HC Deb 08 February 1994 vol 237 c123W
Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what action Her Majesty's Government are taking to raise the persecution of the Iranian Church with the Iranian Government; what information he has on the closing of churches and intimidation of Christians; and if he will urge the Iranian Government to allow people from the United Nations Human Rights Commission into Iran to investigate the situation of the Church;

(2) what action Her Majesty's Government will be taking to urge the Government of Iran to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the murder of Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr and to allow observers from the United Nations Human Rights Commission to take part in such investigations.

Mr. Goodlad

We and our European partners repeatedly underline to the Iranian Government the importance we attach to their human rights record, including on religious minorities.

The European Union, with our full support, expressed concern to the Iranian authorities at the reported death sentence on Reverend Mehdi Dibaj. We understand that Reverend Dibaj was subsequently released pending further investigation by the court.

We and our European partners have also told the Iranian authorities that we were disturbed at the circumstances surrounding Rev. Hovsepian's recent death. The Iranians have said that Rev. Hovsepian's death is still being investigated.

We have received several reports about the position of Christians in Iran from Christian groups in the United Kingdom and the United Nations special representative. Our embassy in Tehran also monitors the situation. We are concerned at recent reports of persecution, especially of members of "The Assemblies of God".

We have co-sponsored resolutions at the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights reflecting the reports of the United Nations special representative on human rights in Iran, Mr. Galindo-Pohl. We have urged the Iranian authorities to co-operate with him fully.

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