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End religious persecution, Do not execute members of Baha'i community

U.S.Department of State
February 28, 2000

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback today called upon the Iranian government to stop the planned executions of three members of the Baha'i community of Iran.

"At this moment, at least three Baha'i men in Mashha prison presently sit on death row, facing imminent execution because they dared to quietly celebrate their faith," Brownback said. "Their names are Mr. Sirus Zabihi-Moghaddam, Mr. Hedayat Kashefi-Najafabadi, and Mr. Manuchehr Khulusi.

"I call on the government of Iran to ensure the safety and release of these individuals whose only crime was the sincere expression of their faith. It is time for the government of Iran to provide freedom of religion to all of its people, including the peaceful yet brutalized Baha'i community. Iran must abide by global human rights principles.

"The Baha'is are Iran's largest religious minority with about 300,000 members and suffer continuous persecution for their faith. These men are victims of the most extreme form of religious persecution. They face death through hanging for the alleged 'sin' of practicing their sincerely held beliefs.

"Nearly 50 years ago the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since that time, the Universal Declaration has become the bedrock document for human rights standards. The government of Iran, however, is distinguished as an egregious violator of a central principle of this document - religious freedom.

"Article 18 of the Universal Declaration explicitly states: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship andobservance.'

"If we hold the principle of religious freedom to be a precious and fundamental right -- something worth protecting -- then we must defend those who are wrongfully and brutally crushed for their faith by hostile national governments," Brownback said.