May 10, 2021
USCIRF Condemns Iran’s Crackdown on Baha’i Community
Washington, D.C. – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today condemned the Iranian government’s alarming escalation of persecution targeting Baha’is in Iran. In the past month, Iran’s government has raided Baha’i homes across the country and jailed more than 20 community members, including a woman recovering from chemotherapy. Iranian authorities also prevented Baha’is from burying deceased community members in a designated section of Khaveran cemetery until receiving international pressure, and eventually relented.
“Iran’s latest persecution of the Baha’i community demonstrates the government’s unwillingness to uphold international laws pertaining to freedom of religion or belief,” said USCIRF Chair Anurima Bhargava. “We urge the Biden administration to raise this spate of raids and arrests in ongoing bilateral discussions.”
Iran’s government has systematically persecuted the Baha’i community for decades. Baha’is are restricted from pursuing education in Iran and security forces regularly close down Baha’i businesses, raid Baha’i homes, and conduct mass arrests of Baha’is. In December 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.Res. 823, a bipartisan bill that cited USCIRF’s reporting and condemned religious freedom violations against Baha’is in Iran.
“The United States must continue to hold Iran accountable for these incessant and outrageous attacks,” said USCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer. “Targeted sanctions on high level officials responsible for egregious religious freedom violations send a strong message that those acting against Baha’is in Iran will not escape accountability.”
In its 2021 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended Iran for designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. In August 2020, USCIRF released a factsheet on Iranian officials sanctioned for religious freedom violations. In December 2020, the State Department redesignated Iran as a CPC.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at media@USCIRF.gov