The United States is increasingly concerned about the Iran's ongoing persecution of Baha'is and other religious minority communities, Assistant Secretary Bureau of Public Affairs Philip Crowley said on Saturday.

Citing the detention of at least 25 Baha'is by Iranian authorities in recent weeks, Mr. Crowley added that there have been more than 45 new incidents of detention of Baha'is in the last four months alone, and currently 60 Baha'is are imprisoned in Iran solely on the basis of their religious beliefs.

The authorities “also detained more than a dozen Christians, some of whom are being held in custody without substantiated charges” Mr. Crowley said. He further said that the U.S. remains concerned that seven Baha'i leaders on trial for espionage were denied access to lawyers, emphasising that their trial did not meet its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Referring to Iran's pledge to abide by international law at the UN Human Rights Council in February 2010, Mr. Crowley said “We are deeply disappointed that the Iranian government rejected a Universal Periodic Review recommendation to end discrimination against its Baha'i religious minority.”

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