“Education Under Fire”
The documentary, endorsed by Amnesty International USA, addresses the continued government-sanctioned persecution of specific groups in Iran and the blatant disregard of Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees education as an inalienable right of every human being. The film will focus on the experience of one among many persecuted Iranian groups, the Baha’i community. In 1987, the semi-underground Baha´i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) was formed to give young Baha´is their only chance for a university-level education. Despite repeated raids and arrests, volunteer teachers and administrators created an independent, decentralized university system that has lifted the lives of thousands across Iran. The BIHE was referred to by the New York Times as “an elaborate act of communal self-preservation.” In May, 2011, an organized assault was launched by the Iranian government in an attempt to shut down the BIHE. Over 30 homes were raided and over a dozen BIHE professors and administrators were detained. Several are still in prison for doing nothing more than trying to teach. The Iranian government also bans students from pursuing higher education if they have expressed views, joined organizations or engaged in activities that are construed as critical of the government. In addition, the authorities have attempted to prevent instruction in several fields in the humanities and social sciences and have dismissed faculty for ideological reasons.