Action Memorandum

MAY 23,1996

FDI denounces persecution of Baha'is

The Foundation for Democracy in Iran condemns the continuedpersecution of members of the Baha'i faith, and appeals to WestEuropean governments and other human rights organizations to exertall available pressure on the government of Iran to prevent thepending execution of three Baha'is who have been condemned to deathbecause of their faith.

In mid-February, an Iranian court sentenced Zabihollah Mahrami, a49-year old Iranian Baha'i, to death for apostasy. Mr. Mahrami, anAgriculture Department employee in Yazd province, converted to Islamin 1981 to avoid being fired from his government job, but returned tohis original faith seven years later. The Foundation believes theconviction of Mr. Mahrami on charges of apostasy constitutes a clearviolation of the right to freedom of belief as described in theInternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a bindinginternational treaty to which Iran is a signatory.

On February 18, the Islamic Republic's Supreme Court confirmed thedeath sentences of two other Baha'is, Mr. Kayvan Khalajabadi and Mr.Bihnam Mithaqi, for their activities within the Baha'i community.Both men were arrested in Karaj on April 29, 1989 and have beenimprisoned ever since.

A fourth Baha'i, Mr. Ramidan'ali Dhulfaqari, was jailed on Dec. 8,1993 in Rafsanjan and condemned to death for apostasy. Although hewas released from on Jan. 6, 1994, the death sentence was not lifted,so he could be arrested again. The last execution of a Bahai in Irandates from April 1992 when Bahman Samandari, a leading communitymember, was put to death. .

On May 14, the head of Iran's Judiciary branch, Ayatollah MohammadYazdi, in a public rebuke of international human rights organizationsfor their criticism of Iran's treatment of its religious minorities,told theologians in Qom that "Religious minorities in Iran enjoyfreedom. However... Baha'ism is not a religion but an espionageestablishment."

The Foundation fears that Yazdi's statement and the recent deathsentences against Baha'is could signal the beginning of a new wave ofpersecution against the estimated 300,000 to 350,000 Baha'is stillliving in Iran, in application of the 1991 "blueprint" fordismantling the Baha'i presence and influence in Iran that wasapproved by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i. [Documentavailable from FDI on request]. Since the 1979 revolution, 201Baha'is have been assassinated and 115 others reported missing andpresumed dead, according to a report dated Feb. 9, 1996 by the UNSpecial Rapporteur for Religious Intolerance, Mr. Abdelfattah Amor[E/CN.4/1996/95/Add.2, p16].

The Foundation for Democracy in Iran is a private,non-profit corporation registered in the State of Maryland.Contact: Kenneth R. Timmerman, Executive Director ( materials, including the FDI Newswire, are availablefree-of-charge via the Internet at