Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Prominent Iranian Professors Demand Release of Baha'i Prisoners

Baha'i leaders detained in Iran since 14 May 2008

Canadian Baha'i News Service reported yesterday an important development in the matter of the detained Baha'i leaders in Iran.

Prominent Iranian academics from leading universities in Canada have expressed their outrage at the deteriorating human rights conditions in Iran, issuing specific demands to the UN Secretary-General, the Honourable Ban Ki-moon, for the release of the Baha'i leaders. These professors are not members of the Baha'i Faith.

The article reports the following:
Toronto, Ontario, 3 June 2008 (CBNS) — Five Toronto-based Iranian leaders of thought have asked the UN Secretary General to press the Iranian authorities to release the Baha'is arrested three weeks ago. Though not themselves members of the Baha'i community, in a strongly worded letter (below), they have expressed their concern at the arrests along with other human rights violations in Iran.

The five are Professors Amir Hassanpour, a prominent Iranian Kurdish scholar and researcher teaching at the University of Toronto; Haideh Moghissi, founder of the Iranian National Union of Women before leaving Iran in 1984, prominent sociologist at York University and author of the three volumes “Women and Islam”, “Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism” and “Populism and Feminism in Iran”, published by Routledge, Oxford University Press and Macmillan Press; Shahrzad Mojab, author and Director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto; Saeed Rahnema, frequent commentator in the media, professor of political science at York University and former director of the York School of Public Policy and Administration; and Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, author of “Refashioning Iran: Orientalism, Occidentialism and Nationalist Historiography”, among other books and articles, and Professor of History and Middle East Studies at the University of Toronto.

Their letter reads as follows:

Monday, June 02, 2008

To the Honourable Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations

Your Excellency:

As Iranian-Canadian academics we are writing to express our concern at the arrest two weeks ago of leaders of the Iranian Baha’i community. While we are not, ourselves, members of that particular faith community, as Iranians we feel it unacceptable that the regime in Iran has neither communicated the whereabouts of those arrested nor disclosed the formal charges under which they are being held.

This latest affront to universally accepted human rights joins a growing list of violations the Iranian government has committed against a wide range of those who wish merely to have the opportunity to contribute to the well-being of Iran: journalists, student leaders, those working to advance the rights of women, labour leaders, and other members of what should be a vibrant Iranian civil society.

In this latest incident, we understand that on Wednesday 14 May 2008 officers of the Iranian Ministry of the Interior raided the homes of six of the seven members of the group that coordinates the affairs of the Baha'i community. This group has functioned with the knowledge of the Iranian government since the outlawing of the formal Baha’i administration in 1983. The seventh member had been arrested in early March.

We feel that the international community, especially through the offices of the United Nations should do all it can to press Iranian Government authorities to establish human rights protections for the security and the freedom of all the Iranian people.

We ask that your Office take immediate action to demand the release of the Baha’i leaders, and that steps be taken, perhaps with the assistance of appropriate United Nations agencies provided to the Iranian authorities, to safeguard the human rights of other groups currently under attack in Iran in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a signatory.

Yours sincerely,

Professors Amir Hassanpour, University of Toronto
Professor Haideh Moghissi , York University
Professor Shahrzad Mojab, University of Toronto
Professor Saeed Rahnema, York University
Professor Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, University of Toronto

-The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Canada
-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran c/o Embassy of the Islamic Rep. of Iran
-Iran’s Representative to the UN, Ambassador H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
-Geneva Permanent Mission, Islamic Rep. of Iran, Amb. H.E. Mr. Ali Reza Moaiveri
-Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mme Louise Arbour
-United Nations Human Rights Council


  1. Following my previous comment on your last post, I would like to add that another interesting development is taking place: the people are now demanding that the U.N. fulfills its mandate of getting involved in redressing torts. Until now, because it could also hide behind a cloudy veil of complacency, it has not been taken to task by the people it represents. As I mentioned before, committing despicable acts is best done in the dark, and so is, looking the other way. Hopefully, this is also changing. As the world watches more closely, words are not enough anymore, swift accountability will be demanded and we will all be better off for it.

  2. Information sharing is now instantaneous...not like in the early 1980s!


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