[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

 

Esteemed Office of Student Admissions related to the expelled students, 11/10/1367 [1 January 1989]

 

Greeting:

 

I, Bijan Mirzaei, was a student in the field of geography at the University of Isfahan, and have now been suspended. The reason, as also stated in the order of suspension, was related to [my] membership in the Baha’i community. In the appeal statement I wrote to the university, I stated that the Constitution does not include any prohibitions against education for Baha’is. Yet, they sent me a reply, saying that I had no right to object, and that the answer was the same as before, stating that, “You, yourself, confessed that you are a member of the Baha’i community, and therefore you have no right to make an objection.” At any rate, the response I received on that date, namely 2/10/1367 [23 December 1988], from the Secretariat Office is that I must recant three times in the large-circulation newspapers and apologise for a sin that I have “not committed”, so that I would be allowed to continue my education.

 

According to Article 14 of the Constitution, the government has the duty to treat non-Muslims with good manners, fairness, and Islamic justice, and to preserve their human rights. And according to Article 19 of the third chapter, the people in Iran, regardless of their background or ethnicity, have equal rights, and their colour, race, or language will not be a cause for being privileged. Again, Article 23 of the Constitution forbids religious inquisitions, and no one can be assailed or harassed solely based on holding a belief. I should also mention that this is based on the holy verse: “There is no compulsion in religion[1]”. Also, according to Article 31, the government has the duty to prepare the means of free education for everyone in the country through secondary school, and to develop the means of free higher education to the extent possible. Article 37 states that innocence is foundational [in law] and no one will be assumed guilty in law unless his guilt is proven in a just court. Nowhere in the law is it stated that the Baha’i Faith is unlawful or that the Baha’is break the law. Now, based on the above points, I have not yet understood whether my being suspended has been based on any law, and whether I have committed a violation. Or is it because of a religious law—namely, that since I am not a Muslim, I do not have the right to study at a university?

 

At any rate, I feel it is appropriate to mention a few small points and leave their interpretation to you. First, Baha’is believe in God and accept the truth of all Messengers [of God]. Their Holinesses, Noah, Ibrahim, Moses, Christ, and Mohammad are believed in by the Baha’is. They [Baha’is] do not carry arms and do not engage in armed conflict with any government. Principally, they do not engage in politics in any way. No matter which country they live in, they will be obedient to the laws and rules of that country. Most importantly, they express their beliefs without any cover-up or so-called “Taghiyyeh[2]”.  If these are my crimes, then there is nothing to be said. But if they are not, please indulge me and tell me what my crime has been.

 

We want to bring the world under the flag of peace, stop the killing of brother by brother, and help the world to become one household and all people the members of one family. In all cases, I believe that human rights, which is the topic of discussion everywhere, and which the Islamic Republic considers itself to be defending on behalf of all of the downtrodden people, [is of great importance]. Don’t you think that human rights in the case of this community have been disregarded?   The groups which are inclined toward right or left will avail themselves of any trick which they deem it suitable to use, or any means which will help them to reach their goals. If they are backed into a corner, they [can] deny their real beliefs. However, the Baha’is will state their belief everywhere and without any excuses, and do not engage in any trickery, deception, or hypocrisy.

 

Nevertheless, you have stated that if I do not recant in widely-circulated newspapers [and say] that I am remorseful, I will face consequences according to the law. It seems that the opinion of your Council is that I must be expelled from the university. Please do me a favour and, if my crimes are belief in God and also belief in all of the Messengers [of God] and [divine] Teachers and Heavenly Books that are affirmed by Islam, and I must deny them, then write it down so that I know for sure. Otherwise, I don’t think that belief in such things and the aforementioned [principles] are contrary to the ordinances of God.

 

If the issue is [only] the name, meaning that you just want me to say that I am a Muslim and do whatever I want in my heart, I must say that I am sorry. Of course, [this is] not because I have, God forbid, any doubt about the truth of Islam or other religions, but rather, because I believe that a human being must be courageous enough to express whatever they believe in. You will not find any group more obedient and peace-loving than the Baha’is among the non-Muslim groups. My suspension from continuing my studies is neither according to law, nor to human and world principles. Please do a favour, and if possible write down what standards have been used in your letter, and what, exactly, is the reason for my expulsion?

 

I thank you in advance.

 

Bijan Mirzaei

 

 

 

[1] [Quran 2:256]

[2] [Dispensation from the requirements of religion under a serious threat]