UN Human Rights Council – 36th Session


UN Human Rights Council – 36th Session

UN Human Rights Council – 36th Session, September 2017

Agenda Item 4

Geneva—19 September 2017

Mr. President,

Yesterday, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet was released after having completed her sentence of 10 years of imprisonment. She was one of the “Yaran” – a group of seven members that managed the spiritual and administrative affairs of the Baha’i community in Iran. She was freed earlier than the others because she had been taken in before them. While the Baha’i International Community is certainly pleased to see Mrs. Sabet be reunited with her family and friends, unfortunately, there is nothing to rejoice about because she is still not fully free.

When Mahvash Sabet entered the notorious Evin prison in 2008, the Baha’is in Iran lived in a society where their youth were deprived of access to higher education and public jobs, small Baha’i-owned shops were attacked, their cemeteries were desecrated, they were vilified in state sponsored media on a daily basis, and they were arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned solely for their beliefs. Today, 10 years later, despite the rhetorical claims made by President Rouhani that all Iranians are granted equal rights as citizens, Baha’is face exactly the same forms of discrimination as they did back then, in education, in employment, in the courts, and in every other interaction in their daily lives.

In one of her prison poems, Mrs. Sabet wrote:

“The day when no one is punished for the sake of her beliefs

Or subjected to another’s will

The day when mothers won’t be thrown into prison

Or abandon their children in ways so cruel

The day when persecution and detention cease

And this oppressive siege comes to an end:

That day you will be decked in honour and pride

For you too will have played your part in this crusade.”

Mr. President, it is high time that the international community plays its part in calling upon the Iranian government to once and for all cease its relentless persecution of a segment of its own population.