Teachers’ Association Sounds Call to General Strike on October 14th & 15th

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI) has issued a statement critical of the Ministry of Education, drawing public attention to a trend of paltry compensation for teachers.

The statement calls for teachers and other pedagogical staff to stage sit-ins in the administrative offices of schools this coming October 14th and October 15th [the work week in Iran runs from Saturday to Thursday]. It also asks teachers to sensitize students by explaining to them in advance the civic impetus behind the sit-ins to come.

The full text of their letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

Dear Iranian teachers,
Cherished students,
Esteemed parents,

Teachers both active and retired have been scraping by on painfully low wages for years. They protest cuts to school budget allocations and the unconstitutional shift of educational duties from the shoulders of schools to the shoulders of the people. Teachers have stood their ground in civic and community actions [on behalf of concerns] that officials never deign to acknowledge. No, it seems they are preoccupied with staying in power, defensively clutching their spoils. They think only of their own interests, those of their small inner circle, and those of some citizens in other countries.

Out-of-control inflation and climbing prices have gripped the country, and the purchasing power of teachers, like that of many other hard-working classes, has fallen significantly. What’s more, the cost of education is on the rise, and the Iranian government and parliament have failed to answer to teachers’ faltering quality of life and the ailing education system. The time has come for us to protest this systemic disorder.

All have come to feel that the Ministry of Education, as the face and custodian of this system encompassing millions of people, is without a practical program or vision for improving our educational infrastructure. Instead of attending to the quality of formation and to teachers’ livelihoods, the ministry opts increasingly for monetizing education and impoverishing teachers.

The Public Service Law, which was passed in 2007, has yet to be implemented 10 years later.

The bill on teacher ranking is postponed month after month.
The Teachers’ Savings Fund has been looted, and according to the Fund’s inquiry committee, 18 million tomans [approximately $1,200 USD] is missing from each teacher’s share.

Teacher’s salaries have not kept up with the rate of inflation, and in practice, a majority of teachers live below the poverty line. At the same time, there are fewer and fewer public schools, and those still in operation [depend on separate funding] to run.

The security apparatus and judiciary, rather than pursuing those responsible for corruption and the robbery of our society, prefer to threaten, exile, fire, and imprison teachers who express their needs and pursue justice.

On behalf of workers in the education system both active and retired, CCTSI has exhausted available paths for bettering our current conditions. Teachers have voiced their demands in meetings and letters to officials, published them in statements, launched them as campaigns, and hosted syndical rallies for them. But the regime and the government refuse to take even a single step towards addressing those issues.

Honorable People of Iran,
Imprudent Iranian officials,

We are going to stage sit-ins because teachers can’t go to class in these conditions. In any case, classes held in makeshift camps, overcrowded to the extreme, can hardly be put to any use.

For the reasons discussed above and the many others we have voiced before, CCTSI calls on educational staff of all levels across the country to stage sit-ins in the offices of their schools on Sunday, October 14 and Monday, October 15. We ask that they refuse to go to classes and that they raise students awareness on the factors compelling this initiative.

We ask the school principals to join in and to refrain from harsh treatment of our colleagues. We warn security offices and institutions not to retaliate against the teachers taking part in demonstrations. We have tasted detention and incarcerations, and some of our brave colleagues are still in chains today. We ask that you lay down your weapons of repression.

This October sit-ins are only the beginning: if we don’t see swift, constructive, and concrete changes to the pay slips of active and retired educational employees, and to per-capita funding of students, we will escalate our general strikes come November.

We ask our retired comrades to come visit their local colleagues carrying a flower. Employed colleagues who are off on [the strike days] must also join in, at a school close to their home or in the school where they work.
Teachers believe in the common right to a dignified life, and in access to free, fair, and quality education for all children.

The Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran
October 10th, 2018

Blackballed Baha’is: 40 and Counting

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HHRANA) – HRANA has so far confirmed the names of at least 40 Baha’i Iranian citizens who have been denied the opportunity to enroll in university despite successfully placing on the competitive national admissions test.

HRANA has confirmed that the candidate files of Nima Amini, Hanan Hashemi Dehaj, Hasti Maleki, Aria Ehsani, Tina Hamidi Fard from Tehran (ranked #15000 on the national exam) and Rozhan Khooniki (ranked #9477) have all been flagged “deficiency on file” on the National Organization for Educational Testing website. HRANA previously reported the names of 34 other students singled out by the same system.

The “deficiency on file” flag is one known method of the wider anti-Baha’i discrimination politics administered by Iran’s Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. An informed source confirmed to HRANA that the flag is a go-to excuse to prevent Baha’i students from entering institutes of higher education.

Baha’i College Student Stopped Short of Degree

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRAN)- Baha’i student Shaghayegh Zabihi Amrie was finishing the last semester of her associate’s degree in architectural drafting when the *National Organization for Educational Testing (NOET) stopped her short.

An informed source told HRANA that Amrie’s problems began with a summons to the Azad University Security Office, where she was drilled with questions about her faith. After placing a call to the director of Rasam Non-Profit University of Karaj on the western outskirts of Tehran, where Amrie was a student, authorities had little information with which to push forward and cleared her to continue her studies.

“When she applied to obtain her certificate of completion,” the source related, “she received a letter from NOET informing her that getting her certificate, and advancing further in her bachelor’s studies, would be prohibited.”

While many Baha’i students find themselves held back from ever pursuing post-secondary studies, some are admitted into institutions of higher education only to be blackballed later, per previous HRANA reports.

The highly-anticipated announcement of results from the National University Entrance Exam, known as “Konkur,” has been marred for many Baha’is who, with passing results and on the brink of starting college, are rendered ineligible by the NOET error message “deficiency on file,” a well-known pretext for quashing young Baha’i ambitions the moment they take shape.

The process has been utilized for years, and with a look at this year’s numbers, looks nowhere near abating. This year alone, HRANA has reported on at least 40 prospective college students who have been barred from pursuing their studies because of their Baha’i faith.

Contrary to the provisions of the **law, Iran’s Supreme Council of the ***Cultural Revolution has passed a law barring members of the Baha’i religious minority from both university enrollment and employment in public institutions. Since the 1979 Revolution, UN Special Rapporteurs on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran have protested the anti-Baha’i policies and practices of Iranian authorities, particularly the academic blackballing of Baha’is, deeming these practices a violation of Iran’s international commitments.

Baha’i citizens of Iran are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all people are entitled to freedom of religion, belief, and changes thereof, as well as the right to express and practice those beliefs as individuals or collectives, in public or in private.

Though 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, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. As a result, the rights of Baha’is in Iran are systematically violated.

* NOET is established with the mandate to develop and implement the rules of admission to higher education with the collaboration of the universities http://www.sanjesh.org/en/aboutus.aspx
** The Islamic Republic’s constitution does not recognize Baha’i followers as a religious minority, but articles of the Constitution guarantees the right to association for everyone
*** The Council was founded in 1984 on the order of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, to ensure the “Islamization” of universities, survey academia to ensure their allegiance to the regime and their adherence to “Islamic” values.

More than 30 Baha’i College Applicants Denied Enrollment for their Religious Affiliation

Update: Authorities Continue to Hold Back Aspiring Baha’i Students

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The number of Iranian Baha’is being denied college-enrollment eligibility despite successfully passing the national admissions test has reached 34, according to HRANA cumulative reports.

As part of a larger anti-Baha’i discrimination policy administered by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, the e-dossiers of Foroozan Noordel from Tabriz, Parsa Sheikh Zavareh, Hoda Hedayati, Arian Baghaei Amrei from Sari, Vafa Nobakht from Sari, Adib Rahmani from Sari (ranked #960, studying Mathematics), Parviz Rahmani, Kiana Rastak, Negar Iqani from Shiraz, Hooman Zarei Kadavi and Arsham Hashemi have all been flagged “deficiency on file.”

An informed source told HRANA that “deficiency on file” is the routine excuse for preventing Baha’i students from entering institutes of higher education.

Number of Barred Baha’i Students Increases on 2018 National University Entrance Exam

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – A large number of Baha’i students who participated in the 2018 National University Entrance Exam, known as “Konkur,” have had their applications flagged “deficiency on file” on the National Organization for Educational Testing website, a known harbinger of educational aspirations dead in the water.

As an informed source told HRANA, “The ‘deficiency in file’ flag is used on Baha’i citizens to keep them from moving forward in their studies, a practice that’s been prevalent since 2006.”

The barred Baha’i students are Shamim Idelkhani, of Ardebil, ranked #139; Farnia Iliyazadeh of Tehran, studying Mathematics; Parmida Husaynpuli Mamaqani, ranked #4500, studying Mathematics; Sarvin Azarshab of Tehran, studying business, ranked #19000; Parand Mithaqi; Shahrzad Tirgar; and Melina Qavaminik, from Tehran, studying mathematics, ranked #10545.

Yesterday, HRANA reported on a number of Baha’is at the same impasse: Tarannum Mu’tamedi Broujerdi from Shahin Shahr of Isfahan, Faran Abbaspouli Mamaghani from Tehran, Sahand Ghaemi from Shahin Shahr of Isfahan, Vahid Sadeghi Sisan, and Shaghayegh Ghassemi.

In direct violation of the law, Baha’is are prevented from pursuing degrees or employment in government offices, per under-the-table directives from the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. Every year, a new cohort of Baha’is is barred in this way from the university enrollment process.

Since the 1979 revolution, the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Iran has repeatedly protested the Iranian government’s animosity towards its Baha’i population, particular in preventing these citizens from furthering their studies. According to the Rapporteur, such directives demonstrate a blatant disregard of multiple international treaties.

Iranian Baha’i citizens are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, everyone is entitled to freedom of religion and belief, and the right to adopt and manifest the religion of their choice, be it individually, in groups, in public, or in private.

Based on unofficial sources, more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. However, Iran’s Constitution only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Consequently, the rights of Baha’is are systematically violated in Iran.

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