Seven members of the governing body of Iran’s Baha’i religious community were yesterday sentenced in Tehran to 20-year prison terms. In this connection Markus Löning, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued today (9 August) the following statement:
“The prison sentences handed down on leading representatives of the Baha’i community are a severe setback for everyone who cares about human dignity and human rights in Iran. There are considerable doubts that due process was observed during the trial.
I strongly appeal therefore to the competent Iranian authorities to revoke yesterday’s sentences and conduct a new trial that is fair and transparent.
Freedom of expression, freedom of religion, protection of minorities and due process are all international obligations that Iran has committed to uphold.”
The German Government has been concerned about the situation of the Baha’i in Iran for many years. Together with its EU partners it has consistently sought an improvement in their situation as well as the situation as regards freedom of expression and freedom of religion in Iran.
The Baha’i community has been banned in Iran since 1983, its members there face massive and systematic harassment. The seven Baha’i leaders were arrested in May 2008 and charged with spying, collaboration with Israel and “conspiring against national security”.