AP News
By GeHrge Gedda
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, January 24, 1998; 1:46 a.m. EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Severe discriminatory practices have had a devastating impact on the Bahá'í faith in Iran, according to a report by an official commission.

Iran was one of the countries that, according to the report, discriminate against followers of the major religions. In addition to Bahá'ís, the report said Christians, Hindus, Musli ms, Jews and Buddhists all suffer detention, torture and death.

Iran has taken steps to eliminate Bahá'í adherents by denying them the right to assemble and confiscating their property, said the report, released Friday. It said more than 200 Bahá'ís have been killed since the 1979 revolution in Iran.

The climate of intimidation in Iran has also severely and comparably affected certain Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian communities, whose members have been victims of harassment, persecution and extrajudicial killing, the study said.

The report was prepared for President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright by the Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad, established a year ago and composed of leading scholars on religion.

The report cited a Russian law passed last year as an example of how government actions can threaten members of a faith group. The law denies legal rights depending on how long a religion has had a presence in Russia.

Since its adoption, there have been increasing reports of efforts by local officials to restrict activities of religious minorities, the report said.

It also noted that several European countries, including Belgium, France and Germany, recently have established commissions of inquiry on sects, partly in response to fears of violent cults.

Unless these commissions focus their work on investigating illegal acts, they run the risk of denying individuals the right to freedom of religion or belief, the study said.

It said that in societies where the government imposes strict political ideology and control over the populace, including on religious matters, many individuals and communities of faith operate underground and risk harassment, detention and imprisonment.'' In communist countries such as China, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam, the governments permit limited freedom to worship,'' the report said. In Vietnam, Buddhists and Christians who act independently of It said that in societies where the government imposes strict political ideology and control over the populace, including on religious matters, many individuals and communities of faith operate underground and risk harassment, detention and imprisonment.

In communist countries such as China, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam, the governments permit limited freedom to worship, the report said. In Vietnam, Buddhists and Christians who act independently of the officially approved temple and church are subject to arrest and harassment.

In China, members of the government-registered religious institutions practice their faith within the strictures of the government. Tibetan Buddhists, Muslim Uighurs, unregistered Protestants and Roman Catholics are subjected to widespread harassment, detentions, incarceration and persecution.

Associated Press