Letter to Harper - Iran
Dear Prime Minister Harper:
I am a Canadian citizen concerned about human rights abuses in Iran. Christians within Iran have suffered greatly under the persecution of their government.
In 2011, over seventy Christians, most part of a house church movement, were arrested in Iran. Many were released, however, a dozen or more remain incarcerated. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a speech on October 19, 2010, declared that house churches decieve youthful Muslims and threaten Muslim faith. He also said that house churches were Islam's enemies. In Iran, Christians are said to make up less than 1% of the population. Since Christmas 2010, two hundred Christians have been incarcerated in Iran. Twenty of these ones are yet to be released. If an Iranian is found to have converted from Islam to Christianity, under Iranian law he may be sentenced to death. In 2010, the Assize Court of the Iranian province of Gilan officially charged Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani with apostasy. Nardarkhani was born in a Muslim family but converted to Christian faith. He was given a death sentence. He is still in custody.
On September 4, 2010, Iranian Pastor Vahik Abrahamian, his wife Sonia, and two other friends were arrested. Held in solitary confinement for forty days, they suffered physical and psychological abuse. They have been accused of propagating Christianity as well as contacting exciled persons and opposing Iran. They have endured intense interegation. Vahik is dual citizen, also holding citizenship of the Netherlands. They have since been released.
Canadian/Iranian relations have been deteriating for years. In 1996, both countries exchanged ambassadors with each other. Since late 2007, both countries have reduced their representation in each others capitals. Canada limits its contact with Iran and disallows direct air links. In 2005, Canada informed Iran that its official contact with Iran would be limited to four topics. They are: “1 - the human rights situation in Iran, 2 - Iran's nuclear program and its lack of respect for its non-proliferation obligations, 3 - the case of Mrs. Zahra Kazemi who was killed in an Iranian prison by regime officials in 2003, and 4 - Iran's role in the region.” Canada is in compliance with the U. N. resolution 1803 which mandates enhanced sanctions against Iran.
Canada's strong stand and sanctions against Iran's regime must be maintained. The regime in Iran permits little religious freedom and no opposition. The threat of the development of Iranian nuclear weapons is very real and demands international pressure being kept on this regime. Christian believers are being persecuted, enduring horrible treatments. Iranian officials are daily abusing the power they have and applying force to try to dissuade Christians from following their faith. Iran funds terrorism and, by doing so, perpetrates enormouse suffering in our world. May Canada continue to take a hard line against Iran's regime and demand change.
Respectfully and sincerely,
Shawn and Ramona Stevens
cc : M. P. John Baird
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