(CNN) — A trial for seven Iranian Baha’is that has come to symbolize the persecution of followers of the faith is set to unfold next week with added controversy and global attention.
Recent turmoil and governmental crackdowns on protesters in Iran have raised concern about the fate of the seven Baha’i community leaders, who have been held at Tehran’s Evin prison since their arrests in March and May 2008.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said this week that Iranian officials have been blaming the Baha’is for anti-government demonstrations.
“These allegations are not only without merit, but downright fabricated,” said Leonard Leo, chairman of the commission, which acts as an independent advisory board to the U.S. government.
“If the Iranian government moves forward next week with the trial of the seven Baha’i leaders, the U.S. government and international community must demand fair and transparent proceedings in accordance with international human rights standards,” Leo said.
After two delays, the trial is scheduled to open Tuesday.
On Thursday, prominent Indians of the Baha’i faith held a news conference in New Delhi, urging their government to intervene.
“This trial is designed to harass and intimidate, and is one more in a long line of persecution of this community,” said Maja Daruwala, director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. “Our country has a long record of pluralism and tolerance and… >>>