The persecution of the Baha’is in Iran has reached crisis point with the unfair trial of seven of its members, on ‘espionage charges for Israel,’ which carries the death penalty.
The Baha’is are being defended by Iran’s only Nobel Prize winner (for peace), Human Rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi.
However, Shirin has been threatened and had her office shut down for defending the Baha’is.
An interview with Shirin, regarding her defence of the Baha’is, can be seen on U.K.s Channel 4 News here (at 18:41 into video)
Shirin has been denied access to them and their files.
This persecution has also been condemned up by the European Union. Their statement can be seen here.
However, interestingly enough, members of the entertainment industry have joined in the plight of the Baha’is being held in Iran on these unfair charges.
In today’s Times Newspaper, what could be called an ‘A-List’ of British Comedians have joined forces to sign a statement condemning this persecution. The statement is here and quoted below
Voices from the arts call for the imprisoned Baha’i leaders in Iran to receive a fair trial
Sir, We are deeply concerned at the continuing imprisonment for more than eight months of seven leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran. No formal evidence has been brought against them.
They have not been given access to their legal counsel, the Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi. She has had no access to their files and has suffered threats and intimidation since taking on their case.
Spurious charges now look likely to be filed against these Baha’is in the Revolutionary Court. “Espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic republic” are their alleged crimes.
In reality, their only “crime”, which the current regime finds intolerable, is that they hold a religious belief that is different from the majority.
As artists who strive to uplift the human spirit and enrich society through our work, we register our solidarity with all those in Iran who are being persecuted for promoting the best development of society — be it through the arts and media, the promotion of education, social and economic development, or adherence to moral principles.
Further, we join with the governments, human rights organisations and people of goodwill throughout the world who have so far raised their voices calling for a fair trial, if not the complete release of the Baha’i leaders in Iran.
Only last week actor, Rainn Wilson, who recently played the lead role in the film ‘The Rocker’ and plays ‘Dwight,’ in the American version of the Office (Mackenzie Crook’s role in the U.K. version) voiced his concern to CNN as can be seen here
Additionally, Robert Wood representing the U.S. State Department, Bill Rammell representing the British Foreign Office and Amnesty International have all made statements showing concern about the wrongful persecution of the Baha’is in Iran, especially with regard to this trial.
So in a spirit of unity, media and politics mix, to stand ground against oppression and persecution by governments who take away basic human rights, like freedom of religion.
I applaud those defenders of human rights and these comedians for taking a stand for something precious to us all.
That is the right to follow which ever Faith we choose (or choose not to).
Ironically, something Iran voted in favour of; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (specifically Article 18).