U.S. House of Representatives Passes Resolution 492 Condemning the Persecution of Baha’is in Iran

Washington, DC, Sept. 12, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On September 12, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed Resolution 492, “Condemning the Government of Iran’s state-sponsored persecution of the Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.”

Introduced by Congresswoman Schakowsky [D-IL] on behalf of herself and a bipartisan group of 28 cosponsors  House Resolution 492 documents the many ways in which the Iranian Government oppresses the Baha’i community, both today and since 1979.  It calls on the Government of Iran to cease its persecution and condemns “the continued violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right.”

It also calls on the President and Secretary of State to 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 urges the imposition of 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.”

During a three-month surge in persecution that began in June of 2022, there were over 300 incidents of raids, arrests, arraignments, sentencings, property confiscations and denials of higher education.  This pattern has continued in recent weeks. Almost 60 Baha’is have been arrested or imprisoned, 26 have received sentences or jail terms, and 59 Baha’i-owned have been sealed by authorities.
In a particularly cruel development authorities in Tehran are preventing Baha’is from burying their loved ones in the Baha’i cemetery near Khavaran. Intelligence agents are forcibly burying Baha’is in a mass grave that is the burial site of hundreds of political prisoners executed in the 1980s.

 The resolution highlights that June 18, 2023 marked the 40th anniversary of the executions of 10 Baha’i women in Shiraz, Iran, most of whom were in their 20s, the youngest was only 17. All of these women worked tirelessly to achieve the ideals of the Baha’i Faith including gender equality and the right to education. For these crimes each was forced to watch the preceding women’s hanging as a last cruel attempt to intimidate them to recant their faith. None did. 

In light of the upcoming anniversary of the killing of Mahsa Amini and the coinciding demonstrations, the international pressure House Resolution 492 brings to bear on Iran is especially timely. The story of the young Iranian women fighting for equality and the mounting pressure on Baha’is are two sides of the same coin, both work tirelessly to bring about the ideals of equality and justice and both face wrongful imprisonment and other forms of oppression. 

Anthony Vance, Director of Public Affairs for the Baha’is of the U.S. stated that “we are gratified at the speed with which the House of Representatives has acted in response to the escalation of the persecution of the Baha’is by passing two resolutions within a ten month period, H.Res. 744 on December 1, 2022 and now H.Res.492, which documents fresh abuses and highlights the attack on gender equality. It reminds us that what was experienced by ten Baha’i women 40 years ago is a microcosm of the current attack on women, not only among Baha’is for whom an unprecedented two-thirds of current prisoners are women, but in the blatant attacks by the authorities since September of last year on women and girls in the wider society.”

For more information about religious persecution and the rights of the Baha’is in Iran, please contact the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs at 202-938-1145, or visit bahai.us/public-affairs.