This post first appeared on IranVoices.org and is translated into English and published here as part of a content-sharing agreement.
A teacher from Tabriz in Iran's Azarbaijan Province and his students have launched a Facebook campaign to combat discrimination towards Iran's Afghan children.
The campaign was created following the news of four Afghan students who were made to place their hands in toilets by their teacher as punishment for leaving their notebooks at home in Pakdasht, a village outside of Tehran. It protests against the status of Afghan refugees in Iran, who often face widespread discrimination and experience racist treatment from Iranians. The initiative is promoting a stop to racist behaviour by asking participants to join the campaign and use the hashtag #شرمساريم (#ashamed) on social media.
Elementary teacher Javad and his students kicked off the effort by releasing a photo of themselves stating, “Iranian students support Afghan and Pakistani students”.
The biggest goal of this campaign, according to its founders, is to change the word #ashamed to #proud. A call to action on the Facebook page asks:
Please support us in this campaign to assure our Afghans brothers and sisters in Iran that we are not advocating any fascism and racist behaviour. This campaign asks all Iranians to stand up and object to all this inhuman behaviour by using #ashamed along with their photos and videos to support this campaign.
Iran hosts the second biggest population of Afghan refugees and immigrants after Pakistan. While commended by the UN for its superior treatment of Afghan refugees compared to other host countries, many instances of discrimination and denial of refugee and citizenship status have been reported.