Saturday, 7 June 2008

Australia expressing concern for Baha'is arrested in Iran

Australian newspaper ‘The Canberra Times” reported that they has joined the other governments in expressing concern for Baha'is were arrested in Iran.

Australia has joined the United States and Canadian governments in expressing concern for six Baha'i leaders who were arrested in Iran last month.

The community leaders, two of whom have relatives in Australia, have been denied access to lawyers and their families.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said, ''We are very concerned by news that six Baha'i leaders were arrested in Iran on 14 May, 2008, and that the seventh member of the group, Mrs Mahvash Sabit, has been in the custody of the Ministry of Intelligence since 5 March, 2008 ... We understand the individuals are members of the 'Friends in Iran' group that coordinates Baha'i activities in Iran and have been detained at Evin Prison in north western Tehran.

''We are deeply concerned by the continuing discrimination and harassment of the Iranian Baha'is on the grounds of their religion.''

He said the Federal Government regularly made representations to Iran on human rights issues and has raised concerns about the treatment of Baha'is. The department intends to monitor the situation closely.

A Canberra-based spokesperson for the Australian Baha'i community, Tessa Scrine, welcomed the department's support.

''We are gravely concerned about these arrests which have occurred at a time of mounting persecution of Iranian Baha'is,'' she said. ''This persecution, as made clear in the statement, is based on the grounds of religious belief. We greatly appreciate Australia's ongoing efforts to promote freedom of religion or belief and to encourage Iran to abide by its international human rights obligations.''

A spokesman for the Iranian Government said last month the community leaders were arrested for security reasons, not because of their religious beliefs.

Baha'is are persecuted in Iran, where they form the country's largest religious minority.

Such sweeping arrests of Iranian Baha'is have not occurred since the early 1980s, when a total of 17 members of the faith's national governing body were killed or went missing.

By Jenna Hand


Phillip Adams from ABC Radio National (Australia) had a conversation with Roya Kamalabadi in “Late Night Live” program on Tuesday, 03 June 2008. Roya is the sister of one of the arrested Baha’i community leader in Iran, Fariba Kamalbardi.

Click here to listen

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