The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster and the Chief Rabbi are amongst the British religious leaders who have called for the release of the seven Baha’i leaders currently serving harsh prison sentences in Iran.
In a newly issued statement, the faith leaders - Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Muslim - say they view the imprisonment of Iran’s Baha’i leaders as a gross violation of the fundamental human right to freedom of religion.
They urge national governments, including the UK government, to call on the Iranian authorities to review the decision to imprison the Baha’i leaders and to cease harassing the Baha’i community.
“We are deeply touched by the sympathy and solidarity expressed by the UK’s significant religious leaders for our beleaguered brethren in Iran,” said Dr Kishan Manocha, the UK Baha’i community’s Secretary of External Affairs.
He continued: “Baha’is across the UK, especially those with family members in Iran, will be encouraged and empowered by this statement.”
The full statement reads as follows:
“We have been informed that following two years of arrest during which the international community has pressed the Iranian authorities to follow humanitarian and legal norms, seven leaders of the Bahá’í community in Iran have each been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for reasons which, in the view of all independent observers, are solely based on their faith. These sentences form part of a wider picture over many years of severe harassment of the Bahá’í community.
“We view this act as a gross violation of the fundamental human right to freedom of religion and call on the Iranian government to fulfil their obligations under article 18 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to review the case and to ensure that the treatment of these 'prisoners' accords with justice and due process as defined in the Iranian constitution and law.
“We call upon all governments and people of good will to call upon the the Iranian authorities to review this decision and to cease harassment of the Bahá’í community.
“We extend our sympathies to the Bahá’í community at this difficult time and hope that the widespread and growing international concern over this matter will cause the Iranian authorities to correct this flagrant injustice.”
The statement is signed by The Most Rev Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury; Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Jay Lakhani, Hindu Academy; Arjan Vekaria JP, President, Hindu Forum of Britain; Dr Indarjit Singh, Network of Sikh Organisations; Dr Natubhai Shah, Network of Jain Organisations, Council of Dharmic Faiths; and Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Chair of Religions for Peace UK.