The Center for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran, headed by lawyer and Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi, has issued its quarterly report on human rights for the period ending in September 2008.
The Center reports that in Iran "the realm of private freedoms is becoming more limited day-by-day, and possible and desirable venues for political and social activities are becoming more restricted."
The report cited government harassment, including arrest and jail sentences for university students, journalists, teachers, and political and social activists. It also warned of a worsening situation for religious minorities in Iran.
The Center for the Defense of Human Rights reported an increase in human rights abuses involving the Sunni inhabitants of Sistan va Baluchistan province, the arrest of Friday prayer leaders of Sunni mosques, and the demolition of religious schools and centers. It also spoke of the continuing harsh repression of members of Iran's Baha'i community.
Recently Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that all ethnic and religious minorities coexist peacefully in Iran. The Center for the Defense of Human Rights report belies that assertion.
President George Bush says that a key to safeguarding freedom –- including religious freedom -- "is to aid the rise of democracy":
"One of the defining features of any democracy is that it makes room for people of all backgrounds and all faiths. Democracies allow people with diverse views to discuss their differences and live in harmony."
Mr. Bush says that the U.S. has a message for those in Iran and elsewhere who suffer because of their beliefs: “You are not alone ... We work for the day when we can welcome you into the family of free nations. We pray that you and your children may one day know freedom in all things."