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Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights’

Today, on the 9th of July, 2009, the Times of London has printed an article by Cherie Blair, wife of ex British Prime Minister Tony Blair, herself one of the U.K’s top lawyers.

In the article, she outlines the case of the leaders of the Bahá’í Faith in Iran, who are due to stand trial on charges of ‘espionage’ amongst others, where the penalty of death is a likely punishment.

Cherie Blair draws our attention to the fact that Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has been trying to defend them (whilst receiving death threats) and that we mustn’t lose sight of human rights violations against the largest religious minority in Iran, the Baha’is, who number around 300,000 and stand on the brink of possible religious genocide…

The article is here.

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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.

David Baddiel

Bill Bailey

Morwenna Banks

Sanjeev Bhasker

Jo Brand

Russell Brand

Rob Brydon

Jimmy Carr

Jack Dee

Omid Djalili

Sean Lock

Lee Mack

Alexei Sayle

Meera Syal

Mark Thomas

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).

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I would like to take some time out to talk about human rights day, which is ………today.

Unlike many other secular celebrations, this one is of great significance to every man, woman and child on this planet.

In short, if you’re human, then this is a celebration for you.

To explain with relative brevity, here is an explanation from the mouth of the wikipedia dragon:

The date (1oth December) was chosen to honour the United Nations General Assembly‘s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights. The commemoration was established in 1950, when the General Assembly invited all states and interested organizations to celebrate the day as they saw fit.

This year is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

udhrpage

With so many human rights abuses still continuing in our world, I would be foolish to not  mention one that may go unnoticed.

That is the denial of the right to education of the Baha’is of Iran.

The number of Baha’is in Iran number around 300,000 people making them the largest religious minority in Iran by a large margin.

I myself have had family members who were denied the right to education in Iran, and had I stayed there, I too would have been subjected to the same injustices.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘everyone has the right to education,’ in addition to the having the freedom to practice a religion of one’s choosing.

Whilst both of these are being flagrantly disregarded in Iran, it has not gone unnoticed by the west, and in yesterday’s London Times Newspaper, an open letter for Human Rights Day was published about the access to education in Iran signed by 17 prominent academics, lawyers, church leaders, journalists and other activists.

It can be read here

It is really impressive that prominent academics, lawyers, church leaders, journalists all have united on this issue.

Lets not let Human Rights abuses continue to go unnoticed.

Education is the right of all.

I’ll leave you with two quotes on education from the founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah:

Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.
— Bahá’u’lláh

Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being, and are conducive to its exaltation. Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone.
— Bahá’u’lláh

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