THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Cleveland, Ohio) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release October 2, 1998
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
Actions by Iran Against Baha'Is
The United States is deeply distressed by recent actions by the Government of Iran against adherents of the Baha'I faith. First, we understand that two Baha'Is currently in the custody of the Iranian Government, Sirus Zabihi-Moghaddam and Hedayet Kashefi-Najafabadi, recently had their death sentences confirmed by an Iranian tribunal. This follows the execution in July of another member of the Baha'I faith. These two individuals were arrested in October 1997 for violating a ban on holding religious gatherings. We strongly urge President Khatami to ensure that these executions are not carried out. Executing people for the practice of their religious faith is contrary to the most fundamental human rights principles.
We have also learned that in the past several days the Iranian government has arrested 32 other Baha'I followers and that a number of Baha'I properties have been plundered and confiscated. All of the individuals arrested are faculty members of an entity known as the "Open University." We deplore this attack on followers of the Baha'I faith and urge President Khatemi to ensure the release of all Baha'Is who have been arrested for the peaceful observance and expression of their faith.