Action Memorandum 019

August 30, 1996

FDI seeks information on Baha'i refugees

The Foundation for Democracy in Iran is has written to thegovernments of Iran and Turkey, seeking information on thewhereabouts and safety of twenty members of the Baha'i faith and oneMuslim teenager, who were deported by Turkish border police on Aug. 7after they had requested political asylum.

The twenty-one deportees had arrived in Ankara on Aug. 6 andreported to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, whoinformed them that Turkish law required that they first file theirasylum request at their point of entry into Turkey. According, theasylum seekers boarded a bus to return to the Turkish border town ofAgri. They were last seen on the morning of Aug. 7 heading toward theIranian town of Maku escorted by Turkish border police.

The Baha'i community has been repeatedly subjected to harassmentby the authorities of the Islamic Republic, who have illegallyoutlawed the faith and declared its followers "infidels." Since the1979 revolution, 201 Baha'is have been assassinated and 15 othersreported missing and presumed dead, according to a report dated Feb.9, 1996 by the UN Special Rapporteur for Religious Intolerance, Mr.Abdelfattah Amor

Accordingly, the Foundation fears that the twenty Baha'i asylumseekers, and the Muslim teenager who accompanied them, may have beenjailed upon their forced return to Iran. Under current laws of theIslamic Republic, the Baha'is could face the death penalty because oftheir faith.

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