RFE/RL – Dozens of Baha’is in cities across Iran are reported to have been summoned to the Intelligence Ministry in recent weeks because of their activities in the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reports.
Diane Ala’i, the community’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva, told Radio Farda that some of the Baha’is were interrogated and some detained for having helped Baha’i students who wanted to pursue their higher education.
Some 14 Baha’is who worked at the BIHE were taken into custody in Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz, and Esfahan in May. Ala’i said seven of them are still being held in Tehran’s Evin prison.
The BIHE was established unofficially in 1987 to provide higher education for young Baha’is barred from universities because of their religious beliefs.
Ala’i said initially the arrested Baha’is were charged with “acting against national security,” but more recently the charge brought against them is “being a member of an illegal institute.”
“The Baha’i International Community considers such measures suppression and pressure on the Iranian Baha’is,” Ala’i said.
She said the recent arrests show that even though the Iranian authorities claim that Baha’is are allowed to study at universities, they are denied admission to universities and not allowed to pursue their studies through distance learning.