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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 September 2010) . . Page.. 4386 ..

Baha’i community received reports that the seven leaders had each received jail sentences of 20 years. These reports of the prison sentences have been met with condemnation from around the world. The lawyers—associated with the Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Tehran, cofounded by Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi—who are representing the Baha’i leaders have themselves been harassed, including Ms Ebadi, who was maligned by the state-sanctioned media when it became known that she and her colleagues would act as legal counsel for the Baha’i leaders and who was forced to remain outside Iran for an extended period.

The prison sentences represent an escalation in the ongoing and systemic persecution of the Baha’i in Iran. There are currently some 50 Baha’i imprisoned in Iran, including the seven leaders. All are jailed due to their religion and some have been held for more than 30 months in what are termed temporary detention centres. The number of Baha’i in detention in Iran varies as more people are arrested and others are released, typically after surrendering business licences, property or cash.

On 15 February this year the UN Human Rights Council held the universal periodic review on Iran, with governments and human rights groups from around the world describing the degree to which Iran has failed to meet its obligations under international human rights laws. Organisations and governments are now calling on the Iranian government to immediately release the seven Baha’i leaders on bail and to expedite an appeal that respects international standards of jurisprudence.

The seven leaders have already served two years of temporary detention under harsh conditions, in clear breach of the rights to which they are entitled under Iranian and international law. They have not been given a fair and public trial according to international law, and no evidence appears to have been presented against them.

I would also like to acknowledge—Ms Burch and Mr Doszpot have already done so—the Eid-ul-Fitr festival on Sunday, 19 September. It was an excellent event and it was wonderful to see so many people out celebrating the end of Ramadan. Hopefully, it will become a permanent fixture on the festival scene here in Canberra. It was an excellent day.

I would also just like to acknowledge the Tharwa fair, which was held on Sunday, 19 September. There was a fantastic turnout for the fair. Mr Doszpot was also there; he was leaving just as I was arriving. As I said, it was an excellent turnout. It showed that there is a real vibrancy in Tharwa. It was wonderful to see so many people out. It was a wonderful day, with lovely weather that probably encouraged many people to turn out to the variety of festivals that were on that day.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The Assembly adjourned at 9.11 pm.

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