From the Worldwide Faith News archives

UN expresses concern over discrimination against Iran's Baha'is

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Wed, 19 Dec 2001 09:35:48 -0800

Baha'i World News Service

UNITED NATIONS, 19 December 2001 (BWNS) -- For the 16th time in 17 years,
the United Nations General Assembly has expressed "concern" over human
rights violations in Iran, specifically noting the "still-existing
discrimination" against the Baha'i community of Iran.

By a vote of 72 to 49, with 46 abstentions, the Assembly passed a resolution
on 19 December 2001 that calls on the Islamic Republic of Iran to "eliminate
all forms of discrimination based on religious grounds" and, more
specifically, asks the Iranian Government to fully implement previous United
Nations recommendations that the Baha'is be granted complete freedom to
practice their religion.

The resolution followed a report issued in August by the UN Human Rights
Commission's special representative on Iran, Professor Maurice Copithorne,
that indicated that the 300,000-member Iranian Baha'i community continues to
experience discrimination in the areas of education, employment, travel,
housing and the practice of religious activities.

More specifically, Prof. Copithorne said that Baha'i property continues to
be subject to confiscation. He indicated that a number of Baha'i families
were forced to leave their homes and farmlands in the first months of 2001
in Kata, Buyr-Ahmand. In 2000, he said, information was received that four
buildings were confiscated in Tehran, three in Shiraz and one in Isfahan.

"It is also reported that the issuance of business licenses to Baha'is has
been delayed and that some stores and business owned by Baha'is have been
closed," said Prof. Copithorne.

Prof. Copithorne also said that Baha'is continue to be denied access to
higher education in legally recognized public institutions. "Recently three
classrooms used by the Baha'is for their own educational purposes were
seized," he said.

"Baha'is are still, in effect, prevented from participation in religious
gatherings or educational activities," wrote Prof. Copithorne.

In its resolution, the Assembly decided to continue monitoring Iran next
year, "paying particular attention to further developments, including the
situation of the Baha'is and other minority groups."

Since the Islamic Revolutionary regime took power in Iran in 1979, Baha'is
have been harassed and persecuted solely on account of their religious
beliefs. More than 200 Baha'is have been killed, hundreds have been
imprisoned, and thousands have been deprived of jobs, education or property.
In 1983, all Baha'i institutions were banned, and they remain officially

Although the number of executions and imprisonments has lessened in recent
years, Baha'is in Iran remain without any official recognition or legal
protection that might protect them from discrimination, said Bani Dugal, a
Baha'i International Community representative to the United Nations.

"We see these on-going actions -- the imprisonment of Baha'is, the
confiscation of property, the deprivation of education, the restrictions on
travel and worship, and the banning of Baha'i institutions -- as evidence of
the continuing campaign of the government of Iran to strangle the Baha'i
community of that country," said Ms. Dugal.

"The nature of the persecution is clearly based on religious belief," she
continued. "Baha'is have repeatedly been offered relief from persecution if
they were prepared to recant their Faith.

"So Baha'is continue to be viewed as 'unprotected infidels,' by the
Government, without any form of legal protection, even though Iran is a
signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which
guarantees freedom of religious belief.

"The Baha'is seek no special privileges," Ms. Dugal said. "They desire only
their rights under the International Bill of Human Rights, of which Iran is
a signatory, including the right to life, the right to profess and practice
their religion, the right to liberty and security of person, and the right
to education and work."

For more information, contact Brad Pokorny at
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