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Statement by NGO Leaders Calling for the Immediate Release of the Seven Imprisoned Baha’i Leaders in Iran

29 NGO Leaders
ABF
May 21, 2016
Letter

Statement by NGO Leaders
Calling for the Immediate Release of the Seven Imprisoned Baha’i Leaders in Iran

May 2016

On the eighth anniversary of their imprisonment, we add our voices to the global chorus urging the immediate release of the seven Baha’i leaders who are behind bars in Iran.  As supporters of religious freedom and human rights, we stand in solidarity with the Baha’is in Iran. We ask for nothing less than the full and unconditional inclusion of Baha’is in all spheres of Iranian life.

Since May 14, 2008, the leaders of Iran’s Baha’i community have been punished and imprisoned for their beliefs. Their names are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm. These individuals were initially sentenced to the longest prison terms of any Iranian prisoners of conscience. Their twenty-year sentences have reportedly been reduced to ten years, but not terminated. This is not adequate, nor is it just.

These seven courageous souls – along with hundreds of thousands of Baha’is in Iran – have proven to be great friends of their country. No matter how poorly they are treated, they are law-abiding and shun all forms of violent or political protest.  Moreover, Baha’is seek to serve their communities as active and informed citizens – despite being refused equal treatment under the law.

Officially-sanctioned repression of Baha’is ranges the entire lifespan, from birth to death.
Children are bullied and youth are denied higher education. Parents are thrown in jail. Baha’i-owned businesses are shut down. Their homes are raided and their property confiscated. Their holy places and cemeteries are defaced or destroyed. Hate speech against Baha’is and fear-inciting propaganda are widespread in state-sponsored media.

Nor are Baha’is alone in the abuses they face. Human rights in Iran are truly in crisis as executions have reached staggering levels, journalists are imprisoned, women are attacked and discriminated against, human rights lawyers and defenders face crackdowns, dissidents are targeted, and religious and ethnic minorities are persecuted.

We call on the Iranian government: Free the seven Baha’i leaders. Respect and protect all Iranian citizens who have a common desire for justice and peace.

 

Randall Everett

President

21st Century Wilberforce Initiative

 

Zainab Al-Suwaij

Executive Director

American Islamic Congress

 

Anthony Vance

Director of Public Affairs

Bahá’ís of the United States 

 

David Harris

Chief Executive Officer

AJC (American Jewish Committee)

 

Marjan Keypour Greenblatt

Director

Alliance for Rights of All Minorities (ARAM) Iran

 

Jonathan Greenblatt

Chief Executive Officer

Anti-Defamation League

 

Roya Boroumand

Executive Director

Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation

 

Mervyn Thomas

Chief Executive Officer

Christian Solidarity Worldwide – UK

 

Patrick Carolan

Executive Director

Franciscan Action Network

 

Mark Lagon

President

Freedom House

 

Diane Randall

Executive Secretary

Friends Committee on National Legislation

 

Mark Hetfield

President & Chief Executive Officer

HIAS

 

Suhag A. Shukla

Executive Director & Legal Counsel

Hindu American Foundation

 

Hadi Ghaemi

Executive Director

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

 

Jeff King

President

International Christian Concern

 

Rod Sanjabi

Executive Director

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

 

Ann Buwalda

Executive Director

Jubilee Campaign 

 

Gerry Lee

Executive Director

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

 

Jim Winkler

President & General Secretary

National Council of Churches

 

Kristin Wright

Advocacy Director

Open Doors USA

 

Sr. Patricia Chappell

Executive Director

Pax Christi USA

 

Rev. Gradye Parsons

Stated Clerk of the General Assembly 

Presbyterian Church (USA)

 

Stephen McInerney

Executive Director

Project on Middle East Democracy

 

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner

Director

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

 

 Brian Grim

President 

Religious Freedom & Business Foundation

 

Mariam Memarsadeghi & Akbar Atri

Co-Founders & Co-Directors

E-Collaborative for Civic Education / Tavaana

 

Firuzeh Mahmoudi

Executive Director

United for Iran

 

Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe

General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society 

The United Methodist Church

 

Rev. Peter Morales

President

Unitarian Universalist Association