Situation of the Baha’is of Iran
Yesterday, the Baha’i International Community released a document entitled “Unfulfilled Promises”, which reviews the commitments the Islamic Republic of Iran made at the last session of the UPR as they pertain to the situation of the Baha’is – the largest non-Muslim religious minority in the country.
The review shows that, since 2010, not only has Iran made absolutely no improvement on the accepted recommendations, the situation of the Baha’is has worsened. One such case is the denial of access to higher education for young Baha’is – a human rights violation to which their parents, and sometimes even their grand parents, were also subjected.
The Iranian government has repeatedly tried to deny this pernicious act, but this past week, as the academic year begins, Baha’i students in Iran were faced with a new tactic: when they sought their results on line, they were referred to the office which oversees the examination process. There, they were simply shown the National University Entrance Examination booklet which states explicitly that “only Muslims and officially recognized minorities are permitted to participate” – thus, not the Baha’is.
The question one of the students asked the authorities is how he had been identified as a Baha’i without having had to enter his religion throughout the whole registration process.
This is a question we should all be asking ourselves. Moreover, it sends a chilling message to all the Baha’is in Iran: are they now identified in some secret, official record?
In 2006, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief disclosed a secret document that indicated that the Supreme Leader had ordered all national and local government agencies to identify the Baha’is – is that database now complete and in use? Is this the ‘yellow badge’ of the digital age?
In the month leading to Iran’s review, will the government begin to take adequate steps to reverse this unjust deprivation of access to higher education? Or will they continue to devise ways to keep up their pretence?