University students across the UK, including at the University of Southampton, are launching a national campaign for young Iranians barred from higher education. This aims to bring to light the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran, one of the world’s most egregious human rights abusers, oppresses and discriminates against its own population. Today, many young Iranians are forced to endure the denial of admission to university. But education is a fundamental right – as essential as breathing. The CAN YOU SOLVE THIS? human rights campaign seeks to mobilise large numbers of individuals and groups in support of thousands of Iranian youth.
The campaign uses a QR (Quick Response) code to attract attention. Students are invited to scan the QR code with their phone, or visit the website, and watch a video that explains the issue.
The website asks students to write to the Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon William Hague, and the Iranian minister responsible for higher education, the Hon Kamran Daneshjoo.
This aims to bring support to the thousands of young Iranians who are barred from universities and institutions of higher learning because they have political views, social affiliations or religious convictions rejected by their government. Human rights defenders, women’s rights activists, and members of ethnic or religious minorities are often excluded.
The treatment of the Bahá’í community, Iran’s largest religious minority, is a stark example of this injustice. They are subject to government policies that systematically prevent them from accessing higher education. Their informal initiative to provide higher education, the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education, has been attacked by the government. In other words, their efforts to acquire knowledge for themselves have been declared illegal.
Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that everyone has the right to education. Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – to which Iran is a state party – explicitly codifies the right, by stating that, “higher education shall be made equally accessible to all”.
The youth of Iran urgently need popular support. CAN YOU SOLVE THIS? calls on UK students to respond as members of a global community, to ensure that the right to higher education in Iran is respected. Through raising public awareness and enlisting support, the campaign will demand an end to these unjust and oppressive practices. Iran is strangling itself and its future by strangling its youth. Give a voice to the voiceless of Iran.