Monday, 25 October 2010
Statements by Members
Electorate of Fremantle: Baha’i Community
I wish to speak today about an issue that is of immense concern to the Baha’i community in Australia and in my own electorate of Fremantle—that is, the ongoing plight of the seven Baha’i community leaders who have been imprisoned in Iran since early 2008. These Baha’i leaders were held in temporary detention without charge for 20 months until their trial began on 12 January 2010 on charges, including espionage and propaganda activities, against the Islamic order. The charges were categorically denied. However, in August this year, all seven were sentenced to 20 years in prison, which sentence was subsequently reduced to 10 years, in September, without explanation.
Baha’is living in Iran have experienced a pattern of systematic, government sponsored persecution since 1979, including discrimination, extreme acts of violence and sometimes death. Baha’is have been persecuted simply for the faith they follow, notwithstanding that freedom of religion is part of the Iranian constitution. The former member for Denison, the Hon. Duncan Kerr, and I raised this and other human rights issues with the Iranian Ambassador to Australia. Iran can be assured that the international community is watching intently the cases involving the seven Baha’i leaders and that of Sakineh Ashtiani, who is still facing the death penalty. I will continue to pursue these matters closely on behalf of my many Baha’i constituents living in East Fremantle, Fremantle, Cockburn and Melville and on behalf of people everywhere who believe in justice and human rights.