Church of England Bishops Join in Condemnation of Iranian Regime

‘The regime has been. Criticised by international human rights organisations for its appalling human rights record’

In an initiative promoted by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord (Rowan) Williams of Oyster mouth, more than 50 bishops of the Church of England have signed a statement condemning the human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime in Tehran and its treatment of Iran’s religious minorities.

Press Release

Religious leaders from across the UK including in England, Wales and Scotland call to hold Iran accountable for human rights abuses

Over 50 bishops in the UK joined the Rt Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dr. Rowan Williams to condemn the human rights abuses, particularly the plight of religious minorities in Iran.

“Today, we announce the initiative by Dr Rowan Williams and supported by more than 50 bishops in UK along with 78 US church leaders which highlights the plight of the Iranian people and the religious minorities in Iran, particularly the Christians, calling on the international community to act to defend their rights in face of government harassment and persecution”, the Rt Rev. John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford, one of the signatories, said.

The statement states “The regime has been condemned no less than 64 times by various United Nations bodies and criticised by international human rights organisations for its appalling human rights record. While the majority of the victims of the regime’s abuses are Shiite Muslims, members of religious minorities, including Christians, Jews, members of the Sunni branch of Islam, and people of other faiths, have been targeted over their personal religious beliefs.”

It further highlights the Iranian regime’s misuse of the religion of Islam to impose a theocracy on millions of Iranians and takes note of the Iranian people’s demand for genuine change in their country demonstrated by a nationwide uprising that has being going on since December last year.

The statement by Dr. Rowan Williams supported by bishops in England, Wales and Scotland including the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Reverend John Davies, the former Archbishop of Wales, the Rt Rev. Dr. Barry Morgan; Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness & the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Reverend Mark Strange; Lord Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev. Paul Butler; Lord Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Rev. Rachel Treweek; Lord Bishop of Ely, the Rt Rev. Stephen Conway; Lord Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Rev. Donald Allister; Lord Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Rev. Dr Christopher Cocksworth; Lord Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Rev. Dr. John Inge; Lord Bishop Leeds, the Rt Rev. Nick Bains; Lord Bishop of St. Albans, the Rt Rev. Gregory Clayton Smith; Lord Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev. Christopher Richard James Foster; Lord Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev. Peter Forster; Lord Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell; Bishop of Sodor and Man, the Rt Rev. Peter Eagles; Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev. Dr. Pete Wilcox; Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev. Andrew Watson; Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Rev. Adrian Newman; Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev. Richard Frith; Assistant Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev. David Stancliffe; Former Lord Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev. Nick Holtam; Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev. Tony Robinson; Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Rev. Dr. Helen-Ann Hartley; Bishop of Southampton, Rt Rev. Dr Jonathan Frost; Bishop of Barking, the Rt Rev. Peter Hill; Bishop of Kirkstall, the Rt Rev. Paul Slater; Bishop of Stafford, the Rt Rev. Geoff Annas; Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Rev. Libby Lane; Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Rev. Keith Sinclair; Former Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Rt Rev. Robert Paterson; Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Rev. Richard Jackson; Bishop of Bedford, the Rt Rev. Richard Atkison, OBE; Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Rev. Dr. Alan Wilson; Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Mark Rylands; Bishop of Doncaster, the Rt Rev. Peter Burrows; Bishop of Beverley, Rt. Hon. Glyn Webster; Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott; Bishop of Hertford, the Rt Rev. Dr. Michael Beasley; Bishop of Llandaff, the Rt Rev. June Osborne; Bishop of Monmouth, Rt Rev. Richard Pain; Bishop of St Davids, the Rt Rev. Joanna Penberthy; Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Rev. Glyn Webster; Bishop of Wolverhampton, the Rt Rev. Clive Gregory; Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev. Philip North; Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Rev. Pete Broadbent; Bishop of Edmonton, the Rt Rev. Rob Wickham; Bishop of Kensington, the Rt Rev. Dr Graham Tomlin; Bishop of Islington, the Rt Rev. Ric Thorpe urges the international community to pay attention to call for freedom and human rights in Iran that will be echoed in the major international gathering scheduled to take place in Paris on June 30.

The statement says: “This demand will be manifested again at the international ‘Free Iran’ grand gathering that will be held on June 30, in Paris to promote freedom and human rights in Iran with the presence of religious, political, and social dignitaries from all over the world.”

The Rt Rev. John Pritchard, added, “In our statement, we call on all countries to take into consideration the deplorable situation of human rights in Iran, particularly the painful situation of religious minorities, in navigating their relations with Iran. We urge them to base any improvement of relations with Iran on a cessation of oppression of minorities and on a halt to executions in Iran.”

Petition in defence of religious minorities in Iran

It is time to pay attention to plight of Iranians, in particular religious minorities

Throughout the years, the entire Iranian population has suffered at the hands of the ruling dictatorship, and religious minorities have faced particular harassment and persecution.

The regime has been condemned no less than 64 times by various United Nations bodies and criticized by international human rights organizations for its appalling human rights record. While the majority of the victims of the regime’s abuses are Shiite Muslims, members of religious minorities, including Christians, Jews, members of the Sunni branch of Islam, and people of other faiths, have been targeted over their personal religious beliefs.

In a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on 26 February 2018, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “No improvement was observed concerning the situation of religious and ethnic minorities, who remain subject to restrictions. The Secretary-General remains concerned by reports of persistent human rights violations of and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities.”

In its Annual Report for 2018, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a government agency, said: “In the past year, religious freedom in Iran continued to deteriorate for both recognized and unrecognized religious groups… Christian converts and house church leaders faced increasingly harsh sentencing: many were sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for their religious activities. Religious reformers and dissenters faced prolonged detention and possible execution.”

In contrast to the radical preaching of Islamic extremists, including the Iranian regime, Islam is an Abrahamic religion that promotes tolerance toward adherents of other faiths and espouses peaceful coexistence among mankind from every race, gender, faith and creed.

As Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, a Muslim woman, has stated, the spirit of Islam abhors all forms of compulsion, coercion and forcible prohibition, ranging from imposing the compulsory veil, to the use of flogging and terror, to enforcing the observance of fasting and prayers, to preventing the construction of Sunni mosques, and especially to imposing the rule of a government under the name of God and Islam.

By way of a nationwide uprising in December and January that shook the regime to its core, the Iranian people demonstrated their rejection of the ruling theocracy under the name of Islam and expressed a desire for democratic change in their country.

Under such circumstances, we call on all countries to take into consideration the deplorable situation of human rights in Iran, particularly the painful situation of religious minorities, in navigating their relations with Iran. We urge them to base any improvement of relations with Iran on a cessation of oppression of minorities and on a halt to executions in Iran.

The time has come for us to listen to the Iranian people’s demand for freedom, including religious freedom. This demand will be manifested at the international “Free Iran” grand gathering that will be held on June 30, 2018 in Paris to promote freedom and human rights in Iran with the presence of religious, political, and social dignitaries from all over the world.

ncr-iran.org

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