Baha'i International Community lauds passage of UN Resolution on Human Rights in Iran

21 November 2003

NEW YORK — Noting that the Baha'is of Iran face continuing religious persecution, the Baha'i International Community today expressed appreciation for the support of those countries that co-sponsored and voted for a new resolution in the United Nations General Assembly about ongoing human rights violations in Iran.

"International support remains the key to protecting the long oppressed Baha'i community of Iran," said Bani Dugal, the Principal Representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

"We are extremely grateful today for the support of those countries that have once again expressed concern about human rights violations in Iran -- especially as regards Iran's Baha'is."

By a vote of 73 to 49, with 50 abstentions, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution today that expresses "serious concern" over continuing violations of human rights in Iran -- and mentions specifically "continuing discrimination" against Baha'is and other religious minorities.

Since the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979, the 300,000-member Baha'i community of Iran has faced on-going and systematic persecution. In the early 1980s, more than 200 Baha'is were killed, hundreds were imprisoned, and thousands were deprived of jobs and education, solely because of their religious belief.

Although killings and imprisonments have abated in recent years -- in large part thanks to international pressure -- Iran's Baha'is remain victims of systematic oppression. Baha'is continue to be deprived of employment, property, education, and the right to freedom of assembly and worship.

Two years ago, for the first time in 18 years, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights failed to pass a resolution expressing concern about human rights in Iran, an event that ended UN-sponsored monitoring of the Iran's human rights situation.

"Since the end of international monitoring, the situation of the Baha'i community has not improved -- as was hoped by those countries that urged a 'dialogue' with Iran on human rights," said Ms. Dugal.

"Indeed, if anything, the situation of the Baha'is in Iran has deteriorated, with an increase in short term arrests and detentions, the confiscation of more properties, and continued harassment of Baha'i teachers and students.

"We laud those countries that recognize the importance of continued pressure on Iran and that have taken a principled stand by co-sponsoring it and/or voting for it," said Ms. Dugal. "At the same time, we must state that we regret the lack of support from those nations that have chosen to turn a blind eye to the oppression of Iran's largest religious minority."

"For Iran's beleaguered Baha'is, a resolution from the United Nations is a sign of hope and a source of comfort, confirmation that the international community indeed stands behind its words on human rights."

Those countries who co-sponsored the resolution were: Andorra, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Micronesia, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sweden, The Netherlands, Tuvalu, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Approval of the resolution in the Third Committee virtually assures its passage by the full General Assembly in a final vote, an event that is likely to occur in December.