The #NotACrime global street art campaign teamed up with curators and street artists in New York City, as well as in Brazil, South Africa, and Australia, to produce murals highlighting the denial of higher education to Iran's Baha'i religious minority.
IranWire's new series, which will feature these artists and their murals, will continue over the coming months as the #NotACrime project spreads to more cities around the world.
Australian artist Camo, teamed up with the Baha’is of Sydney to create a mural in support of the #NotACrime campaign – defending the rights of Baha’is to a higher education in Iran.
“I find it laughable that someone wouldn’t be allowed an education,’ chuckles Camo. ‘The mural is very literal. There are fastened up books next to the stencil of a person that has been denied an education.” Across the uppermost book, the acronym 'BIHE' for the Baha'i Institute of Higher Education is displayed - an underground university that conducts lessons in secret in peoples' homes or over Skype. Numerous students and teachers are part of it.
Two BIHE alumni from Tehran, now living in Sydney, visited Camo and the wall during its creation. “There’s no campus or buildings; no classrooms or basic facilities, no library,” says Sayanna of her time at the BIHE university. Her husband Pooyan added, “the sacrifices people make to host classes, teach classes and to attend classes is what stood out to me during my studies.”
Sayanna studied civil engineering, while Pooyan read computer engineering at the BIHE. They moved to Sydney together in 2011. “You need to match your dreams to the options that are available to you,” says Sayanna in reference to the situation of Baha’is in Iran.
In Australia, the couple have jobs, are able to earn an income and lead a normal life, a far cry from the country and people they left behind.
‘Education is a right no matter what your race or religion,’ says Camo of his motivation to paint for #NotACrime. “Personally I don't believe my individual mural will change anything about the way Iran thinks. But if I could change the opinion of the Iranian government I’d definitely be doing alright! I think it’s more about raising awareness through the number of murals being painted and the public feeling that education is a right for everyone.”
For Sayanna and Pooyan, the campaign is personal as they are all too aware that their families and future generations will be affected by the actions of the Iranian authorities. “I think anything that raises awareness is perfect,’ reflected Sayanna. “When it involves the arts, the impact lasts longer and people can make their own personal connection to it.’
#NotACrime: Alexandre Keto in New York
#NotACrime Global Street Art: Johannesburg
#NotACrime: A Global street art project for human rights in Iran