Another seven members of the Bahá’í religious community in Iran have recently been sentenced to several years’ imprisonment. 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 (21 October):
“I was deeply dismayed to learn that seven members of the Bahá’í faith have recently received prison sentences of four to five years. I once again call on the Iranian Government to respect the human right to freedom of religion which it has committed to under international agreements. The human rights of religious minorities, too, must be respected and protected. Accused persons must be granted the right to a transparent and fair trial in accordance with the rule of law.”
The seven convicted Bahá’ís were apparently accused of having formed a group which threatened the security of the state. But this “group” was in fact a university of distance education that had been established many years ago to enable members of the Bahá’í – who are otherwise excluded from the university system – to receive higher education. Iranian authorities did not grant EU observers access to the trial.
As early as August 2010, seven leaders of the Bahá’í were sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment for alleged espionage and collaboration with Israel. Despite intensive efforts, the requests of EU embassies in Tehran to observe the trials were refused.