House passes resolution condemning oppression of Baha’is in Iran

January 8, 2021
House passes resolution condemning oppression of Baha’is in Iran

The U.S. House of Representatives in December passed House Resolution 823, condemning the Iranian government’s persecution of the Baha’i community. 

The resolution, which enjoyed strong bipartisan support, calls on the Iranian government to release all Baha’i prisoners, end its campaign of state-sponsored persecution and reverse discriminatory policies against the Baha’i community. 

Introduced by Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, the House resolution was originally co-sponsored by

Reps. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, Eliot Engel of New York, Michael McCaul of Texas, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Chris Smith of New Jersey, Brad Schneider of Illinois, Steve Chabot of Illinois, Gregory Meeks of New York and Ann Wagner of Michigan. Both major parties are well represented among its 94 co-sponsors, plus the original sponsor.

“Today, my colleagues joined with me to resoundingly condemn the Iranian regime’s egregious record of human rights violations and unjust repression against its own people. The regime’s practice of denying freedom of religion and persecuting minorities like the Baha’i must end,” Deutch said. “This bipartisan resolution sends a clear message: that the regime’s actions are a violation of the principles and values for which our country stands. I am proud to have introduced this resolution condemning Iran’s state-sponsored persecution of the Baha’i people, and I applaud its passage in the House of Representatives.”

Chabot said, “As a former chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, I have long observed the Iranian government repress its own people, stifle their voices and systematically abuse their human rights. Nowhere is this more evident than in the mullahs’ persecution of members of the Baha’i faith. As an original co-sponsor of H.Res.823, I am encouraged that the House passed this resolution … condemning this cruel persecution.” 

Schakowsky said, “I was proud to co-sponsor, vote for and help pass H.Res.823. … It is critical that the United States send a strong, unified message to the government of Iran condemning its grave human rights abuses against the Baha’i community. Iran must immediately release all imprisoned and detained Baha’is, including Mr. Ardeshir Fanaian who was sentenced to six years in prison for teaching the Baha’i faith. The United States and its allies must use all available diplomatic tools to ensure Iran ends this hate-fueled campaign against its Baha’i minority now.”

Members of the Baha’i Faith have been persecuted in Iran since the religion’s founding there in 1844. This persecution intensified after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, with hundreds of Baha’is executed and tortured in the years after the Revolution. Currently, the Iranian government denies Baha’is access to higher education, government jobs, permits to work in 25 professions and occupations, and subjects them to arbitrary arrests and imprisonment.

“The passage of the resolution comes at a particularly trying time for the Baha’is of Iran,” said Anthony Vance, director of the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs. “In late November, government agents raided at least 20 homes and shops of Baha’is in coordinated raids across the country, demanding that they hand over their property deeds, as well as computers, mobile phones and other personal property. 

“In October, in the village of Ivel in Mazandaran province, a provincial appellate court confirmed a decision ordering the confiscation of the land, buildings, and homes of 27 Baha’is, the latest step in a long series of confiscatory actions taken to eliminate the presence of the Baha’is there,” Vance added.

“Moreover, since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a surge in criminal judicial proceedings brought against the Baha’is, threatening to add to the dozens of already incarcerated Baha’is, who are endangered by the pandemic in overcrowded Iranian prisons.”

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