[Newspaper:] Detroit Free Press

[Date:] Sunday, 22 May 1983


Regan asks Iran to spare Bahais

By Bernard Weinraub

New York Times

Washington – President Reagan will issue a statement Sunday night saying the United States is "alarmed and dismayed" at the persecution of Bahais in Iran. The statement urges the Iranian government to halt the planned execution of a group of prominent Bahais, White House officials said Saturday.

"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 sentence that have been pronounced on these innocent people," said the presidential statement, made available Saturday.

At least 150 Bahai men and women have been hanged or shot by Khomeini's government since it came to power in 1979.

In his planned statement, Reagan said the Iranian government had sentenced 22 members of the Bahai faith to death. Firuz Kazemzadeh, however, a Bahai of Iranian descent who is chairman of the Committee on Middle East Studies at Yale, said in a telephone interview that two men and a woman already had been executed and that 19 still face death in Iranian prisons.

He said the Bahais executed so far, and those under sentence of death, had been accused of "Zionism, subservience to the interests of the imperialistic powers, corruption on earth, and warring against God."

He said the Bahais sentence to death "have not plotted to overthrow the regime, and they are not responsible for the deaths of anyone. They only wish to live according to the dictates of their own conscience."

Although the Bahai population in Iran is relatively small – there are 300,000 to 400,000 Bahais in the country – the Khomeini government has singled them out as adherents of a heretic Islamic sect. Bahais generally has served as businessmen, teachers, middle-level government officials, and army officers in Iran.





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