Education Under Fire is produced by Single Arrow Productions and co-sponsored by Amnesty International. The 30-minute documentary profiles the growth, struggle, and inspiring spirit of the Baha´i Institute for Higher Education. Baha´is in Iran have been subjected to systematic persecution, including arrests, torture, and execution simply for refusing to recant their beliefs. They are also prohibited from going to college (and blocked from many professions).
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 of Baha´i students across Iran. 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 film connects a diverse audience to a grave human rights issue, a powerful story of resilience against oppression, and the need to respect human rights everywhere.
We filmed in nine cities with a dozen BIHE students or teachers (several whose parents were imprisoned or executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran), plus: Bani Dugal (Representative of the Baha´i International Community to the United Nations), Elise Auerbach (Iran Specialist for Amnesty International), Hadi Ghaemi (with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran), Hamid Dabashi (Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University), and Dr. Ramin Ahmadi (Co-founder of Iran Human Rights Documentation Center). The film features footage and photos spanning two decades of BIHE classes, rare video from inside Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, and photos and a film that bring alive a series of personal stories.
In the documentary, BIHE graduate Shahrzad Missaghi expresses a shared resolve, "The government can crush our bodies, but they cannot crush the mind and soul." Mojdeh Rohani, a BIHE graduate whose father was executed in 1981, says, "We can use this experience to not only just think about ourselves and what is important to us, but to look at the bigger picture; to think of people of this world as they were our own family." That is the larger, universal message of this film. Education Under Fire will inform and move a diverse audience around the world.