Iranian children are being punished based on their parents’ religion and beliefs

It was the last week of September 2020 when an Iranian-Christian-convert couple lost custody of their two-year-old adopted daughter, Lydia. The court statement mentioned that Lydia had a strong attachment to her parents since they received temporary custody in February 2019. They also agreed that Lydia was born with a poor health system and demanded medical treatment.

Despite these facts vital to Lydia’s best interest, the District Court and Court of Appeal of Bushehr, a southern port city, rejected the parents’ request to keep custody. The court revoked custody of Lydia because “[the parents] have converted to Christianity.”

Unfortunately, Lydia is not the only child whose best interests have been overlooked and rights violated due to discrimination and unjust laws in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In practice, Iran’s discriminatory law affects almost all aspects of minority children’s lives, such as safety and well-being and access to health and education.

In a separate case, Darya, an eight-year-old girl, may lose her parents of more than two years due to incarceration, since they’re of the Baha’i Faith. The Iranian constitution doesn’t recognize the Baha’i religion and Iranian authorities deny their most fundamental human rights. Most of the time, courts look at the Baha’i Faith as an opposition group, and the judge will likely punish Darya’s parents based on that. This is in direct contradiction of the Family Protection Act, which calls for “providing for the best interests of children and adolescents to be respected in all courts and executive officials’ decisions.” Ironically, this very act has been called an achievement in the 2016 report of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Systemic discrimination against all religions and beliefs

In January 2020, some Baha’i families were told that they must declare their religion to get a national identification card. However, the Iranian constitution only recognizes four religions: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. In this way, Baha’i families, Yarsanies, Sabean-Mandaeans, and other religious minorities or atheists must either lie to receive a national identification card or be denied access to services, such as insurance, education, banking, and, most recently, public transportation.

Source: Atlantic Council

Also Read: Iranian pastor, 8 other Christians sentenced to 5 years in prison

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