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Condemning the Persecution of Baha'is in Iran

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


CONDEMNING THE PERSECUTION OF BAHA'IS IN IRAN -- (House of Representatives - July 30, 2008)

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 1008, which condemns the Iranian Government's continuing persecution of members of the Baha'i faith, calls on Iran's Parliament to reject a proposed Islamic penal code, and calls on the Iranian regime to immediately release 10 imprisoned Baha'is.

Mr. Speaker, Tehran's notoriously cruel regime, which denies religious freedoms to its citizens, has made a special example of the Iranian Baha'is. In addition to seizing Baha'i communal property, the Iranian Government prohibits the community from officially assembling, bans them from practicing or teaching their religion, excludes them from the national pension system and from public universities, prevents them from inheriting property, and jails them on account of their faith or on trumped-up charges of espionage.

Recently, Iranian Baha'is have also reported a string of arson attacks against their homes and vehicles. Disturbingly, this persecution continues to the grave. In 2007, two Baha'i cemeteries in Iran were destroyed or bulldozed, wiping away the memory of these innocent Iranians.

Mr. Speaker, oppression of Baha'is comes from the very top of the Iranian regime. The U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief has revealed that in 2005, the chairman of the command headquarters of Iran's Armed Forces wrote a letter stating that Iran's so-called ``supreme leader'' had ordered the headquarters to identify and monitor Iranian members of the Baha'i faith.

This was no idle request. In March and May of 2008, the Government of Iran arrested and imprisoned seven senior leaders of the Baha'i community in Iran. And today, those leaders, along with three other Baha'is, remain imprisoned without charge.

Now Iran's Parliament may aggravate repression of religious freedom by enacting a draft Islamic penal code that would punish so-called ``apostates,'' including all Baha'is and converts from Islam, with death. Iran's regime continues to demonstrate that it is ready and willing to execute innocent people.

Mr. Speaker, totalitarian regimes everywhere, hiding behind the false excuse of state sovereignty, are eager to combat any progress in human rights and freedoms and to expand their hegemony and repression as far as others allow them to do. Therefore, the United States must continue to make
clear, in both word and deed, that the spread of religious freedom and human rights worldwide is not merely an ideal, but an imperative.

I thank my distinguished colleague and friend from Illinois (Mr. Kirk) for introducing this resolution.

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