Prompted by the forthcoming seventh anniversary of the detention of the seven leading members of the Bahá’i faith in Iran, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, Christoph Strässer, on 13 May issued the following statement:
The entire leadership of the Iranian Bahá’i community has been in prison for seven years now. The seven detainees were each sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment in a trial that lacked any transparency and disregarded fundamental rule-of-law principles. To this day, no written judgement has been presented.
I call upon the Iranian judiciary to quash these sentences immediately and to release the seven Bahá’is without delay, along with all other prisoners held on account of their religious beliefs.
In continuing to persecute the Bahá’i and other religious minorities, Iran is violating the fundamental right to freedom of religion. I call upon Iran to uphold its obligations under international law and to respect the human rights of all its citizens, irrespective of their religion.
The head of the seven-member national ad-hoc committee that saw to the needs of the Iranian Bahá’i community was arrested on 5 March 2008. The remaining six members were arrested on 14 May 2008. They were held without charge for over two years in Tehran’s Evin Prison before being sentenced on 8 August 2010 to 20 years’ imprisonment each. Following strong international protest, the sentences were reduced to 10 years in an appeal hearing on 20 October 2010. However, the prisoners were informed orally on 16 March 2011 that the sentences had again been increased to 20 years.
According to the latest report from Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, more than 100 Bahá’is are currently being held in prisons across the country.