Wien, 30. September 2011 Press release

Spindelegger: “Death sentence for Iranian pastor must be lifted“

Vice-Chancellor Foreign Minister Spindelegger on the imminent execution of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran

Vienna, 29 September 2011 – “The reports about the imminent death sentence for Iranian pastor Nadarkhani who refuses to recant his Christian belief are utterly disturbing”, said Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger. “Freedom of religion is an integral element of the universal human rights. The prosecution of Pastor Nadarkhani represents another serious violation of Iran’s international obligations. I call upon the Iranian government to release Pastor Nadarkhani promptly.”

The reports about the impending execution of the Iranian pastor are even more alarming as only last week a minor was publicly executed in Iran. Spindelegger had already objected to the most recent wave of executions, which began earlier this year, when he met Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in July.

The Austrian Foreign Minister underlined that the principle of religious freedom was also seriously violated through the continued imprisonment of the leaders of the Baha‘i under extreme conditions, the current legal action against the people in charge at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education(BIHE), and by the persecution of representatives of Sufi and Sunni communities.

“The imposition of the death penalty for reasons of religious belief is totally unacceptable. It is shattering that such proceedings can take place at all in the 21st century! I appeal to the Iranian government to promptly discontinue the persecution of people on grounds of their beliefs and to ensure that no proceedings of this type can be initiated or held in future“, the Foreign Minister said.

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