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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 8075

Ms PARKE (6:47 PM) —Tomorrow, 18 August, is reportedly set as the trial date for seven people of the Baha’i faith who are currently imprisoned in Iran. They have been imprisoned for more than a year with no access to lawyers and very limited contact with their families. The writ indicating the date for this trial was sent to one of the Baha’is’s lawyers Abdolfattah Soltani from the Centre for Human Rights Defenders in Tehran, who is himself currently unjustly detained in Evin prison. The other lawyer for the Baha’is, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, is currently out of the country and has been subject to numerous threats as a result of her human rights activities.

These seven Baha’is have been accused of the capital offences of spying for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran. As far as I am aware, there is no evidence to suggest that the allegations are true, and there has been no due process. As it stands, these gentle people may be facing the death penalty for nothing more than being leaders of a minority religion. The Australian government has repeatedly expressed its deep concern to the Iranian authorities about the seven Baha’i detainees.

The Baha’i faith was founded more than 150 years ago in Iran. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, the Baha’i community has been systematically harassed and persecuted. Many Baha’is are now living in other parts of the world, including Australia, and I have been fortunate to know some of them. The strong Baha’i community in my electorate of Fremantle has kept me informed of events. I join them in calling for the immediate release of their fellow Baha’is in Iran and in hoping for a more peaceful coexistence for the estimated 300,000 people of the Baha’i faith currently living in Iran. (Time expired)