Statement by 80 Church leaders from the U.S. and UK in support of the Iranian opposition’s July 9 gathering in Paris

Expressing concern about the increase in suppression of Christians in Iran and calling for conditioning ties with the Iranian regime to an improvement in human rights

Nearly 80 Church leaders and personalities from the United Kingdom and the United States have signed a declaration expressing deep concern over the suppression of Christians in Iran and urging Western governments to condition any improvement of relations with the Iranian regime to an improvement of the human rights situation including the situation of Christians in Iran.

The Bishops, including John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford; and Rachel Treweek, the Bishop of Gloucester who is the Church of England's first diocesan bishop, and priests reiterated that the suppression of Christians in Iran has increased during Hassan Rouhani’s tenure.

They added: “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. … Reports by the UN Secretary General, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, and the U.S. State Department all indicate that the repression of Christians has not only continued but intensified during the presidency of Hassan Rouhani.”

These Christian leaders reiterated: “In such circumstances, we call 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.”

The bishops and priests declared their support for the major “Free Iran” gathering on July 9 and its objectives in the run-up to the anniversary of the P5+1’s nuclear deal with the Iranian regime.

They added: “The time has come for us to listen to the wishes of the Iranian people for freedom, including religious freedom, and to add our voices to the grand international gathering titled ‘Free Iran’ that is to be held on July 9, 2016 in Paris to promote freedom and human rights in Iran.”

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