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.

22 Iranian Baha’is Were Denied Higher Education in September

At least 22 Baha’i students have reportedly been denied entry to universities in Iran despite successfully passing the national admissions test. These Baha’i applicants received a short message with the content: “Dear applicant, there is a flaw in your dossier. Please contact the Response Unit of the Appraisal Agency” when checking their test results online. Last year, at least 58 Baha’i students received the same message. Since 2006, this message has been used to inform several Baha’i students about rejection of their applications.

The 22 Baha’i students who have successfully passed the university entrance exam in 2019 but have been banned from higher education are identified by the Human Rights Activists News Agency as the following (name, city):

Seraj Safaryan (Sari), Tara Ehsan (Karaj), Rojin Kasiri (Karaj), Shamim Idelkhani (Ardabil), Sahand Shirazi (Tehran), Mahtab Khadem (Tehran), Armaghan Enayati (Semnan), Siavash Baloch Gherai (Mashhad), Shailin Aghili (Karaj), Negar Ighani (Shiraz), Rojan Ehsani (Kashan), Ghazal Allahverdi Gorji (Sari), Taranom Kamali (Shiraz), Negin Foroughi (Tehran), Dorsa Mostafavi (Tehran), Aria Ehsani (Karaj), Behzad Yazdani (Sari), Sholeh Movafaghi Eyvali (Sari), Mahsa Forouhari (Karaj), Vafa Nobakht (Sari), Aylar Roshan Nahad (Isfahan), and Noorieh Ferdosian (Isfahan)

Denying Baha’i students’ entry to universities in Iran is not an unprecedented matter. They have been systematically denied access to higher education by the Iranian government. Even dozens of Baha’is who have successfully passed the national examinations and other hurdles to continue their education at the university level have been forced to drop out, even several years into their programs.

Although unofficial sources estimate the Baha’i population of Iran at more than 300,000, Iran’s Constitution officially recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. The Baha’i faith is not acknowledged as an official religion by the Iranian government. As a result, the rights of Baha’is in Iran are systematically violated. Over the years, the government used various tactics at different stages of university admission process including application, entrance examination and enrollment, to exclude Baha’is from education at colleges and universities. From a small number of Baha’i students who have been able to register and start their studies at universities, the majority have been expelled at some point before graduation