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Film and Panel Discussion On the Exclusion of Baha'is in Iran from Higher Education

Education Under Fire, a 30-minute documentary on the struggles of Baha’i youth in Iran to be allowed to attend college, will be screened at Pomona College on Sunday, April 22 at 2 p.m. at Pomona College’s Frank Dining Hall Blue Room (260 E. Bonita Ave., Claremont). A panel and group discussion will follow.

The film depicts how Baha’is in Iran have been subjected to systematic persecution, including arrests, torture and execution for refusing to recant their beliefs; prohibited from going to college and blocked from many professions. Because of this exclusion, Baha’is formed their own semi-underground university in 1987: the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE). Even after repeated raids and arrests, volunteer teachers and administrators continued to provide an education for thousands of Baha’is across Iran. However, in 2011, the Iranian government led a fierce crackdown, raiding 30 Baha’i homes and detaining over a dozen BIHE professors and administrators. The school was shut down and several of the arrested remain imprisoned.

The documentary includes footage and photos spanning two decades of BIHE classes and rare video from inside Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, with personal stories from a dozen students and teachers. In the film a BIHE graduate proclaims, “The government can crush our bodies, but they cannot crush the mind and soul.”

The representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, Amnesty International’s Iran specialist and the co-founder of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center are also featured in the film.

The screening is sponsored by the Claremont Colleges Amnesty International club. For more information, contact: (909) 607-4016 or mkk04747@pomona.edu.

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges, provides its students with a challenging curriculum in the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and fine arts, and an unsurpassed environment for intellectual inquiry and growth. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.