February 02, 2008

statement of Committee for Academic & Intellectual Freedom

Established 1967
Committee for Academic & Intellectual Freedom

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
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

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