Date: November 19, 2020
Washington, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the announcement that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has sanctioned Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, who has “arrested and detained members of the Baha’i religion without charges,” and the Islamic Revolution Mostazafan Foundation, which was created to “confiscate and manage property, including that originally belonging to religious minorities such as Baha’is and Jews.”
“I commend the U.S. Treasury for this action, which provides accountability for the Iranian government’s systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations against Baha’is, Sunnis, Christians, and Jews,” said USCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer. “It is imperative that the U.S. government continue to call out these violators and impose consequences for these horrific actions.”
Mahmoud Alavi has served as Iran’s Intelligence Minister since 2013. Since that time, the Intelligence Ministry has arrested Baha’is and Sunnis, and last May closed an Assyrian Christian church in Tabriz. The Islamic Revolution Mostazafan Foundation was founded in 1979 following the Islamic Revolution and confiscated land belonging to Baha’is and Jews. Iran’s government officially endorses a singular interpretation of Ja’afri Shi’a Islam.
“Religious freedom violators in Iran and around the world should know the United States is watching,” said USCIRF chair Gayle Manchin. “We support today’s sanctions announcement and call on the Treasury to continue to name publicly foreign government officials and entities who deny their citizens freedom of religion or belief.”
In its 2020 Annual report, USCIRF recommended Iran for designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as it has recommended every year since 2002. In August 2020, USCIRF released a factsheet on sanctioned religious freedom violators in Iran.