Heads of medical schools urge Iran to release jailed Baha'i educators


Some of the 48 Deans and Senior Vice-Presidents of American medical schools who have signed an open letter condemning the Iranian government's persecution of Baha'i students and educators. Pictured are, top row from left to right: D. Craig Brater, Betty M. Drees, Philip Pizzo, Valerie Montgomery Rice; Bottom row, from left to right: Pamela B. Davis, James Woolliscroft, Mark S. Johnson, and Marsha D. Rappley.
Some of the 48 Deans and Senior Vice-Presidents of American medical schools who have signed an open letter condemning the Iranian government's persecution of Baha'i students and educators. Pictured are, top row from left to right: D. Craig Brater, Betty M. Drees, Philip Pizzo, Valerie Montgomery Rice; Bottom row, from left to right: Pamela B. Davis, James Woolliscroft, Mark S. Johnson, and Marsha D. Rappley.

[BWNS, 8 Dec. 2011] WASHINGTON, D.C., United States — Almost 50 leaders of medical education in the United States have joined the worldwide protest against the Iranian government’s persecution of Baha’i students and educators.

Forty-eight Deans and Senior Vice-Presidents – who between them head more than a third of American medical schools – have signed an open letter addressed to Iran’s representative to the United Nations. The letter was published on the Persian-language “Association Against Education Discrimination” website on 7 December – the day that Iranian student movements annually commemorate Student Day.

“We are writing as individuals who are leaders of globally recognized educational institutions to voice our concern about the treatment of Baha’i students and educators in Iran,” the letter says.

“As leaders of medical education, we believe that education is an inherent human right. At our respective institutions, we have hosted and continue to host students, residents, fellows, and faculty irrespective of their religious beliefs from all over the world. We have welcomed this diverse population into our educational communities to contribute to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge for the benefit of humanity.”

The letter’s chief signatory – Dr. Philip Pizzo, Dean of Stanford University’s School of Medicine – helped collect the signatures last month at the annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Council of Medical School Deans.

The statement details the systematic attack launched by Iranian authorities against an informal community initiative – known as the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) – which was set up to provide education for young Baha’is barred from university. Seven Baha’is associated with BIHE are now serving four- and five-year jail terms.

“The arresting of BIHE faculty and administrators as well as the banning of generations of Baha’is from education solely on the basis of their religious background are violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights to which Iran is a State Party,” the letter continues.

“We therefore urge your government to release the instructors and administrators of BIHE from prison. We also request that your government extend Baha’i students and faculty in Iran the same rights to education that we offer every student and professor at our institutions regardless of their heritage, religion or country of origin.”

The open letter was published on the same day that the situation of Baha’i educators and students was raised in a joint statement by an international group of lawmakers – US Senators Mark Kirk and Joseph Lieberman, Canadian MP Irwin Cotler, British MP Denis MacShane, Australian MP Michael Danby, Italian MP Fiamma Nirenstein, and Lithuanian MP Emanuelis Zingeris.

Continuing outcry

These latest actions come just days after Senator Mobina Jaffer, Canada’s first Muslim senator, told a Canadian Senate enquiry that it was “unprecedented” that Iran has now criminalized the education of young people.

The condemnation of the imprisonment of the seven Baha’i educators has spanned the world. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has led the criticism of their sentences, along with such prominent figures as Nobel Peace Prize laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jose Ramos-Horta, andLieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, the former UN peacekeeping force commander who tried to stop the 1990s genocide in Rwanda.

In October, some 43 distinguished philosophers and theologians in 16 countries signed an open letter protesting against the attack on BIHE.

In Germany, some 45 prominent professors have demanded the immediate release of the seven, while in Australia, letters of protest have been sent by 73 university academics, and Universities Australia, representing the vice-chancellors of all Australian universities.

Last month, more than 50 academics in Ireland called upon the Iranian authorities to allow access to higher education for all, while 26 professionals from the cinema industry urged the government of Brazil to defend the rights of filmmakers, journalists and Baha’i educators and called upon Iran to immediately release those imprisoned.


Philip Pizzo MD – Dean, Stanford University School of Medicine
Stephen K. Klasko MD MBA – CEO USF Health; Dean University of South Florida College of Medicine
D. Craig Brater MD – Dean, Indiana University School of Medicine
Lois Margaret Nora MD MBA – Interim President/Dean, Commonwealth Medical College
Jerry R. Youkey MD – Founding Dean, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Greenville
Robert Folberg MD – Founding Dean, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
James Woolliscroft MD – Dean, University of Michigan Medical School
Paul Katz MD – Founding Dean, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
J. Kevin Dorsey MD PhD – Dean & Provost, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
Harold L. Paz MD MS – Senior VP for Health Affairs, Dean Penn State College of Medicine
Terence R. Flotte MD – Dean, Provost & Exec. Dep. Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Marsha D. Rappley MD – Dean, Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine
M. Dewayne Andrews MD – Sr. VP & Provost & Executive Dean, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine
Paul B. Roth MD – Chancellor & Dean, University of New Mexico-Health Sciences Center
Larry W. Laughlin MD, PhD – Dean, Uniformed Services University School of Medicine
Thomas L. Schwenk MD – Dean, VP Health Sciences, University of Nevada Reno
Steven Berk MD – Dean, Executive VP, Texas Tech University, Health Sciences Center
Mark B. Taubman MD – Dean, VP Health Sciences, University of Rochester
Peter S. Amenta MD PhD – Dean, UMDNJ, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Lawrence G. Smith MD – Dean, Hofstra University, School of Medicine, North Shore LIJ
Robert L. Johnson MD – Dean, UMDNJ, New Jersey Medical School
Steven J. Scheinman MD – Dean Emeritus, Upstate Medical University
S. Ray Mitchell MD – Dean, Georgetown University, School of Medicine
Frederick Morin MD – Dean, University of Vermont, College of Medicine
Michael E. Cain MD – Dean, VP for Health Sciences, University at Buffalo
John P. Fogarty MD – Dean, Florida State University, College of Medicine
Ralph A. O’Connell MD – Dean & Provost, New York Medical College
John A. Rock MD – Dean & Senior VP for Medical Affairs, Florida International University
William L. Roper MD – Dean & CEO, University of North Carolina, School of Medicine
Charles J. Lockwood MD – Dean & VP, Ohio State University, Medical Center
Paul R. Cunningham MD – Dean, East Carolina University, The Brody School of Medicine
B. P. Sachs MD – SVP & Dean, Tulane University, School of Medicine
Charles P. Mouton MD – Dean & Senior VP, Meharry Medical College, School of Medicine
Jeff Susman MD – Dean, Northeastern Ohio
Betty M. Drees MD – Dean, University of Missouri – Kansas City, School of Medicine
Pamela B. Davis MD PhD – Dean & VP for Medical Affairs, Case Western Reserve University, School of Medicine
Paul Rothman MD – Dean, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Wiley Souba MD – VP for Health Affairs & Dean, Dartmouth Medical School
Roger Hadley MD – Dean, Loma Linda University
Thomas A. Deutsch MD – Dean, Rush University, Chicago, Medical College
Debra H. Fiser MD – Dean, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Larry Shapiro MD – Dean, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Daniel V. Schidlow MD – Interim Dean, Drexel University College of Medicine
Valerie Montgomery Rice MD – Executive VP & Dean, Morehouse School of Medicine
Peter F. Buckley MD – Dean, Georgia Health Sciences University, Medical College of Georgia
Mark S. Johnson MD – Dean, Howard University
Andrew L. Chesson MD – Dean, LSU Health Shreveport
Karen Antman MD – Dean, Provost Boston University School of Medicine

Baha’i World News Service coverage of the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran

The Baha’i World News Service has published a Special Section which includes further articles and background information about Iran’s campaign to deny higher education to Baha’is. It contains news of latest developments, a summary of the situation, profiles of imprisoned Baha’i educators, feature articles, case studies and testimonials from students, resources and links.

Another Special Report offers articles and background information about the seven Iranian Baha’i leaders – their lives, their imprisonment, trial and sentencing – and the allegations made against them. It also offers further resources about the persecution of Iran’s Baha’i community.

The International Reaction page of the Baha’i World News service is regularly updated with responses from governments, nongovernmental organizations, and prominent individuals, to actions taken against the Baha’is of Iran.

The Media Reports page presents a digest of media coverage from around the world.

Source: http://news.bahai.org/story/874


7 Responses

  1. anti-zionist

    December 10, 2011 12:44 am


    This comment had to be deleted because the person did not use a real name, and the email supplied — [email protected]— was a fake email address. The transcript of the “return” email follows:

    From: MAILER-DA
    [email protected]
    Date: December 9, 2011 11:36:03 PM PST
    To: [email protected]
    Subject: failure notice

    Hi. This is the qmail-send program at smtpauth11.prod.mesa1.secureserver.net.
    I’m afraid I wasn’t able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
    This is a permanent error; I’ve given up. Sorry it didn’t work out.

    : failed after I sent the message.
    Remote host said: 554 delivery error: dd Sorry your message to [email protected] cannot be delivered. This account has been disabled or discontinued [#102]. – mta1189.mail.mud.yahoo.com

    Thank you,
    Iran Press Watch.

  2. editor

    December 10, 2011 7:41 am

    Dear “anti-zionist”

    As a sign of respect to the readership of IPW, please place your real name and email address when commenting on IPW’s blog. Also, “anti-” sentiments do not sit well with IPW’s values of meaningful conversations and the core belief in human nobility.

    I reserve to right to remove, and if necessary ban, users who do not respect IPW’s policies for use of comments.

    loving greetings
    the Editor
    Iran Press Watch.

  3. Somebody

    December 10, 2011 3:25 pm

    and censorship has become its LAST line of defense before its final collapse!

    with less than 80 views of the main Baha’i channel (in Persian) on Youtube in 5 years, and knowing that Persians are one of the largest ethnicity represented among baha’is, we think spiritual life has quit the Baha’i community long ago (unfortunately for those of us who know REAL Baha’is!).

    Now go converse with yourself (under you miscellaneous nickname)

  4. Editor

    December 11, 2011 2:43 am

    The friends that are kind enough to participate in comments of IPW are contacted with my full signature and contact information in order to verify their contact information. More than often, people with hateful or overly critical views lie about their name and email. This is obviously disrespectful to IPW’s readership.

    You are welcome to contact me as the Editor at Iran Press Watch at [email protected].

    Loving greetings,

  5. Nasser

    December 20, 2011 7:58 am

    There are numerous evidences that in relation to human rights abuse in Iran, ever- increasing number of sincere and dignified human beings or organisations across the world are raising their voice in support of persecuted Baha’is in that country. It is also heartening to see a large number of noble Iranian people, in particular young and educated people, started to investigate realities behind the inhuman persecution of peace loving Baha’is in Iran by a group of hard liners. Using an abusive language in a public form, such as this blog, and spreading negativity by itself, is a sign of frustration going through the minds of those who are not happy with the momentum is building up in support of the Iranian Baha’is around the world.
    It is also important to note, though the Baha’is In Iran are under sever persecution and face human rights abuse in all their daily lives – education , job , private business, personal/ private religious practice, etc.. they have not over crossed the boundaries of a human dignity in their expression and in their behaviour against all the hardship and human rights abuse inflicted upon them. This is a sign of human maturity and practice of what the Baha’i teaching are about. The only thing they do: to raise their voice, in relation to what is happening to them in Iran and what the reality of the Baha’i Faith is, to work along with the other peace loving people around the world for finding a suitable solution to the problems all of us facing in today’s society.


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