In the latest wave of oppression against Baha’i students in Iran, Anahita Horr, an undergraduate at the School of Architecture at Rasam Institute of Higher Education in Karaj, has been expelled from her university and barred from continuing her education because she is a Baha’i.
Last month, Nikan Shaydansheidi, a Baha’i student majoring in Metallurgy at the University of Tehran, was similarly expelled from his university and banned from pursuing further education for refusing to denounce his faith.
According to the open letter published by Nikan’s sister Alhaan, “Nikan was summoned to the security office of the university after passing three semesters. [Nikan] was angrily confronted about why he had signed up, knowing he was a Baha’i from the first day. [The security officers] reminded him that there was no room for Baha’is there and that he had already been there for too long, and finally suggested that he could only stay there if he chose another religion.”
The source further explains that when Shaydanshidi refused to denounce his faith, the security office summoned his father, but the two were unable to gain ground in negotiations with university officials: “No matter how hard [they] tried—writing letters to the education office of the university and visiting the dean—the university wouldn’t give him the necessary credentials to take his final exams. In the end, he was expelled.”
Baha’i students in Iran have long been denied the right to higher education in Iran. They are often banned from registering in university altogether during the processing of their results on the nationally-competitive college entrance exam known as “Concours.” Those who do succeed in enrolling are often summarily expelled. According to Simin Fahandej, a representative of the Baha'i International Community's Office in Geneva to the United Nations, Fifty Baha'i students have been expelled from Iranian universities in the current Iranian year (beginning March 21, 2018) because of their religious beliefs.
The systematic exclusion of Baha’is in Iran has been accelerated by a policy memorandum drafted in 1991 by the now Supreme Leader’s office. The policy blocks the development of the Baha’i community in Iran.
Based on unofficial sources, more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. However, Iran's Constitution does not recognize the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Although Article 23 states that “no one may be mistreated or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief,” followers of the faith are denied many basic rights as one of the most severely persecuted religious minorities in the country.
Either by being expelled or banned from enrollment, Baha’i students in Iran continue to be denied the right to higher education in Iran. Although some Baha’i students have managed to enter into higher education, all of them have eventually been expelled and barred from university education for various reasons.
The expelled students are:
1- Melina Ghavami-Nik, 2- Parand Misaghi, 3- Taranom Motamedi, 4- Sahand Ghaemi, 5- Faran Abbas-pouli, 6- Shaghayegh Ghasemi, 7- Shamim Eydelkhani, 8- Farnia Iliazadeh, 9- Parmida Hossein-pouli, 10- Shervin Azarshab, 11- Vahid Sadeghi-Sisan, 12- Basir Zeynali Baghini, 13- Sadaf Misaghi-Sisan, 14- Yahya Mousavi Tangrizi, 15- Anita Rastegar, 16- Nabil Bashi Ardestani, 17- Tara Bahamin, 18- Bita Charkh-Zarrin, 19- Arman Golzar, 20- Pegah Sirousian, 21- Nariman Movafaghi-Eyvali, 22- Nona Ghadiri-Nofrast, 23- Sayeh Aghaie, 24- Parham Mokhtari, 25- Farhoud Bashi, 26- Parsa Sheikh-Zavareh, 27- Forouzan Nourdel, 28- Hoda Hedayati, 29- Sina Taleie, 30- Aria Ehsani, 31- Vafa Nobakht, 32- Adib Rahmani, 33- Parviz Rahmani, 34- Arsham Hashemi, 35- Arian Baghaie, 36- Negar Ighani, 37- Houman Zareie, 38- Kiana Rastak, 39- Nima Amini, 40- Hanan Hashemi, 41- Hasti Maleki, 42- Rojan Khouniki, 43- Tina Hamidi-Fard, 44- Shahrzad Tirgar, 45- Sahba Imani, 46- Saba Fazli, 47- Faran Talaei, 48- Mahsa Sotoudeh, 49- Sahar Mohebpoura, 50- Kousha Hashemi.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide urges the Iranian authorities to stop harassing members of the Baha’i community immediately. We call on Iranian president Hassan Rouhani to defend Baha’i students’ right to freedom by ensuring that universities allow them to register for college and graduate programs. ESW urges the officials of the Iranian government to respect, guarantee, and implement the provisions and principles of human rights as specified in international conventions and treaties in accordance with Iran’s obligations under international law.
ESW further calls upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to protest and condemn the continued abuses of Baha’i students committed by the Iranian authorities.
Please send appeals to:
President Hassan Rouhani
The Office of the President
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran
Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Minister’s Office
Imam Khomeini Square
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 66743149