Wednesday * November 26th 2014

Trials underway in Iran for Baha’i educators; ‘Education Under Fire’ campaign launches with open letter from Nobel laureates

The release of an open letter from two Nobel Peace Prize winners regarding the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education coincided with the first round of trials for imprisoned staff members of the beleaugured Institute.

Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta called for an end to education discrimination in Iran in a Huffington Post homepage article titled “Iran’s War Against Knowledge – An Open Letter to the International Academic Community.” Meanwhile, three separate trials were underway in Iran’s Revolutionary court for seven Baha’i educators currently behind bars for making higher education possible for youth denied access to university because of their religious beliefs. Read more.

The open letter by the Nobel laureates is part of a new initiative called “Education Under Fire,” which is kicking off just as the academic semester gets into full swing.

The “Education Under Fire” campaign includes:

  1. A website [http://www.educationunderfire.com/] where visitors can sign on to the Laureates’ letter and invite their networks to do the same.
  2. A 30-minute documentary about the Institute, trailers of which can be watched on the website and feature actor Rainn Wilson, President Ramos-Horta, and prominent Iranian academics, human rights attorneys and activists such as Hamid Dabashi.
  3. A series of screenings on college campuses around the country, starting with Columbia University in late October. Each screening will be accompanied with a group discussion led by experts in human rights, education and Iran.

The timing, setting and nature of the initiatives are expected to raise the interest of university administrators and campus newspapers about what’s going on with higher education in Iran and to give a sense of urgency to the work of students, faculty, staff and alumni to increase awareness in their campus communities.

Given that the Tutu/Ramos-Horta letter is addressed to the international academic community, anyone who is connected to places of higher education has a meaningful role to play in sharing the document with professors and university leaders.

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