Statement by “Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination” Objecting to the Sentence of Mr. Sama Nourani

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( After more than three decades, the trend in the confrontation of the [Iranian] authorities with social and civil activists continues intensively.  This trend is not new and, as the most progressive social force in Iran, students have been in the forefront of these confrontations.  With a confrontational approach and repression of these activists, the authorities attempt to silence the voice of seeking justice and demands for rights.  However, they neglect the fact that this would only make the activists more firm in their objectives and decisive on their demands.

Now, after more than three decades of being deprived of their right to higher education, the Bahá’ís are facing a new form of deprivation.  Mr. Sama Nourani, one of the activists of the right to education, and an staff associate of “Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination”, is commencing his prison sentence as the first Bahá’í active in this area.  His sentence and imprisonment is solely due to his activities in the area of defense of the right to education and of other students deprived of that right.

Sama Nourani was arrested, along with a number of human rights activities, as part of the Ministry of Information’s March 2010 Project, and was freed after spending two months in Section 2A of Evin prison.  Accused of Propaganda against the [Islamic] regime, this human rights activist was tried in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, and was sentenced to one year of discretionary imprisonment which was upheld in Branch 36 of the appeals court.

Sama Nourani is being sent to prison while two other activists demanding the rights of Bahá’ís to education are awaiting the decision of the appeals court for their cases.  Mr. Navid Khanjani, a member of “Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination”, and of the “Committee of Human Rights Journalists”, has been heavily sentenced to 12 years of discretionary imprisonment, and Mr. Iqan Shahidi, another education rights activist, has been sentenced to 5 years of discretionary imprisonment.

These activists are being sentenced despite paragraphs 23 and 30 of the Iranian Constitution, and Paragraph 26 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating that higher education should be made accessible equally to everyone, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, color, language, religion, political view, or any other belief.

These violent confrontations with activists in human rights and educational rights of the Bahá’ís continue, while in the past two years pressure has been increasingly exerted on all segments of the society, especially political, civil, and student activists.  Mr. Abolfazl Abedini, Mr. Ahmad Zeidabadi, Mr. Abdullah Momeni, Ms. Bahareh Hedayat, Mr. Zia Nabavi, Mr. Majid Dorri, Mr. Majid Tavakkoli, Mr. Hosein Rownaghi, Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, Mr. Mostafa Tajzadeh, Mr. Ramin Parchami, Mr. Issa Sahakhiz, Mr. Mohammad PourAbdollah, Mr. Mehdi Mahmoudian, Ms. Fariba Kamalabadi, Ms. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Peyman Aaref, Ms. Mahdiyyeh Golrou, Mr. Mohammad Kaboudvand, Mr. Rasoul Badaghi, Mr. Reza Shahbi, Mr. Emad Bahavar, and Mr. Arsalan Abadi, are only a few among a significant number of activists in captivity.

Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination condemns the actions of the authorities in expanding its suffocating hold on the society, and demands repeal of all the baseless and illegal sentences as well as ending all forms of discrimination which has cast its shadow on Iran over the past several years.

This organization believes that such pressure [by the Iranian government] would not only fail to stop its rightful and rights-seeking activities, but, on the contrary, it would make human rights activists more decisive in defending and demanding their rights and the rights of other strata of [the Iranian] society, and in removing every form of discrimination, especially discrimination against education.

We will persist until our demands are met.

Population of Combat against Educational Discrimination

10 Mordad 1390 [1 August 2011]




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