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Baha'is Deplore Arrests Of Academics In Iran

The Baha'i International Community has described as "unjustifiable" the arrests of more than a dozen Bahai's in cities across Iran, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The community said in a statement from Geneva on May 23 that some 14 Baha'is were arrested during weekend raids on as many as 30 homes in Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz, and Isfahan.

It said those arrested were active in an institute established for Baha'i students who had been barred from higher education.

Baha'i International Community spokesman Farhad Sabetian told Radio Farda that books, CDs, and other teaching materials were confiscated. The arrested Baha'is have been taken to an unknown location, Sabetian said.

The Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) was established unofficially in 1987 to provide higher education online for young Baha'is denied entrance to universities by the government because of their religious beliefs, Sabetian said. The institute came under pressure in 1998, when some 36 faculty members and staff were detained, and again in 2001 and 2002.

Sabetian said although those involved in the institute have been subjected to pressure in recent years, the Iranian government never branded their activities illegal.

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