I post the following letter written to the president by fifteen-year-old Nadeim Fareid and the president’s response. I can’t help but wonder if President Obama actually saw and responded to the initial letter. It seems like a generic ‘human rights’ riposte. We are at a point in history where our leaders need to respond with peaceful action, not platitudes. I have a number of peace-loving Baha’i friends who are deeply concerned about the human rights abuses in Iran. We should all be.

June 2010

Dear President Obama,

I would like to thank you for doing all you can to assure the American People; we are the greatest nation in the world.

My name is Nadeim Fareid, and I am fifteen years old. I strive to excel in my school work and also in my personal life. I write you, from the utmost pleasure, as it is an honor to be an American.

Dear President Obama, on May 14, 2008, seven leaders of the Baha’i Faith in Iran were arrested for crimes in which they had no part in committing. The Baha’i Faith is a world religion, promoting peace and unity for all of Mankind. The Baha’i Faith has about six million adherents in more than 238 countries and is the fastest growing religion in history. From the start of this beautiful religion, its prophet founder, brought the teachings of love and unity. From the start of the Baha’i Faith, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, co-workers and neighbors, have been martyred, simply because of the fact their faith captures the souls of all who are taught about its teachings. These intolerable acts have led Baha’i students in Iran to be expelled from school, Baha’i businessmen and woman to be deprived of their homes and offices, and has unfortunately reached the crucial point of pivotal belongings and basic human rights to be stripped. 300,000 Baha’is live throughout Iran to this day, making the Baha’i Faith the country’s largest minority religion. Hundreds of Baha’is were killed in Iran between 1978 and 1998, the majority by execution, and tens of thousands more were imprisoned. Today the Iranian government regards Baha’is as “apostates” and “unprotected infidels”. This crime has attracted the attention of Senators and Congressman, who have taken the initiative by creating House Resolution 175 and Senate Resolution 71. Prime Ministers and Presidents from all over the world are taking part in creating awareness and speaking about this misdeed.

Roxana Saberi, an Iranian journalist whom was held in jail in Iran quotes to leading news organizations, “I also got to know two Baha’i female leaders, who along with five male colleagues have been detained for more than a year without trial. While peacefully pursuing the religious rights of Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, they have been accused of spying for Israel and spreading corruption on earth, charges punishable by death.” The seven members will be tried in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, in branch 28. The same court Roxana Saberi was tried in.

In conclusion President Obama, I sincerely urge you to please act immediately in creating awareness of this despicable crime, as the legal trial of these seven members is to take place on June 12, 2010. The Baha’i Community depends on your voice to pressure the Iranian government officials to release our Baha’i friends in Iran, and to immediately stop all prejudice against Baha’is in their nation.

Sincerely, Nadeim Fareid

RESPONSE:FROM THE PRESIDENT

Dear Nadeim:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Many Americans have written to me about human rights around the world, and I appreciate your perspective.

The United States was founded on the principles of freedom and equality, and our history is marked with triumphs and struggles in fulfilling these timeless ideals. Our task is never finished, and protecting these core values is a shared obligation. No region is free from violations of human rights, and no nation should be silent in the fight against them. When innocents in places like Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. I am committed to reinvigorating America’s leadership on a range of international human rights issues.

As you may know, the United States has rejoined the United Nations Human Rights Council and is working to make this body as effective as possible.  My Administration intends to advocate for human rights in other international settings as well.  In our relations with other countries, the issue of human rights will be raised as clearly, persistently, and effectively as possible. Among other things, we will promote respect for the rights of minorities and women, the equal administration of justice, and the freedom for people to live as they choose.

Our commitment to human rights is an essential element of American foreign policy and one of our best national security assets. Through it, we will help to shut down torture chambers, replace tyranny with good governance, and enlist free nations in the common cause of liberty.

To learn more about my Administration’s human rights agenda, please visit: WhiteHouse.gov. Thank you again for writing.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com

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