Senator Mobina Jaffer - Canada.
".....For many years, I have represented Iranian refugees, especially women, who have been tortured and imprisoned in Iran. The suffering of these women is unimaginable. Sadly, honourable senators, this suffering still continues...............Today, I will address the situation of one religions group, the Baha'i of Iran, whose rights have systematically been violated by the Iranian government since the inception of the Islamic revolution. As a young child in Uganda, my father often took me to a construction site where a Baha'i temple was being built. As the temple was being built, my father would describe the different aspects of the faith of the Baha'i. His description of the embracing by the Baha'i of all religions left me with a great love and respect for all faiths. I am also a great admirer of the Baha'i. As Ugandans, we are proud of the Baha'i temple in Uganda and we believe it is one of the best temples.
Honourable senators, let me take a few moments to provide some background of the Baha'i faith. It originated in Iran, then Persia, in the 1840s. Central to the spiritual teachings of the Baha'i faith is the concept that there is only one God and that the major world religions have been established by divine educators who brought teachings commensurate with humanity's stage of development.
The source and spiritual essence of all these religions is the same in the Baha'i view. Only the social teachings have changed in order to support the emergence of an ever-advancing civilization. Baha'is strive both individually and as communities, and with the guidance of their institutions, to understand and implement the spiritual and moral teachings in their own lives and communities, and to contribute to the common good.
The five million or so people comprising the Baha'i international community represent 2,112 ethnic and tribal groups who live in over 121,000 localities, 190 independent countries and 45 dependent territories and overseas departments.
Why then, honourable senators, do we have a slow genocide of the Baha'i community in Iran through such means as arbitrary arrests; incitement of hatred in government-controlled media and from the pulpit; harassment of schoolchildren; denial of access to post-secondary education or to employment in the public sector; severe restrictions on employment in the private sector; the destruction of graveyards; denial of government pensions; and the discrimination in courts?" Mobina Jaffer