OTTAWA — Canada's House of Commons has unanimously adopted a strongly worded motion condemning the persecution of Baha'is in Iran and calling on the Iranian government to release Baha'i leaders imprisoned in Tehran.
The motion, which was approved on 30 March, stated that the accusations against the Baha'is – espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic republic – are charges "frequently used by Iranian authorities to target human rights defenders and religious minorities, and there is nothing in the history or teachings of the Baha'i community to lend any credence to such charges."
The motion was addressed in a debate on the floor of the House of Commons which lasted some 90 minutes. Members of Parliament from all four of Canada's political parties spoke of the long history of persecution suffered by Iran's Baha'is and the current "campaign of hatred and incitement" against the Baha'i community there, noting that these current attacks "constitute a number of warning signs that often foreshadow widespread ethnic, racial or religious cleansing."
Decrying the "persistent and pervasive" violation of the human rights not only of Iran's Baha'is but of all Iranian citizens who have suffered repression at the hands of extremist elements in that country, members of Parliament also expressed deep admiration for Iran's people and "the enormous contribution" that Iran's "great civilization" has made to humankind.
The resolution concludes:
"Therefore, be it resolved that this House condemns the ongoing persecution of the Baha'i minority of Iran and calls upon the government of Iran to reconsider its charges against the members of the Friends in Iran, and release them immediately or failing this, that it proceed to trial without further delay, ensuring that the proceedings are open and fair and are conducted in the presence of international observers."
Seven of the Baha'is imprisoned in Tehran had comprised an ad hoc group called the "Friends in Iran" that tended to the minimum needs of the 300,000-member Baha'i community in Iran.
The seven were rounded up a year ago and have been detained ever since, without access to legal counsel. Accusations against them were only recently announced, but no hearing or trial has yet been held. More than 30 Baha'is are currently jailed in Iran because of their religion.