Economic and educational discrimination in Iran


Economic and educational discrimination in Iran

UN Human Rights Council – 31st Session, March 2016
Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran

14 March 2016


Mr. Shaheed,

In the last two years, more than 100 shops belonging to Baha’is were shut down by the Iranian authorities because they were closed on Baha’i Holy Days, generally under the false pretense that such closures were against the law or were disrupting the market.  There are 9 Baha’i Holy Days spread through the year, and even if all fall on a working day, they can hardly affect the lives of customers.  Moreover, Iranian law permits discretionary closure for up to 15 days.  But more significantly, when the Baha’i owners went to the relevant offices, they were repeatedly told that they would be allowed to reopen if they signed a document certifying that their shops would only be closed on public holidays – and this, regardless of the city or province where the events took place.

It is unfortunately a clear proof that these business closures are a systematic violation of freedom of religion or belief.  However, combined with the other persecutions faced by the Baha’is in Iran, they then become part of a much broader plan:

Since the inception of the Islamic Revolution, Baha’is have not been allowed to work in the public sector.  And when they are employed in the private sector, agents from the Ministry of Information pressure their employers to dismiss them.  Factories and businesses have been shut down or confiscated, farm lands belonging to Baha’is have been appropriated, and the closure of small shops—which were one of the last avenues by which Baha’is could earn a decent living—can be seen as the final step in this series of persecutions.

Moreover, it has been for over 30 years that Baha’i youth have been denied access to higher education in Iran, reducing the economic possibilities open to them.  The process of excluding young Baha’is is twofold, depending on when their belief is discovered by the authorities: either before registration, when their file is deemed “incomplete” or during the course of their studies.

Mr. Shaheed, your report states that the Iranian authorities responded that Baha’is enjoy citizenship rights in Iran.  When they are not allowed to study in order to have a profession, and are denied business activities, how can it be said that Baha’is are treated as fully-fledged citizens?  And more importantly, what will become of them?