Report: 54 Baha'is arrested in Iran

Tehran, Iran - Iranian officials have released 54 Baha'is arrested in the city of Shiraz last week, the Baha'i International Community said Wednesday.

In a statement, Baha'i officials said those arrested were teaching classes as part of a UNICEF community service activity conducted by an Iranian non-governmental organization. The statement said those arrested carried a letter of permission from the Islamic Council of Shiraz.

The day after the arrests, a judge told family members the detainees would be freed soon. It appeared on Wednesday that all of the non-Baha'is and one Baha'i minor had been released without posting bail.

The arrests coincided with raids on six Baha'i homes during which notebooks, computers, books and other documents were confiscated. In the last 14 months, 72 Baha'is across Iran have been arrested, said Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

"These new arrests in Shiraz, coming after more than a year of 'revolving door' detentions, bring the total number of Baha'is who have been arrested without cause to more than 125 since the beginning of 2005," she said.

Dugal accused the Iranian government of carrying out "religious persecution" intended to keep the Baha'i community "in a state of terror."