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ANNIVERSARY OF THE IMPRISONMENT OF BAHA'I LEADERS IN IRAN
(Extensions of Remarks - May 23, 2013)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E731-E732]
       ANNIVERSARY OF THE IMPRISONMENT OF BAHA'I LEADERS IN IRAN

                                 ______
                                 

                          HON. JAMES P. MORAN

                              of virginia

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, May 22, 2013

  Mr. MORAN. Mr. Speaker, this month we mark the fifth anniversary of a 
terrible abuse of human rights in Iran.
  Seven Baha'i leaders in Iran have been in prison for five years as of 
May 14, 2013. They are Mahvash Sabet, Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin 
Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid 
Tizfahm.
  Tragically, there are many prisoners of conscience filling Iran's 
jails. Our Department of State's annual Human Rights Report documents 
case after case of violations of religious freedom. Indeed, in Iran, a 
climate of hostility surrounds all non-Shia religious communities. The 
Baha'i as well as Sunni Muslims, evangelical Christians, and Jews are 
victims of discrimination and persecution.
  For all the victims of this persecution, and in particular for the 
seven Baha'i whose grim milestone we mark this month, it is critical 
that we raise our voices to send a message that they are not forgotten.
  These seven leaders are all members of a national-level group--the 
``Yaran-i-Iran'' or ``Friends in Iran''--which oversaw the welfare of 
Iran's Baha'i community. Their 20-year prison term is the longest 
sentence of any current prisoners of conscience in Iran.
  The seven were charged with espionage, propaganda against the Islamic 
republic, the establishment of an illegal administration, and 
corruption on earth. These are typical of the false charges and 
misinformation used to vilify Baha'is in Iran. The defendants rejected 
these charges completely and categorically. Their crime is being 
members of the Baha'i Faith, a religion which has been the focus of 
systematic, government-sponsored persecution in Iran since the 1979 
revolution.
  The trial of the seven leaders was also the trial of an entire 
community of more than 300,000. For the last 30 years, more than 200 
Baha'is have been killed, hundreds more imprisoned, and thousands 
deprived of jobs, education, and the freedom to worship.
  In an act of communal self-preservation, the Baha'is created an 
internal university called the Baha'i Institute of Higher Education to 
educate those denied entry to university. It was raided in 2011 and 
seven educators and administrators were sentenced to four or five 
years' imprisonment.

[[Page E732]]

  In addition, some 600 Baha'is have suffered arbitrary arrests since 
2004. The number of Baha'is arrested and/or imprisoned has increased 
dramatically in the past two years. In January 2011, 56 were in prison 
and 230 were awaiting trial, appeal, or sentencing; currently, there 
are 110 in prison and 436 awaiting the other procedures.
  Followers of the Baha'i Faith, founded in Iran in 1863, are regarded 
as infidels and have suffered persecution both before and after the 
1979 Islamic Revolution. Baha'i teachings emphasize the oneness of God, 
the unity of humankind, the underlying harmony of major religions, 
universal education, and the equality of women and men.
  I support House Resolution 109 condemning the Iranian government for 
its persecution of its Baha'i minority. I call on my colleagues in the 
House of Representatives to join in co-sponsoring this resolution and 
my Senate colleagues in co-sponsoring Senate Resolution 75.

                          ____________________




    

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