A “Travesty of Justice”

May 24, 2013

As part of the Five Years Too Many campaign, the Baha’i community of Ghana sponsored a symposium titled “Travesty of Justice – Incarceration of Baha’is of Iran.”

Held at the International Press Center in Accra on 15 May, the program featured a speech by Ken Attafuah, a professor at the Central University College. He spoke about basic principles and human rights – and also addressed the situation of the seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders.

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In Ghana, Professor Ken Attafuah, left, Dr. Akwasi Osei, center, and Dr. Leslie Casely-Hayford were among the speakers at an event titled “A Travesty of Justice –Incarceration of Baha’is of Iran.”

“Improving religious tolerance is a collective obligation and, indeed, doing so involves expanding the scale of respect for fundamental human rights,” said Prof. Attafuah, who is also the Director of the William Ofori Atta Institute of Integrity in Accra.

“Being able to allow or accept diversity in society as a cardinal obligation of everything you want,” he said. “These are the key concerns in order to avert the kind of situation we find proliferating in northern Nigeria and, of course, in Iran where seven members of the Baha’i community have been incarcerated for the past five years.”

He noted also that the issues surrounding religious discrimination are distinctive because “no-one is born a Catholic or a Baha’i or a Presbyterian.”

“It becomes unjustified to be asked to deny those articles of faith in order that you, for example, will be allowed to hold a certain job…,” he said.

Dr. Akwasi Osei, Ghana’s Chief Psychiatrist and a member of the Office of External Affairs of the Baha’i community of Ghana, chaired the program. Leslie Casely-Hayford, a senior consultant for the research and consulting firm Associates for Change, spoke about the current situation of the Baha’is in Iran, giving a historical perspective and discussing the international response to the issue of the unjust incarceration.

“What the Baha’is want, worldwide, is no special privilege,” said Dr. Casely-Hayford. “They seek only their rights under universal declaration on human rights – the right to life, the right to liberty, security, and the right to education, work and professing and practicing their religion. Under the terms of the universal declaration on human rights the Baha’i community asks today for nothing less than the immediate release of these seven Baha’i leaders along with the hundreds of other prisoners of conscience in Iran.”

An FM station in Accra, Radio XYZ, covered the event, as did Radio France International.

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