May 16, 2008
The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement on the arrests of six Iranian Baha'is on the morning of May 14, 2008:
"Canada is deeply concerned by the arbitrary arrest of six Iranian Baha'is. These individuals were detained solely on the basis of their faith. This is unacceptable. We call on the Iranian authorities to ensure the immediate and safe release of these prisoners.
"Canada and the international community remain alarmed by the ongoing decline in the state of human rights in Iran. Despite being a party to several human rights conventions, Iran's disregard for the rights of its people continues. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, protects the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It also states that no one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention. We urge Iran to live up to its commitments and obligations under domestic and international law, and to begin adopting meaningful change in its human rights practices."
Iran has a history of abuse against religious minorities. The individuals arrested are all members of Friends of Iran, a group responsible for coordinating the activities of the Baha'i community. For years, this community has been targeted by the Iranian regime and subjected to persecution, discrimination and detention, despite its peaceful nature. This long record of abuse has led Canada to introduce a successful human rights resolution condemning Iran's human rights record for five consecutive years in the United Nations General Assembly.
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