New wave of harassment of Isfahan's Baha'i students

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Human Rights Activists News Agency, Religious Minorities Rights: At the beginning of the current academic year, there have been many cases of conditional registration of Baha’i students [at schools] by written pledges or refusal of registration altogether. Between September 2008 and February 2009, Baha’i World News Services reported in excess of 80 cases of harassment of Baha’i students. These cases were in the form of threats, expulsions, humiliations, and insults of students’ [Baha’i] beliefs in front of friends and in public. These represent the cases reported; it is understood that in many more instances the parents of the students decided not to report the cases.

According to reports of the Committee on Human Rights, and other reports from Isfahan, on the 21st of Aban [12 Nov.], in Khadijeh Kobra, an all-girls high school, an individual named “Huseyini,” with the support of the school’s administration, and using the excuse of lecturing on the topic of the “Qa’im” [the Promised One of Shi’ite Islam] [2] began to insult the religious beliefs of Baha’i students.

Huseyni lectured students in the second and third grade [of high school] during the entire day: announcing the topic of his lecture to be “a concise history of Baha’i thought”, he began insulting the Baha’i Faith, its beliefs, its teachings and even some of its members, and called them British and Russian spies. Huseyni not only described the limitations imposed on the Baha’is in Iran as logical and natural, but also said that other religious minorities in Iran, such as Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, deserve the same, and at the end [of his lecture] distributed books [that had been written] against the Baha’i Faith among the students for free.

After this incident, notwithstanding complaints by the families of eight Baha’i students to the school’s administration, the Regional Administration of the Ministry of Education spoke on the matter, and expressed its support of the incident; such that during the next few days it distributed CDs with materials against the Baha’i Faith among the students, but refused to give them to the families of the Baha’is [presumably to prevent the defamatory materials becoming available to the international community]. The families of the Baha’i students have continued with their complaints, but have not received a satisfactory response.

It is important to note that three Baha’i students were expelled from this same school two years ago; as a result of complaints by their families, the Head of the Ministry of Education of Region 3 of Isfahan assured them that such an incident would not occur again.

The past few months have seen a new wave of harassment of Baha’i students in Isfahan by the schools’ administration in such harsh terms that it has even caused trauma to other students, including Muslim students. It appears that these threats are closely linked to a new program of propaganda against the Baha’i Faith in the past 6 months across Isfahan.

Article 30 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child expresses in no uncertain terms: “In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.” [3]

Iran’s Islamic Republic Government is a signatory to the Convention of the Rights of the Child that was adopted on 5 September 1991 and whose Articles were approved in March 1994 by the Parliament of the Islamic Republic.

Editor’s Note:

1. About Isafahan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isfahan
2. The term Qa’im, which literally means the One Who Arises, is the Promised One of Shi’ite Islam.
3. Article 30 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is reproduced in its original English text. You can see the Convention here: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm

[Source: HRNA, http://www.hra-news.org/news/9969.asp; Translated by Iran Press Watch]

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One Response

  1. sb

    December 9, 2009 1:31 pm

    I respect and admire the families of the eight Baha’i children for standing up and expressing their justifiable complaint to the school’s administration for such egregious treatment. Such a stand is only right in light of Iran’s signature on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, adopted nearly 20 years ago!

    Reply

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