Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spoken out about the reprehensible religious persecution that takes place in Iran:
"In Iran, authorities continue to repress Sufi Muslims, evangelical Christians, Jews, Baha'is, Sunnis, Ahmadis and others who do not share the government's religious views."
The regime’s oppression of some of these minority religious groups –- like the Baha’is who have been cruelly repressed for decades, and of Christians -– like Pastor Yucef Nadarkhani, who currently awaits word in prison as to whether or not he will be executed for apostasy -- has received well-deserved international attention and condemnation.
But as the U.S. State Department’s report on the condition of religious freedom in Iran notes, Shi’a Muslims who do not share the regime-sanctioned religious views, including the necessity for rule by the clerical jurist, or Velayet-e-Faqih, are also subjected to intimidation, harassment and imprisonment.
The most prominent Shi’a victim of such repression is Ayatollah Kazemeini Boroujerdi, a 53-year old Shi’a cleric renowned for his outspoken support for the separation of religion from politics and for his advocacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2006, he was brutally arrested along with dozens of supporters and members of his family by the Iranian regime’s feared Law Enforcement Forces, the LEF. Taken to Evin prison, he was tried in a special court whose procedures fell far short of international standards, and eventually sentenced to 11 years for crimes against national security.
Human Rights Watch and other rights monitors say that Ayatollah Boroujerdi’s health has badly deteriorated, and he has been denied adequate medical care in prison. He is also reportedly held in detention with violent cell mates.
Human Rights Watch notes that a group of human rights activists signed and released a letter in October saying that Ayatollah Boroujerdi “has been subjected to the most inhuman forms of physical and psychological torture to force him into signing a statement renouncing his beliefs.”
The Iranian regime claims its legitimacy comes from God. Its treatment of Iran’s citizens and violation of their fundamental right to religious freedom belie that claim, as well as lay bare the regime’s disregard for international and Iranian law. The Iranian government should release Ayatollah Boroujerdi and all Iranians who languish in prison because they courageously follow the dictates of their consciences.