Rights Group Slams Iran for Denying Student Activists an Education
Authorities allegedly refuse to process their applications.
Iranian student Zia Nabavi can’t get into graduate school, and it’s not because he doesn’t have the grades.
Nabavi ranked ninth out of thousands of students on the sociology program entrance exam, but authorities allegedly won’t process his application because he has a history of protesting. His application was labeled “lacking documents,” on the Ministry of Higher Education’s website, according to Human Rights Watch.
After standing up for his peers who had their activism used against them while applying to schools, Nabavi suspects he’s being punished for the same reason. He shared his situation on Twitter on Tuesday.
فکر کنم یک بار دیگه مثل ده سال پیش #ستارهدار شدم. باز همون داستان نقص پرونده!— Zia Nabavi (@ZiaNabavi1) September 3, 2018
فردا میرم سازمان سنجش تا ببینم چه میشه کرد.
مسئولین دولتی و نمایندگان مجلس!
قرار بود ستارهدار نداشته باشیم..@Rouhani_ir@mah_sadeghi@mowlaverdi@saeidiftm@TayebehSiavash@P_Salahshouri@Ghheidaripic.twitter.com/ErsO8SrIXe
In the tweet Navabi explained his application had been "starred," and tagged several of the countries politicians incuding President Hassan Rouhani.
Iranian authorities have discreetly prevented students activists from furthering their education over the past decade by flagging applications as incomplete, according to the Humans Rights Watch.
This time of year in #Iran, graduate school applicants learn if they’ve been accepted into the programs they’ve applied for. But it's also the time that several student activists find out that they've been barred from continuing their education: https://t.co/hUeNMxqQU9— Tara Sepehri Far (@sepehrifar) September 5, 2018
Iran’s president Rouhani slammed former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s history of using peaceful protesting against students during his 2013 campaign. When Rouhani went into office, his administration allowed some students whose applications had been affected to continue their education, but not all. Out of the nearly 500 complaints students filed against their unjustly unprocessed applications, only 40 were allowed to reinroll according to a member of the Ministry of Science.
Despite Rouhani’s effort to defend student activists, many claim schools still won’t let them register for graduate school — and advocates aren’t pleased.
“I hope other parliamentarians will step up this year and make sure student activists like Zia Nabavi won’t suffer any more harm,” said Tara Sepehri Far, an Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It is shameful for Rouhani’s administration, who once celebrated the re-enrollment of students to school as a rare success story, to return to the same restrictive measures.”
Since January 2018, the Intelligence Ministry has arrested at least 150 student activists, and 17 of them have been imprisoned.
Iranian student activists need support from those willing to challenge the threat to their right to learn. Politicians like Fatemeh Saeedi, a member of parliament from Tehran, offered to help investigate cases like Nabavi’s.
As long as Iranian students continue protesting, they’re going to need protection. Recently youth activists have organized against a range of issues in the country, including Islamic dress and economic conditions.