The last of the Bahai 7 religious leader group released from prison

The Bahá’í 7[1], also known as the “Yaran” (friends), are seven Iranian Bahá’í community leaders arrested in 2008 that have served 10-year prison sentences in Iran. The seven prisoners of conscience are Mahvash Sabet, Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm.[2]

Sabet was detained on 5 March 2008 after being summoned to Mashhad by the Ministry of Intelligence. Officers from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested the other six leaders in raids on their homes on 14 May 2008.[3] The seven were held in Evin Prison in Section 209, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence, and were denied access to a lawyer. The five male detainees reportedly were placed in one cell together measuring 10 and without any beds.[4]

Images of the Bahá’í 7 at a rally in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (wikipedia)

On 7 August 2010, the Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicted the seven Bahá’í of crimes including “espionage for Israel”, “insulting religious sanctities” and “propaganda against the system,” and sentenced them to 20 years imprisonment.

On September 18, 2017, former prisoner Mahvesh Sabet was released. [10]

Thirty prominent Australians signed a statement welcoming her release, including Greens leader Richard Di Natale, former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr, former attorney-general Philip Ruddock, and members from all major faiths, including the president of the Uniting Church.

The other leaders were gradually released. By April 2018, only Afif Naeimi remained.

Afif Naeimi, the last of the seven Baha’i leaders imprisoned since 2008, has been released on completion of his sentence.

Dr Natalie Mobini, the director of the Office of External Affairs, Australian Baha’i Community, profoundly thanked Australian community for the concern and support shown for the seven during their incarceration over the past decade. She also said that the release of all members of the former leadership group is a significant milestone. At the same time, as you know, the systematic persecution continues. Baha’is in Iran are unable to practise their faith, more than 80 are currently imprisoned, and all experience multiple layers of discrimination at every level of life. The flow-on effects of this persecution are now further expanding into Yemen. Notwithstanding, we take this moment to breathe a sigh of relief that Mr Naeimi and his colleagues are all finally home with their families.

Hindu Council of Australia congratulates the Bahai community on the release of their religious leaders.

[Read more here …]  and [Read even more here…]

 

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The Division of Vedic Literature

By : Pandit Rami.

Charts of Sanskrit Literature.

The Vedas, vedangas, dharam shastras and puranas.

 
 
 

 
 

 

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PM ScoMo fights for religious freedom despite the opposition

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter have released the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review and the government’s response. Although the Ruddock panel said that Australia does not need a religious freedom commissioner, the Prime Minister  has announced his intention to do so. The response also addresses issues like, when can a parent take their children out of studies that conflict with their religious beliefs, treatment of LGBTIQ students in religious schools, framing of a religious discrimination law etc.

The most controversial aspect of the Ruddock review is whether religious schools can discriminate against students, teachers and staff based on their sexual orientation. Most religious groups including Hindu Council, Jewish religious organizations, Islamic organizations and most Christian denominations oppose such restrictions on religious schools.

While the Prime Minister has openly come in support of religious groups, some in the opposition are not so sure and see it as an LGBTIQ rights issue.

We believe that the Prime Minster has struck the right balance between religious freedom and anti-discrimination and that religious schools should not be forced to preach any thing that goes against their teachings. They should not be forced to provide their school and other resources for propagating ideas that are not compatible with their teachings.

You can read about Ruddock review here.

You can read about Hindu Council response to the review here.

You can read more details about the review and comments here.

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Beef tallow in Australian currency notes

WHILE Australia was the first country in the world to produce banknotes made from plastic (polymer), what many people don’t realise is that our currency uses tallow — rendered animal fat from sheep, pigs and cows — as a ‘slip agent’ to prevent friction and static.

The Reserve Bank of Australia confirmed banknotes have a tiny amount — around one per cent — of the animal by-product

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Religious freedom collides with anti-discrimination laws in Australia

By: Surinder Jain.

Religious freedom is fundamental to Australian identity said the Australian Prime minister Scott Morrison. And Australians voted in favor of anti-discrimination laws to protect the rights of LGBT only recently. One would think that both are laudable achievements for Australia, but the future of religious freedom does not look so rosy.

A clash between Religious Freedom and Human Rights is brewing up.

Religious freedom right to propagate one’s belief permits Christians, Jews, Muslims and all other religions to run their own schools. Does this freedom means that these schools can admit gay students and have gay teachers imparting religious teachings to children when many believe admitting gay in their schools is against their faith.

This debate is heating up in Australia.

Religious freedom rights for an individual come in various parts. Right to belief is a right to believe in a certain religion and some/all the tenants that come with it. Right to practice a religion is a right to practice your religious rituals and actions coming from the belief. It also includes a right to propagate your beliefs either to your own constituency or to other non-believers.

Human rights on the other hand are also a set of rights for an individual and includes Right to Live, a Right to Freedom, a Right to Express and a number of other rights like anti-discrimination and so on.

Australia and most secular and theocratic countries permit Right to Belief. Australia also permits Right to Practice and a Right to Propagate religion without any state interference. Some theocratic countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia place restrictions on Right to Practice in public and thus not allowing any temple or church unless it has been sanctioned by the government. Many countries in the middle east ban propagation of any religion other than the state sanctioned one.

Communist countries like China place restrictions on all religions. They frown upon all religious beliefs and control them by total control over appointment of clergy and allow only state permitted rituals to be practiced. Communist ideology and whims of the party are given far higher priority than either religious freedom or human rights.

A clash between the rights of one individual to protect their faith and institutions and the right of other individuals to a fair go requires a balancing act. While the Liberal party PM has vowed to protect religious freedom as integral to Australian identity, the opposition Labor party is considering an “appropriate” balance between the two.

When Right to Life clashes with Right to Practice, the human Right to live wins hands down. Thus I can not take away life or liberty of an individual even if I believe that my religious belief requires me to do so. My Right to Propagate my religion by imposing it on others will be OK in ISIS ruled countries but will be rejected in most other countries including Australia.

In a progressive country like Australia, Right to Propagate once religion has been well balanced with the Right to Practice one’s religion. Thus each religion is prohibited from imposing its belief on another religion. If I believe in a religion that does not have a personal God then I can not ask another religion to permit me to enforce my belief as part of their propagation. Thus if a religion does not believe in God, then s/he has no right to join a christian church/school and expect to teach his/her belief to the christian congregation or to students in a christian school. Religious practitioners can not invoke courts of law to enforce their Right to Propagate through the propagation machinery (churches, schools, congregations, Sunday mass, sermons, communications etc.) of other religions except in their own.

This is tampered both ways. No religion can frown upon the beliefs and practices of others as long as they are valid in law. No religion should propagate a belief that belittles the belief of another religion.

We can find the appropriate balance between right to propagation and anti-discrimination using the above well accepted principal. Thus all religions will respect the rights of LGBT and will not frown upon their practices in their religious propagation. At the same time, LGBT do not have an automatic right to use another religions propagation machinery to propagate their beliefs. Thus LGBT should not expect that they will be able to teach their belief in a religious school as much as a Hindu does not expect to have an automatic right give a Hindu sermon in a Christian church.

Number of Religious schools and number of students studying in religious schools is such a minority that it does not restrict the right of LGBT children to study or LGBT teachers to employment. These children have a very wide choice as to which school they go to study.  Teachers of LGBT persuasion are not constrained in applying for jobs to most schools and have a meaningful employment. And off course, there is nothing stopping people passionate about their gender beliefs to start their own special LGBT friendly schools.

Each new religion in Australia has to do the hard effort to establish their own schools, churches, temples and congregations. A newly arrived religion like Hinduism does not expect Christians or Jews to be forced to give up their resources like church or school for the propagation of Hinduism. Similarly, LGBT have to do their own hard yakka in establishing their own schools etc and not expect to get an easy ride on the resources of other religions in the name of anti-discrimination. And the Religions should not frown upon LGBT efforts to establish their own special LGBT friendly schools either.

By : Surinder Jain

 

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Donate to Hindu Council of Australia

Hindu Council of Australia’s mission is to work for a strong, cohesive and active Hindu community in Australia, aiming to live in harmony with other religious and cultural communities while also devoted to preserving, promoting and sharing Hindu faith, culture and traditions with others in the society.

Now it is easy to make a donation to Hindu Council of Australia using your credit card at Hindu Council web site.

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A Talk on Gita Jayanti by Prakash Mehta

A Talk on Gita Jayanti by Prakash Mehta, President, Hindu Council of Australia.

 

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Invitation to conduct further research about ANZAC Jawans

By : Prakash Mehta.

Hindu Council of Australia has erected a cenotaph dedicated to all servicemen of Indian origin who have enrolled or served the Australian forces in World Wars. It was inaugurated with the joint efforts and support of the Department of Veteran Affairs, Hornsby Shire Council, Hornsby RSL, Hindu Council of Australia, local  Indian community and local MP Julian Leeser.

Cadets guarding the memorial at Cherry Brook Park, NSW

The memorial in NSW is a first of its kind in the state that recognises the contributions and connections of people of Indian origin. It is about the contributions made by the servicemen of Indian origin in Australia, by enlisting at the time of need. The plaque commemorates the service and sacrifice made by Australian Soldiers and Military Personnel of Indian heritage who served in the Australian Imperial Force in World War I.

It also remembers and recognises up to 15,000 Indian Soldiers who fought with allied troops at Gallipoli where almost 1,400 Indians Soldiers died at Gallipoli and up to 3,500 were wounded. It also remembers and recognises the Indian Soldiers who have participated alongside the Australian Soldiers in various Military Campaigns and Peace Missions. ”

The first effort to find out about such service men came to Hindu Council’s attention by an article written by journalist Manpreet K Singh and published by SBS dated 9 June 2017.

https://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/punjabi/en/article/2017/06/09/12-indian-anzacs-who-enlisted-australian-imperial-force-during-wwi

These names were further confirmed with research center of Australian War Memorial Canberra service records about the accuracy and authenticity.

The President of Hindu Council has called upon people to come forward and do further research and said that

We hope this Cenotaph also encourages more research and publications to connect larger Australian Indian community with Anzac history.

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Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti

Guru Nanak Dev Jyanti.
Karthik Poornima, 23 Nov 2018
Hindu Council of Australia wishes happiness and peace with the blessings of Guru Nanak dev ji to all on the auspicious occasion of His Birthday, Gurpurab.

Press Release - Guru NanakDev 550th Birth anniversary year

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Hindu Council Donates to Farmers Relief Fund

Hindu Council gave a cheque for $11,000 to the Premier’s Farmers Relief Fund. 

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