The government of Iran’s mistreatment of its own people is an area of deep concern for the international community. Recent cases show that this concern is well justified, as Iran continues to blatantly disregard the universal human rights it has promised to protect.
Human rights monitors are reporting that the Iranian regime may have issued an execution order for jailed Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Nadarkhani has been in prison for two years on charges ranging from apostasy to various supposed security crimes. Despite a sentence of death, he has, according to reports, repeatedly refused to recant his Christian faith in return for release from prison. Due to the signing of the execution order, there are renewed fears that his execution may be imminent.
The month of February also saw increased persecution of members of the Baha’i community. The Human Rights Activists News Agency reports that on February 17, security forces arrested eight Baha’i youth at a craft fair in Mashad. On February 3, the Baha’i World News Service reports, eleven Baha’is in Shiraz were arrested. We have also seen reports that Iranian Christians and Sunni communities have faced increased harassment and arrest.
Meanwhile, international concern is growing over the fate of Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian resident and web designer who was arrested on a trip to Iran in 2008 to visit his father. He was sentenced to death after a summary trial for “insulting Islam,” after a program he had designed was used without his knowledge to upload explicit photos to the internet. His death sentence was confirmed last year. Now there are several reports that the Iranian regime may be moving to carry out his execution.
The United States and countries around the world have repeatedly condemned the Iranian regime for its wanton disregard of the fundamental rights of its citizens, rights enshrined in Iran’s own constitution and in multiple international human rights instruments Iran has ratified. We continue to do so, and affirm that the plight of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, Saeed Malekpour, and the beleaguered Baha’i community -- as well as the countless other prisoners of conscience who are held without due process and suffer persecution at the hands of their government -- will not be ignored.