With the release of a new State Department report on religious freedom around the world, the U.S. government revealed the shocking fact that 116 members of the Baha’i faith are unjustly imprisoned in Iran solely for their beliefs. Among them, sadly, are seven prominent Baha’i leaders unfairly incarcerated since 2008.
Prior to their arrest, the two women and five men ranging in ages from 40 to 80 — Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli and Vahid Tizfahm — worked together to attend to the basic spiritual needs of Baha’is in Iran such as marriages, divorces and Baha’i children’s spiritual education. After five years of confinement, it is time for members of the international community to demand an end to this injustice.
In an effort to call attention to the plight of the Baha’is in Iran, members of the United States Congress introduced legislation on March 12, S.Res.75 and H.Res.109 condemn the state-sponsored persecution of Iran’s 300,000-member Baha’i minority, which contravenes Iran’s international obligations as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international instruments. Additionally, the resolutions call on the president and secretary of State to demand the immediate release of prisoners held solely on account of their religion and to sanction Iranian officials directly responsible for serious human rights abuses, including abuses against the Baha’i community in Iran.