Confidential memo on Iran exposes policy of denying university access to Baha’i students

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NEW YORK, USA — The Baha’i International Community has received a copy of a 2006 confidential letter from Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology ordering Iranian universities to expel any student found to be he is a Baha’i.

The letter refutes recent statements by Iranian officials, who say Baha’i students in Iran face no discrimination – despite the fact that more than half of Baha’i university students enrolled last fall were gradually expelled over the course of of the school year 2006-2007 year.

“This latest document, which categorically states that Baha’i students should be expelled from universities once they are discovered, unequivocally proves that the Iranian authorities remain determined to completely block the development of Iranian Baha’is, despite what ‘they tell the outside world,’ said Bani Dugal, the Baha’i International Community’s chief representative to the United Nations.

“Along with other reports and documents recently received, the letter exposes a deceptive campaign by Iran to claim that it is not violating the internationally recognized right to education when in fact the government is in fact continuing to put implement his secret long-range plan to prevent Baha’i students from obtaining a university education.

“Coupled with ongoing reports of physical and economic harassment directed at Baha’is of all ages and in all parts of the country, this latest development should serve as a reminder to those who care about human rights that the Baha’i community ie of Iran, which has 300,000 members, remains under serious threat,” she said.

“Not only Baha’is, but also others – students expelled under directives that target them on absolutely baseless grounds; women whose human rights are gravely violated by the enactment or perpetuation of discriminatory laws; and other victims of injustice in this country – need the international community’s defense,” she added.

The 2006 letter comes from the Central Security Bureau of the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (MSRT) and was sent by its director general, Asghar Zarei, to 81 universities across the country. Stamped “confidential”, the exact date of the letter is indecipherable, although its contents are readable. (Document 1 in the list of original documents.)

“(S)if the identity of Baha’i individuals becomes known at the time of enrollment or during their studies, they should be expelled from the university,” reads the letter, which was signed by Mr Zarei. . The Ministry of Science, Research and Technology oversees all public universities.

The directive flatly contradicts public and private statements by Iranian government officials over the past few years. They sought to portray their education system as open to Bahá’ís and free from discriminatory practices.

In early March, for example, newspapers carried an article by the Reuters news agency reporting that some 70 Baha’i students had been expelled from universities in Iran since the fall of 2006.

In the Reuters article, however, an unnamed spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations was quoted as saying in response: “No one in Iran because of their religion has been expelled from their studies.

The number of 70 students expelled in March 2007, as reported by Reuters, has since risen to more than 128, out of an estimated 200 who were enrolled last fall after more than 25 years in which Baha’i students have been banned. Iranian universities.

Also last year, misleading statements by Iranian officials came to light when Clare Short, Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, received a communication from Hamid Reza Arefi, Chargé d’Affaires at the Iranian Embassy in London, who also denied that Baha’is face discrimination in their access to higher education in Iran.

“Although Baha’i (sic) is not recognized as an official religion, Baha’is are entitled to equal rights under the law,” Mr. Arefi wrote in a June 8, 2006 letter to Ms. Short, adding, “In Iran, no individual is excluded from higher education solely because of their ideology.”

Similar statements have been made by Iranian diplomats and officials in other places.

The 2006 letter from the MSRT’s Central Security Office also makes clear reference to Golpaygani’s 1991 secret memorandum on the Baha’is, which was made public in 1993 by a United Nations official. (Handout 5.)

Despite Mr. Arefi’s assurances that Iranian Baha’is are legally entitled to equal rights, other voices say Golpaygani’s memorandum takes precedence.

This 1991 memorandum outlined a comprehensive plan to “block” the development and progress of the Iranian Baha’i community. The 1991 memorandum, for example, states that Baha’is will be denied “any position of influence” and that “employment will be denied to persons identifying themselves as Baha’is”.

The 1991 memorandum clearly states that Baha’is “shall be expelled from universities, either during the admissions process or during their studies, once it becomes known that they are Baha’is”.

Signed by Hujjatu’l Islam Seyyed Mohammad Golpaygani, Secretary of the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council of Iran, the 1991 memorandum was endorsed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As such, it reflects the highest policy of government.

A number of impartial Iranian individuals offered their sympathy and some support for the plight of the Baha’is; however, they are largely powerless against official government policy of oppressing Baha’is, Ms. Dugal said.

“The Baha’i international community affirms that unless and until the Iranian government revokes this pernicious document, there is little hope of justice for the Baha’is of Iran,” he said. she declared.

The Baha’i International Community has also recently received several other documents and letters which clearly indicate that the policy outlined in the 2006 letter is being actively implemented.

These documents include:

— A second follow-up letter from the MSRT Central Security Office to Payame Noor University officials, dated March 17, 2007, ordering them “to prevent the enrollment of Baha’i candidates.” (Handout 2.)

— A May 18, 2007 letter from the Office of Academic Guidance and Higher Education at the University of Guilan to the director of academic affairs at the university, requesting the immediate dismissal of a Baha’i student. (Document 4.)

— A letter dated May 27, 2007, also from the Office of Academic Guidance and Higher Education, University of Guilan, addressed to the aforementioned Baha’i student, notifying the student that she has been “disqualified” to study in Guilan, as required by the 1991 Golpaygani Memorandum. (Document 3.)

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