Denial of Access to Higher Education Surges for Baha’i Citizens in Iran

Since the beginning of this year, HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, has documented 16 cases of Baha’i citizens being barred from higher education due to their faith.

As in previous years, many examinees of the nationwide university entrance exam encountered the message either “Rejected” or “Rejected due to general ineligibility”, indicating that they have been identified as Baha’i and hence barred from higher education.

According to HRANA, each year, numerous Baha’is examinees are rejected as the results of exams for various excuses by the official website of the National Organization of Educational Testing (NOET), an organization for holding the nationwide entrance exam.

Following the call of one of these citizens, NOET mentioned the intervention of the intelligence police as the reason for the rejection and in case an objection is filed, they can pass the written objection on to the intelligence police for further assessment.

In a written response to another citizen, NOET stated, “This message is shown when the intelligence office or any other security institution has an open case regarding the examinee or they have not approved his/her ineligibility. Your objection will be passed on the intelligence office, but until you identify yourself as Baha’i, the objection will not be taken into account.”

After taking exams many times, Some of these citizens are still facing various excuses such as “document defect” and therefore, they are barred from continuing their education due to being Baha’i.

At odds with Iran’s law clarifying the rights to education indiscriminately for all citizens, the enactment of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution of Iran, which oversees to ensure that education and culture remain Islamic, barres Baha’is from taking an occupational position as well as tertiary education.

Baha’i citizens are denied the right to exercise their religion. This systematic deprivation stands in violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which both affirm that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

According to unofficial reports, there are more than 300,000 Baha’is in Iran. While the constitution recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism as accepted religions (People of Book, as articulated in Sharia law), it denies recognizing Baha’i faith, which conclusively leads to the systematic violation of their rights.

Thirteen Baha’is Have Been Barred From Higher Education So Far This Year

Tehran resident Negar Sobhani Azabadi has become the 13th Baha’i citizen this year to be barred from higher education on the grounds of her faith.

HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, has identified one more examinee of the university entrance exam who has been rejected due to her belief in the Baha’i faith.

Azabadi received the rejection message when visiting the school website to view her exam results. It read “Rejected due to General ineligibility”, indicating that she had been identified as Baha’i and was thus ineligible to enter the university.

Each year, there are numerous reports about Baha’is who are barred from higher education once detected as Baha’is even on the verge of graduation.

At odds with Iran’s law clarifying the rights to education indiscriminately for all citizens, the enactment of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution of Iran, which oversees to ensure that education and culture remain Islamic, barres Baha’is from taking an occupational position as well as tertiary education.

 

Baha’i Citizen Sheida Taeed Arrested in Ghaemshahr

On Thursday, September 23, Sheida Taeed, a Baha’i citizen living in Ghaemshahr in Mazandaran Province, was arrested in her home by security forces.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Taeed  was taken by security forces to an unknown location following the arrest.

Security forces also raided her home and confiscated a number of her belongings, including her mobile phone, electronics, books, photographs, and manuscripts.

According to an informed source, the security forces initially put Farideh Taeed, Sheida’s elderly mother, in the car as well, and dropped her off somewhere along the road.

Ms. Taeed has a history of detention and conviction. She was arrested in the city of Noor in January of 2013 and was finally sentenced to one year in prison in 2015, which she served out in Babol Prison.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

This deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

Nine Citizens Arrested in Qom, Alborz, and Tehran Provinces for Supporting Erfan-e-Halgheh

The IRGC in Qom recently announced the arrest of nine supporters of Erfan-e-Halgheh (Circle of Mysticism).

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Fars, the arrests took pace in the three provinces of Qom, Alborz, and Tehran.

According to Fars, nine “main members of Erfan-e-Halgheh” were arrested and sent to prison with a court order. The report does not mention the identities or whereabouts of these citizens.

Inter-universalism is known  as Erfane Halgheh (Circle of Mysticism) in Iran.

Baha’i Citizens Hayedeh Forootan and Mehran Mosallanejad Arrested in Shiraz

On Thursday, September 23, two Baha’i citizens were arrested at the office of CID by NAJA police.

According to HRANA, the news agency of human rights activists, the citizens have been identified as Shiraz residents Hayedeh Forootan and her son Mehran Mosala-Nejad.

On Wednesday, September 22, agents searched the home of these citizens and confiscated some of their belongings, however, were not able to detain Ms. Foroutan as she was not home at the time. Ms. Foroutan and her son were summoned to the Shiraz CID Police of NAJA office to give explanations, and were arrested upon their arrival.

On Wednesday, September 22, Moin Misaghi and Negareh Ghaderi, two other Baha’i citizens, were also arrested by security forces and taken to an unknown location.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

This deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

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Seven Baha’i Citizens Barred from Continuing Education

Seven citizens who attended this year’s national university entrance exam were barred from access to education because they were Baha’is.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the citizens have been identified as Nasim Shahriari Zavareh, Mahsa Forouhari, Elena Gholizadeh Roshankoohi, Nora Nabipour Klankari, Parsa Charkhand, Mesbah Misaghi, and Forouzan Nikukar.

Every year, numerous reports indicate that Baha’is are being barred from continuing their studies at Iranian universities. Students are even sometimes dismissed from universities while on the verge of graduation if administration learns that the student is a Baha’i.

According to an informed source, when Ms. Shahriari contacted to follow up on this issue, she was told that the Ministry of Intelligence had given them her record.

She was also asked questions about her religious beliefs, and was told, “If you insist that you are a Baha’i, your problem will probably not be solved at all.”

Despite the explicit wording in the constitution in which the right to education is a fundamental right, according to a resolution of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution of Iran, Baha’is are barred from university education, besides being barred from holding public office.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

This deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

Baha’i Citizens Soroush Abadi and Kiana Shoaei Sentenced to Imprisonment

Baha’i citizens Soroush Abadi and Kiana Shoaei, both residents of Shiraz, were sentenced to imprisonment and banned from leaving the country.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, presided by Judges Mahmoud Sadati sentenced Mr. Abadi, and Ms. Shoaei each one to 31 months and 16 days in prison and a 2-year ban from leaving the country on the charge of membership in anti-regime groups with the intention of disrupting country’s security, and to Seven months and 16 days in prison on the charge of propaganda activities against the regime in cyberspace.

If the sentences are upheld by the appeal court, after the application of Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, the most severe punishment of 31 months and 16 days of imprisonment will apply to Mr. Abadi and Ms. Shoaei.

Ms. Shoaei’s 5 years imprisonment sentence will be reduced to 30 months, but she will have to check in and report her presence to the Shiraz Intelligence Office every month. Kiana Shoaei and Soroush Abadi, along with Farzan Masoumi, were arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents in October 2019.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

This deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

Baha’i Citizens Moin Misaghi and Negareh Ghaderi Arrested in Shiraz

On Wednesday, September 22, Baha’i citizens Moin Misaghi and Negareh Ghaderi, both natives of Shiraz, were arrested by security forces and taken to an unknown location.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, security forces searched the homes of the citizens and confiscated a number of their belongings during the arrest.

Security forces also visited the home of Hayedeh Mosallanejad, another Baha’i citizen, to arrest her but she was not detained as she was not home.

According to unofficial sources, it is estimated that more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated for years.

This deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

Baha’i Citizen Arsalan Yazdani Still Detained in Evin Prison

Baha’i citizen Arsalan Yazdani is still being held in one of Evin Prison’s security detention centers 20 days after his arrest.

According to the HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Mr. Yazdani has said in a phone call with his family that he will probably remain in custody for another two to three weeks.

“Mr. Yazdani was not given the permission to speak to his young children until Saturday the 18th,” a source close to Yazdani’s family told HRANA. “In his previous contacts, he did not even know where he was being held.”

Yazdani was arrested by security forces in Tehran on September 1 and transferred to an unknown location.

According to unofficial sources, more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran, but the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Because their faith is not considered legitimate by authorities, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have beeen systematically violated for years.

This deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

Security Forces Arrest Three Christian Converts in Rasht

On Sunday, September 5, Christian converts Ahmad Sarparast, Ayub Pour Rezazadeh, and Morteza Hajeb Mashhoud Kari were arrested by security forces in Rasht and taken to an unknown location.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activist, Mr. Sarparast and Mr. Pour Rezazadeh were detained in a house church. Security forces raided the homes of these citizens and confiscated some of their belongings, including cell phones, books, and pamphlets related to Christianity. According to an informed source, the agents behaved violently and insultingly and refused to show arrest or search warrants.

Relatives of these citizens are said to have been threatened by IRGC intelligence agents for providing information about the condition of their loved ones. Also, one of their relatives along with several other members of the house church were summoned to the Rasht IRGC Intelligence Office and interrogated.

According to a source close to the families of these citizens, after their families went to Branch 4 of the Rasht Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office to follow up on the case, they were not given any answer and were told, “Do not follow up. They will not be released any time soon. They do not deserve freedom and must stay.”

25-year-old Ahmad (Yohanna) Sarparast, 28-year-old Ayub (Farzin) Pour Rezazadeh, and 38-year-old Morteza Hajeb Mashhoud Kari are residents of Rasht.

Even though Christians are recognized as a religious minority under Islamic law, the security services nevertheless pursue the issue of Muslims converting to Christianity with particular sensitivity and deal harshly with activists in this field.

The Iranian regime targets Christian converts despite Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which state that every individual has the right to freedom of religion and belief and freedom to express it openly or secretly.

As of this writing, the reasons for the arrest, the charges against them, and the whereabouts of these citizens are unknown.