Denial of education faced by Bahá’ís in Iran is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Iran is a signatory to the declaration, but it repeatedly violates the declaration by officially denying Bahá’ís all educational opportunities afforded to other Iranians.
Bahá’ís are not afforded state education at any level because only four religions are officially recognized in Iran — Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” the declaration states. “They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Denial of education is a violation of the declaration’s Article 26:
“(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
“(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
“(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”
In the news this month are three more Bahá’ís denied higher education: Rouhiyyeh Safajou, Sarmad Shadabi and Tara Houshmand. They were arrested because they attempted to legally access higher education — a human right they were denied and an action for which they were arrested.
From the various accounts I read on blogs, Facebook and news sites, they each spent nearly three weeks in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Based upon the same sources, the three youths were reportedly released on bail on March 28. They still face “trial.”
I may be an idealist, but my hope is that some day, all Iranians will be afforded the same human rights. I believe in a day when all Iranians will live in peace, when tolerance and understanding will replace discrimination and prejudice.
Rouhie Safajoo wrote a moving tribute for a 5-year-old boy whose Bahá’í parents were arrested for teaching at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education. To read her tribute, visit IranWire’s post titled “For Bashir by Rouhie Safajoo.”
For more information on denial of education for the trio mentioned, visit Iran Press Watch, which has published two articles: “My Sister Is Jailed Because She Wants to Study” and “Sarmad Shadabi, Tara Houshmand and Rouhie Safajoo Released on Bail”.
Glenn Franco Simmons is a Bahá’í residing in Silicon Valley. His columns reflect his personal opinions and observations only and do not imply they are shared by other Bahá’ís and/or the Bahá’í International Community.