As the world marks Human Rights Day and the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration, several key figures from the United Kingdom (including Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire) called the Iranian government to allow its Baha’i community access to educational institutions. The text of the letter is below:

Sir, Today is United Nations Human Rights Day. This year the day marks the 60th anniversary of the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 26 of the Declaration reads: “Everyone has the right to education” and “Higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit”.

We express our grave concern at the policy of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to deny access to education to members of its largest non-Muslim religious minority, the Baha’i faith.

Baha’is have been denied access to university for years but it is now reported that high schools and primary schools across Iran have begun to identify and expel pupils who are of the Baha’i faith. Such expulsions are a breach of Iran’s obligations under Article 13 of the Covenant of Economic, Cultural and Social Rights. We believe that this policy is manifestly unjust. It also sits ill at ease with Iran’s history of respect for learning.

We call upon the Government of Iran to allow full and unfettered access to education for all members of the Iranian Baha’i community, and to cease the harassment of Baha’is at any and all centres of learning in Iran.

Lord Parekh of Kingston-upon-Hull

Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws

Deborah Orr

Mairead Corrigan Maguire

Nobel Peace Laureate

Professor Stephen Chan

Department of Political and International Studies, SOAS

Professor Geraldine van Bueren

Queen Mary University of London

Professor Peter Finn

Principal, St Mary’s University College, Belfast

Professor Tony Gallagher

School of Education, St Mary’s University College, Belfast

Lord Gifford

Bishop Idris Jones

Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church

The Right Rev David Lunan

Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Norman Richardson

Stranmillis College, Belfast

Pierrot Ngadi

Co-ordinator, Refugee Wales

Francis Davis

Director, International Young Leaders Network

Patrick Yu

Executive Director, Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities

Professor Colin Sucking

Former Vice Principal, University of Strathclyde

The Most Rev Keith Patrick O’Brien

Cardinal and Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh