Background Briefing

Admitted but Silenced

At the start of the current academic year on September 23, university administrators allowed an unknown number of students to register only after having filled out and submitted pro forma commitment letters to the SR&T Ministry.  In these letters the students accepted to follow all “ideological [iteghadi], political, and moral regulations” or else be barred them from further education.8

Iranian student activists told Human Rights Watch that no one, except for government officials, knows for certain how many students registered under such conditions. Because of their conditional registrations, these students feel intimidated from coming forward and risking their education. Student activists said they believe the number of conditional admissions is “a couple of hundred.”9

Officials at the SR&T Ministry confirmed to reporters that there are conditional registrations, and said there are 54 such cases, but explained that each of these is conditional “because [the student’s] file is incomplete.”10 On October 4, 2006, Seyed Morteza Nurbakhsh told reporters that “We took commitment letters from students who had problems for graduate programs, but these problems were absolutely not of a political nature.”11

During the same interview, Nurbakhsh provided a copy of the commitment letter that students were required to sign to be allowed to register. The letter reads as follows:

I …son/daughter of … ID No.… Issued from … Date of Birth … acknowledge that the Central Committee for Selection of Students and Faculty is allowing me to enter the university under certain conditions. I commit to observe all ideological [iteghadi], political, and moral regulations within the current legal framework, in particular the university’s disciplinary regulations. I understand that in case of any instance of acting against the terms of this commitment letter, the relevant officials are allowed to cancel my registration and to prevent my further education. Obviously, in case of such decision, I am responsible to pay all relevant educational costs.12

8 Text of the commitment letter that must be signed by students prior to their registration, provided by Seyed Morteza Nurbakhsh, director of the Central Committee for Selection of Students and Faculty at the Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology, to Iranian Students News Agency, October 4, 2006,  (accessed October 4, 2006).

9 Human Rights Watch interview with student activist, identity withheld, October 3, 2006.

10 “A review of ‘starred students,’ from an ‘absolute lie’ to explaining the truth,” Iranian Students News Agency, October 4, 2006, (accessed October 4, 2006).

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid.