Monday, October 23, 2006

Iran's Intelligence Ministry behind ban on access to higher education

(New York, October 19, 2006) – Human Rights Watch called on Iran to immediately revoke bans on students from attending university because they hold political beliefs not to the government’s liking, and to allow registered students to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association.

In a briefing paper released today, entitled “Denying the Right to Education,” Human Rights Watch documents how the government barred at least 12 students from university registration this past year, despite the fact that graduate programs had accepted them on the basis of successful competitive entrance examinations. The briefing paper also documents the cases of another 54 students who were allowed to register only after agreeing to sign statements that they will refrain from peaceful political activities.

According to documents obtained by Human Rights Watch, the Ministry of Information, which performs intelligence functions, is orchestrating the campaign to deny student activists their right to education. The documents make clear that the decisions are solely based on the students’ political background, not on any educational standards. With the exception of one, all of the banned students are outspoken activists or work with the Islamic Students Association on their campuses.