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Iran

Volume 710: debated on Monday 18 May 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made and propose to make regarding the safety and freedom of association and worship of the Baha'i community in Iran. [HL3111]

We have expressed our concerns regarding the Baha'i community in Iran on several occasions to the Iranian Government and, alongside our EU partners, continue to express our firm opposition to all forms of discrimination and oppression. Most recently my right honourable friend Bill Rammell, Minister for the Middle East, issued a statement on 16 February 2009, backed by an EU statement on 17 February 2009, expressing our concern about the seven imprisoned leaders and calling for the Iranian Government to allow independent observation of the judicial proceedings.

The Iranian authorities are reluctant to engage with the international community, and refuse to receive formal representations on human rights issues from the EU. In this context we believe the most significant impact we can have is by ensuring that international attention remains focused on the human rights environment in Iran. We will continue to urge Iran to put an end to persecution of religious minorities and respect the right to freedom of religion and belief as described in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the number of Baha'is killed and imprisoned in Iran since 1 January 2000. [HL3112]

The use of short-term detention in Iran is particularly fluid and difficult to monitor, therefore it is difficult to accurately determine the number of Baha'is imprisoned in Iran since 2000. However, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials are in close contact with the National Spiritual Association of the Baha' is of the UK, who have provided information dating back to 2004.

Our records show that 228 Baha'is have been arrested since August 2004. Of those:

three are currently imprisoned in Iran;

81 have been arrested and released on bail and are awaiting trial;

nine have been arrested and released without bail;

84 have been tried and sentenced and are free pending appeal or summons to begin serving their sentences;

10 have been tried and sentenced and have completed their prison terms;

eight have had charges cleared in their original trials or have had their verdicts overturned on appeal; and

three have served their prison sentences and have begun their terms of exile.

Whilst we have received reports of members of the Baha'i community being killed or executed since 2000, we cannot directly attribute those deaths to the fact that they were Baha'is. The last documented killing of a Baha'i in Iran dates back to July 1998, with the execution of Mr. Rúhullah Rawhani.

The persecution of individuals based solely on the grounds of their religion or beliefs is wholly unacceptable, and alongside our EU partners we have repeatedly expressed our firm opposition to all forms of discrimination and oppression. We will continue to urge Iran to respect and protect its religious minorities and free all prisoners held due to their faith or religious practice.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what responses they have received from the Government of Iran concerning their representations about the trial of seven leaders of the Baha'i faith in Iran. [HL3568]

We have expressed our concerns regarding the Baha'i community in Iran on several occasions to the Iranian Government and, alongside our EU partners, called for the seven imprisoned leaders to be given a fair trial with independent observers. However, the Iranian authorities are reluctant to engage with the international community, and refuse to receive formal representations on human rights issues from the EU.

In this context we believe the most significant impact we can have is by ensuring that international attention remains focused on the human rights environment in Iran. We will continue to urge Iran to put an end to persecution of religious minorities and respect the right to freedom of religion and belief as described in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.