Freedom of Religion of Belief
We believe that the freedom to choose, hold, and change one’s beliefs is central to human dignity and human development. It is the individual's search for meaning and the desire to know who we are as human beings that distinguishes the human conscience. Thus, the OPA is committed to the principle of religious freedom and works with others to elevate and promote this freedom around the world.
Since 2012, the OPA has been a stakeholder in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief. The OPA partners with a variety of governmental bodies, civil society organisations, academics and faith-based groups on events and initiatives to advance the freedom of religion or belief.
In recent years, the OPA has collaborated with academics and business leaders to explore the strong correlation between freedom of religion and belief and economic prosperity.
Panel of speakers at a seminar on the on Freedom of Religion or Belief
FoRB Case Study: The Situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran
In most parts of the world, Bahá’ís are allowed to practice their faith freely. In Iran however, Bahá’ís - who are Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority - face severe and pervasive religious persecution, solely because of their religious beliefs. Although Bahá’ís are peaceful and politically impartial, the Iranian government adheres to an official policy of systematic repression and abuse against them.
Between 1978 and 1998, over 200 Bahá’ís were killed, and thousands more were tortured and imprisoned. While such executions have abated, the Bahá’í community continues to face extensive human rights violations. Bahá’ís are subject to arbitrary interrogations, arrests, and imprisonment, and they suffer vandalism, raids, and attacks on their homes and businesses. Bahá’ís are denied government jobs and barred from attending university, and they are the targets of an ongoing campaign of vilification in the state-sponsored media.
Despite the sustained efforts of the Iranian Bahá’í community to resolve the matter directly with the authorities of Iran, the rights and freedoms of the Iranian Bahá’ís has continued to be curtailed. Consequently, our office advocates on behalf of the Bahá’ís in Iran. We work closely with governmental and non-governmental organizations, including parliamentarians and civil servants, as well as the media, to raise awareness about the ongoing human rights violations in Iran, and to advocate for their freedom, dignity and human rights.