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    (U.S. delegation expresses "concern" about Baha'i persecution)


    The United Nations -- The U.S. delegation to the U.N. Human Rights Commission expressed "serious concerns" over "gross violations of human rights in Iran -- specifically -- the persecution of its Baha'i community.

    The U.S. statement made on April 24 was in response to a draft decision drawn up by a number of European countries on the "situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran." That draft likewise expressed concern at the "discriminatory treatment of minorities by reason of their religious beliefs, notably the Baha'is," and mentioned other violations of human rights.

    Following is the official transcript of the U.S. delegation statement:

    (Begin transcript)

    Mr. Chairman:

    The United States continues to have serious concerns over gross violations of human rights in Iran. There are many facets of this which are addressed by this resolution, but I want to expand on one specifically -- the persecution of its Baha'i community.

    The most recent example of this can be seen in the decision of the Iranian supreme court to confirm the death sentence for two Iranian members of the Baha'i faith: Kayvan Kahlajabadi and Binham Mithadqi. Both of these individuals were arrested without charge seven years ago and were later sentenced to death by the Islamic revolutionary court of Karaj for engaging in Baha'i activities. To condemn anyone to death for practicing his or her religion is a clear and gross violation of the universal principles of this commission.

    This is just the latest instance of a continuing campaign against the Baha'i community by the government of Iran. We call on it to commute these death sentences and release both men as well as permit elections for local spiritual assemblies by the Baha'is, and generally emancipate the Baha'i community. Thank you

    (End transcript)

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