WASHINGTON– As part of their ongoing work to support religious freedom and tolerance across the globe, U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Ron Wyden (D-OR) Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced a resolution condemning Iran’s persecution of 300,000 members of the Baha’i Faith.
In addition to condemning religious persecution, the bipartisan resolution calls on Iran to release prisoners being held for their religious beliefs, including seven leaders of the Baha’i Faith who have been held since 2008.
“The religious intolerance the Baha’i community faces in Iran is unacceptable,” Boozman said. “We have an obligation to advocate for religious freedom and protect people around the world who are persecuted because of their beliefs.”
“This resolution is a recognition that our country stands with the Baha’i people,” Wyden said. “Iran’s persecution of a religious minority runs contrary to basic human rights protections and the commitment Iran’s own government has made to the international community. The Baha’i people should be allowed to practice their teachings of equality, unity and peace without fear of their government.”
"For decades the Iranian regime has discriminated against and brutally persecuted members of the Baha'i community,” Rubio said. “Baha'i educators, business owners, and community leaders have been targeted, including the Baha'i Seven who have been unjustly imprisoned since 2008. The lack of religious freedom in Iran for Baha'is and other peaceful religious minorities cannot be ignored."
“The religious persecution of Baha’is in Iran is a violation of one of our most basic human rights,” Durbin said. “This resolution will not only bring awareness to situation in Iran, but it will also remind the international community that we still must press more security and fairness for religious minorities around the world. The Baha’i community in Iran deserves the same religious freedoms enjoyed by our Baha’i neighbors in Illinois.”
The Iranian Baha'i community is the largest religious minority in Iran with membership of more than 300,000 people. Unlike some other religious minorities such as Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, Iran's Baha'is have never been recognized by their government and are often persecuted by the Iranian regime. The regime often seizes personal property, denies Baha'is access to education and employment opportunities and detains or imprisons Baha'is based solely on their religious beliefs. Over the past 10 years, about 850 Baha’is have been arbitrarily arrested in Iran. This resolution denounces the religious persecution and calls for the immediate release of all religious prisoners.
Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Steve Chabot (R-OH) Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) introduced a similar version of the resolution in the House of Representatives.