Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today strongly condemned the destruction of Baha’i homes in the town of Roshan Kuh in Mazandaran Province, Iran.
“We strongly condemn Iran’s destruction of Baha’i homes in Mazandaran Province, the latest example of its targeting of Baha’is,” said USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza. “It is imperative that the U.S. government impose individual sanctions on Iranian officials responsible for Baha’i persecution to hold them accountable for these outrageous actions.”
Following a court order in early 2020, Iran expropriated land owned for decades by 27 Baha’is in the village of Ivel in Mazandaran province in October of last year. The government has continued throughout 2021 to arrest, detain, and sentence Baha’is to years in prison, and intensify anti-Baha’i messaging over state-owned media outlets. Officials from Mazandaran’s Natural Resources Department, aided by police and officials from the Prosecutor’s Office of Mazandaran, reportedly conducted the most recent demolitions. National and local government agencies have long targeted Baha’is in Mazandaran province and the Iranian government has escalated its persecution of Baha’is across the country in 2021.
Iran’s parliament also passed two amendments to Iran’s penal code earlier this year that further criminalize the activities of Baha’is and other religious groups lacking official recognition by Iran’s government.
“The United States government must condemn Iran’s persecution of religious communities within its borders and its harassment of those who flee abroad,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Nury Turkel. “The Biden administration should also resettle the nearly eighty Iranians from religious minority communities who for years have been waiting in Vienna, Austria to come to the United States under the bipartisan Lautenberg Amendment.”
In its 2021 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended for designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. In December 2020, the State Department redesignated Iran as a CPC. In December 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.Res. 823, a bipartisan bill that cited USCIRF’s reporting and condemned religious freedom violations against Baha’is in Iran. USCIRF spoke about religious restrictions in Iran on an episode of the USCIRF Spotlight Podcast that aired in May 2021.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at media@USCIRF.gov