Jewish groups urge release of Baha'i academics in Iran

Iran's detention of 11 Baha'i academics has been condemned by the Board of Deputies and Union of Jewish Students.

British Jews have repeatedly raised concerns about the treatment of Iran's Baha'i community. More than 100 are being held in Iranian prisons, including seven of the community's most senior leaders, some having been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Those detained worked for the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), which had been established to meet the educational needs of young Baha'is denied access to Iran's higher education system.

In a joint statement calling for the academics' immediate release, the Board and UJS said the detention was "totally unacceptable and a violation of Article 27 of the UDHR, which guarantees all citizens the right to freely 'participate in the cultural life of the community'.

"Only through fostering a culture of mutual respect can Iran progress to a legal and political situation worthy of all its citizens. We believe that all people, and all Iranians, should be given equal access to higher education on the basis of merit, and not de-barred because of their religious beliefs."

Iran has repeatedly repressed its Baha'i community and has for more than 30 years barred Baha'i academics from working in universities.

    Last updated: 2:29pm, August 17 2011