Dearly loved Friends,
In a ground breaking development, fifty leading representatives of almost every faith community in the United Kingdom have signed an open letter, addressed to the Rt Hon William Hague MP, the Foreign Secretary, requesting him to call for the release of the seven former members of the Yaran (“the Friends in Iran”) and for the freedom of all the followers of Bahá’u’lláh in the Cradle of the Faith. The letter was received on 14th May - the fifth anniversary of the incarceration of the former members of the Yaran - at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on the Foreign Secretary’s behalf by Alistair Burt MP, Minister for the Middle East and North Africa.
In a statement issued after the presentation of the letter by a delegation of faith leaders and parliamentarians, Mr Burt said: “I am happy to accept this open letter calling for the release of seven Bahá’í leaders currently in prison in Iran. It is a fine example of interfaith co-operation from across the many faith groups in the UK. The letter coincides with the fifth anniversary of the incarceration of the seven Bahá’í leaders on baseless charges. The continued persecution of the Bahá’í is but one example of the intolerance that many religious minorities face in Iran. I urge Iran to release the seven Bahá’í leaders and to take immediate steps to stop the systematic persecution of the Bahá’í community. Iran should stop the repression of any group on the grounds of their religion or belief, should respect the human rights of all its citizens, and engage seriously with the international community on improving its human rights record.”
Among the signatories of the open letter, a copy of which is attached, areThe Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, The Right Revd and Rt Honourable Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Revd Bernard Longley, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, The Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, Mr Vivian Wineman, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, former General Secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, Maulana Shahid Raza, Chairman of Imams and Mosques Council, The Right Revd Albert Bogle, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, The Most Revd David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Venerable K Sri Rewatha Thero, Chief Monk for Great Britain (Theravada Buddhist), His Grace Bishop Angaelos, the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre, Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Network of Sikh Organisations, Dr Natubhai Shah, Founder Chair of the Jain Network, andMr Swaminathan Vaidyanathan, Acting Secretary-General of the Hindu Forum of Britain.
It is the hope and prayer of the National Spiritual Assembly that this gesture of unprecedented solidarity and support from distinguished people of faith in the United Kingdom will serve to reinforce the calls from growing numbers of governments, parliamentarians, civil society groups and individuals throughout the world for the emancipation of the sorely-tried believers in Iran who continue to inspire and astonish countless millions as a result of the exemplary courage, fidelity and fortitude they have demonstrated in the face of the bitterest of persecution.
Dear Foreign Secretary
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