Friday, December 12, 2014

US, Ukraine Students at Global Summit on Human Rights

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Today, my students in the United States discussed human rights and religious freedom during a video conference with students at a school in Ukraine. Our featured speaker,  a human rights officer with the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs in Washington, DC, spoke to us from New York. Her family fled Iran during the 1979 revolution. She discussed the history of Baha'i persecution and explained her efforts on behalf of that community.

Face to Faith, an organization developed by Prime Minister Tony Blair to bring together students of different cultures and religions, organizes the conferences through a video conferencing service called Bluejeans.

The questions from students at both schools were fascinating, as was the speaker's answers and follow-up discussion. For example, one student asked Ms. Kourosh  if  she had ever been to Iran.  She said that she had never been to the country and that it would be dangerous for her to go. Another student asked how the Baha'i are persecuted today. Ms. Kourosh explained that over 100 Baha'i are currently imprisoned in Iran and that many suffer solitary confinement and physical abuse.

Ms. Kourosh ended the conference by telling our students that  we are all ambassadors for human rights. She urged the students to educate themselves and mentioned a new documentary about  Baha'i persecution called "to Light a Candle." It premieres in February but you can see the trailer here.

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