Source: The International Society for Iranian Studies (ISIS)
December 3, 2007
To: Ayatollah Sayyid 'Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
cc.: Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, Head of the Iranian Judiciary
Mr. Mohammad Hassan Zia'ifar, Secretary of the Islamic Human Rights Commission
We are writing to express our grave concern regarding the arrest of Mr. Emadeddin Baghi on October 14, 2007, and his continued detention. Mr. Baghi is best known internationally as a prominent Iranian journalist, author, and intellectual, and as a leading human rights defender inside Iran as well as the founder (in 2003) of the Association for Defending the Rights of Prisoners in Iran--the pioneering organization of its kind in Iran, which defends the basic rights and human dignity of all prisoners and advocates the abolition of torture and the death penalty. Among other awards recognizing his immense contribution to defending human rights and promoting freedom of expression, Mr. Baghi is the recipient of the Northcote Parkinson Fund's Civil Courage Award (2004) and the prestigious French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights Award (2005). Prior to his recent arrest, Mr. Baghi already had served a jail sentence from 2000 to 2003 for his journalistic activities and was subsequently subjected to regular intimidation and harassment by the authorities, ranging from the confiscation of his passport to "legal" proceedings against him and his family members.
Mr. Baghi consistently has spoken out against violent social change while promoting freedom of expression and greater democratic rights. In his unflagging endorsement of freedom of expression in Iran, Baghi steadfastly has condemned outside overt or covert state intervention in Iranian affairs. This includes his public rebuke of the US State Department's allocation of funds for "pro-democracy" groups and human rights NGOs inside Iran. Baghi regards the allocation of such funds as nothing more than Washington's subterfuge for promoting its own self-serving agenda which, in the process, falsely and undeservedly taints all human rights defenders and advocates of greater freedom of expression inside Iran as somehow beholden to and collaborating with US policy.
According to the available information, Mr. Baghi has been arrested by Iranian authorities to serve a suspended one-year sentence he received in 2004 for his journalistic activities as well as a new three-year sentence on additional charges of "propaganda against the state" and the "public disclosure of state secrets" (stemming from his activities in support of prisoners' rights and his journalism). He is being held in solitary confinement in Evin prison--in the notorious detention facilities at the prison run by the intelligence ministry--and is denied basic prisoners' rights, such as regular visitation rights, regular access to his lawyer, and reading and writing material, other than a small copy of the Quran he is allowed to keep.
Mr. Baghi's arrest has been condemned by leading non-partisan, independent human rights groups and organizations promoting freedom of expression, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International PEN, Reporters Without Borders, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). As the leading international, non-partisan, academic organization devoted to Iran and Iran-related studies, the International Society for Iranian Studies Committee for Academic and Intellectual Freedom joins these other international organizations in condemning the arrest and detention of Mr. Baghi and calls on Iranian authorities to grant his immediate and unconditional release. We also ask the Iranian authorities to guarantee Mr. Baghi's full access to his legal representative, his well-treatment, as well as visitation rights and regular phone calls to his relatives and friends while he remains in detention.
We also are extremely concerned by the intensifying trend in the harassment and detention of many other academics, researchers, and intellectuals in Iran over the past two years on arbitrary, trumped-up charges against them. These arrests and persecutory policies--ranging from the detention of numerous non-violent student activists to the dismissal of university faculty and other educators from their teaching posts on "ideological" grounds, denying formal educational opportunities to members of the Baha'i community, persecution of human rights defenders and journalists, the discretionary closure of many newspapers, the recent arrests of women's rights activists, or the current trial behind-closed-doors of the French-Iranian student and filmmaker Mehrnoush Solouki--appear to be part of an organized, large-scale attempt by the authorities to further curtail freedom of thought and expression in Iran. As an academic organization committed to the promotion of freedoms of research, thought, and expression, we consider these alarming developments as a well-orchestrated official assault on the basic rights of individuals to freedom of thought and expression, which are guaranteed under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Article 23) and protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 18, 19, and 21), to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory.
Your Excellency, we very much hope you will take appropriate measures to bring about the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Baghi and other non-violent jailed journalists, academics, students, and human rights advocates and that you will guarantee the basic rights of freedom of thought, research, and expression in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The International Society for Iranian Studies
Committee for Academic & Intellectual Freedom
The International Society for Iranian Studies
(ISIS), formerly the Society for Iranian Studies, was founded in 1967 as an
academic society to support and promote the field of Iranian Studies at the
international level. The ISIS, an affiliated member of the international Middle
East Studies Association (MESA), is a private, not-for-profit, non-political
organization of persons interested in Iranian Studies in the broadest sense. The
Society is run by an elected council and executive council. The objectives of
the Society are to promote high standards of scholarship in the field, to
encourage the teaching of Iranian Studies at the graduate and under-graduate
levels, to encourage and facilitate scholarly exchange amongst its international
The International Society for Iranian Studies publishes the
journal Iranian Studies that continues to serve as the principal journal in the
field, as well as a newsletter for the membership: ISISNews.
As an independent, non-partisan, non-political, multi-disciplinary international community of over 500 scholars, students, academic and non-academic researchers, and aficionados of Iranian studies, the ISIS is committed to promoting free exchange of ideas, freedom of expression in all forms and all media, and unrestricted pursuit of (academic and non-academic) research, instruction, publication, and presentation (in Iran and internationally) without fear of intimidation and persecution. The ISIS considers any restriction on peaceful acquisition and dissemination of knowledge in any form as violation of basic rights of individuals and detrimental to promoting greater understanding and awareness of Iranian society, cultures, and history. The organization maintains that comprehensive academic and wide-ranging intellectual freedom (including artistic and journalistic freedom) cannot exist without broader respect for freedom of expression as well as basic guarantees and provisions of the right to assembly, travel, individual safety and security, and human rights--irrespective of gender and sexual orientation, class, national/ethnic/racial identity, political ideology, and/or religious/non-religious views of individuals.
In its non-partisan advocacy of academic and
intellectual freedom and promotion of Iranian Studies, the ISIS urges
international, national, and local governmental and non-governmental authorities
to fully respect and protect the basic rights of individuals engaged in
Iran-related research and intellectual production in its broadest definition, in
keeping with the organization's promotion of knowledge and exchange of ideas;
providing full legal guarantees and assiduously safeguarding freedom of
expression as well as pursuit of academic and non-academic research,
instruction, publication, and presentation. In pursuance of these objectives,
the ISIS Committee for Academic & Intellectual Freedom (ISIS-CAIF) shall
monitor, document, internationally publicize, and bring to the attention of
concerned authorities any infringement or neglect of Iranian- and Iran-related
academic and intellectual freedom (in the broadest sense), and demand immediate
end to such violations.
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