Iran: Two Scholar Groups Protest Arrest, Interrogation of Ramin Jahanbegloo
(Tucson, May 8, 2006) - The Iranian government
should release without delay prominent intellectual and political theorist Ramin
Jahanbegloo, two leading academic associations said today.
In a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
the Middle East Studies Association
of North America (MESA) and the International Society for Iranian
Studies (ISIS) expressed strong concern that security officials have been
interrogating Dr. Jahanbegloo since his arrest more than 10 days ago in an
effort to coerce a confession from him. Dr. Jahanbegloo has not had access to
legal counsel during this time, and only limited telephone contact with his
"Ramin Jahanbegloo writes and
teaches about the complex ways that universal values such as democracy and human
rights are also embedded in Iranian political tradition," said MESA president Juan I.
Cole and ISIS president Janet Afary. "His arbitrary arrest and lengthy
interrogation represent a direct attack on the principles of academic freedom
and critical intellectual inquiry."
MESA and ISIS, founded in 1966 and
1967 respectively, are the preeminent professional associations in their fields
and work to promote scholarship and teaching on Iran, the Middle East, and North
Africa. Both organizations are committed to ensuring academic freedom and the
free exchange of ideas within Iran and the Middle East and in connection with
the study of the Middle East in North America.
A copy of the letter to Ayatollah
Khamenei is attached.
May 8, 2006
Supreme Leader of the Islamic
c/o H.E. Javad
Ambassador Extraordinary and
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United
We write to you on behalf of the
Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North
America (MESA) and the Committee on Academic and Intellectual Freedom of the
International Society for Iranian Studies (ISIS) to protest in the strongest
possible terms the recent arrest of Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo, a prominent Iranian
intellectual and political theorist. We urge you to use your good offices to
determine the circumstances of his detention and to secure his immediate
The Middle East
Studies Association of North America and the International Society for Iranian
Studies are the preeminent international
organizations in their respective fields. MESA, founded in 1966, and ISIS, founded in 1967, were
established to promote scholarship and teaching on Iran, the Middle East, and North Africa. MESA
publishes the International Journal of Middle East
Studies and has more than 2600 members worldwide; ISIS publishes the international journal of Iranian Studies and has more than 500
members worldwide. Both organizations are committed to ensuring academic
freedom, the free exchange of ideas, and freedom of expression in all its forms,
both within Iran and the
Middle East and in connection with the study of Iran and the Middle East in North America and elsewhere.
According to information we have
received Dr. Jahanbegloo was arrested at Tehran's Mehrabad airport in late April.
Officials from your government have stated that Dr. Jahanbegloo is currently
undergoing "interrogations" and that he is suspected of crimes related to
"security and spying". Despite
these statements, as of this date no official charges have been filed against
Dr. Jahanbegloo. Officials have stated that charges against Dr. Jahanbegloo will
only be filed after his interrogation. Given these facts we are concerned that
officials of your government are in the process of coercing confessions from Dr.
Jahanbegloo. We also have reason to believe that he has been allowed only
limited access to his family, and as far as we know he has not had any access to
Dr. Jahanbegloo is a highly
respected scholar and academic who is currently the head of the department of
Contemporary Studies at Tehran's Cultural Research Bureau, an important
institution in your country that has gained international recognition for its
important scholarly work in the area of Iranian history, culture, and politics.
Dr. Jahanbegloo's work as part of the Cultural Research Bureau has contributed
to the high regard in which it is held by scholars both inside and outside of
Iran. He has also studied and taught
at major universities in Europe and North America, including the Sorbonne,
Harvard University, and the University of Toronto. In his role as a public intellectual Dr.
Jahanbegloo has also consistently advocated for the
US and Europe to adopt a less
confrontational approach in dealing with Iran. His
published work includes over twenty books in Persian, French, and English on
topics relating to European and Iranian intellectual history and political
philosophy. Dr. Jahanbegloo's writing reflects a thoughtful consideration of
Iran's encounter with modernity and
the difficult and complex process by which modern Iranian intellectuals have
sought to define universal values such as democracy and human rights in terms
that are organic to Iranian tradition. Given the arbitrary and unusual nature of
Dr. Jahanbegloo's detention, we are compelled to conclude that his arrest is
connected to his scholarly and intellectual pursuits.
We also feel compelled to remind
you, Your Excellency, that the rights of individuals to freedom of thought,
opinion, and speech are explicitly protected under the Constitution of the
Islamic Republic of Iran (Article 23), as well as the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (Articles 18, 19, 21), to which the Islamic Republic
of Iran is also a state party. The arbitrary arrest of Dr. Jahanbegloo does
further harm to the reputation of Iran as a country where scholarly
research and inquiry are highly valued. Dr. Jahanbegloo's arrest and detention
can only be conceived as a direct attack on the principles of academic freedom
and critical intellectual inquiry.
Your Excellency, we trust that you
will appreciate the seriousness of this matter and will take the appropriate
measures. We urge you to secure his immediate release.
Juan R.I. Cole
... Payvand News - 5/10/06 ... --