Written Answers. - Human Rights Abuses.

Jim O'Keeffe


187 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has raised directly with the Government of Iran or at the United Nations the persistent violations of the human rights of the Baha'i community in Iran; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8156/01]

The Government, both in its bilateral contacts and through dialogue between Iran and the EU, seeks actively to promote progress in respect for human rights in Iran. This includes the treatment of the Baha'i and other minorities.

Last year Ireland and our EU partners successfully tabled resolutions at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the UN General Assembly on the human rights situation in Iran. These resolutions both contained specific mention of the violation of the human rights of the Baha'is.

The EU is preparing a resolution for the forthcoming session of the Commission of Human Rights in Geneva. As on previous occasions, it is expected that this would,inter alia, ask the commission to express its concern at the continuing discrimination experienced by members of the Baha'i community and to call on the Iranian authorities to eliminate all forms of discrimination based on religious grounds or against persons belonging to minorities and to address the matter in an open manner and in dialogue with the minorities concerned.

The Government welcomes the recent statements of the Government of President Khatami that no one in Iran should be persecuted because of their religious beliefs and that the civil rights of all Iranians should be respected regardless of their religion. We also note the recent positive developments in a number of cases concerning individuals of the Baha'i faith who were imprisoned or facing trial. The Government will continue to monitor the situation.