Kirk Condemns Iranian Government Raids on Baha’i Homes, Calls for Release of Baha’is Arrested
WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today issued the following statement regarding the Iranian Government’s arrest of 14 Baha’i citizens on Saturday:
“The international community should strongly condemn Iran’s mass arrest of 14 Baha’i citizens and call for their immediate release. The Iranian dictators should not be allowed to trample their citizens’ basic human rights. I pledge to redouble our efforts in the Senate on behalf of the Iranian Baha’i community and all citizens of Iran who yearn for human rights, freedom and democracy.”
According to news reports, Iranian authorities conducted a series of raids on Saturday targeting Baha’i citizens active in a community initiative to provide higher education to young people denied access to university studies. In Iran, Baha’is are banned from attending universities. As many as 14 people reportedly were arrested in the raids.
The raids are the most recent attacks in a long history of government persecution targeting Iran’s largest religious minority. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reports that since 1979, the Iranian government murdered more than 200 Baha’is and dismissed more than 10,000 Baha’is from government and university jobs. Since 2005, nearly 400 Baha’is were arbitrarily arrested with at least 75 still in prison because of their religious beliefs.
Earlier this year, Senator Kirk introduced S. Res. 80, a bipartisan Senate resolution condemning Iran’s persecution of its Baha’i minority. In addition, Senator Kirk recently introduced S. 879, the bipartisan Iran Human Rights and Democracy Promotion Act, which would support Internet-based Farsi or English language higher education courses for Baha’is in Iran denied access to higher education based on their religion.