Washington calls on Iran to respect religious freedom

Washington condemns Iran's abuses of religious minorities, including Yarsan and Sunni Kurds, Baha'is, Christians and Jews.

WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) – Washington condemns Iran's abuses of religious minorities, including Yarsan and Sunni Kurds, Baha'is, Christians and Jews.

In its Wednesday International Religious Freedom Report for 2015, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, HumanRights and Labour reported that Non-Muslims and non-Shia continue to face societal discrimination, especially the Bahai community.

The report also referred to the recent execution of Kurds, "The government executed at least 20 individuals on charges of moharebeh (enmity against God), among them a number of Sunni Kurds."

"In June the government executed a Sunni Kurd, Mansour Arvand, in West Azerbaijan Province on charges including moharebeh," the statement added.

Washington reported that on March 4, the government executed six Kurdish Sunni prisoners – Hamed Ahmadi, Jamshed Dehghani, Jehangir Dehghani, Kamal Molayee, Seddigh Mohammadi and Syed Hadi Hosseini – in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj, near Tehran, on charges of moharebeh.

Between August 3 and 9, 2016, Iran has executed 48 Kurds but has admitted to only 20 cases.

The report highlighted that some of the trials "lacked basic safeguards, such as the right to testify in their own defense, and the authorities denied some of the accused access to a lawyer of their own choosing before and during their trials."

The other Kurdish religious minority which is persecuted in Iran is Yarsan, or Ahl–e-Haq, meaning “People of Truth.” They mostly reside in the Kurdish-dominated province of Kermanshah in the northwest of Iran. The faith also has followers in Iraq and Turkey.

Although the Yarsan number about one million in Iran, they are considered Fergh-e-Zaleh, a “false cult,” by the Shia-dominated Islamic Republic of Iran.

Ardeshir Rashidi, a Yarsan from Kermanshah, told Kurdistan24, "The continuous assault and disrespect for the belief and faith of Yarsan under the Islamic State of Iran must be rejected by every decent human being everywhere."

Rashidi, the founder and president of the Kurdish American Education Society (KAES) in California, said that since the Islamic revolution in Iran, leaders and members of Yarsan have been repeatedly summoned to the religious cities of Qom and Tehran "to be reminded of the regime's intolerance for the Yarsan Faith."

He believes the attempt to "proselytize the Yarsan Community to convert has led to the implementation of policies that are at the core of all kinds of rights violations of the Yarsan community by the Islamic State of Iran."

According to Rashidi, disregarding the Yarsan faith, disrespecting the ancient holy shrines, threatening the life of the leaders of the religion, imprisoning and executing the leaders and excluding the community from social, cultural, and economic rights continues to be the daily policy of the Iranian government.