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    U.S. State Department
    Daily Press Briefing
    Briefer: JAMES P. RUBIN

    [First question after brief opening announcement]

    QUESTION: Jamie, there are credible reports of a severe round-up of Baha'is in Iran. While you're looking for moderation in Tehran - we're told that 32 professors and teachers, who already were barred from teaching in universities and schools, but were teaching their own people, have been rounded up in 14 cities. And you know sometimes that isn't the end of it - they sometimes get killed. And I wonder if you could confirm that and if there's anything the State Department's got to say on this subject?

    MR. RUBIN: Yes. It's not only the round-up, but the imminent prospect of a death sentence that concerns us. We understand that two individuals of the Baha'i faith currently in prison in the Iranian province of Khorasan have had their death sentences confirmed and are in imminent danger of execution for nothing else than the free exercise of their religion. The two individuals were arrested in October 1997 for violating a ban on religious gatherings. The United States urges the government of Iran to exercise restraint and not to carry out these death sentences.

    As you know, in July the United States strongly condemned the Iranian Government's execution of a Baha'i charged with converting a Muslim to the Baha'i faith. As you indicated in your question, we are also aware of other recent official acts of persecution against the Baha'i, including the arrest of 32 faculty members of the university operated by the Baha'i community, as the Islamic republic does not allow Baha'i's to enroll in public universities. We have urged publicly, and will continue to urge publicly, that the government of Iran protect members of the Baha'i faith and we have also urged the government of Iran to ease restrictions on the practice of religion and to recognize and uphold the fundamental human right to freedom of conscience and belief. We've urged that in the past and we are urging it again today.

    ©Copyright 1998 by United States State Department.

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