A Tumultuous Account by Delaram Akbari, a Baha’i Student Deprived of Education

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Source: hra-news.org

Translation by Iran Press Watch

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HRANA News Agency – Delaram Akbari, a Baha’i citizen residing in Sari, a student of computer science at Ghodsieh University, was expelled from that university on January 4, 2016. In addition to being expelled because of her religious beliefs ‒ joining a large group of deprived Baha’i students in Iran ‒ Delaram has witnessed the violation of basic rights of other members of her family for this same reason. She has written the following account of her sufferings, to raise questions among people of conscience.

Delaram Akbari, a young Baha’i residing in Mazindaran Province, has shared her grief with caring individuals, by writing an account of her sufferings, which has been provided to HRANA. In one part of her letter, she raises this painful question: “The tears my friends shed for my expulsion caused my heart to ache deeply, but, sadly, no one could do anything for my friends’ and my grieving, broken hearts. Every day, I repeatedly ask this question, and cannot understand: where in the laws of creation and the book of God has it been written that a human being may be so oppressed and treated with such a lack of kindness?”

Following is the complete text of this tumultuous account:

“In the name of God”

Go to the same place where you received a call!

“Go to the same place where you received a call!” For me, this statement means being deprived of higher education! This means that officials at the Information Headquarters of the Ministry of Intelligence Office in Sari do not want me to be educated, because I am a Baha’i citizen. It means that a telephone call has such power that it can ignore the Constitution of my beloved country, when it comes to Baha’i citizens. It means that I am denied citizenship rights because of my belief in the Baha’i Faith, and finally it means that one day my wish ‒ which is the acceptance of the Baha’i community as a reality in Iranian society ‒ will come true!

I think to myself: why should I be deprived of education? Who is more beneficial for Iran, an educated Baha’i or an uneducated one? Or, out of several hundred college students, why do such hardships in earning knowledge only occur to me? At the end I conclude that I am not the first person who has been denied the right to education, and will probably not be the last one either!

This year, my father’s store was sealed two different times, once for 36 days, and again for 6 months. My mother was also fired from her job in the hospital because of her belief in the Baha’i Faith. As an Iranian citizen who has the right to education, I participated in the 2016 university entrance examination, and was accepted at Ghodsieh University in Sari. I went to the university for registration on September 19, 2015. In the “religion column” of the registration form, I clearly stated that I am a Baha’i. They registered me despite that, and I entered the university on September 29, 2015. After completion of the first semester, I went on the course website to obtain the required card for taking final exams, and faced a major challenge. The website was designed so that it was not possible to obtain the examination entrance card without clicking the religion option ‒ Baha’i Faith was not among the options. As a result, I went to the Education Officer with my father, and shared the problem with him.

He said “You probably did not pay the tuition.” I replied that the tuition had been paid in full. Again he said: “You probably have not paid the transportation fees.” I said that I commute with my own car. He asked: “Then what is your problem?” I replied that I faced a problem with the religion column. I could not fill it, because I am a Baha’i. He referred me to the Students Affairs Office, and before I left, asked for my name, which I gave to him.

The examination entrance card was given to me after I went to the Students Affairs Office. However, the person in charge told me: “If you want this problem to be resolved in future semesters, write your full name, National Identification number and the problem you encountered.” And I wrote on a blank sheet of paper: “Delaram Akbari, Panbeh-Chouleh, National ID number 2133???208; I am a Baha’i.”

After I had taken half of my final exams, they called our home from the Information Headquarters of the Ministry of Intelligence Office in Sari. My mother picked up the phone.

An unidentified person on the phone said: “Your daughter has to show up at the Information Headquarters of the Ministry of Intelligence Office, on Nehzat Avenue in Sari, on Saturday, December 28, 2015. My mother replied: “My daughter has a final exam on Saturday and cannot come to the Information Headquarters of the Ministry of Intelligence Office.” Then she hung up the phone. They called again, and the unidentified person said: “Your daughter is not allowed to take the exam, and must be present here.” And my mother said: “My daughter will come there after taking her exam.”

When my mother shared the matter with me, I asked: “Mom, who spoke to you?” My mother said: “I asked his name, but he did not reply.” I told my mother: ”Since I do not know who has contacted me, and have not received a written letter to go to the Information Headquarters of the Ministry of Intelligence Office, I cannot go there. The caller may have just been an intruder.”

After one week, I prepared for my last exam, delivered my project to my dear professor and sat to take the exam. As the examination sheets were handed out, I noticed that mine was missing. I thought to myself,”Tthere must have been a mistake. Our school officials are not so cruel as to prevent me from taking my last exam.” I wish it was a mistake.

After a few minutes, the Education Officer came to the classroom and started looking for me. When he found me, he said: “Come, I have to talk to you”, and made me get up and leave the classroom. When I came out, he said: “Did you bring all your belongings?” I said: “Yes, but why did you make me leave the examination session?” Sadly, I did not get a response. He talked to a woman for a few moments, while I was waiting, and kept asking: Why ?

After their conversation was over, they came to me, and as they were escorting me out, I asked: “Madam, the time for my exam is going to be over while I am outside. Why didn’t you give me an examination sheet? Why can’t I take the exam?” She replied: “I have no information about this matter (even though they had informed her that I am a Baha’i for obtaining a card), and you are not even considered our student.” I said: Then what about my grades and all my hard work?” She said: “We have been told not to release any grades to you. If you need more explanation, you can go to the Security Office of the University, or the same place that contacted you right now, either by yourself, or with your parents.”

I immediately went to the University’s Security Office with my mother. They made us wait for one hour until the exam time was over. Then, the Security Officer came and informed us that, since this student is a Baha’i and we did not know, we should not have registered her (this was in conditions when I had written on the registration form that, I am a Baha’i, and had repeatedly informed the university officials in person). They expelled me from the university without offering any explanation, and like all the other officials, told me to go to the same place where I received a call from, for more explanation.

Immediately after the completion of the exam, my friends ran to the Administration building and asked me: “Why did you leave the examination room? What is going on?” I explained to my friends that, I have been deprived of taking the exam and education, solely because of my religion and heartfelt belief.

Observing those scenes are indescribable for me, to the extent that I can’t talk about the atmosphere that existed at that time. My friends strongly expressed their opposition and said: “How is it possible to deprive a person from learning, so easily?” They were shocked for many hours, and were in awe of such injustice and brutality. The tears my friends shed for my expulsion, caused my heart to ache deeply, but sadly, no one could do anything for my friends’ and my grieving, broken hearts. Every day, I repeatedly ask this question, and cannot digest, where in the laws of creation and the book of God, has it been written that a human being can be so oppressed and treated with such lack of kindness?

After three days had passed from my expulsion, on January 16, 2016, my father and I went to Mrs. Alavi, the president of the university. I talked to her and said: “I am Delaram Akbari, and you have deprived me from education. I am here to talk to you, and for you to give me an explanation.” She replied: “Didn’t the Security Officer tell you to go to the Information Headquarters of Sari for further explanation?” I replied: “I am a student of this university, not the Information headquarters! If someone is going to give me an explanation, it is you because you are in charge of the university. She asked again: Why don’t you go to the Information Headquarters? You have been asked to go to the Intelligence Office.” At that moment, my father replied: “If my daughter has been asked to come, then give her something in writing or a ruling.” She replied: “There is no need for a ruling. I always go to the Intelligence Office.” My father said: “Your job requires you to go to the Intelligence Office.” I told her: “Mrs. Alavi, you expelled me with no explanation. The least you can do for me, is to return my documents and the tuition that had been paid in full.” She replied: “To get that done, you have to go to the Education Deputy.” At that moment, my father asked her: “Mrs. Alavi, if your child is going to university outside the country, and a problem like this occurs to her, how would you feel? Just express your feelings.” Sadly, this question of my father was left unanswered, but I saw the deep sorrow and trembling voice of the University President, and became a bit hopeful, but sadly

I walked to the office of the Education Deputy with my beloved father. We waited there for nearly 20 minutes, and then went to him. I shared the issues with him, and expressed again, that I had mentioned in my documents that, I am a Baha’i, yet you registered me, I went through the semester, and on the last day of final exams, they made me leave the examination room and told me I do not have the right to get educated. Now I am following up to retrieve my academic files and paid tuition, as an expelled student. While we were talking, the University president came to the subject office from her building, and told the Education Deputy: “This is your problem. You knew that you should not register her. You did not pay enough attention, registered this student and wasted four months of her time. Therefore, you are responsible to return her academic file and full tuition.”

At that moment, I asked the University President: “When I encountered problems with getting the entrance card to the final exams, I went to my Education Officer and clearly said I am a Baha’i. When he referred me to the Student Affairs, I reiterated it again, and even put it in writing. Why did you then allow me to take all my exams, and expelled me during my last final exam? She humbly said: “This was caused by the delays of my expert employees.” She apologized to me and my father, several times, and continued to say: “Come back on Monday to get your case resolved.” I then, went home with my father.

On Monday, January 18, 2016, I went to the University President again, because I knew her conversation with my father was very sympathetic, so she would definitely follow up on my case. However, these thought and assumptions were nothing but my imagination….

When I went to her with my father, she asked: “Why are you here?” I wish she had not asked me that question, as it truly upset me, and completely turned my hope to disappointment…. I told her: “I am here to get my academic file and paid tuition.” She said: “I spoke too early, when I said they will return your money. And to retrieve your academic file, you have to go through a specific process, which I don’t think will have results anytime soon.” She was talking, and I was watching her with awe and disbelief, as such a major change in her position was unbelievable to me. I was very upset, but decided to go to the Education Deputy.

I went to the Education Deputy, with my father. He also asked the same question: “Why are you here?” I replied: I have come to get my academic file which you are holding, and my paid tuition.” He Said: “We have to write letters, and see what their response will be. I have your father’s cell phone number. If it becomes available, I will inform you.” It has been a while since this incident, and I have not received a response.

“Go to the same place where you received a call from.” This means there are still a limited number of people who do not want me to be in Iran and to serve my country. It is possible that, other than “the place that called me”, or that same Information Headquarters of Intelligence, others do not have a problem with my education, and recognize me as a citizen who has the right to be educated. This means, we are only a few steps away for my wish -which is recognition of the Baha’i community- to come true.

Delaram Akbari

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