[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:] Radio Zamaneh
[Date:] 20 Aban 1387 [10 November 2008]
An interview with Mohammad Owliyaiefard, an attorney for Baha’i students
Title: “Baha’i Students Are Deprived of Higher Educations”
By Ardavan Roozbeh
Owliyaiefard is asked to clarify whether Baha’i students, who are his clients, are legally banned from pursuing their educations and what specific issues they are facing.
He responds by saying that his clients have been facing with the decree of their dismissal since three years ago, when the wave of problems for Baha’i students began and they were dismissed and refused registration. Owliyaiefard further adds that the trend began when Mr. Ahmadinejad took office. He goes on to say that even those students who had been accepted to universities were denied registration, and those who were already in university were dismissed.
Following is the summary of the rest of the comments made by Owliyaiefard:
First, we went to the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, the respected university and other resources, but we obtained documents, which indicated that the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution was in fact the main player. According to one of the approvals of this council, which has been communicated with all universities, Baha’is cannot pursue higher educations or enter any university. Upon receiving this document, we were told by the officials of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution that the document we had in our hands was phony and not one of their sanctioned laws.
Finally, we had to pursue this matter through legal channels by raising a case against the council, university and the Ministry of Sciences. The purpose, at first, was to have the students return to school until the ultimate outcome would be known, but the court issued a temporary judgment against students continuing their education.
The judgment of the Court of Administrative Justice has some important points to consider; first is rejecting the case, about which we have been told that this case cannot be accepted. Another point is that despite our complaint against the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, the court has not examined it yet. However, in the process we learned that, in its ruling, the Court of Administrative Justice declares that our case is rejected because it is not in conformity with the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution’s approval. It means that the court, by its judgment, confirms that the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution has approved a law that prevents Baha’i students from pursuing higher educations.
Meanwhile, another important document we came upon was a sanctioned law, approved at the 83rd meeting of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, on 26 January 1987, which reads as follows:
“It is hereby ordained to inform the Court of Administrative Justice, Parliamentary Commission of Article 90, and National Inspector General that the final judgments issued by the Student Selection Central Board, and Disciplinary Central Committee, are based on the approvals of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, and given the importance that the Imam put on the approvals of this council, the aforementioned entities must not oppose these sanctioned laws or have any doubts about them.”
This is simply saying that a legal entity that has its own judges, such as the Court of Administrative Justice; Parliamentary Commission of Article 90, which represents the public; and National Inspector General, which is an entity under the Judiciary, cannot make any judgment over the rulings of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution. That is to say that neither of the branches- executive, judiciary or legislative-can object to this ruling, as if it is a divine revelation.
This has created some legal impasse for us. However, there are threats to my life; I have been beaten, I am under tremendous pressure, and have been asked to leave the case alone.
I have two options on the table: first, an announcement by the head of executive branch- since it is overseeing the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution- saying that new laws must be considered to make it possible for students of this religious minority to pursue their education. I know this option is not going to have any results for us.
The next option is to share these documents with international organizations and human rights entities, including Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, and to send a report to the Human Rights Council, so we can get out of this impasse that Baha’is are facing.
Owliyaiefard is asked whether Baha’i students are basically allowed to continue their education. He says that as far as he is concerned all Baha’i students have been dismissed.
Owliyaiefard was asked: According to what you said earlier, the sanctioned law dates back and is nothing new; therefore, why are the laws sanctioned three years ago are being imposed now?
He responds: The law may have been approved in the past, but the point is that it has just gone into effect. When I look at these laws, one was approved on 02 November 2006, and the other made into law earlier that year. Therefore, we have not concluded exactly when these laws were sanctioned, but they were announced earlier in 2006, and are still in effect. This date corresponds with the time that Ahmadinejad took office.