December 03, 2009

Bipartisan Resolution In Support of Iranian Baha'i Passes Senate

Resolution Condemns Iran for Human Rights Abuses; Calls for Release of Religious Prisoners

Washington, D.C.-. Continuing their support for religious tolerance and freedom throughout the world, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) announced that a resolution condemning Iran for the persecution of 300,000 Iranian members of the Baha'i Faith has been passed by the Senate. The Senators' resolution also called on Iran to release its prisoners held for their religious beliefs, including seven Baha'i leaders detained since 2008. The resolution was introduced by Wyden and Brownback and supported by 16 other senators from both parties.

"While the Baha'i faith teaches equality, unity and peace, the baseless persecution of Baha'is at the hands of the Iranian regime is the antithesis of those sacred beliefs," Wyden said. "The actions taken by Iran against this religious minority fly in the face of basic human rights as well as Iran's own international commitments. With this resolution, the United States Senate unequivocally denounces Iran's discrimination against the Baha'i and urges the release of their religious prisoners."

"For too long, the Iranian regime has targeted and persecuted religious minorities in Iran, including, and especially, members of the Baha'i faith," Brownback said. "For a regime that commits violence and repression at home and exports terrorism abroad, the stakes are too high for us to remain silent. I applaud the Senate's passage of this resolution, which strongly condemns the Iranian regime for its religious persecution and flagrant human rights abuses."

The Iranian Baha'i community is the largest religious minority in Iran with membership of more than 300,000 people. Unlike some other religious minorities such as Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, Iran's Baha'is have never been given religious recognition and are often persecuted by the Islamic Republic. The regime often seizes personal property, denies Baha'is access to education and employment opportunities and detains or imprisons Baha'is based solely on their religious belief.

In February 2009, the Iranian regime arrested seven Baha'i leaders, charging them with espionage, insulting religious sanctities, and spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic. The regime has currently offered no proof justifying the charges and has delayed their trial date several times. This resolution denounces the religious persecution and calls for the immediate release of all religious prisoners including the seven Baha'i leaders.