Netherlands concerned about fate of Iranian Baha’i leaders

The Netherlands is very concerned about the fate of seven leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran. They are accused of being ‘enemies of God’ and, according to recent reports, have been sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.

The concerns relate to the lack of due process in the case, and fears that the leaders’ arrest and conviction stems from discrimination on the grounds of religious belief.

The Baha’i are a religious minority in Iran and have been persecuted for their beliefs since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. This persecution has intensified in recent years.

‘It it is shocking that these people have been convicted for their beliefs, as would appear to be the case,’ said foreign minister Maxime Verhagen. ‘I call on the Iranian authorities to respect their international commitments on human rights. The Baha’i leaders have the right to a fair trial and should be released as soon as possible.’

The seven leaders – Behrouz Tavakkoli, Saeid Rezaie, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi and Mahvash Sabet – have been imprisoned since May 2008. They are officially charged with spying and with activities endangering national security.