Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Iranian universities instructed to expel Baha'i students

The Baha’i International Community (BIC) said it has obtained a copy of a confidential letter from Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology that was sent to 81 universities and instructs administrators to expel Baha’i students, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Diane Alai, a BIC representative at the United Nations, said that more than half of Iran’s Baha’i university students enrolled last year have been expelled.

Alai said that, until recently, university entrance-exams forms required students to state their faith, prompting Baha’i followers to lie about their faith or forego university education. The Iranian government does not officially recognize the Baha’i faith.

But two years ago the forms were changed, and 200 Baha’is were able to enroll. However, 128 Baha’i students were expelled within a year. Alai said none of the expellees were involved in any kind of political activity.

In its press release, the BIC says the ministry’s letter contradicts assertions from Iranian officials who say Baha’i students face no discrimination and claims that Iran’s 300,000-member Baha’i community in general faces “physical and economic harassment” and other rights abuses.

For the full articles, click here and here.

Cholera outbreak in northern Iraq attributed to poor water quality

Over 2000 Iraqis in the northern part of the country have contracted cholera, with five deaths reported and 500 patients admitted to the hospital in the last two days, U.N. officials said on Wednesday, according to CNN.

Forty-seven cases have been confirmed as epidemic cholera, but the number is expected to grow, said UNICEF, which is providing emergency aid to the affected area.

Cholera is a bacterial ailment that affects the intestinal tract and is contracted by consuming contaminated water. The outbreak of the potentially deadly disease is thought to be the result of poor water quality and sewage treatment in the Sulaimaniya province and the nearby Kirkuk region.

Only 30 percent of the population in Sulaimaniya has an adequate water supply, according to local reports, and “many people have been reduced to digging shallow wells outside their homes,” UNICEF said.

For the full article, click here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

More children recruited to fight, held in custody of U.S. military in Iraq

Since March, the number of boys, some as young as 11, being held in U.S. detention camps has risen from 100 to 800, said Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone, according to the Los Angeles Times. Child fighters are playing a growing role in kidnappings, killings and roadside bombings in Iraq, U.S. military officials say.

Stone attributes the rise in child fighters, in part, to the pressure that the U.S. buildup of troops has placed on the flow of foreign fighters. Fewer are making it into the country, so militant groups turn to child recruits.

Stone said some children have told interrogators that their parents encouraged them to work for militants because they have deep pockets. Insurgents typically pay the boys $200 to $300 to plant a bomb, enough to support a family for two or three months.

About 85 percent of the children currently in U.S. custody are Sunni Muslims, and the majority live in Sunni Arab-dominated regions in the country’s north and west. In these deeply impoverished communities, men with money have the most powerful arsenals.

For the full article, click here.