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Guilty, So Are We

Guilty, So Are We

Berlin - September, 12, 2010 - Four hundred human rights advocates and members of the Baha'i-community gathered in Berlin in order to speak up against the conviction of the seven Iranian Baha'i leaders. If they are guilty, so are we!

At the beginning of August, the two women and five men were sentenced to 20 years in prison after they had been in pre-trial detention for more than two years. This has recently evoked international protests and the attorney of the Baha'is, peace nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi said that these seven Baha'is are innocent and were convicted solely due to their membership in the Baha'í-religion.

In front of the Brandenburg Gate, Markus Löning, Human Rights Commissioner of the Federal Government of Germany said that the continuous flouting of human rights in Iran cannot be tolerated. Furthermore he emphasized “We will continue to do our job until human rights are upheld for the people in Iran“. Claudia Roth, chairwoman of the party Bündnis 90/Die Grünen called the arrest and conviction of the seven Baha'i, who constituted the national coordinating committee of the Iranian Baha'i-community, “an act of sheer arbitrariness and nothing else”. Freedom of faith and religion are not acts of “mercy of those in power“ or „governmental clemency“, said Roth, but a “cornerstone of the human rights conventions of the present”.

Mehran Barati, an Iranian politician living in Berlin in exile, thanked the prisoners for not denying their ideals and faith. They supported the interests of all Iranians, religious or not, and thus accepted the risk of persecution. They were convicted because they wanted to exercise their human right of freedom of religion. “Therefore they are confined in Iranian dungeons for defending the civil- and human rights of each and every Iranian”, Barati said.

Kamal Sido, Society for Threatened Peoples, recalled article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Frauke Seidensticker, German Institute for Human Rights, stressed the obligation of the Iranian government, based on this article, to grant religious freedom to the Baha'i.

The event was organised by Human Rights Network United4Iran. One-meter-sized letters were held in front of the cameras spelling words of solidarity and compassion in order to spread them in Iran with the help of digital media.

With more than 300,000 adherents, the Baha'iare the largest religious minority in Iran. As members of a post-Islamic religion they are not protected by the Iranian law but outlawed. They are more than five million Baha'i worldwide.

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