The Bishop of Gloucester has joined 79 other church leaders in endorsing a public statement calling upon government to condition improvements in relations with Iran upon the end of state-sponsored persecution of religious minorities
The Bishop of Gloucester has joined 79 other British and American church leaders in endorsing a public statement calling upon their governments to condition improvements in relations with Iran upon the end of state-sponsored persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Iran. The Rt. Rev. Rachel Treweek, joined by the former Bishop of Oxford, the Rt. Rev. John Prichard endorsed July 9’s “Free Iran” meeting of Iranian opposition leaders and exiles in Paris.“The time has come for us to listen to the wishes of the Iranian people for freedom, including religious freedom,” they said, according to the statement released on 4 July 2016 by the National Council of Resistance of Iran. “Iran’s ruling theocracy is rightly a source of grave concern for human rights organizations and institutions with a particular interest in the protection of the rights of Christians,” the statement said, noting “the repression of Christians has not only continued but intensified during the presidency of Hassan Rouhani.” They called on “all Western countries to consider the deplorable situation of human rights in Iran, particularly the painful situation of Christians and the intensification of their oppression, in navigating their relations with Iran. We call upon them to precondition improvement of those relations on the cessation of oppression of Christians and on a halt in executions.” Later this summer the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, along with Germany and a representative from the European Union are to meet with Iranian diplomats to review that nation’s cooperation with the deal struck in 2015 to roll back Iran’s nuclear arms programmes. In addition to promoting human rights in the country, the Free Iran summit seeks to pressure the West not to give in to Iranian demands for its own nuclear weapons stockpile.