Professor's lecture on human rights in Iran airing on BTV10 through May 20

Western Today staff

A Western Washington University professor's recent presentation on human rights abuses in Iran is airing on Bellingham's television channel BTV-10 through May 20. The lecture from Michael Karlberg, a professor of communication at Western, airs at 10 a.m. Mondays, 2 p.m. Wednesdays and 8 p.m. Fridays.

The talk, titled “Denial of Education as a Strategy of Oppression: Examining Human Rights Abuses in Iran,” was an installment of the WWU College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean’s Lecture Series and co-sponsored by the City of Bellingham.

In it, Karlberg discussed the Bahá’í community in Iran, which has suffered from waves of violent oppression for over 150 years. Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, this oppression has intensified. Hundreds of Bahá’ís have been executed; thousands have been imprisoned; tens of thousands have lost their jobs, homes, and property. Crimes can be committed against Bahá’ís with legal impunity. Bahá’ís are systematically vilified through the media and from the pulpit. Bahá’í cemeteries and places of worship are being bull-dozed. Bahá’í children are harassed and intimidated in primary and secondary schools. And Bahá’í youth and young adults are denied access to higher education.

In the face of this oppression, the Bahá’í community has adopted a non-violent response characterized by constructive resilience. One example of this is the construction of a decentralized nation-wide system of higher education, conducted out of Bahá’í homes, offering over a dozen bachelor’s degrees in the arts and science. Recently, however, the government of Iran began imprisoning Bahá’ís for their participation in this university.
Professor Karlberg has written extensively about the Bahá’í community and its non-violent struggle for human rights in Iran. Some of the research spoke about for the dean’s lecture series comes from one of his recently published articles, “Constructive Resilience: The Bahá’í Response to Oppression,” which was published in the international journal of “Peace & Change.”

For more information on this lecture, please contact Katrina Schaeffer, WWU College of Humanities and Social Sciences, (360) 650-3763, or

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 12:18pm