CONDEMNING THE GOVERNMENT OF IRAN'S STATE-SPONSORED PERSECUTION OF ITS BAHA'I MINORITY AND ITS CONTINUED VIOLATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 209
(Senate - December 21, 2017)

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[Pages S8276-S8277]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




CONDEMNING THE GOVERNMENT OF IRAN'S STATE-SPONSORED PERSECUTION OF ITS 
   BAHA'I MINORITY AND ITS CONTINUED VIOLATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL 
                       COVENANTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar No. 281, S. Res. 
139.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the resolution by title.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A resolution (S. Res. 139) condemning the Government of 
     Iran's state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and 
     its continued violation of the International Covenants on 
     Human Rights.

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the 
resolution, which had been reported from the Committee on Foreign 
Relations, with an amendment and an amendment to the preamble, as 
follows:
  (The part of the resolution intended to be deleted is shown in 
boldface brackets and the part of the resolution intended to be 
inserted is shown in italics.)
  (The part of the preamble intended to be deleted is shown in boldface 
brackets and the part of the preamble intended to be inserted is shown 
in italics.)

                              S. Res. 139

       Whereas in 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 
     2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016, 
     Congress declared that it deplored the religious persecution 
     by the Government of Iran of the Baha'i community and would 
     hold the Government of Iran responsible for upholding the 
     rights of all Iranian nationals, including members of the 
     Baha'i Faith;
       Whereas the United States Commission on International 
     Religious Freedom 2016 Annual Report states--
       (1) ``The Baha'i community, the largest non-Muslim 
     religious minority in Iran, long has been subject to 
     particularly severe religious freedom violations. The 
     government views Baha'is, who number at least 300,000, as 
     `heretics' and consequently they face repression on the 
     grounds of apostasy.'';
       (2) ``Since 1979, authorities have killed or executed more 
     than 200 Baha'i leaders, and more than 10,000 have been 
     dismissed from government and university jobs.''; and
       (3) ``Over the past 10 years, approximately 850 Baha'is 
     have been arbitrarily arrested.'';
       Whereas the Department of State 2015 International 
     Religious Freedom Report states--
       (1) religious minorities in Iran ``continued to face 
     societal discrimination, especially the Bahai community, 
     which reported continuing problems at different levels of 
     society, including personal harassment.'';
       (2) the Government of Iran ``continued to prohibit Bahais 
     from officially assembling or maintaining administrative 
     institutions, actively closed such institutions, harassed 
     Bahais, and disregarded their property rights.'';
       (3) in Iran, ``Bahai blood may be spilled with impunity, 
     and Bahai families are not entitled to restitution'' and 
     ``Bahais cannot receive compensation for injury or crimes 
     committed against them and cannot inherit property.'';
       (4) the Government of Iran ``requires universities to 
     exclude Bahais from access to higher education or expel them 
     if their religious affiliation becomes known.''; and
       (5) in Iran, ``Bahais are banned from government 
     employment'' and ``[t]here were reports of non-Bahais being 
     pressured to refuse employment to Bahais or dismissing Bahais 
     from their private sector jobs.'';
       Whereas, on June 8, 2016, the United Nations Special 
     Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic 
     Republic of Iran and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on 
     freedom of religion or belief issued a joint statement 
     condemning the ``wave of incitement of hatred of the Baha'i 
     community reflected in speeches made by religious, judiciary 
     and political officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran'';
       Whereas, on September 6, 2016, the United Nations 
     Secretary-General issued a report on the situation of human 
     rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/71/374), which 
     stated that ``human rights violations have continued at an 
     alarming rate'';
       Whereas, on December 17, 2016, the United Nations General 
     Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/70/179), which 
     ``[e]xpresse[d] serious concern about ongoing severe 
     limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of 
     thought, conscience, religion or belief and restrictions on 
     the establishment of places of worship, as well as attacks 
     against places of worship and burial, as well as other human 
     rights violations, including but not limited to harassment, 
     persecution and incitement to hatred that lead to violence 
     against persons belonging to recognized and unrecognized 
     religious minorities, including Christians, Jews, Sufi 
     Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Zoroastrians and members of the 
     Baha'i Faith and their defenders'';
       Whereas since May 2008, the Government of Iran has 
     imprisoned the 7 members of the former ad hoc leadership 
     group of the Baha'i community in Iran, known as the Yaran-i-
     Iran, or ``friends of Iran''--Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. 
     Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. 
     Behrouz Tavakkoli, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, and Mr. Vahid 
     Tizfahm--and these individuals were convicted of charges 
     including ``spying for Israel, insulting religious 
     sanctities, propaganda against the regime and spreading 
     corruption on earth'' and sentenced to 20-year prison terms, 
     the longest sentences given to any prisoner of conscience in 
     Iran at that time, now reportedly reduced to [10 years] 10 
     years, and Mrs. Sabet and Mrs. Kamalabadi were released in 
     September 2017 and October 2017, respectively, upon the 
     completion of their sentences;
       Whereas beginning in May 2011, officials of the Government 
     of Iran in 4 cities conducted sweeping raids on the homes of 
     dozens of individuals associated with the Baha'i Institute 
     for Higher Education (referred to in this Resolution as 
     ``BIHE'') and arrested and detained several educators 
     associated with BIHE, with 16 BIHE educators ultimately 
     sentenced to 4- or 5-year prison terms, 7 of whom remain in 
     prison;
       Whereas scores of Baha'i cemeteries have been attacked, and 
     in 2014, Revolutionary Guards began excavating a Baha'i 
     cemetery in Shiraz, which is the site of 950 graves, and 
     built a cultural and sport center on the cemetery site;
       Whereas the Baha'i International Community reported that 
     there has been a recent surge in anti-Baha'i hate propaganda 
     in Iranian state-sponsored media outlets, noting that--
       (1) in 2010 and 2011, approximately 22 anti-Baha'i articles 
     were appearing every month;
       (2) in 2014, the number of anti-Baha'i articles rose to 
     approximately 400 per month; and
       (3) by 2016, the number of anti-Baha'i articles rose to 
     approximately 1,500 per month;

       Whereas there are currently 90 Baha'is in prison in Iran;
       Whereas the Government of Iran is party to the 
     International Covenants on Human Rights and is in violation 
     of its obligations under such Covenants;
       Whereas section 105 of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, 
     Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (22 U.S.C. 8514) 
     authorizes the President to impose sanctions on individuals 
     ``responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for 
     ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission 
     of serious human rights abuses against citizens of Iran or 
     their family members on or after June 12, 2009''; and
       Whereas the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights 
     Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-158) amends and expands the 
     authorities established under the Comprehensive Iran 
     Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (Public 
     Law 111-195) to sanction Iranian human rights abusers: Now, 
     therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the Senate--
       (1) condemns the Government of Iran's state-sponsored 
     persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued 
     violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights;
       (2) calls on the Government of Iran to immediately release 
     the [7] 5 imprisoned

[[Page S8277]]

     Baha'i leaders, the 7 imprisoned Baha'i educators, and all 
     other prisoners held solely on account of their religion;
       (3) calls on the President and the Secretary of State, in 
     cooperation with responsible nations, to immediately condemn 
     the Government of Iran's continued violation of human rights 
     and demand the immediate release of prisoners held solely on 
     account of their religion; and
       (4) urges the President and the Secretary of State to 
     utilize available authorities to impose sanctions on 
     officials of the Government of Iran and other individuals 
     directly responsible for serious human rights abuses, 
     including abuses against the Baha'i community of Iran.

  Mr. McCONNELL. I further ask unanimous consent that the committee-
reported amendment to the resolution be agreed to, the resolution, as 
amended, be agreed to, the committee-reported amendment to the preamble 
be agreed to, the preamble, as amended, be agreed to, and the motions 
to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no 
intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The committee-reported amendment was agreed to.
  The resolution (S. Res. 139), as amended, was agreed to.
  The committee-reported amendment to the preamble was agreed to.
  The preamble, as amended, was agreed to.
  The resolution, as amended, with its preamble, as amended, reads as 
follows:

                              S. Res. 139

       Whereas in 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 
     2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016, 
     Congress declared that it deplored the religious persecution 
     by the Government of Iran of the Baha'i community and would 
     hold the Government of Iran responsible for upholding the 
     rights of all Iranian nationals, including members of the 
     Baha'i Faith;
       Whereas the United States Commission on International 
     Religious Freedom 2016 Annual Report states--
       (1) ``The Baha'i community, the largest non-Muslim 
     religious minority in Iran, long has been subject to 
     particularly severe religious freedom violations. The 
     government views Baha'is, who number at least 300,000, as 
     `heretics' and consequently they face repression on the 
     grounds of apostasy.'';
       (2) ``Since 1979, authorities have killed or executed more 
     than 200 Baha'i leaders, and more than 10,000 have been 
     dismissed from government and university jobs.''; and
       (3) ``Over the past 10 years, approximately 850 Baha'is 
     have been arbitrarily arrested.'';
       Whereas the Department of State 2015 International 
     Religious Freedom Report states--
       (1) religious minorities in Iran ``continued to face 
     societal discrimination, especially the Bahai community, 
     which reported continuing problems at different levels of 
     society, including personal harassment.'';
       (2) the Government of Iran ``continued to prohibit Bahais 
     from officially assembling or maintaining administrative 
     institutions, actively closed such institutions, harassed 
     Bahais, and disregarded their property rights.'';
       (3) in Iran, ``Bahai blood may be spilled with impunity, 
     and Bahai families are not entitled to restitution'' and 
     ``Bahais cannot receive compensation for injury or crimes 
     committed against them and cannot inherit property.'';
       (4) the Government of Iran ``requires universities to 
     exclude Bahais from access to higher education or expel them 
     if their religious affiliation becomes known.''; and
       (5) in Iran, ``Bahais are banned from government 
     employment'' and ``[t]here were reports of non-Bahais being 
     pressured to refuse employment to Bahais or dismissing Bahais 
     from their private sector jobs.'';
       Whereas, on June 8, 2016, the United Nations Special 
     Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic 
     Republic of Iran and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on 
     freedom of religion or belief issued a joint statement 
     condemning the ``wave of incitement of hatred of the Baha'i 
     community reflected in speeches made by religious, judiciary 
     and political officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran'';
       Whereas, on September 6, 2016, the United Nations 
     Secretary-General issued a report on the situation of human 
     rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/71/374), which 
     stated that ``human rights violations have continued at an 
     alarming rate'';
       Whereas, on December 17, 2016, the United Nations General 
     Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/70/179), which 
     ``[e]xpresse[d] serious concern about ongoing severe 
     limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of 
     thought, conscience, religion or belief and restrictions on 
     the establishment of places of worship, as well as attacks 
     against places of worship and burial, as well as other human 
     rights violations, including but not limited to harassment, 
     persecution and incitement to hatred that lead to violence 
     against persons belonging to recognized and unrecognized 
     religious minorities, including Christians, Jews, Sufi 
     Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Zoroastrians and members of the 
     Baha'i Faith and their defenders'';
       Whereas since May 2008, the Government of Iran has 
     imprisoned the 7 members of the former ad hoc leadership 
     group of the Baha'i community in Iran, known as the Yaran-i-
     Iran, or ``friends of Iran''--Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. 
     Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. 
     Behrouz Tavakkoli, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, and Mr. Vahid 
     Tizfahm--and these individuals were convicted of charges 
     including ``spying for Israel, insulting religious 
     sanctities, propaganda against the regime and spreading 
     corruption on earth'' and sentenced to 20-year prison terms, 
     the longest sentences given to any prisoner of conscience in 
     Iran at that time, now reportedly reduced to 10 years, and 
     Mrs. Sabet and Mrs. Kamalabadi were released in September 
     2017 and October 2017, respectively, upon the completion of 
     their sentences;
       Whereas beginning in May 2011, officials of the Government 
     of Iran in 4 cities conducted sweeping raids on the homes of 
     dozens of individuals associated with the Baha'i Institute 
     for Higher Education (referred to in this Resolution as 
     ``BIHE'') and arrested and detained several educators 
     associated with BIHE, with 16 BIHE educators ultimately 
     sentenced to 4- or 5-year prison terms, 7 of whom remain in 
     prison;
       Whereas scores of Baha'i cemeteries have been attacked, and 
     in 2014, Revolutionary Guards began excavating a Baha'i 
     cemetery in Shiraz, which is the site of 950 graves, and 
     built a cultural and sport center on the cemetery site;
       Whereas the Baha'i International Community reported that 
     there has been a recent surge in anti-Baha'i hate propaganda 
     in Iranian state-sponsored media outlets, noting that--
       (1) in 2010 and 2011, approximately 22 anti-Baha'i articles 
     were appearing every month;
       (2) in 2014, the number of anti-Baha'i articles rose to 
     approximately 400 per month; and
       (3) by 2016, the number of anti-Baha'i articles rose to 
     approximately 1,500 per month;

       Whereas there are currently 90 Baha'is in prison in Iran;
       Whereas the Government of Iran is party to the 
     International Covenants on Human Rights and is in violation 
     of its obligations under such Covenants;
       Whereas section 105 of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, 
     Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (22 U.S.C. 8514) 
     authorizes the President to impose sanctions on individuals 
     ``responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for 
     ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission 
     of serious human rights abuses against citizens of Iran or 
     their family members on or after June 12, 2009''; and
       Whereas the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights 
     Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-158) amends and expands the 
     authorities established under the Comprehensive Iran 
     Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (Public 
     Law 111-195) to sanction Iranian human rights abusers: Now, 
     therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the Senate--
       (1) condemns the Government of Iran's state-sponsored 
     persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued 
     violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights;
       (2) calls on the Government of Iran to immediately release 
     the 5 imprisoned Baha'i leaders, the 7 imprisoned Baha'i 
     educators, and all other prisoners held solely on account of 
     their religion;
       (3) calls on the President and the Secretary of State, in 
     cooperation with responsible nations, to immediately condemn 
     the Government of Iran's continued violation of human rights 
     and demand the immediate release of prisoners held solely on 
     account of their religion; and
       (4) urges the President and the Secretary of State to 
     utilize available authorities to impose sanctions on 
     officials of the Government of Iran and other individuals 
     directly responsible for serious human rights abuses, 
     including abuses against the Baha'i community of Iran.

                          ____________________