A Kurdish Yarsan student was barred from completing his dissertation by Razi University of Kermanshah for mentioning his religion as Yarsan (also known as Ahle Haqq) at a questionnaire as part of his dissertation requirements for a survey, a source told the Kurdistan Human Rights Network.

61-year-old student Siavash Hayati is spokesperson for the  Advisory Forum of Yarsan Civil Activists. He started his postgraduate degree in Political Sciences at Razi University of Kermanshah in 2017. He has written an open letter addressing the university dean expressing his concern about being banned from completing his studies.

In his open letter, Hayati has referred to the comment of Razi University’s dean Ibrahim Aalmi Al-Aqa regarding “lack of honor students” at the university and invited him to a debate on this issue. He has mentioned that the refusal of the dean to accept his invitation for debate, as a student who awaits the university’s decision on his status, is an implicit acknowledge of “discriminatory laws, the subservience of the university’s management and lack of any regard for the student’s rights.”

“I was honest and sincere when I mentioned Yarsanism as my religion in the university questionnaire. As a reward for my honesty, I am not allowed to defend myself. Instead, I have been told that I did not have the legal right to study at the graduate school unless I resorted to ‘Taqiya’ [precautionary dissimulation or denial of religious belief and practice in the face of persecution] by concealing my religion,”

reads Hayati’s letter.

Hayati has further referred to documenting the structural obstacles preventing Yarsan followers from participating at political activities in his dissertation, saying that people like him are deprived of the right to education and knowledge in their fathers’ land whose rulers obtained power by promoting the slogan of freedom in their revolution and claim to be advocates of justice in the world.

“However, such conduct contradicts the claims of these rulers. My fellow religious comrades and I are deprived of our most basic human rights in this country, including the right to decide about our own destiny in practice, the right to be elected to many electoral institutions, the right to work at management levels, the right to be employed in military and civilian institutions, etc,” he adds.

In the end, he has concluded that the university dean could approach the present situation “either to remain silent and be promoted in return or to defend the university’s privacy, student rights and his professional dignity.”