Friday, February 13, 2009

U.S. State Department Condemns Iran for its Impending Trial of Baha'i Leaders

The United States Department of State joined the international community in urging Iran to free all religious minorities that are currently in detention. In doing so, the State Department has just released an urgent statement condemning the Iranian government's plan to try, next week, in its "Revolutionary Court" the seven detained Iranian Baha'i leaders on trumped up charges of "espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic."

These charges, clearly, are "nothing more than a sham on the part of the Iranian government in an attempt to justify its documented and reprehensible intention to bring harm not only to the Iranian Bahá'í leadership, but to the whole of the Iranian Bahá'í community."

A recent statement issued by the Baha'i International Community states: “The accusations are false, and the government knows this,” said Diane Ala’i, the Baha’i International Community representative to the United Nations in Geneva. “The seven Baha’is detained in Tehran should be immediately released.”

Following an announcement by the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA), Agence France Presse (AFP) reported this ominous development two days ago. In that report, AFP wrote : "Iran will soon try seven members of the banned Bahai religion on charges including "espionage for Israel," the ISNA news agency reported on Wednesday."

In its statement today, the U. S. Department of State published the following statement on its website:

Persecution of Religious Minorities in Iran
Robert Wood
Acting Department Spokesman

Washington, DC
February 13, 2009

The United States condemns the Iranian government’s decision to level baseless charges of espionage 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 Baha’i for more than nine months without access to legal counsel or making public any evidence against them. The accusations reported in Iranian and international media are part of the ongoing persecution of Baha’i in Iran. Thirty other Baha’i remain imprisoned in Iran solely on the basis of their religious belief.

Other religious minorities continue to be targeted solely on the basis of their beliefs. Last month authorities arrested three Christians: Jamal Ghalishorani, Nadereh Jamali and Hamik Khachikian. In addition, authorities detained several members of the Gonabadi Dervishes, followers of Sufism, on Kish Island in January.

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

Today, worldwide, National Spiritual Assemblies (Baha'i national governing bodies) have urged the Baha'is in their respective territories to "hold prayer gatherings for the Baha'is in Iran and for the amelioration of the deplorable human rights situation in Iran generally."

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