United Nations

UN Commission on Human Rights again expresses concern for Iran's Baha'is

GENEVA - For the eighteenth time in eighteen years, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) has expressed its concern over human rights violations against the Bahá'ís of Iran, noting a "worsened pattern of persecution, including death sentences, executions, arrests and the closure of the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education."

The resolution passed on 16 April 1999 by a vote of 23 to 16, with 14 abstentions. The vote followed a January report by Maurice Danby Copithorne, the Commission's special representative on Iran, which stated that despite "President Khatami's plans for a tolerant, diverse and law-abiding society," the condition of the Bahá'ís "remains unchanged or perhaps, in some respects, it has worsened."

Mr. Copithorne noted that as of December 1998, some 17 Bahá'í remained in prison with six facing death sentences. He also expressed concern over Iranian Government raids against the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education last fall, which resulted in the arrest of 36 faculty members and the closure of the institution, a privately run university that Bahá'ís organized in response to the exclusion of Bahá'í youth from all other universities in Iran.

"The continued campaign against the Bahá'ís defies rational explanation," said Techeste Ahderom, the Bahá'í International Community's principal representative to the United Nations. "The Bahá'ís in Iran seek only their rights under the International Human Rights Covenants. What is necessary are legal and entirely public steps that will firmly establish the complete emancipation of the Bahá'ís of Iran."