Editor’s Note: Recently, the Baha’i youth, and their friends and colleagues, gathered from different parts of the Pacific to pass a unanimous resolution at the New Zealand National Baha’i Youth Conference expressing their outcry for the injustice experienced by their fellow Baha’i students in Iran. This is the first time that New Zealand youth made a collective statement in defense of the Baha’i youth in Iran. The attached press releases highlight the need of creating more awareness on the plight of Baha’i students in Iran and encouraging the masses to support the Baha’i campaign of calling for an end to this religious persecution and violation of human rights. The youth are seeking support in the form of petition letters, remits or media coverage – calling on the Iranian government to give Baha’i students access to tertiary education.
Over 180 youth from across New Zealand and Australia gathered in Auckland recently for the annual National Baha’i Youth Conference. The participants of this conference passed a unanimous resolution which has been sent to the Iranian government making a plea for social justice, and calling for an end to religious prejudice.
Many youth throughout New Zealand are distressed by the refusal of the Iranian government to provide its citizens with equal access to education, says conference spokesperson Khatereh Eghdamian, who left Iran with her family a few years after the Islamic Revolution. “For over a decade, Baha’i students have been dismissed from all institutions of higher learning. Access to tertiary education, and in recent years high-school and primary education, has been denied to Baha’is because of their religious beliefs.”
Ms Eghdamian believes that if she were still in Iran, she would not have a university education. Ms Eghdamian has degrees in law and sociology and deplores the fact that her fellow Baha’is in Iran do not have the same opportunities to be educated.
The Baha’is believe that all prejudice – racial, religious, or national – is destructive and must be overcome. The Baha’i Faith originated in Iran and its approximate 300,000 followers represent the country’s largest religious minority. Since the religion’s establishment in 1844, Iranian Baha’is have faced imprisonment, execution, confiscation of businesses and property, and dismissal from all government employment. “In light of the current conflicts in Iran, we believe it is time for increased media attention on human rights issues in Iran,” she explained. “Baha’is do not involve themselves in partisan political activity, but we are deeply concerned for the safety and rights of all Iranians. Young people are aware of the sufferings of others and they feel a responsibility to speak out.”