[Newspaper:] The Japan Times

[Date:] Tuesday, 24 May 1983


Reagan calls on world leaders to help stop Bahais' execution

Washington (AP) – President Ronald Reagan called on world leaders Sunday to join him in appealing to the Iranian government to halt the planned execution of 22 members of the Bahai faith.

"These individuals are not guilty of any political offense or crime, they have not plotted the overthrow of the regime, and they are not responsible for the deaths of anyone," the president said in a statement.

"They only wish to live according to the dictates of their own consciences," he added.

Reagan's appeal was addressed to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The president said that since the ayatollah came to power in Iran in 1979, more than 130 Bahais have been killed.

There are an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 Bahais in Iran, and they are viewed by the government as members of a heretic Islamic sect. Bahais espouse the "eradication of prejudices of race, creed, class, nationality and sex," shun violence and abstain from partisan politics.

"America and the world are increasingly alarmed and dismayed at the persecution and severe repression of the Bahais in Iran," Reagan said in his statement. He said the United States recently learned that 22 "prominent members" of the Bahai faith have been sentenced to death.

"I strongly urge other world leaders to join me in an appeal to the Ayatollah Khomeini and the rest of Iran’s leadership not to implement the sentences that have been pronounced on these innocent people," Reagan said. "Sparing their lives would be a step forward for Iran and the world community."

Firuz Kazemzadeh, secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the United States, welcomed Reagan's statement.














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