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The Baha'i representative to the United Nations says that 50 Baha'is in southern Iran have been barred from leaving the country, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Diane Alai of the Baha'i International Community told RFE/RL the Baha'is were arrested in 2006 for teaching classes to underprivileged children in suburban towns near Shiraz. She said three of them were sentenced to four years in jail and the others to one year in prison for their teaching activities.

Alai said the educational activities of the young Baha'is had nothing to do with promoting Baha'i beliefs. She says the reason for the travel ban is not clear.

Baha'is say hundreds of their followers have been jailed and executed since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. The government denies it has detained or executed people for their religious beliefs.

The Baha'i faith originated in Iran 150 years ago and has 5 million adherents worldwide, including an estimated 300,000 in Iran.

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