On December 3, U.S. Senator Sam Brownback introduced a resolution condemning Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of religious minorities and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.
“We are deeply grateful to Senator Brownback and all those who have contributed to a strong legacy of U.S. congressional support for international religious freedom,” said Anthony Vance, Director of External Affairs for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States. “This resolution will bring consolation and encouragement to persecuted minorities in Iran, particularly the Baha’is, whose very safety depends on the vigilance of the international community.”
On Tuesday, December 7, the Baha’i International Community also published an open letter to Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary, stating that Iran’s treatment of Baha’is is a critical litmus test for the government’s commitment to justice: “How can a just society, or a just world, be built on a foundation of irrational oppression and the systematic denial of basic human rights to any minority? Everything your country overtly professes to seek on the world stage is contradicted by your treatment of your own people at home.”
In the months leading up to the Senate resolution’s introduction, Baha’is throughout the United States engaged in a systematic effort to inform U.S. Senators and Representatives of the ongoing persecution of Baha’is in Iran. Many Baha’i communities have also held prayer gatherings and public events to increase awareness in their communities.
These events specifically called for the release of seven Baha’is, who were arrested on false charges stemming from their roles administering to the basic needs of Iran’s Baha’i community. Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm were arrested in the spring of 2008 and held in Evin prison in Tehran for nearly two years before their trial began. In August 2010 each of the defendants was sentenced to 20 years in prison—later reduced to 10 years. They are currently being held in Gohardasht prison in Karaj. Learn more
As International Human Rights Day approaches on December 10, local Baha’i communities throughout the United States continue to arrange congressional visits, local prayer gatherings and other special events to publicize the plight of their coreligionists and others who are persecuted in Iran.
For more information, please contact your local Baha’i community or Ariel Olson Surowidjojo, media relations officer, at (202) 833-8990 or USBahaiMedia@usbnc.org.