Tuesday, June 03, 2008

HRW & FIDH: Open Letter to President Ahmadinejad on Baha'i Detainees

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Federation for Human Rights [Fédération internationale des droits de l'homme] (FIDH) have just issued a joint open letter to President Ahmadinejad regarding the detained leaders of the Baha'i Community of Iran.

The letter, linked here (Persian copy here), states the following:

Open letter to President Ahmadinejad on Situation of Baha'i Detainees

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Paris, June 1st, 2008


We are writing to you to express our utmost concern regarding the fate of seven members of the Baha’i community who are currently in prison.

Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm were arrested in Tehran on 14 May 2008, by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence. They are members of the national coordinating group of Baha'i in Iran, an informal body that was formed with the knowledge of the government to assist the 300,000-member Baha'I community in the country. Another member of the same Committee, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, has been arrested in Mashhad in March 2008 and is reportedly still detained.

We urge the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran to communicate the place of detention of those seven persons, the exact charges brought against them and the date of their trial. We also urge you to allow independent international observers to observe their trial. The right to a fair trial, including public hearings, the prohibition of discrimination based on religious beliefs and the right to freedom of religion are all enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), that has been ratified by Iran.

We express the hope that you will take those elements into consideration and are looking forward to your prompt reply.

Yours sincerely,


Ms. Souhayr Belhassen
President of FIDH


Mr. Joe Stork
Deputy Director
Middle East and North Africa Division
Human Rights Watch


  1. There is a major difference between the arrests and persecutions of the Baha'is in the 1980’s and the recent ones: now the world is watching. It is much easier to commit cowardly acts when one is hidden behind a wall of silence and the news are known too late. Let’s hope that bringing this outrage under the world scrutiny will give pause to those perpetrating it. It is harder to maintain and defend one’s position when the majority of the world proves you wrong. Religion set aside there is a feeling among people that some acts defy simple decency and in spite of the fact that gross injustice still prevails in many countries, their circle is narrowing mainly because the world is watching.

  2. You are very correct. Did you also see that prominent Iranian/Canadian (not-Baha'is) professors/scientists have issued today a strong statement and request to the UN Secretary-General? You can see it at this link.


Your opinion is valuable. Please share your thoughts.