The United States House of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 220 (H.Res.220) on September 21, “Condemning the Government of Iran’s state-sponsored persecution of its Bahá’í minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.”
Similar to its companion bill, Senate Resolution 148, which passed on December 17, 2015, this resolution “Calls on the Government of Iran to release the 7 imprisoned Bahá’í leaders, the 12 imprisoned Bahá’í educators, and all other prisoners held on account of their religion.”
Additionally, it “Urges the President and the Secretary of State to utilize existing authorities … to impose sanctions on officials of the government of Iran and other individuals directly responsible for serious human rights abuses, including abuses against the Bahá’í community.”
“The passage of this demonstrates yet again the strong bipartisan support these resolutions have historically garnered, with the final number of cosponsors rising to 152 – 90 Democrats and 62 Republicans,” said a spokesperson for the Bahá’í Office of Public Information.
News of the passage of the resolution was broadcast directly into Iran twice on September 22 on Voice of America’s Persian news service. It also broadcast, on the same day, a three minute interview of our Persian language spokesperson in the U.S., Dr. Farhad Sabetan, which included a discussion of the resolution and a reaction to the speech given at the U.N. earlier in the day by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
“We were particularly pleased that the passage of the resolution and the highlighting of the situation of the friends in Iran could be juxtaposed with the remarks of President Rouhani, who had painted a benign picture of Iran’s domestic human rights situation earlier in the day at the U.N.,” the public information spokesperson said.
While H. Res. 220 passed without objection, no member of the Alabama congressional delegation cosponsored the resolution. The resolution was introduced in the House on April 23, 2015. The 7 Bahá’í leaders have been imprisoned since the Spring 2008, and were not permitted to have a trial until 2010.
The seven were charged with, among other things, espionage, propaganda against the Islamic republic, the establishment of an illegal administration – charges that were all rejected completely and categorically by the defendants.
Their crime, though, is nothing more than being members of the Bahá’í Faith, a religion which has been the focus of a systematic, government-sponsored persecution in Iran since the 1979 revolution.
For more information on the status of the Bahá’í leaders, visit the Baha’i World News Service.