One of the most important tasks of universities is to stand up for and defend the freedom of research, education and knowledge. Last week, disturbing information emerged that preparations were being made to carry out the death sentence against the Swedish–Iranian scholar Ahmadreza Djalali. The situation is urgent. With this blog post, we wish to draw attention to the death threat against Ahmadreza Djalali and the attack against the freedom of research this entails.
In the last few days, numerous private individuals, organisations, politicians, representatives of the academic community and governments have acted to bring about the release of Ahmadreza Djalali. Some 150 Nobel Laureates have directly addressed Iran in a joint letter demanding the halting of the execution and the release of Ahmadreza Djalali. The network Scholars at Risk has also got involved in the case and we 21 vice-chancellors and university presidents in the Swedish branch of the network published an opinion column in the newspaper Expressen at the weekend. We demand that the responsible authorities in Iran halt the execution and immediately release Ahmadreza Djalali and that the Swedish government, like the international community, act forcefully to bring about his release.
The treatment of Ahmadreza Djalali is a serious injustice against him and his family. The arrest and judgment represent a flagrant disregard for international principles of academic freedom, due process and humane treatment of prisoners. These principles are guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran has also acceded.