Baha’is to testify on Human Rights in Iran at Congressional Hearing

Thursday June 19th, Cler Baheri, a member of the Baha'i Community will testify at a hearing on Iran's human rights record in the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs (HFAC) Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa at 10:00 a.m.

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Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) June 18, 2014

Cler Baheri, a member of the Baha’i community, will testify at a hearing on Iran’s human rights record in the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs (HFAC) Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 19, at 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, in Washington D.C.

The HFAC Subcommittee will be considering testimony regarding President Rouhani’s human rights record during his first year in office.

Baheri’s testimony will describe the persecution of her family and other Baha’is in Iran [1] since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 through the present. Baheri’s father was executed July 1981, when she was 15 years old. Upon completing high school, she was denied entrance into university based on her faith and ultimately left Iran as a refugee.

She will also discuss the current situation of her 69-year-old father-in-law, Riaz Sobhani [2], who is currently imprisoned as part of his efforts on behalf of the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) [3], an informal network that was created in 1987 to provide higher education to Baha’i youth who are denied entrance to the country’s university system based on their religious affiliation.

Sobhani is imprisoned with 11 other Baha’i educators [4], all of whom are in prison due to their efforts to educate Baha’i youth. In addition to the 12 instructors and administrators of the BIHE, the seven members of the former ad hoc leadership group of the Baha’is in Iran remain imprisoned, serving 20-year terms [5].

Since Rouhani’s time in office, a Baha’i has been killed in a religiously motivated murder [6], and a Baha’i family has been stabbed [7] by a masked intruder in their home; there has been no progress in the investigation of either case. Baha’i cemeteries in Sanandaj [8] and Shiraz [9] have also been attacked, and, in January 2014, the number of Baha’is in prison in Iran reached a two-decade high of 136.

In November 2014, President Rouhani’s administration released a draft Citizens’ Rights Charter [10], which, though superficially a promising development, is a document that in fact appears to entrench existing discrimination [11] against several groups, including Baha’is.

Baheri will discuss these developments, as well as the importance of the United States and international bodies around the world continuing to and speak out against the religious freedom and human rights violations in Iran.

To watch the hearing live or after it has concluded, and to obtain copies of witness testimony, visit: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/joint-subcommittee-hearing-one-year-under-rouhani-irans-abysmal-human-rights-record.

For additional information, please contact the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs at (202) 833-8990, or visit: http://publicaffairs.bahai.us/what-we-do/human-rights/persecution-of-the-bahais-in-iran.

Contact Rachel Wolfe, Media Relations Officer, at USBahaiMedia@usbnc.org to arrange for interviews.

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[1] United States Commission on International Religious Freedom 2013 Annual Report, uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/resources/Iran%202013.pdf
[2] International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Profile on Riaz Sobhani (2014), iranhumanrights.org/tag/riaz-sobhani/
[3] Small Media Report, Knowledge as resistance: The Baha’i Institute for Higher Education, (February 2013), smallmedia.org.uk/knowledge.pdf
[4] Baha’i World News Service, Profiles of Baha’i Educators, (2014) news.bahai.org/human-rights/iran/education/profiles
[5] Amnesty International, Iranian Baha’i leaders hit by ‘vindictive’ sentence extension, (31 March 2011) amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/iranian-bahai-leaders-hit-vindictive-sentence-extension-2011-03-31
[6] Baha’i World News Service, Murder of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani was religiously motivated, (27 August 2013), news.bahai.org/story/966
[7] Al Monitor, Attack on Baha’i family in Iran raises questions of immunity, (20 February 2014), al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/iran-bahai-attacks-accountability-police-discrimination.html
[8]Baha’i World News Service, Baha’i cemetery in Sanandaj, Iran, attacked and partly destroyed, (10 December 2013) news.bahai.org/story/976
[9] Human Rights Watch, Iran: Mounting Pressure on Baha’is, (20 May 2014) hrw.org/news/2014/05/19/iran-mounting-pressure-baha
[10] Informal Draft of The Citizenship Rights Charter, (November 2013) shaheedoniran.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Citizenship-Rights-Charter_English.pdf
[11] Human Rights Watch, Joint Letter to President Hassan Rouhani re: draft Citizen’s Rights Charter, (27 December 2013), hrw.org/news/2013/12/27/joint-letter-president-hassan-rouhani-re-draft-citizens-rights-charter


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