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Basic Freedoms Violated In Iran

Georgia's Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and presidential candidate Georgy Margvelashvili celebrate after Sunday's election, Tbilisi, Oct. 27, 2013.
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The fifth round of the mass trial of ordinary Iranian citizens arrested after June's presidential election recently took place in Tehran. Similar to the previous public trials which began on August 1, defendants without the benefit of legal counsel admitted, under duress, to crimes against national security.

The second trial included Iranian-American scholar, Kian Tajabakhsh, who has spent his career working to enhance mutual understanding between Iran and the United States.

Observers -- from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Iran's Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri -- have labeled the mass judicial proceedings following the post election crackdown "show" trials.

Another group facing unjust charges are the 7 leaders of Iran's Baha'i community, the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran. The 5 men and 2 women were arrested in the spring of 2008 and have been held in Evin prison with no direct access to legal counsel. They have been charged with a variety of offenses, including 2 capital crimes: "corrupting the Earth" and "espionage for Israel."

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Their trial date has been set for October 18th. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom all charge that the 7 Baha'is are being targeted solely because of their religious beliefs and have called on the Iranian government to release them.

In a recent speech in Washington D.C., Secretary of State Clinton said that she and President Barack Obama stand firmly on the side of freedom of expression and freedom of religion, 2 fundamental human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Iran is among the first nations to ratify the Universal Declaration.

Secretary of State Clinton warned against the practice of authoritarian regimes where "discrimination by majorities toward minority faiths ... can threaten the freedom of belief."

The U.S., said Secretary of State Clinton, will continue to speak out forcefully against violations of freedom of expression and of religion wherever they exist.