THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING YOUR HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAN
Many Iranian believers live in fear due to misunderstandings surrounding human rights and freedom of belief. SAT-7 is empowering viewers by educating them on their human rights and encouraging them to stand up for themselves and others.
“When people are aware of human rights, it is possible to prevent crimes against humanity from taking place,” says Mansour Borji, encouraging SAT-7 viewers in Iran to investigate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
An advocate for persecuted Iranian Christians with his organisation ‘Article 18’, Mansour Borji is a regular guest on the new season of SAT-7’s Persian-speaking talk show Insiders. The program tackles common misunderstandings, such as the misconception that changing your religion is against the law in Iran. In fact, since Iran has signed Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iranians legally have the right to choose and practice their own religion.
Despite this, many Iranian Christians face discrimination and persecution for openly following their faith or meeting to worship with other believers. With little or no awareness of their rights in these situations, individuals often feel powerless and fearful in the face of opposition.
“Sometimes not knowing these facts means that when some people are visited by security personnel, they panic and think ‘now that they have caught me, they can kill me,’” explains Mansour. “But not only do [the authorities] not have the right to do that, they do not even have the right to interrogate someone about their beliefs. It is very much the responsibility of Christian networks and organisations to help to remove this fear and give people essential information on their legal rights.”
Mansour also offers the encouragement that there is hope and purpose in making sacrifices, or even being imprisoned. Making a stand when our rights are violated is not just for our own benefit, but also for the benefit of others: “[those in prison] gladly take the persecution upon themselves so that they can be the voice of the Iranian Christian community. And, of course, there are those who belong to other religions whose freedom of religion and belief is also denied. Even Muslims who do not accept or go along with the official interpretation of the regime are currently in prison cells. Christians can be their voice too.”
Mansour reminds viewers that Christians should lead the way in showing respect and acceptance to those with other beliefs, and promoting the rights of all: “You may have a hard debate with someone, but in the end you must respect and love the person, because he is a human being, made by God in His own image. The person himself is worthy of love, respect and assistance.”
The discussions on Insiders consistently reveal the importance of Christians engaging with human rights issues, rather than dismissing them as ‘political’ issues: “Where there is injustice and oppression we may pray and ask God why He doesn’t do something to remove it, but God may say that’s what I have put you here for – God wants his Church to bring change.”
Hooman, a viewer from Iran, messaged to say: “I believe the issue of human rights has been summarised well by Christ when He said ‘treat others as you would have them treat you’, for there is no person who wishes ill upon himself.”