U.S. State Department
Daily Press Briefing #119
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 1998, 1:12 P.M.
Briefer: JAMES FOLEY
[Question asked by reporter toward the end of briefing]
QUESTION: Have you heard anything about an Iranian crackdown on the Baha'is
and closing down of this informal university?
MR. FOLEY: Yes, I have. We, of course, denounced the anti-Baha'i persecution
in Iran upon the first reports that we received, I believe it was October
1st. We understand that more than 500 homes and office buildings owned or
rented by Iranian Baha'is and associated with the Baha'i Institute of Higher
Education were raided with at least 36 Baha'i faculty members arrested and
Apparently all but four of these people have been released. However, the
four faculty members who have not been released join 13 other Baha'is now
in prison in Iran, six of whom are currently on death row.
We've read that the materials confiscated in the recent raid were neither
religious nor political; instead, they were textbooks on subjects such as
dentistry and accounting. Some laboratory equipment was also confiscated.
The persons arrested, again, are members of the Baha'i Institute of Higher
Education, a university founded in 1987 in response to the virtual banning
of Baha'i from public universities in Iran. We have publicly called on the
government of Iran to protect the lives of all Baha'is. We continue to
urge the government of Iran to eliminate restrictions on the practice of
religion, and to recognize and uphold the fundamental human right to
freedom of conscience and belief.
In July, the United States strongly condemned the Iranian Government's
execution of Ruhollah Rowhani, who was a Baha'i charged with converting a
Muslim to the Baha'i faith. We also understand two additional Baha'is are
in imminent danger of execution; we spoke to that earlier in the month.
The United States urges the government of Iran to exercise restraint and
not carry out these death sentences.
©Copyright 1998, U.S. State Department