UN official expresses concern over Iran's Baha'is

The top UN official on religous freedoms expressed concern over the treatment of the Baha'i religious minority in Iran, citing reports the country's supreme leader has ordered increased monitoring of members of the faith, which is banned in Iran. Asma Jahangir said her agency had obtained an October 29 letter from the head of Iran's Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces stating that "supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had instructed the Command Headquarters to identify persons who adhere to the Baha'i faith and monitor their activities." The letter asks the Information Ministry, the elite Republican Guard and the police "to collect any and all information about members of the Baha'i faith," Jahangir said in a statement released Monday. Jahangir, the special rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on freedom of religion or belief, said "such monitoring constitutes an impermissible and unacceptable interference with the rights of members of religious minorities" and expressed concern that it could be used "a basis for the increased persecution" of Baha'is.