| GEO World|
| US condemns Iran for imprisoning Bahai|
| Updated at: 0101 PST, Saturday, May 15, 2010|
WASHINGTON: The United States denounced Iran on Friday over its detention of seven leaders of the Bahai religious minority who have been held for two years.
The United States "is deeply concerned about the ongoing persecution" of both Bahais and other religious minorities in Iran, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in a statement.
On the second anniversary of the detention of seven Bahai leaders, he said, "the United States strongly condemns their continued incarceration as a violation of due process."
Washington "calls on Iran to meet its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," he added.
In January, Iran put the seven Bahai leaders on trial on charges of "spying for foreigners" and cooperating with Israel. They were arrested in May 2008.
Crowley's statement complained that no date has been set for a fourth hearing -- although there have been three since January this year -- and they "continue to be denied access to their attorneys."
He urged Iran to live up to its international commitments.
During a review at the UN Human Rights Council in February 2010, "Iran pledged to abide by international law and highlighted its ethnic and religious diversity," he said.
But the United States is "disappointed" that the Iranian government "publicly rejected" a recommendation that emerged from the review to end discrimination against the Bahais, he said.
Followers of the Bahai faith, founded in Iran in 1863, are regarded in the Islamic republic as infidels and suffered persecution both before and after the 1979 Islamic revolution.