SENATE BACKS BAHA'I COMMUNITY EMANCIPATION RESOLUTION,'
URGES RELIGIOUS RIGHTS FOR IRANIAN BAHA'IS
WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today approved a resolution urging Iran to grant religious rights to members of the Baha'i Faith, Iran's largest religious minority.
Spokesman for the American Baha'i community welcomed the action, which was co-sponsored by more than 40 U.S. senators. The House is considering a similar measure.
Iran's religious persecution of Baha'is was cited in a letter sent last week to Secretary of State Baker by 58 senators, who urged the administration to press for United Nations action against Iran's human rights violations.
In a move to create an international network to support rights for Baha'is, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus recently wrote to more than 200 members of parliaments in 15 countries, urging action to help Iranian Baha'is.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the principal sponsor of the Baha'i resolution, noted that since 1979, more than 200 Iranian Baha'is have been executed and thousands imprisoned solely on account of their religion. While no Baha'is have been executed for nearly three years, the Iranian government does not permit Baha'is to conduct the normal activities of a peaceful, law-abiding religious community, Dodd said.
Firuz Kazemzadeh, a member of the elected governing board of the American Baha'i community, welcomed the Senate action as part of a growing international effort to protect rights of Baha'is. "We are gratified that other countries are considering similar appeals," he said. "There is good evidence that four prior resolutions adopted by the U.S. Congress and annual appeals by the U.N. over the past decade have helped persuade Iran to moderate its most repressive actions."
There are more than 300,000 Baha'i in Iran, where the religion emerged in the mid-19th century. The Baha'i Faith now has more than 6 million adherents worldwide, including more than 120,000 American Baha'is.
/CONTACT: Katharine Bigelow of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, 202-265-8830, or Marjorie Sonnenfeldt for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, 202-828-8828/ CO: National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: MH-DC -- DC009 -- 4926 11/19/91 11:43 EST