Seven jailed Baha’i community leaders

The Dutch Parliament has sent a letter to the Islamic Republic Parliament urging Iran to release seven detained Baha’i community leaders who have received a confirmed sentence of 20 years in prison from the Iranian judiciary.

“We, the permanent members of the Dutch Parliament’s foreign policy committee, are contacting you because both our countries are members of the United Nations and, therefore, responsible for promoting and supporting basic human rights in the framework set out by the United Nations,” the Dutch MPs wrote to Iranian lawmakers.

They express concern over the violation of religious freedom rights in Iran and remind the lawmakers that Article 18 of the human rights charter gives everyone the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Dutch MPs urge their Iranian counterparts to heed their advice on human rights and use their influence to bring about the release of the seven Baha’i detainees held at Gohardasht Prison in Karaj.

The Dutch MPs also urge the Iranian parliament to call on Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary, to review the cases of Fariba Kamalabadi, Mahvash Sabet, Jamaeddin Khanjani, Afif Naimi, Saeed Rezayi, Behrooz Tavakoli and Vahid Tizfahm to assure they are treated justly.

Yesterday, the Human Rights Reporters Committee said that each of the seven detained Baha’i community leaders has been sentenced by the appeals court to a confirmed 20 years in prison. Earlier, judiciary officials had unofficially indicated to defence lawyers that the sentences would be reduced to 10 years in prison.

Iran does not recognize the Baha’i faith as a legitimate religion, and the 300,000 Baha’is in Iran face considerable discrimination.

Dutch MPs have urged the Islamic Republic to alter its policies on Baha’is and grant them full freedom to practice their faith. They have also called on Iranian MPs to give all people the freedom to choose their religion and to convert to the faith of their choice.

The letter, signed by ten members of the Dutch Parliament’s Foreign Policy Committee, also calls for the release of Yousef Naderkhani, a Christian priest in Gilan, and Sadegh Khanjani, another convert. Islamic Republic laws condemn conversion from Islam.