Illinois lawmakers introduce House and Senate Resolutions condemning Iran’s continued persecution of Baha’is

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http://iran.bahai.us/ (2 March 2011) Four members of Congress from Illinois, the state that is home to the Baha’i House of Worship for North America, are asking the U.S. government to call on the Iranian government to change its policies towards the Baha’is. The two U.S. Senators are Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin and the two U.S. Representatives areRobert Dold and Dan Lipinski.

The resolutions, introduced on March 1, demand the immediate release of imprisoned Baha’is held solely for their religious beliefs and also demand sanctions for “individuals directly responsible for egregious human rights violations in Iran, including against the Baha’i community.”

Selected Baha’i Spiritual Assemblies in localities throughout the U.S. have been active in a Congressional outreach campaign to urge their senators or representatives to stand in support of Iranian Baha’is who constitute the country’s largest non-Muslim religious minority but are not recognized under its constitution.

The resolutions renew a sense of urgency in the ongoing visits.

Delegations representing the Local Spiritual Assemblies have reported that senators and representatives in large part have expressed interest in taking action to demonstrate their support for the Baha’is. Now each delegation can contact their member of Congress, whether or not he or she has already been contacted, to ask him or her to get in touch with Senators Kirk and Durbin for S.Res.80 or Representatives Dold or Lipinski for H.Res.134 about co-sponsoring the resolutions.

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Continue reading for the press release from Senator Kirk’s office.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) and U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) today introduced bipartisan resolutions in the House and Senate calling attention to the continued plight of Baha’is in Iran.

Baha’is comprise the largest religious minority in Iran, where the Baha’i religion was founded in the 19th century.  According to the 2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report, “Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, more than 200 Baha’is have been killed, and many have faced regular raids and confiscation of property.”  In October 2010, the United Nations Secretary General issued a special report on human rights in Iran, stating that “the Baha’i, who comprise the country’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, face multiple forms of discrimination and harassment, including denial of employment, Government benefits and access to higher education.”

“The plight of Baha’is in Iran should be deeply personal to all Americans, especially citizens of Illinois,” Senator Kirk said.  “I urge the administration to elevate the issue of human rights in Iran, including the plight of Iranian Baha’is, to the top of the international agenda.”

“The religious persecution of Baha’is in Iran is a violation of one of our most basic human rights,” Senator Durbin said.  “We must continue to press for 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.”

“I am deeply concerned about the signs of continued and worsening oppression of the Baha’i in Iran,” Congressman Dold said. “The United States must take a leadership role within the international community to condemn Iran’s harassment of human rights defenders, pervasive gender inequality and violence and discrimination against the Baha’i.”

“I believe America has a duty to stand up for religious freedom around the world, wherever it is under attack,” Rep. Lipinski said. “At a time when people across the Middle East are fighting for their liberty, America should make it clear that Iran’s treatment of its Baha’i citizens is totally unacceptable.”

The bicameral resolutions condemn the Iranian regime’s continued persecution of its Baha’i minority, call on the regime to release Baha’i political prisoners and urge President Obama and Secretary Clinton to designate Iranian officials and other individuals directly responsible for egregious human rights violations in Iran.

The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (P.L. 111- 195), which became law last July, authorizes the President and the Secretary of State to impose sanctions on “the officials of the Government of Iran and other individuals who are responsible for continuing and severe violations of human rights and religious freedom in Iran.”  To date, only 10 individuals have been designated for such abuses.

In August 2010, the Iranian government sentenced seven leaders of Iran’s Baha’i community to 20-year prison terms on charges of “spying for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, propaganda against the regime and spreading corruption on earth.”  Their lawyer has been denied all access to the Baha’i prisoners and their files.  Last month, the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced a Baha’i human rights activist, Navid Khanjani, to a 12-year prison term on charges that included “propaganda against the regime by publishing news, reports, and interviews with foreign TV and radio.”

The House Resolution is also cosponsored by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif).

RESOLUTION

Condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.

Whereas in 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2006, 2008, and 2009 Congress declared that it deplored the religious persecution by the Government of Iran of the Baha’i community and would hold the Government of Iran responsible for upholding the rights of all Iranian nationals, including members of the Baha’i faith;

Whereas the 2010 US State Department International Religious Freedom Report stated:  “Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, more than 200 Baha’is have been killed, and many have faced regular raids and confiscation of property”;

Whereas the 2009 US State Department Human Rights Report stated: “The government continued to repress Baha’is and prevent them from meeting in homes to worship. It banned them from government and military leadership posts, the social pension system, and public schools and universities unless they concealed their faith”;

Whereas on October 15, 2010, the UN Secretary General issued a special report on human rights in Iran, stating that “the Baha’i, who comprise the country’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, face multiple forms of discrimination and harassment, including denial of employment, Government benefits and access to higher education”;

Whereas on December 21, 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/65/226) noting “serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations” in Iran, including against the Baha’i community;

Whereas in November 2007, the Iranian Ministry of Information in Shiraz jailed Baha’is Ms. Raha Sabet, 33; Mr. Sasan Taqva, 32; and Ms. Haleh Roohi, 29; for educating underprivileged children and gave them 4-year prison terms;

Whereas Ms. Sabet remains imprisoned in Iran;

Whereas Ms. Sabet, Mr. Taqva, and Ms. Rooshi were targeted solely on the basis of their religion;

Whereas in March and May of 2008, Iranian intelligence officials in Mashhad and Tehran arrested and imprisoned Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm, the members of the coordinating group for the Baha’i community in Iran;

Whereas in August 2010, the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced the seven Baha’i leaders to 20-year prison terms on charges of “spying for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, propaganda against the regime and spreading corruption on earth”;

Whereas the lawyer for these seven leaders, Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Laureate, has been denied all access to the prisoners and their files;

Whereas these seven Baha’i leaders were targeted solely on the basis of their religion;

Whereas in February 2011, the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced human rights activist and follower of the Baha’i faith Navid Khanjani to a 12-year prison term on charges of “propaganda against the regime by publishing news, reports, and interviews with foreign TV and radio”, among others;

Whereas the Government of Iran is party to the International Covenants on Human Rights;

Whereas the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (P.L. 111- 195) authorizes the President and the Secretary of State to impose sanctions on “the officials of the Government of Iran and other individuals who are responsible for continuing and severe violations of human rights and religious freedom in Iran”:  Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate (or House of Representatives) –

(1) condemns the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights;

(2) calls on the Government of Iran to immediately release the seven leaders and all other prisoners held solely on account of their religion, including: Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Vahid Tizfahm, Ms. Raha Sabet, and Mr. Navid Khanjani;

(3) calls on the President and Secretary of State, in cooperation with the international community, to immediately condemn Iran’s continued violation of human rights and demand the immediate release of prisoners held solely on account of their religion, including Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Vahid Tizfahm, Ms. Raha Sabet, and Mr. Navid Khanjani; and

(4) urges the President and Secretary of State to utilize all available measures, such as P.L. 111-195 and Executive Order 13553, to sanction Iranian officials and other individuals directly responsible for egregious human rights violations in Iran, including against the Baha’i community.

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Source: http://iran.bahai.us/2011/03/02/s-res-80-h-res-134/

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