Human Rights

Four UN human rights experts call for immediate release of the seven

GENEVA—Four high-level United Nations human rights experts issued a joint statement in May calling on Iran to immediately release the seven imprisoned Bahá’í leaders.

In a press release dated 13 May 2013, the four experts emphasized that the seven are held solely because of their religious beliefs, that their continued imprisonment is unjust and wrongful, and that Iran’s treatment of religious minorities violates international law.

“The Iranian government should demonstrate its commitment to freedom of religion by immediately and unconditionally releasing these prisoners of conscience,” said Ahmed Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. “These cases are apparently characterized by failures to safeguard fair trial standards and jeopardize overall religious freedom in Iran.”

Joining Dr. Shaheed, with each contributing a short statement, were El Hadji Malick Sow, head of the UN’s Working Group on arbitrary detention; Rita Izsák, the UN Independent Expert on minority issues; and Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

“These seven Bahá’ís are imprisoned solely for managing the religious and administrative affairs of their community,” said Mr. Malick Sow. “These persons were condemned after trials which did not meet the guarantees for a fair trial established by international law.”

Ms. Izsák noted that Bahá’ís are Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority. “Their existence and religious identity must be protected under the UN Declaration on Minorities,” she said. “Otherwise, their right to profess and practice their own religion freely and without interference or any form of discrimination may be violated.”

Dr. Bielefeldt said “Iran must ensure that Bahá’ís and other unrecognized minority faiths can practice their beliefs without hindrance and fear.”