MEFD event – Iran’s minorities heavily persecuted


London, 15 May 2019, MEFD – Middle East Forum for Development (MEFD) held an event in the House of Commons today regarding the persecution of Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities. The event was chaired by Jim Shannon MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Freedom of Religion or Belief.


Speakers included Professor Javaid Rehman, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Mosa Zahed, executive director of MEFD, Qusay Doraghi, representative of Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) UK, Jamshaid Amiri, representative for Western Balochistan at Baloch Human Rights Council and Yunes Mukri, Member of the Kurdish Democratic Party.


During his opening remarks, Jim Shannon MP stated that “Iran’s disadvantaged religious and ethnic minorities remain subject to entrenched discrimination”, and that those who dare to speak out against violations of their political, cultural and linguistic rights “face arbitrary arrest, torture and other ill-treatment, grossly unfair trials, imprisonment, and the death penalty”.


Mosa Zahed emphasised the importance of the event arguing that “it provides a platform to representatives of Iran’s minority groups to raise awareness about the plight of their communities.” He further remarked that “MEFD will continue to organise these panel events in the near future”.


Professor Javaid Rehman commended the initiative of the event and stipulated that the Iranian authorities continue to “heavily persecute ethnic and religious minorities”, arguing that their members’ “political and civil rights are being denied” and that there is “no equal access to justice”, and explained that the government continues to deny him access to the country to be able to conduct his investigations. Professor Rehman further specified that authorities target Iran’s minority groups by charging them with “moharebeh” (waging war against god) or “mofsed fel-Arz”  (spreading corruption on earth), which carry the death sentence, and continue to extra judicially execute ethnic minorities.


A panel of representatives from Iran’s minority groups discussed the plight of their communities at the event.


Qusay Doraghi presented his paper on the environmental issues and its impact on the human rights situation of minority groups. He argued that the Iranian authorities “disproportionately targeted…Kurds, Ahwazi Arabs, Azeris and Balochis” and that these groups reported “political and socioeconomic discrimination, especially in their access to economic aid, business licenses, university admissions, job opportunities, permission to publish books, housing and land rights.”


Jamshaid Amiri argued that “the assimilation of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran started since the establishment of the Islamic Republic.” He specified that “the Balochis live in the poorest province of Iran and only ask for their basic rights to be respected.” Jamshaid further stipulated that “local people are tried for drug trafficking in the region of Iran’s Sistan and Balochistan province, but that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is in actual control of the drug trade.”


Yunes Mukri specified that “the Kurds of Iran have been systematically discriminated given that they disagreed with the establishment of the Islamic Republic right from the start and rejected its founder Ayatollah Khomeini.” Yunes further raised the plight of the “Koolbars” (backpack carriers) in Iran’s Kurdistan underscoring that “due to a lack of infrastructure, industry and widespread unemployment in Kordestan province, the people are forced to engage in Koolbari [carrying goods and loads on shoulders] in order to be able to feed their families”.


Jim Shannon pledged to disseminate all the findings to the members of the APPG for International Freedom of Religion or Belief and all agreed to continue working closely together in order to effectively raise awareness about the plight of Iran’s minority groups.




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