U.S. State Department
Daily Press Briefing
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1, 1998
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 US State Department