LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Have your voice heard

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On March 5, 2008, seven Iranian Baha'is were taken from their homes and placed in prison. In January 2011 their trial was held and they were sentenced to 20 years in prison for "atrocities against the Earth." Their guilt was practicing the Baha'i Faith.

On May 2, 2011, 30 teachers for the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education were rounded up for teaching university level courses in their homes. Six of them have been sentenced to four years in prison. So far, the fate of the others hasn't been determined.

The suppression of the Baha'is' right to higher education has been going on for years and this latest action further demonstrates the government's determination to demoralize and restrain a segment of its population.

Baha'is are forbidden from holding government jobs. Students cannot attend Iranian universities if they are Baha'is. Baha'is are only allowed to live "normal" lives, if they recant their faith.

Government suppression of the Baha'i right to worship, along with the imprisonment, torture, and killing of its members is an old story, but it is necessary to acknowledge and stop this inhumane action whenever it exists.

One of the prisoners, whose father had died as a result of the torture he had endured while in prison, was asked, "How can you not feel hatred for your captors?" She replied, "I don't hate them. I don't want to become like them. I forgive them."

Nobels Laureate Desmond Tutu and President Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor have posted a letter online regarding the plight of the Iranian Baha'is.

Iran is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26, which states, "Everyone has the right to education. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace."

We are told that the Iranian government is very sensitive to world opinion regarding any internal mistreatment of its citizens. In light of that, I encourage readers to contact educationunderfire.com for more information. The site may ask if you wish to sign a petition, which will be sent to the heads of the Iranian government. This is our chance to see if we have a voice in this issue.

Todd Oleson

Walla Walla

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