Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Committee Proposed to Monitor Student Mistreatments

Shervin Sharei, Rooz Online:
With the arrival of the new academic year, many universities across Iran have refrained from admitting many graduate students who had successfully passed the national competitive university entrance exams,” according to Ali Nikoo Nesbati, a member of the central committee of Daftare Tahkim Vahdat (Office of Student Solidarity) student organization.

Following the closure of eight Islamic Student Associations by government authorities, disciplinary actions some 200 student activists and the expulsion or non-admittance of many accepted university students to graduate programs, Nesbati said, “Contrary to the statements of Ministry of Science officials, their activities in denying students admittance to higher education is completely illegal because none of these students have a sentence against them and enjoy the general qualifications to continue their education.” The Ministry of Science in Iran is responsible for managing the state universities in Iran.

Nesbati added that a list of student political activists has been sent to various universities across Iran, in which every student is identified with a single, double or triple star. “According to unconfirmed reports, students who have been marked with a triple star are those who will definitely be expelled from their university. The status of those with double stars depends on the position of the Ministry of Intelligence, while the fate of those with a single star depends on the view of the Security Bureau of the Ministry of Science and the Sazmane Sanjeshe Amuzesh organization (Student Evaluation Board),” Nesbati said. READ MORE

Mehdi Aminizadeh, a former member of the Central Committee of the Office of Student Solidarity organization who was the first student to be barred from getting into a Master’s program told Rooz Online, “Last year I passed the national competitive university entrance exams and was accepted to enroll for the Masters program in Political Science. I applied to a university and was admitted without any problems. But on the first day of class I was summoned by the Education Office of the school and handed a letter from the Office of Teacher and Student Admittance. The letter said that I could not continue my education. When I followed up the issue with the office, they referenced a letter that they had received from the Ministry of Intelligence which notified them that I did not have the necessary qualifications to continue my education because they said that I had been in contact with ‘Illegal groups’.

What is interesting in this regard is that despite the new round of pressure on students, none of the news agencies, the media and the reformist publications that have managed to survive have the courage to report these incidents and the status of students because of the suppressive climate over the media in Iran. Officials of the Ministry of Science on their part have taken advantage of this press censorship and have been threatening dismissed or barred students with life-long bars in education should they reveal their names to the media.

Recently the Center for the Defense of Human Rights led by Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi had issued a statement in which it criticized the treatment of students around the country. “Denial of the right to education is a blatant violation of article 126 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the situation can add to the list of violations committed by Iran in its human rights record at the Human Rights Council and thus reopen its case,” Ebadi warned. The statement further adds that article 30 of the Iranian constitution protects the citizen’s right to education and warns those who are responsible for the violations in this regard, calling the acts illegal and calls on officials to redress the issue.

Ahmad Shirzad, a former Majlis (Parliament) representative told Rooz Online, “As a university professor I know that for a student the denial of higher education is even more painful than a few years in prison. In my view, the bar to higher education is no less a crime than the atrocious police attacks on the university dorm in 1999.”I propose that former and current university students should form a committee to prevent such suppressive measures. The committee can initially gather accurate statistics of mistreatment of students and then confront the issue politically and legally. There is no doubt that reformist political activists and parties have a duty to make their views known in society regarding these violations,” Shirzad added.

In the interview, Shirzad said that it was easier for him today to respond to a question that would be asked of him when he was in the Majlis about what would happen if the hardliners took over power in the country. In those days people did not believe that if the hardliners came to power their daily lives would be affected. But since last year when hardliners completed their take over of all the three branches of government, they are now more active in controlling all facets of people’s lives. “What hardliners used to do in the past in a disgraceful manner, they can do in a more elegant and ‘legal’ way. For example, we notice that they shut Shargh newspaper through an executive decision. Or, today they can create the same suppressive atmosphere that they created when their police physically attacked the university dormitory and its resident students through the announcement or acts of some minor bureaucrats and the prevention of some students from continuing their higher education,” Shirzad summed up.