UN General Assembly expresses concern over treatment of Baha'is in Iran

6 December 2000

UNITED NATIONS — For the 15th time in 16 years, the United Nations General Assembly has expressed "concern" over human rights violations in Iran, once again specifically mentioning the "unabated pattern of persecution" against the Baha'i community of Iran, that country's largest religious minority, and calling for its complete emancipation.

In a resolution passed on 4 December 2000, the Assembly called on Iran to "eliminate all forms of discrimination based on religious grounds or against persons belonging to religious minorities" and decided to continue its examination of the human rights situation in Iran for another year.

Approved by a vote of 67 to 54, with 46 abstentions, the resolution followed release of a UN report that stated that some 11 members of the Baha'i community of Iran currently face death sentences because of their religious belief and that the community as a whole continues to experience discrimination in areas education, employment, travel, housing and the enjoyment of cultural activities.

That report, issued on 8 September 2000 by Maurice Copithorne, the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, said there had been recent reports of "situations of discrimination and persecution" against Baha'is, including "acts of intimidation carried out in order to prevent Baha'is from participating in religious gatherings or educational activities."

In its resolution, the Assembly expressed concern that Iran has failed "to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice, the absence of guarantees of due process of law, and the absence of respect for internationally recognized legal safeguards with respect to persons belonging to religious minorities."

"We are pleased that the United Nations most representative body, the General Assembly, has once again taken note of the ongoing persecution of our co-religionists in Iran," said Techeste Ahderom, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

"Like the United Nations, we remain concerned at a wide range of human rights violations directed against the Baha'is of Iran by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said Mr. Ahderom. "As we have stated numerous times, the Baha'i community of Iran is entirely non-partisan in its nature and poses no threat to the Government. The Baha'is in Iran only wish to be allowed to practice their religion fully, in accordance with the numerous international human rights covenants that Iran is a party to."

Since 1979, when the Islamic Republic of Iran was formed, more than 200 Baha'is have been killed or executed, hundreds have been imprisoned, and thousands of been deprived of jobs, education or property.

Background information on the situation of the Baha'is in Iran may be found at www.bahai.org/article-1-8-3-6.html.