State Deplores Iran’s Human Rights Record
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department called on Iran on Friday to provide a full account of the fate of a leading member of the Baha’i faith who reportedly was executed.
If true, the execution of Bahman Samandari on March 18 at Tehran’s Evin prison would be first known to involve a member of the Baha’i sect in the fundamentalist Muslim country since 1988.
″We have long deplored Iran’s abysmal human rights record,″ Wendy Chamberlin, a State Department spokeswoman, said. ″We believe Iran should honor the human rights of all of its citizens, including members of minority groups.″
She said reports of the execution had not been confirmed and said ″we call upon Iran to provide a full accounting of the facts.″
A statement by the Baha’i International Community Thursday said Samandari was executed secretly a day after being arrested.
No death certificate was issued but the Tehran cemetery confirmed that Samandari’s name was entered in its records, it said.
Wytze Bos, a Baha’i representative in Geneva, said he met with U.N. officials and urged them to include the case in the U.N. Human Rights Commission’s next report on Iran.
The commission has repeatedly condemned Iranian human rights abuses, including alleged persecution of Baha’ists.
The sect says more than 200 of its members were killed and hundreds jailed between 1979 and 1988, which coincided with the reign of the Islamic republic’s fundamentalist founder, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
President Hashemi Rafasanjani, who became the country’s most powerful figure after Khomeini’s death in 1989, is sometimes credited by Western analysts with trying to direct Iran toward a more moderate policy and pursue ties with the West.
Baha’i proclaims the unity of all religions, the equality of the sexes and promotes simplicity and charity. It was founded in the 19th century in Persia, now Iran, and claims up to 400,000 followers in Iran.
There are about 5.3 million Baha’i followers worldwide, largely in Asia and Africa.