On Wednesday, September 25th, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade received a delegation from the Baha’i community regarding the situation of the Baha’i community in Iran and Mr. Rezvani’s murder. The delegation consisted of Brendan McNamara, Alison Wortley and Patricia Rainsford. A small number of guests were also allowed to be present in order to observe the proceedings. The Baha’is who attended in that capacity were Naghmeh Reilly, Sarah Sabour-Pickett and Pat Shine.
Before the meeting, contact was made with other NGOs working in the area of Freedom of Religion or Belief with whom the Information Office has an on-going relationship, in particular Dr. Roja Fazaeli of Amnesty Ireland and the Iran Group Dublin and David Turner of Church in Chains, and they asked that some of the cases of particular concern to these groups be raised at the Committee.
The formal position of the Baha’i representatives at this session was one of witnesses. Each member of the Committee had been furnished with a copy of the Baha’i presentation document in advance.
Of the fifteen member Committee, eight were present. Pat Breen T.D. (Chair), Eric Byrne T.D., Bernard Durkan T.D. (Vice-Chair), Maureen O’Sullivan T.D., Brendan Smith T.D., Senator Mark Daly (for a short period), Sean Crowe T.D., and Senator Michael Mullins. One absent member, Senator David Norris, is seriously ill and sent apologies. Senator Norris has a long record of speaking in defence of the Baha’is in Iran. He has raised the situation a number of times both in the Senate and at the Committee.
At the invitation of the Chairman, Brendan McNamara read the prepared statement. When he finished all of the members present contributed to the discussion. Alison and Patricia were also invited to speak during this time. There was a very warm and open atmosphere with a lot of emphasis on trying to find practical ways to support the Baha’is and other oppressed and persecuted communities in Iran.
There was also discussion around the ongoing trade negotiations between the Irish and Iranian governments. The Baha’i delegation was assured by the Committee that their strong recommendation was that, in the interests of all the people of Iran, it was vital to include human rights in all discussions, even commercial discussions. During the meeting, the Committee agreed to continue their discussion about how to best help the Baha’i community and support human rights in Iran at their next meeting. The meeting ended on a friendly, positive and active note with the delegation being assured that the Committee would definitely apply itself to finding ways it could support the Baha’i community in Iran.