[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
[Adopted from website:] Baha’i World News Service
[Date:] 9 Mordad 1386 - 31 July 2007
The Baha’i Students in Iran Were Barred from Technical and Vocational Education
New York, 31 July 2007 (Baha’i International Community News Service)
Iranian Baha’is have been virtually barred from entering the technical and vocational schools this year because the registration form for the national exam forces them to renounce their beliefs, something the Baha’is have always refused to accept.
The Baha’i International Community was recently informed that only one option could be chosen for religion in the application form for the undergraduate courses of the New System of Technical and Vocational Schools in 1386 (2007).
The candidate can only choose one of the three options for religion: Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity. If none of these options are checked, the applicant will be considered a Muslim, as described in this form. To the Baha’is, this concealment of their belief is unacceptable.
According to Bani Dugal, the Baha’i International [Community’s] senior representative to the United Nations, “Under this system, Baha’is may not apply without having to renounce their religion, which is contrary to their religious beliefs.”
“This way, the Baha’is of Iran will not be able to take these entrance exams, and as a result will be virtually barred from accessing technical and vocational education in Iran this year,” said Bani Dugal.
“Such deprivation on the one hand, violates the internationally recognized right to education—a right which the Iranian government has agreed to—and, on the other hand, reflects the continuance of the persecution of the Baha’i community in Iran”, said Ms. Dugal.
According to Bani Dugal, the Baha’i International Community expresses its dissatisfaction with the government’s action, not only against the Baha’i students who have been barred from continuing their studies solely because of their religious beliefs, but also against the similar actions against other Iranian students, who, for no other acceptable reasons, and under the pretext of what is officially considered as “dissent and unacceptable intellectual beliefs”, have become deprived of furthering their education.
Last fall, after more than 25 years of an absolute ban on Iranian Baha’is from entering the public and private universities in Iran, the government explained that the purpose of the religion line was not to [identify the religion of the candidate] but to refer to the religious curriculum of the applicant, a justification accepted by the Baha’i international authority, the Universal House of Justice. The Baha’i candidates took part in the national exam, and several hundred Baha’i students were admitted to various colleges throughout the country.
“Admission of Baha’i students to Iranian universities did not last long,” Ms. Dugal said.
According to the latest statistics from Iran, of all the Baha’i candidates who took the national exam last year, about 200 were eventually accepted and registered, but during the school year, more than half of them—up to 128 in the latest figures—were expelled from universities after authorities found out they were Baha’is. Observers say last year’s explanation by Iran was merely a ploy to quell international protests over the denial of higher education to Baha’is.
Ms. Dugal said, “The recent news of the application for enrolment in technical and vocational schools merely reaffirms the view that Iran continues to play with Baha’i students in that country, and the government’s explanation that Baha’is have access to higher education is an empty and hollow statement.”