I am writing you in my capacity as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). While I am fully aware this letter may never reach you, in the event that some word of it does, I want you to know that your case is not ignored by the international community. You are not forgotten.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is deeply concerned by reports of the violent detentions of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian convert and house church leader of the Church of Iran, and three members of his congregation.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is concerned by recent reports that roughly 100 members of Iranian religious minorities, who sought resettlement to the United States, have been denied asylum and could be returned to Iran where they may face discrimination and persecution.The refugees, most of whom are reported to be Assyrian or Armenian Christians, were seeking refuge in the United States under the Lautenberg Amendment. The Lautenberg Amendment, enacted in 1990, was expanded in 2004 to allow members of Iranian religious minorities, including Christians, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, and others, to apply for refugee status under a special category in recognition of their status as persecuted minorities.
USCIRF welcomed the State Department’s naming of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) for severe religious freedom violations. This group comprises nations that violate religious freedom in a “systematic, ongoing, egregious” manner and includes Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
“Mahvash Sabet has been unjustly imprisoned under terrible conditions simply for daring to practice her religion and educate her fellow Baha’is. Mahvash’s courage in the face of persecution and her dedication to her faith are truly inspiring,” said USCIRF Vice Chairwoman Kristina Arriaga
USCIRF welcomed the release of Iranian religious prisoner of conscience Maryam Naghash Zargaran. A Christian convert from Islam, Ms. Zargaran was sentenced in 2013 to four years’ imprisonment on charges of “propagating against the Islamic regime and collusion intended to harm national security.” Commissioner Clifford D. May: Maryam's case exemplified Iran's "flagrant disregard for religious freedom."
“For more than four years, Maryam Naghash Zargaran has suffered in an Iranian prison, falsely charged with ‘propagating against the Islamic regime and collusion intended to harm national security’,” - Commissioner Clifford D. May.