US condemns persecution of religious minorities in Iran

Hillary says US is committed to defending religious freedom around the world.

Updated: Aug 13, 2010, 11:42 AM IST

Washington: The US has expressed its deep concern over the continued persecution of religious minorities, especially the Bahai community in Iran.

"The United States is deeply concerned with the Iranian government`s continued persecution of Bahais and other religious minority communities in Iran," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement yesterday.

"This week, seven Bahai leaders, who were incarcerated and held for nearly two years without due process, were each sentenced to 20 years imprisonment," she said.

The US strongly condemns this sentencing as a violation of Iran`s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, she said.

Observing that freedom of religion is the birthright of people of all faiths and beliefs in all places, Hillary said the US is committed to defending religious freedom around the world.

"We have not forgotten the Bahai community in Iran," she said.

"We will continue to speak out against injustice and call on the Iranian government to respect the fundamental rights of all its citizens in accordance with its international obligations," Hillary said.

PTI