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12 January 2010

Statement on the Persecution of Religious Minorities in Iran, January 11, 2010

(U.S. concerned about Iran’s ongoing persecution of Baha’is)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
January 11, 2010

STATEMENT BY PHILIP J. CROWLEY, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS

Persecution of Religious Minorities in Iran

The United States strongly condemns the Iranian government’s decision to commence the espionage trial against seven leaders of the Iranian Baha’i community: Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, Mr. Vahid Tizfahm and Mrs. Mahvash Sabet. Authorities have detained these persons for more than 20 months, without making public any evidence against them and giving them little access to legal counsel. Reports indicate as many as 48 Baha’i are currently imprisoned in Iran solely on the basis of their religious beliefs. The Government of Iran is responsible for their safety while they are in prison.

These persons are entitled to due process. The right to a fair and public hearing is embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Iran’s constitution provides the right to legal representation in criminal cases, as does the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party. In addition, the right to freedom of belief and conscience is enshrined in both the UDHR and ICCPR.

We are deeply concerned about Iran’s ongoing persecution of Baha’is and treatment of other members of religious minorities who continue to be targeted solely on the basis of their beliefs.

We join the international community in urging the Iranian authorities to release all religious minorities who are currently in detention for peacefully exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

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