Human Rights Commissioner outraged at lengthening of prison sentences for Bahá’í leaders in Iran

05.04.2011 - Press release

Seven former leaders of the Bahá’í religious community in Iran were initially sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment in August 2010. A later decision by the court of appeal to reduce the sentence to ten years has now been reversed at the behest of the Iranian Prosecutor General, setting the sentence once more to 20 years.

Markus Löning, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement on the matter today (5 April):

“The increased penalty for the seven former members of the Bahá’í leadership is an outrage. The fact that this decision has been made furtively demonstrates yet again that Iran is not prepared to establish transparency or to respect fundamental principles of the rule of law.
I call upon the Iranian leadership to make the judgments public, to overturn the convictions and to release the prisoners. Iran must safeguard the human right to freedom of religion for the Bahá’ís and for other religious minorities.”

The Bahá’ís have been accused of spying and collaboration with Israel. Despite intensive efforts, the requests of EU embassies in Tehran to observe the trials were refused. The demand for information about the trial as well as for the court’s judgments, including reasons, to be made public has not been fulfilled to date.

Iran does not recognize the Bahá’í as a religious community. Bahá’ís in Iran are victims of targeted repression.

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