Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, two researchers affiliated to the Centre for International Studies in Paris, have been detained in an Iranian prison since June 5 2019. Together with 15 other foreign academics, they have been accused of political crimes: undermining national security, propaganda against the regime, and spying.
Iran’s justice system has itself acknowledged the arbitrary nature of the allegations. In December a court ordered their conditional release and in January espionage charges against Adelkhah were dropped. Yet it is not justice, but Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who determine their fate and harsh conditions of detention.
On December 24 Adelkhah began a hunger strike. Together with Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British academic incarcerated since 2018, she refused food in defence of legal rights and academic freedom throughout the Middle East. Their pleas have successfully highlighted the plight of all academic prisoners. After six weeks of starvation, Adelkhah’s health is now in critical condition.
Despite the international publicity and outcry, the academics face acute danger. Adelkhah and Marchal may soon be brought before Tehran’s revolutionary tribunal. There are strong reasons to believe that this trial will not be impartial.
The “shadow power” of the Revolutionary Guards ultimately rests, constitutionally, on the supreme leader of the revolution, Ali Khamenei. This is why we formally address him, on this Tuesday February 11, the day commemorating the 1979 revolution, to ask him to save the Islamic Republic from the shame of injustice by ordering the Revolutionary Guards to free Adelkhah and Marchal and all others unjustly detained.
From the depths of Evin prison, Adelkhah poignantly has called on us to “save researchers, in order to save research and preserve our history”. This appeal concerns not only the Islamic Republic and the whole Middle East, but academics throughout the world. For there will be no free and fair society without academic freedom.
Swiss Political Science Association, Switzerland
Centre de Recherche et d’Étude sur les Sociétés Contemporaines (CRESC), Morocco
German Political Science Association, Germany
Freedom Now, Morocco
Swiss Society for African Studies, Switzerland
This issue was also supported by:
Cedej Khartoum (Centre for social, legal and economic studies and documentation in Sudan)
Center for Socio-Political Data, Sciences Po
Sciences Po, Paris
Non-academic organisations supporting our colleagues:
Centre des Défenseurs des Droits de l’Homme, Libya