September 06, 2011
In a statement issued, Ashton expressed "serious concerns about the recent wave of arrests of Baha'i citizens and the shutting down of an educational center of the Baha'i community in Iran."
The appeal calls on Iran "to refrain from all forms of discrimination against religious minorities."
Iran has recently declared illegal the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), which makes use of the volunteer services of dismissed professors to teach Baha'i youth. Some 14 Baha'is who worked at the BIHE were taken into custody in Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz, and Esfahan in May.
The BIHE was established unofficially in 1987 to provide higher education for young Baha'is barred from universities because of their religious beliefs.
The Iranian government claims that the Baha'i Faith is not a religion but a political organization, and hence refuses to recognize it as a minority religion.