CCNY NGO had the pleasure to meet Ayana Hosten and Saleem Vaillancourt. Both are activists for the organization #Not a CrimeYou may have seen the murals in New York City. Murals such as the one shown below by TatsCru in a schoolyard on Madison Avenue and 127th Street. This is not the only mural. More can be found all over New York, including Harlem and East Harlem. These pieces of art were created in an effort to help raise awareness about the fact that thousands of young people in Iran are being denied access to higher education because of their beliefs. Started by #Not a Crime organization, the street art campaign is not just restricted to New York. Other murals were created in Rio De Janeiro, Salvador, Cape Town, etc.
Iran’s largest religious minority are the Baha’is, who have been persecuted since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Iranian government prevents Baha’is from teaching or studying at public universities. As a result, the Baha’is formed their own informal university in 1987, the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education. However, the community is still being harassed and denied opportunities due to their faith.
The upcoming high-level General Assembly meetings of the United Nations offer a special opportunity to raise awareness about human rights violations. Education should not be a privilege. After all, Sustainable Development Goal 4 is calling to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Let us also keep in mind that the theme of the general debate of the 71st session is “The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world.”
Here at The City College of New York we need to keep in mind that there are countries in which young people are being denied the access to education. You can show support as well, by visiting the murals and sharing a picture via social media. You can also create your own piece of art and share it. Do not forget to tag #NotACrime.