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Letter from Sharif University of Technology Association to IEEE President questions membership restrictions

P.O.BOX 12391, LA JOLLA, CA 92039

Professor Michael Adler, IEEE President
Professor Arthur W. Winston, IEEE President-Elect

Professor Raymond D. Findlay, IEEE Past President
Cc: Professor Michael Lightner, Vice President, Publications Services
Cc: Mr. Daniel J. Senese, IEEE Executive Director

August 6, 2003


Sharif University of Technology Association (SUTA) is a global association of professors, alumni, and graduate students of Sharif University of Technology living in Iran and other countries all around the world.  The Association is nonpolitical, non-religious and is registered as a nonprofit public benefit educational corporation in the state of California.

The following questions and concerns have been raised both by SUTA members and by others in the Iranian scientific community.  Please note that a large number of SUTA members are also Members, Senior Members, and Fellows of the IEEE holding key positions in the industry and academia around the globe, including in the United States.

In direct violation of its Code of Ethics, Vision, Mission, and Constitution, in the past 18 months:

[a] IEEE has implemented unprecedented restrictive and discriminatory policies towards its Iranian members.  Such policies are, apparently, based on arbitrary and unfounded interpretations of economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. government on Iran.  IEEE has adopted the unfair practice of retaining its Iranian members for membership statistics purposes and collection of membership dues, while depriving them from almost all member rights and benefits.  The only member "privilege" not discontinued to date is receiving hard copy journals.  We believe that such restrictions are based totally on IEEE's internal policies, using U. S. sanctions against Iran as an excuse.  To the best of our knowledge such restrictive and unfair policies and practices are not adopted by other scientific societies and institutions operating in the U.S.

[b] With minor exceptions IEEE has adopted a policy of silence and ignorance towards all inquiries in this regard.  A large number of letters, faxes, and email messages from members worldwide have remained unanswered.  A petition signed by over 1200 IEEE members last year (including 117 Fellows and 158 Senior Members) objecting to IEEE's discriminatory policies and demanding explanations was totally ignored.  This petition also included signatures of 177 scientists and professors working in top universities in the United States who, like others, believed that IEEE's policies and practices should not be politically motivated.

In exceptional cases where IEEE has provided verbal or written responses, only vague references were made to "U.S. laws and regulations" and to policies dictated by the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC).  Instead of citing specific regulations for each of its discriminatory policies against Iranian members IEEE has asserted that such regulations exist, and directed the inquirer towards a fruitless search for finding the nonexistent regulations on their own.

More specifically, on behalf of its members and other Iranian electrical engineers and scientists, SUTA asks for clear and unambiguous explanations for the following specific restrictions imposed by the IEEE on Iranian nationals residing in Iran:

1. Rejecting applications and nominations for membership elevations.

2. Depriving members from any form of web-access.

3. Limiting members (and non-members) from publishing papers in its journals.

4. Disallowing any local activity under the name of the IEEE, and canceling all supports normally given to local organizations.

As mentioned above IEEE has kept its Iranian membership, or for that matter all other members, in dark regarding the above policies and practices.  One notable exception is a kind response by Professor Michael Lightner, IEEE's 2003 Vice President for Publications, who relayed parts of IEEE's positions on the above issues to us.

In the following attachments we elaborate on each restriction, the brief explanation provided by Prof. Lightner, and our comments on why OFAC regulations do not support or justify IEEE's decisions.

Gentlemen: what is being jeopardized here is not only the rights of Iranian members, but also the prestige and credibility of the IEEE, which should be of great concern to those executives, such as yourself, who probably have spent a lifetime to build it.  Your Iranian members deserve clear answers to the above questions, removal of current restrictions, and resumption of full range of services offered to other paying members.

We are also ready to meet with you if you find such a dialogue is helpful in resolving these issues.

Fredun Hojabri

For further information please refer to Sharif University of Technology Association's web site:

... Payvand News - 8/11/03 ... --

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