(No. 253 - September 2, 2011 - 11:30 a.m. ET) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement regarding reports that religious minorities in Iran continue to face persecution:
"I note with regret the reports that Iranian authorities have imprisoned an additional 11 individuals associated with the Bahá'í Institute for Higher Education. Their detentions are based on unfounded charges of conspiring against national security. This institute provides valuable educational services to the Bahá'í community, which is denied formal higher education in Iran.
"I am also concerned that members of the Christian community continue to face difficulties, including being arrested on charges of apostasy. Also disconcerting are recent reports that Iranian officials have burned hundreds of bibles and destroyed an ancient church in Kerman.
"Canada calls on Iran to release individuals who have been arrested on the basis of their faith. We once again urge Iran to respect and protect its citizens' fundamental human rights and ensure due process for all those who have been detained."
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