An Open Letter by an Iranian Baha’i; All Four Members of my Family have been Denied Access to Higher Education

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Translation by Iran Press Watch

Alhaan Shaydanshidi, sister of Nikan Shaydanshidi, a Baha’i student who was expelled from the University of Tehran after studying for three semesters of undergraduate studies, seeking a degree in Metallurgy at the Engineering School, has written about how all her family members have been barred from attending university in an open letter.

According to HRANA – the Human Rights Activist News Agency in Iran – Nikan Shaydansheidi, a Baha’i student majoring in Metallurgy at the Engineering School of the University of Tehran, was expelled from the university and banned from pursuing his education.

“This student was summoned to the security office of the university after passing three semesters. He was angrily confronted about why he had signed up, knowing he was a Baha’i from day one. They reminded him that there was no room for Baha’is there and that he had already been there for too long, and finally suggested that he could only stay there if he chose another religion. They sent for his father after he refused to recant his faith. He was not issued an exam entrance card and was eventually expelled from the university despite many letters to the administration, and even after he visited the University Chancellor with his father,”, an informed source reported to HRANA about his case earlier.

All four members of his family have experienced the same fate, because they are Baha’is.

That is why Alhaan Shaydanshidi, the sister of Nikan, has written about these deprivations and the pain the family has had to go through in an open letter to her brother.

Here is the complete contents of the letter that has been received by HRANA:

“A Letter to my Brother Nikan who Bravely Became 19!

“Surely, you still feel happy about the moment you found out that you had passed the exams and were accepted to your favorite major in a public university…

“And you still feel the exhaustion of the days you had to wake up as early as 5 am to go to your classes and come back home late at night, tired but filled with energy from what you had learned and the encouraging words of your teachers.

“Certainly, you remember that when the courses increasingly became harder, and while we were hearing the news of expulsions of our other (Baha’i) friends, you asked me, ‘Alhaan, with all these hard studies, what if one day they expel me too?’, and I told you, ‘Don’t think so. They have done whatever they could to the rest of the family already. (They will spare you) …’”

“Didn’t they dismiss grandpa and grandma from working in hospitals, after many years of hard day and night shifts of work, although they had the best college degrees and immaculate records of service, for being Baha’is? Didn’t they imprison grandpa for his belief in the Baha’i Faith? Wasn’t Uncle Mansoor banished, and became gravely ill and finally died under such harsh circumstances that he was named a martyr? Wasn’t Mom thrown out of high school for being a Baha’i? Did they let mom and dad even take the college Nationwide Entrance Exam, let alone allow them to study there? Why go so far…did they ever let me go to university? I still remember the moment that I, excited about choosing my majors, opened the pages of the result of the test and saw my name red-tagged with ‘Incomplete File’ …

“You know, Nikan, I still feel the heavy air of the night I came home two months ago when I saw everybody somberly sitting in their rooms. When I asked the reason, Mom replied that you were summoned to the Security office of the University and were harshly asked why you registered, knowing you were a Baha’i.

“I still feel the stress of the day you and Dad went to see the University Chancellor and the Security officials to see why this had happened. That summer afternoon, when you returned home, you told us you were being forced to choose another religion on your university application form, and when you refused, you were told not to be hopeful about studying there any more…

“I also feel the night we went to a park and sat in front of each other to talk about your future; nonetheless we were both so upset and angry that we did not look each other in the eye, fearing to see each other crying.

“After four years in which I managed to find alternative ways to study with excellent results, I found out that I should congratulate all my friends who had been red-tagged like me for their belief in the Baha’i faith…

“I found out that instead of this crisis for us Baha’i youth, we have emerged victorious in facing our challenges, and have became more motivated and resolved to pursue education, and more inspired to work towards having a better world and… this is alarming for many adults (in our society)!

“I want to tell you that this incident for sure will be a turning point in your life, inspiring you to achieve bigger goals in life…

“And you are the strongest and one and only little brother of mine…

“Your sister, Alhaan.”

Despite the prevention of Baha’i students from pursuing higher education in universities, a few of them succeeded in attend Iranian colleges, but after a short period of time they were expelled with different excuses used by the authorities and administrators. Earlier, HRANA reported the expulsions of Baha’i students in various cities in Iran.

Baha’is in Iran are denied religious freedom. This systematic denial occurs even though according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, everyone has the freedom to choose or change his religion and is free to express his belief, either individually or collectively or openly or privately.

Based on unofficial sources in Iran, there are more than 300,000 Baha’is living in Iran; yet the Constitution of Iran recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrian as the only official religions in Iran, but not the Baha’i Faith. For this reason, the rights of Baha’is have been systematically denied for the last 40 years.


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