Religion in Iran

   Today, there was a meeting on “Freedom of Religion or Belief,” co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Canada, the Bahá’ís International Community, and the European Centre for Law and Justice.

   The Moderator began the meeting with an introduction of the current situation in Iran. There have been more than 780 documented incidents of shop closings and dismissals of business licenses, and other actions of suppressing economic activities. More than 1450 executions have occurred in Iran since 2014, making Iran the country with the largest individual execution per capita in the world. All of these occurrences are due to the lack of religious tolerance in Iran; the only accepted religion is Shi’ism, and all other religious minority groups, the Bahá’ís, are persecuted. The panelists spoke of their personal stories: their family members and associates who were deprived of their education, unjustly arrested and interrogated, denied work and college acceptances all due to their distinctive religions. Mr. Tavakkoli spoke of the arrests and court cases he saw, as well as the multiple deaths and executions that were carried out in Iran.

   The second panelist, Ms. Aftahi, talked about how the Iranian students are always living with a feeling of uncertainty, not knowing how they will continue their education and get an occupation. Mr. Khanjani told of his family’s oppression economically, how 20 members of his family have been in and out of prison for over 45 years, merely due to their religious beliefs and practices. A video provided Mrs. Abedini’s personal account of the status of Iranian Christians and an orphanage that she created with the participation of the Iranian government, which led to her husband’s detainment and torture in Iran. The meeting closed with the message and promotion for human rights and religious freedom in Iran.

Meeting: Freedom of Religion or Belief

Date/Location: Wednesday, November 4th, 2015; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 8

Speakers: Individuals of the Baha’i International Community: Mr. Naeim Tavakkoli, Ms. Niknaz Aftahi, Mr. Siavosh Khanjani, Mrs. Nagmeh Abedini (by video), Mr. Danial Shahri (by video), Mr. Kambiz Saghaey

Written By: WIT Representative Jin Yoo

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Placing the Displaced: Accomodating the Refugee Crisis


   The Third Committee hosted a meeting to address the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The report focused on the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East, where hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled to seek safety over the last few months. 60 million people worldwide are forcibly displaced as a result of war and persecution. In the past five years alone, the number of people forced from their homes every single day has quadrupled from under 11,000 in 2010 to 42,500.

   The meeting began with remarks from delegates. The first delegate was the representative of Kuwait, and he paid tribute to the High Commissioner for extending humanitarian efforts to the refugees even under every difficult conditions. He stated that Kuwait emphasizes continuation and support to the high commission, and that the country has participated voluntarily to 1 million dollars in aid. The representative also explained that he was very concerned by the suffering of refugees and displaced people in Iraq, which resulted from activity carried out by the Islamic State extremist militant group.

   Another notable speaker was the representative of Pakistan, who stated that the process of helping the refugees has been much too slow and inadequate, and that the international community has ignored this for far too long. The delegate explained that only 127,000 people were able to return home this year, which is the lowest number since 1983. One of the biggest issues is the lack of nutrition and education among children, which could lead to the risk of losing an entire generation.

   A representative who offered a different perspective was the delegate from Kenya, who explained that the burden of hosting refugees is enormous, especially financially. However, Kenya continues to welcome refugees in accordance to tradition.

Meeting: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions

Date/Location: Wednesday November 4, 2015, 10:00 – 13:00; Conference Room 1

Speakers: Representative of Kuwait; Representative of Nigeria; Representative of Pakistan; Representative of Japan; Representative of Kenya; Representative of India

Written By: WIT Representative Kangho (Paul) Jung

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Frank Augstein/AP