The United States Senate last night unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) condemning the government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority. The resolution, S. Res. 80, demands the Government of Iran uphold the rights of all Iranian nationals, including members of the Baha'i faith. A House companion, H. Res. 134, introduced by Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL), Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) has more than 100 cosponsors and awaits action by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Baha'i Faith is an independent world religion that began in 19th-century Persia. Its central tenets are unity, peace, and understanding. The Baha'is are currently the largest non-Muslim minority in Iran, numbering some 300,000. Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the Baha'is have been a target of systematic government-sponsored persecution. Roughly 200 Baha'is in Iran have been killed by government authorities since 1979 and more than 500 Baha'is have been arrested since 2005 alone. According to the 2012 Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), "the government of Iran continues to engage in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused."
"It is past time for the state-sponsored religious persecution of the Baha'is in Iran to come to an end," Senator Durbin said. "The Baha'i community in Iran deserves the same basic human rights enjoyed by the Baha'i community in Illinois. The passage of this resolution affirms that the American people stand with the Baha'i in their quest for some of our most basic human rights: security and religious freedom."
"This resolution sends a strong message that the U.S. will hold the Iranian government accountable for violating the basic human rights of its people," said a spokesperson for Senator Kirk. "With this legislation, the U.S. Senate stands in solidarity with the Iranian Baha'i community."
"It is important that we continue to shine a bright light on the human rights abuses taking place inside Iran," said Congressman Dold. "This Iranian regime continues to imprison, oppress, and harass the Baha'i community of Iran, and these actions must not be ignored. I applaud Senator Kirk for his steadfast leadership on this issue, and I hope we will continue to build on the Resolution's significant support in the House so that it can pass this chamber as well."
"Everyone should be free to practice their faith without persecution or government interference," Congressman Lipinski said. "With this resolution, we are sending a message that America continues to stand for the vital principle of religious freedom."