U.S. Senate condemns persecution of Baha’is in Iran
Bipartisan resolution points out ‘blatant affront to human rights’ in the country of the religion’s origin
U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Information
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 139 on Dec. 21, 2017, condemning the Iranian government’s state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority as well as its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.
The resolution garnered strong bipartisan support, with a total of 32 co-sponsors—14 Republicans and 18 Democrats—in addition to the original sponsor, with the total number in support representing almost one third of the Senate. The resolution was introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon on behalf of himself and Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Dick Durbin of Illinois and John Boozman of Arkansas.
“I’m proud to stand with the Baha’is in Iran against the mullahs’ despicable oppression,” Wyden said. “Iran’s continued religious persecution of Baha’is is a blatant affront to basic human rights that has no place in the international community. My colleagues and I are going to keep pushing back on discrimination against the Baha’i people, who should be able to practice their own religion in their own country without fear.”
The passage of the resolution follows a recent wave of arrests and shop closures in Iran that took place during the Baha’i community’s celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, the founder of their faith, in late October. It also follows the Dec. 19 adoption of a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly condemning widespread human rights abuses in Iran, including the persecution of the Baha’is.
“For decades,” Rubio said, “the Iranian regime has brutally persecuted and oppressed members of the Baha’i community, treating them as second-class citizens. The United States cannot ignore the lack of religious freedom in Iran for the Baha’is and other peaceful religious minorities. The Baha’i community should be able to exercise their fundamental right to practice their faith without persecution or discrimination from their government.”
As of early April, six of the seven former members of the Baha’is’ ad-hoc leadership group, the Yaran, had been released from prison after serving 10–year sentences.
Their unjust incarcerations, “along with the recent arrests and shop closures, shows with somber clarity the necessity of Senate Resolution 139,” said Anthony Vance, director of public affairs for the Baha’is of the United States.
Among other measures, the resolution calls on the government of Iran to release all prisoners held solely on account of their religion. It also asks the president and the secretary of state to condemn the Iranian government’s continued violation of human rights.