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January 13, 2012

Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock: "Canadians Can Help Stop the Persecution of Iran's Bahá’ís"

Two pre-eminent Canadians, Lloyd Axworthy, President of the University of Winnipeg and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Allan Rock, President of the University of Ottawa and former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and federal cabinet minister, have published an eloquent appeal on behalf of the Baha'is of Iran.

Under the title "Canadians Can Help Stop the Persecution of Iran's Baha'is", they write of how "deeply troubled" they are that Baha'is are denied access to university, and express concern that "the brutal regime in Tehran has turned a deaf ear" to the calls to end "systematic persecution of Baha'is".

"Canada", they write, "has an important and enduring connection to this vulnerable group. Some 30 years ago, several thousand Baha'i refugees fled Iran to make Canada their home, settling in every province and territory and becoming proud and contributing Canadians."

"There are now more than 30,000 Canadians of the Baha'i faith from many different backgrounds who have enriched our country by their citizenship. Following the Iranian Revolution, the Canadian Government took steps at the United Nations and elsewhere to defend the rights of the Baha'is in Iran. Successive Canadian Governments have continued that leadership by sponsoring annual resolutions at the United Nations condemning Iran for its oppressive and inhumane policies."

Noting that "a growing group of academics, university administrators and notable advocates for peace including Desmond Tutu, Romeo Dallaire and Jose Ramos-Horta are condemning the Iranian regime's denial of the right to education", Presidents Axworthy and Rock close their commentary:

"We are proud to join them and we encourage all Canadians to add their voice in calling on the Iranian government unconditionally to drop all charges against educators, to halt all further aggression towards the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education and to allow the Baha'i access to education. The Baha'is of Iran must know that in resisting the cruel oppression of those who persecute them, they do not stand alone."
Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock

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