• Press Release

Persecution of Baha’is in Iran is Focus of Documentary Film With Screenings in New York, Los Angeles and Boston by Amnesty International USA

October 20, 2011


Screenings Taking Place as Iran Steps Up Harassment of Baha’i Religious Community, Imposing Harsh Prison Sentences on Educators


Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, [email protected]

(New York) – On Friday, October 28, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) will co-host the U.S. premiere of the documentary film "Education Under Fire,” which examines the persecution of Iran’s Baha’is and their systematic exclusion from higher education. The screening at Columbia University will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, leading academic experts and a representative of the Baha’i community. Amnesty International will host additional screenings November 5 in Los Angeles and November 11 in Boston, including discussions with actors Rainn Wilson and Nazanin Boniadi at the Los Angeles screening.

All screenings are open to the public and are free of charge.

"Education Under Fire," directed by Jeff Kaufman, examines the struggles of the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) to provide Baha'i youth with an opportunity for a college education.

Seven members of the BIHE faculty were this week sentenced to a total of 30 years in prison for supposedly threatening national security in Iran. A dozen professors have been detained and several are in prison for doing nothing more than trying to provide an education to Baha’i students, according to Elise Auerbach, Iran country specialist for Amnesty International USA.

“It’s outrageous that Iran is criminalizing the pursuit of education for an entire minority group,” said Auerbach.

Amnesty International estimates that over 100 Baha'i are currently imprisoned in Iran. The Baha'i have been arrested, tortured and even executed for their beliefs.

The BIHE was founded in 1987 in response to the Iranian government's campaign to deny Baha'is access to higher education. The Iranian authorities carried out a series of raids and arrests of BIHE faculty and staff in May and June; statements in the government-linked press indicate that the BIHE has been declared illegal.

The Columbia screening and discussion from 6-9 p.m. will feature Professor Negar Mottahedeh of Duke University; Professor Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University; Bani Dugal, principal United Nations representative of the Baha'i International Community; David Hoffman, the film’s executive producer; and Jeff Kaufman, the director; Mani Mostofi of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran; and Professor Mina Yazdani of Eastern Kentucky University

A second New York screening will take place on Saturday, October 29, at 8:00 p.m. at New York University, Kimmel Center, Room 913 at 60 Washington Square.

Amnesty International will co-host a screening in Los Angeles on November 5 at 8:00 p.m. in the California Ballroom of the Four Points by Sheraton LAX. The screening will feature a panel discussion featuring Nazanin Boniadi, the British-Iranian actress (CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother”) who is an official spokesperson for Amnesty International USA; actor Rainn Wilson, (NBC’s “The Office”) and a member of the Baha’i faith; Kaufman, and Elise Auerbach, the Amnesty International Iran specialist.

A screening will be held in Boston on November 11 at 7:00 p.m. in the MIT Stata Center with a discussion moderated by Josh Rubenstein, Northeast regional director, Amnesty International USA; Rainn Wilson; David Hoffmann; and Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, women's rights activist and former member of the Iranian Parliament.

What: Screenings of "Education Under Fire" with panel discussions

When: Friday, October 28, 2011, 6 – 9:00 p.m. – Columbia University Saturday, October 29, 2011, 8 p.m. – New York University Saturday, November 5, 2011, 8 – 9:30 p.m. – Los Angeles Friday, November 11, 2011, 7 – 8:30 p.m. – Boston

Where: October 28: Columbia University Altschul Auditorium (417 International Affairs Building) 116th Street and Broadway, New York 10027

October 29: New York University The Kimmel Center (Room 913) 60 Washington Square South, New York 10012

November 5: Los Angeles

Four Points by Sheraton LAX (California Ballroom) 9750 Airport Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

November 11: Boston MIT Stata Center 32 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA 02139


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For more information, please visit www.educationunderfire.com