Street Art & Human Rights Campaign, EDUCATION IS NOT A CRIME, Launches in LA

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Changing the World, One Wall at a Time, a documentary feature film on Education Is Not A Crime - one of the world's largest street art and human rights campaign, which raises awareness about education apartheid by Iran's government against tens of thousands of Baha'is in the country - premiered at various locations throughout Los Angeles on June 5,6 and 7. The film was produced by Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari as part of the campaign.

Changing the World, One Wall at a Time features interviews with popular artists - such as Rone from Australia, Astro from France, Marthalicia Matarrita from New York, and Elle from Los Angeles - as well as activists with experience of the Civil Rights movement, the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa, and human rights work on behalf of Iranians of all backgrounds. Iranian Baha'is with personal experience of being denied their right to higher education also share their stories. The film is presented by Executive Producers Maziar Bahari and Saleem Vaillancourt.

From the film, Baha'i Nasim Biglari, Artist Ricky Lee Gordon from South Africa, Artist Elle from Los Angeles, Art Curator Andrew Laubie, and Education is Not a Crime coordinators Saleem Vaillancourt and Rachel Wolfe, were among those on the dynamic panels discussing the impact of the campaign so far, and next steps of bringing the campaign to Los Angeles.

Elle, the female graffiti and street artist turned muralist is currently painting the first ever Not A Crime mural at the legendary Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood. The installation is also the first of Sunset Marquis' efforts to collaborate with street artists from around the globe, creating original art that adorns the walls of this iconic hotel.

Education Is Not A Crime raises awareness of the discrimination against the Baha'is, who believe in ideals such as the equality of men and women, peaceful non-violence, and universal education. The campaign began in 2014, and since then street artists and human rights activists teamed up to use art, social media and community outreach to build a new audience for their message of education equality in Iran.

Forty-one murals have been painted in US and international cities as part of the project: Atlanta, Cape Town, Delhi, London, Nashville, Sao Paulo, Sydney, with two-dozen in New York City. Nineteen of the New York murals were painted in the iconic Harlem neighborhood because of its long association with cultural innovation during the Harlem Renaissance and the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

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The Baha'is, Iran's largest religious minority, are frequently jailed on false charges and denied access to higher education. There are 74 Baha'is currently imprisoned and more than 200 were executed in the early 1980s after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Thousands of Baha'is are currently studying through an underground education system known as the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). Not A Crime is working to stop the human rights abuse of young people barred from studying because of their beliefs and is encouraging universities worldwide to admit Iranian Baha'i students. The education campaign started in 2015 with an Education Is Not A Crime Day (the last Friday of February 2015) and screenings of a film Bahari made called "To Light a Candle" -- and now it has grown into a movement. Mark Ruffalo of "The Avengers," Rainn Wilson of "The Office," Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and rights activist, and Shirin Ebadi, also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, have spoken against the persecution of the Baha'is. Nearly 100 universities -- including Stanford and Yale -- currently accept the BIHE certificate.

Pictured: Elle, New York

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