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U.S. Senate and U.N. General Assembly Condemns Iran’s Persecution of Baha’is

Baha'i World News Service | Feb 11, 2016

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Baha'i World News Service | Feb 11, 2016

…Baha’u’llah taught that an equal standard of human rights must be recognized and adopted. In the estimation of God all men are equal; there is no distinction or preferment for any soul in the dominion of His justice and equity. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 181.

The basis of the teaching of Baha’u’llah is the Unity of Mankind, and his greatest desire was that love and goodwill should live in the heart of men.

As He exhorted the people to do away with strife and discord, so I wish to explain to you the principal reason of the unrest among nations. The chief cause is the misrepresentation of religion by the religious leaders and teachers. They teach their followers to believe that their own form of religion is the only one pleasing to God, and that followers of any other persuasion are condemned by the All-Loving Father and deprived of His Mercy and Grace. Hence arise among the peoples, disapproval, contempt, disputes and hatred. If these religious prejudices could be swept away, the nations would soon enjoy peace and concord. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 45-46.

In a unanimous vote on Thursday evening, December 17, the United States Senate passed Senate Resolution 148, which unequivocally condemns “the Government of Iran’s state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.”

The resolution further “calls on the Government of Iran to immediately release the 7 imprisoned Baha’i leaders,” the imprisoned Baha’i Institute for Higher Education teachers and administrators, and “all other prisoners held solely on account of their religion.” It also urges the President and Secretary of State to make use of measures already in place to impose sanctions on Iranian government officials and others directly responsible for human rights abuses, including those affecting Baha’is. Prior to its passage, the resolution received support from an unprecedented 39 co-sponsors representing both major political parties―demonstrating that recognition of the deplorable treatment of Iran’s Baha’is cuts across such limited loyalties.

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom officials pose for a photo with a delegation from the U.S. Baha'i Office of Public Affairs on March 12, 2013. The delegation met with USCIRF officials to share personal stories about family members and friends who are currently in prison and provide information about the recent intensified persecution of the Iranian Baha’i community.

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom officials pose for a photo with a delegation from the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs on March 12, 2013. The delegation met with USCIRF officials to share personal stories about family members and friends who are currently in prison and provide information about the recent intensified persecution of the Iranian Baha’i community.

In an unexpected confluence of events, that same day, December 17, saw the UN General Assembly approve its annual resolution on the state of human rights in Iran―with persecution of the country’s Baha’is prominently mentioned. The 81 countries voting for it caused the resolution to be placed among five over the last 20 years receiving the most support.

With apprehensions raised that the recent agreement on nuclear development struck between Iran and six world powers might signal a diminution of interest in addressing the country’s dismal human rights record, the United States government, particularly the Senate―as well as the international community―nevertheless appears determined to keep the issue in the forefront of global concerns. Absent such attention, the situation could quickly deteriorate further.

Senator Mark S. Kirk, who had introduced the resolution, observed, “More than 5 million members of the Baha’i Faith worldwide celebrate and respect the equality of all mankind― but in Iran these members continue to be persecuted simply for being Baha’i worshippers.” One of the resolution’s first co-sponsors, Senator Richard J. Durbin, added, “It is crucial to speak out for fundamental rights and freedoms if minority communities like the Baha’is in Iran are to live without fear.”

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