Documentary screening highlights human rights campaign

Courtesy Photo /

Courtesy Photo /

Shelby Pendowski

Imagine not having the right to an education – a reality faced by many in Iran and countries all over the world. Through the Grand Valley State University Bahá’í Association’s screening of the documentary “Education Under Fire,” they hope to help raise awareness of not only issues surrounding accessible avenues to higher education, but the story of the people who fought for their right to learn.

“One of the most powerful human documentaries I have ever seen, ‘Education Under Fire’ is sure to galvanize viewers who will be exposed to an outrage that until now, has received little attention — the systematic denial of an entire religious community of the right to pursue higher education in their own country,” said Hossain Roushangar, member of the GVSU Bahá’í Association.

The documentary tells the tale of the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education, established in 1987 and primarily takes place in Iran, which is known for its Bahá’í identity and lack of educational rights. The film reveals the underground university programs, and the people who are dedicated to achieving an education. Roland Nyamonga, member of the Bahá’í Association, said the documentary was realized with the help of Amnesty International, and the Education Under Fire campaign, which is to raise awareness of the education injustices in Iran, as well as convince the Iranian government that education is a human right.

“We, as Bahá’ís, are trying to do the best we can to help others be aware of the human rights violation going on in Iran, hence our involvement,” Nyamonga said. Roushangar and Nyamonga both said in the Bahá’í community, education is thought to be a human right and a crucial part of a child’s life. “We think that education, as a basic human right, should not be denied to anyone,” Nyamonga said. “Especially because of their religion.”

The Bahá’í Association at GVSU did not produce the film, but it is one of many groups showing the film to help inform the public. “We think that it’s important for people to watch the documentary so that they will be aware of the persecution of these religious minorities in Iran,” Nyamonga said. “We really hope that our fellow students will be made aware of these atrocities, and to a larger extent we hope that this will help the students that are coming from the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education, which is the subject of the documentary, have their credits accepted by the university – this has already been done for many major universities. We know it’s a long shot, but we’ll try our best.”

Both activists expressed that those who have the right to an education should take full advantage of it, and be thankful for that right. “Education should be appreciated by young people,” Nyamonga said. “Education Under Fire” will screen Sept. 21 at 7:15 p.m. in room 2259 of the Kirkhof Center. It’s 30 minutes long, and the film is free and open to the public.
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