individuals are due to face trial in the coming weeks.

We are monitoring the situation closely and have called for Iran to allow independent observation of the judicial proceedings and to reconsider the charges brought against these individuals.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Iranian authorities to allow independent observers to be present at any trial of the seven members of the Baha’i leadership in Iran charged on 11 February 2009. (258482)

We have called repeatedly for the Iranian government to release the seven leading members of the Iranian Baha’i community. Having been held for so long without due process, we are concerned that they may not receive a fair trial now that they have been formally charged.

My hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Bill Rammell, issued a statement on 16 February 2009, which was backed by an EU statement on 17 February 2009, expressing our concern and calling for the Iranian government to ensure that their trial is fair and to allow independent observation of the judicial proceedings. The statement may be found at:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/newsroom/

We urge Iran to respect and protect its religious minorities and free all prisoners held due to their faith or religious practice.