Saturday, December 18, 2010
Publish date: December 18 • Printable version    

Canada calls for release of Baha'i leaders

Seven detained Baha'i leaders

Canadian Foreign Minister issued a statement calling on Iran to “immediately release” the seven Baha’i leaders who have been detained since two years ago.

AFP reports that Lawrence Cannon issued a statement yesterday saying “I note with regret the reports that Iranian authorities are continuing the imprisonment of the seven Baha’i community leaders whose 10-year sentence was announced in September 2010.”

“These individuals have been held without cause for 28 months in harsh conditions at Gohardasht Prison. The accusations against them reflect a deliberate distortion of their religion and their service to the community,” he goes on to add. “Canada maintains that any imprisonment on such charges is too long and that these individuals should be released unconditionally and reunited with their families as soon as possible.”

The seven Baha’i leaders were arrested two years ago and in August of this year they were sentenced to ten years in prison.

A preliminary sentence of 20 years in prison was reduced by half in the appellate court. Canada also protested against the preliminary sentencing and noted the discordance of the charges with the severity of the sentences.

Behrouz Tavakoli, Jamaleddin Khanjani, Saeed Rezai, Fariba Kamalabadi, Mahvash Sabet, Vahid Tizfahm and Afif Naimi are the seven Baha’i leaders that have been charged with “espionage, activities against national security and enmity with God (Moharebeh)” by Iranian judiciary.

Baha’ism, which was founded in 1863 in Iran, is not accepted as a legitimate religion by the Islamic Republic and the 300 thousand Baha’is that live in Iran face severe discrimination in the workplace and educational institutions.

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