Thursday, 23 October 2008

UN report cites Iranian government’s violations against Baha’is

22 October 2008

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his concern over human rights violations in Iran against Baha'is, other minorities, women and juveniles.

In a 20-page document released on Monday, Mr. Ban responded to a request from the General Assembly last December for a “comprehensive report” on the human rights situation in Iran.

While noting some positive achievements, Mr. Ban stated that although Iran’s constitution guarantees a wide range of fundamental freedoms, “in practice there are a number of serious impediments to the full protection of human rights.”

His report expressed concern about the use of torture, a “high incidence of executions,” and “an increase in rights violations targeting women, university students, teachers, workers and other activist groups.”

The report devoted nearly a full page to the situation of Iran’s 300,000-member Baha’i community, which is that country’s largest religious minority. The report points out that Article 14 of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran stipulates “protection for non-Muslims.”

Yet, “reports continue to be received about members of the Baha’i community being subjected to arbitrary detention, false imprisonment, confiscation and destruction of property, denial of employment and government benefits, and denial of access to higher education,” Mr. Ban’s report said.

“A significant increase has been reported in violence targeting Baha’is and their homes, shops, farms and cemeteries throughout the country. There have also been several cases involving torture or ill-treatment in custody.”

Mr. Ban expressed concern over the harassment of Baha'i schoolchildren and the arrest of seven Baha'i leaders earlier this year.

“While the secretary general’s report recognizes some advances that Iran may have made, it points out that the government of that country has committed many clear and egregious violations of human rights against Baha'is and others,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

“It is important to note that the report comes directly from a request last year by the General Assembly in its resolution on Iran, demonstrating once again the critical role of the international community in bringing human rights violations to light,” Ms. Dugal said.

“We hope that the General Assembly will pass a resolution again this year to put pressure on Iran to meet its commitments to international standards,” she said.

To read the full report in English please click here.

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