canada: parliamentary debate on iran

On Monday night, the Canadian House of Commons hosted a debate on the state of human rights of Iran, mentioning the persecuted Baha’i community many times. Of particular note is the testimony of David Sweet (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale), who read the personal stories of each of the seven jailed Baha’i leaders (“Yaran”)—who are entering their fifth year of unjust imprisonment—for the parliamentary record. Here are a few more choice quotes:

For years, this peaceful community has been targeted by the Iranian authorities and subjected to discrimination and detention. Baha’i leaders have been arrested and imprisoned for practising their faith. Iranian officials have also made statements to try to link the Baha’i to the political unrest in that country. These are trumped-up accusations and a cause of concern for the safety and well-being of those unjustly detained in Iran. In fact, today, on the fourth anniversary of the arbitrary arrests and detention of several Iranian Baha’i community leaders, we are particularly reminded of the ongoing, persistent and pervasive prosecution of religious minorities. (Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs)

The plight of the Baha’i in Iran offers a looking glass into the plight of human rights in Iran in general, and the criminalization of innocence, as finds expression in the criminalization and targeting of Iran’s largest religious minority in particular. (Irwin Cotler, Mount Royal)

Bahá’ís are routinely executed. Others are arrested arbitrarily with no clear reason for it. Worst of all, this is done with the full support of the country’s judicial, administrative and law enforcement systems. The mullahs of Iran have long regarded the Bahá’í faith almost as an enemy of Islam. According to a report from Amnesty International, at the end of January 2012, over 80 Bahá’ís were held because of their beliefs. (Wayne Marston, Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)

From my familiarity with Baha’i people in my riding, these people promote peace wherever they are. It is just absolutely incomprehensible that any regime would target them as enemies. (John Weston, West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)

You can take a moment to read through the debate on your own, or browse through highlights mentioning the Baha’is (PDF).

Update: The Baha’i World News Service and the Canadian Baha’i News Service are also carrying this story.

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