[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]
[Adapted from website:] Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA)
[Date:] 22 Esfand 1387 [12 March 2009]
Tumultuous Account of a Baha’i Student Expelled From Shiraz University
I am Borhan Rasti-Ghalati, accepted [as a student] in the field of business management at Shiraz University. At eight o’clock in the morning of 26 Shahrivar 1386 [17 September 2007] together with my brother, I went to the Cultural and Welfare Complex of the Shiraz University (Academic Jihad), which was the place of registration.
At first, we were given various forms to complete, among which was a form that was related to the student’s personal information and had a section for the applicant’s religion. Of course, according to the previous coordination with the Khademin of Shiraz, we were supposed to leave that part blank.
After completing the forms, paying the tuition fees and receiving the Students’ Cooperative card, the exam card and the student insurance card, they sent us to another hall to complete the registration procedure and open a [student] case file. In this section, I gave the form—in which the religion was asked—to the relevant administrator, who, after viewing it, did not ask any questions. After receiving the photo and other documents, he handed me a form and said that I should go and get my student card, which was, of course, the last stage of my registration process. I should mention that in the initial process, I had already received my student number.
Before we went to the card issuance section, a person named Mr. Rasti was sitting [in the hall] and was filling in another form with the student’s details. He attached each of the photos to a form, placed the form in an envelope for the relevant college and passed it over to a woman who was sitting next to him, who was responsible for giving the student card. There was a third person who checked and marked the names of the recipients of the student card in a specific list, to indicate that the student had received his/her card and the process of student registration had been completed.
We encountered a problem when we went to Mr. Rasti. While he was completing my profile form, he asked me what was my religion, and I said I was from an informal religious minority. He asked me which informal minority? I said, “Baha’i”. He wrote Baha’i in big letters on my form, set my form aside and asked me to go to his desk. After calling one of his colleagues, he asked him to call another person, named Mr. Mansouri, to find out what decision he should make about me. Before Mr. Mansouri arrived, another person came to him and Mr. Rasti asked him what he should do with us. And I heard him saying to Mr. Rasti, “You have nothing to do with him, just carry out your duty; the university knows what to do with these people.” My brother and I went to the person whom Mr. Rasti had told to register me. He said that he would not register me. He replied that you should correct the form and change the religion to Islam. When he realized that we did not wish to change the form, he said, “Do not confront these officials, because it is useless.”
Then Mr. Mansouri came to him and said something in the ear of Mr. Rasti, and then asked us to go to the Karaj Educational Assessment and Evaluation Organization and get a letter from them, so that they could register me.
After my brother and I insisted on getting my student cards, and [saying that] their proposed way was difficult, Mr. Rasti told me that we could also go to Mr. Hemmati, in charge of the security at the Shiraz University, and if he approved, they would register me, since his approval has the same value as the Educational Assessment and Evaluation Organization. It should be mentioned that my brother found out that Mr. Mansouri had received Mr. Hemmati’s mobile number during his private conversation with Mr. Rasti so he could coordinate our meeting with him.
In no way did Mr. Rasti gave us the forms we had received up to that point. He folded and kept them with him.
Then my brother and I went to the management office at Shiraz University, which was located on the first floor. We went to Mr. Hemmati, and after finding him, we asked him whether we could talk to him in private. We explained the situation to him and asked him what we should do. He replied, “We have no orders from [higher authorities] in this regard; therefore, we will act as before and deny the admission of a Baha’i student.” And when my brother said, “How come one of our Baha’i compatriots registered a few days ago?” He said, “Of course, the person was not from the Shiraz Unit; the authorities may have been negligent and the person will be expelled soon.”
Needless to say, he repeatedly tried to mislead us, and when he asked about our religion and we said the Baha’i minority, he said, “You do not [belong to] one of the official religions of Iran and you are part of a sect.” We tried to avoid the discussion, in order to progress, and he said, “Last year, no Baha’i was registered at Shiraz University and you do the same things that they did; write letters. Again, he said that we are not accepted as one of the religions in the Iranian constitution and that we would be deprived of the right to study at an official university. In response, my brother said, “The same constitution states that every Iranian should enjoy the current rights of a human being.” He said, “Yes, you can go and study privately.” Like his other responses, he was trying to divert and mislead the discussion.
He also said, “Well, when did you become a Baha’i?” We said we had always been Baha’i, and said, “Is this issue related to our discussion?” He said, “No, but there are many who have been Muslims and then become Baha’i, and again converted to Islam.” My brother replied, “There have been many other people who may have done many other things during their lives. Are these questions related to the subject of our discussion?” [At this point] [Mr. Hemmati] went out of the room and called Mr. Rasti on his mobile phone. When he returned, he said that Mr. Rasti had done the right thing and that we should go to him and get your tuition fee and all your documents back, because in his opinion I was not registered. My brother said, “Is this really the result of all the efforts to get accepted to the university?” He did not say anything. Then, when we saw that the discussion with him was in vain, we thanked him and went out.
We called one of the Khademin of Shiraz, and he instructed us not to take back the documents or the paid tuition fees from them. Since they might say [later on] that he was not willing to continue his studies and has changed his mind.
According to Article 30 of the Constitution, education is the right of every Iranian citizen. In paragraph 1 of Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it is stated, “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.” According to Article 9 of the Civil Code, “Treaty stipulations which have been, in accordance with the Constitutional Law, concluded between the Iranian government and another government shall have the force of law.” According to Paragraph 3 of Article 3 of the Constitution, the government is obliged to “provide free education and physical training for everyone at all levels, and the facilitation and expansion of higher education.”
Committee for the Seeking of the Right to Education of Baha’is in Iran, Human Rights Activists in Iran