REAGAN URGES HALT TO BAHA’I KILLINGS

Monday, May 23 1983

WASHINGTON, Sun. – President Ronald Reagan will issue a statement tonight saying that the United States is alarmed and dismayed at the persecution of Baha’is in Iran and urging the Iranian government to stop the planned execution of a group of prominent Baha’is, White House officials said yesterday. “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” Said the presidential statement, which was made available yesterday. White House officials said at least 150 Baha’i men and women were hanged or shot by the Iranian government since 1979.

SINGLED OUT

Although the Baha’i population in Iran is relatively small – between 300,000 and 400,000 – the Khomeini government has singled them out as adherents of a heretic Islamic sect. The Baha’is has no clergy and upholds the divine origin of all major religions, including Islam. They shun violence, abstain from partisan politics and espouse the eradication of prejudices of race, creed, class, nationality and sex. Baha’i officials in the US said Mr. Reagan’s statement would be the first White House expression of concern about the persecution of the Baha’is since the Iranian revolution. The statement was prompted by several congressional resolutions about the Baha’is, growing State Department concern about the treatment of the minority, and the highly vocal and organized Baha’is in the US, who number 100,000 - NYT