Shabtabnews – In a open letter various human right organisations, religious groups, and civil liberties groups asked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “Call on the Iranian government to release all religious prisoners of conscience and to reach out to U.S. allies to express their concern making it clear that detaining such innocent individuals during a pandemic demonstrates a particularly reckless disregard for human rights and human life for which Iran’s government should be held accountable.”
In the letter the attention of Mr Pompeo is drawn to the fact the Iranian government reportedly released on furlough tens of thousands of prisoners. Yet, despite this, reports indicate that it did not release a single Gonabadi Sufi. Moreover, only small portion of other religious minorities that are imprisoned have been furloughed. In fact only seven out of twenty-three Christian prisoners were released in March. Also some 40 Sunni religious prisoners of conscience are in Iranian prisons. None are reported to have been furloughed due to COVID-19.
The letter also highlights that ” Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Iranian authorities have stepped up their prosecutions and sentencings of religious minorities. For instance, the authorities have targeted at least 60 Bahá’ís in recent weeks. Specifically, 55 Bahá’í have been summoned to court in Shiraz, Birjand, Karaj, and Kermanshah. (Of this number, 26 have been tried and sentenced.) Three have been arrested in Yazd and two were arrested in Isfahan and released shortly thereafter. Some 56 Gonabadi Sufis have been sent into internal exile over the last several weeks as part of their sentences.”
The full letter can be read via below link:
Audio link to BBC Persian story on the letter
BBC Persian article about the letter: here
Iran International published article about the letter: here.