[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]

 

[Adopted from website:] Bamdad Khabar

[Date:] 16 Azar 1393 [7 December 2014]

 

Statement of the Iranian Liberal Students and Graduates on the Occasion of Students’ Day

Bamdad Khabar: In publishing a manifesto on the occasion of Students’ Day on 16 Azar [7 December], the Iranian Liberal Students and Graduates [organization] demanded the freedom of the imprisoned students, the return to university of students who are deprived of university education, and the ending of “educational apartheid” against the Baha’i citizens.

In their manifesto, a copy of which has been made available to Bamdad Khabar, the group also referred to “the encroachment of religious, seminarian, and military institutions” in schools and universities, and warned against the conversion of the Ministry of Education and that of Science, Research and Technology into tools for brainwashing teenagers and young adults.

The full text of the manifesto is as follows:

Mid-Azar [December] prompts memories of students and university. Students’ Day this year arrives at a time when a great deal of inefficiency and inadequacy persists in the field of education, as in other areas in the country, and while the scientific credibility of the universities and schools in Iran is in decline. Instead of serving the growth and education of the youth of this land, the two Ministries of Education and Science, Research and Technology have turned into machineries for brainwashing the youth and recruiting support for the government.

The greatest problem of the ninth parliament was also tension with these two ministries—so much so that the minister of science was prosecuted and other figures disqualified by that parliament.  Finally, Mohammad Farhadi, wearing a keffiyeh around his neck, and with promises to win the approval of Ali Khamenei and his supporters in the parliament, donned the robe of the minister.  In the meantime, the government, despite its relatively improved functioning in universities and the Ministry of Science, has still not fulfilled many of its promises.

The study hours of primary school and university students are filled with non-scientific and ideological subjects. Prayers have been made mandatory at schools. An agreement between schools and seminaries has been signed by the Ministry of Education of Rouhani’s government, and at the same time the government announces the establishment of kindergartens under the joint jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and the Sepah, and while many of the state-run schools in the country spend the winter using non-standard oil heaters, the Ministry of Education bears the expenses of deploying members of the theological seminaries in schools.

Gender segregation and quotas continue to exist in universities, and female students are deprived of enrolment in many academic subjects at universities, purely on the grounds of [their gender]. Identifying certain students as “starred students” has not yet stopped, and in numerous cases in which “starred students” were allowed to return to the classroom, they were once again so designated.

The academic apartheid against the Baha’is has also continued during the past two years, and the government of Rouhani, like its predecessor, has banned the adherents of this religion from university education, despite their earning the highest marks in the National University Entrance Examination. Humanities programmes are faced with changes in their curricula and syllabi at university. A regime which, after the lapse of over thirty years, has failed to unite and link universities with the theological seminaries, is now exerting all its efforts to transform the universities into the seminary system of training. The Basijis and those with quotas are admitted to universities without academic qualifications, and there is news of the establishment of strange universities, such as the University of Maddahi[1].

Furthermore, although the political air in universities has been lifted somewhat, the cost of student activities continues to be high, and the independent and critical student organizations have had no chance to become active again since the crackdowns of the past few years. The eleventh government wants the students to take an active role in the nuclear case, while there is no place in universities for discussions and critical views on the nuclear ambitions of the government and its harmful and economically wasteful project. The slightest criticism in this respect would lead to arrest, court order and incarceration. 

The disclosure of the illegal granting of scholarships to students by the previous governments, regardless of academic merit and purely based on their association with influential individuals, must be evaluated as a positive point of the government of Rouhani. However, thinking that, not too far in the future, these funded students will join the rank of academic staff in national universities and will go into the classrooms to teach, augurs an even gloomier future for higher education in this country.

We, the Iranian Liberal Students and Graduates, on the occasion of Students’ Day in Iran, once again voice our deep concern about the damage caused by religious, seminarian and military institutions in schools and universities, particularly in public schools, and demand an end to the security approach towards universities and student activities. This will not take place unless and until the existing apartheid against our Baha’i fellow citizens is ended. The imprisoned students, such as Majid Tavakkoli, Bahareh Hedayat, Zia Nabavi, Maryam Shafipour, Mehdi Khodaie, Omid Kokabi and Hamid Babaie, must be released, and all students who have been banned from education should be allowed to return to universities, without any preconditions. We also believe that the solution to the numerous problems in the nation’s educational system is moving towards privatization, and we encourage the government of Hasan Rouhani to pursue this matter.

In closing, while honouring the memory of all those who gave their lives for freedom in Iran, we once again ask Mr. Rouhani to explain the circumstances of Saied Zein-Ali, who was arrested by the security forces during the students’ movement of 18 Tir 1378 [9 July 1999], to his family, and offer consolation to his family for the tribulations inflicted upon them in the past 16 years.

The Iranian Liberal Students and Graduates

16 Azar 1393 [7 December 2014]

 

[1] [MaddaḥiPanegyric ally, religious oration]