World research organisations ESOMAR, EFAMRO and WAPOR have this week joined forces in the case of two Iranian survey researchers arrested earlier this month and have addressed the matter to the EU Government, the United Nations, the Iranian Government and other international bodies in order to release the Iranian pollsters.
At the beginning of February two Iranian pollsters who outraged hard-liners with a survey that found strong public support for contacts with the United States were sentenced to prison on charges of selling secrets to groups linked to the CIA. Prosecutors accused the two of holding secret talks and providing information to institutes and individuals affiliated with American, British and Israeli intelligence services - including the Gallup Organization. Richard Burkholder, Gallup's director of international polling, described the sentencing as 'extremely regrettable', indicating the Iranian pollsters were victims of Iran's ongoing power struggle between hard-liners and reformists, who back President Mohammed Khatami's program of social and political freedoms. According to Burkholder, Gallup paid for and designed a poll to find out opinions of people in the Islamic world toward America following the Sept. 11 attacks and the poll did not quiz Iranians on whether they supported dialogue with the United States.
The ESOMAR statement reiterates the fact that the right to conduct and publish polls freely is part of the modern democratic process which allows citizens to voice their opinions as upheld by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
ESOMAR, EFAMRO and WAPOR support any initiative which ensures that public opinion polls and market and social research projects are conducted to the highest professional standards. This is in the interest of buyers and suppliers of research and in protecting public welfare.
... Payvand News - 8/10/03 ... --