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Title: Call for Letters on Behalf of Iranian Scholar Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh
Publication: SAR Press Release
Author: SAR
Country: Iran
Published Date:
November 06, 2009


Scholars at Risk (SAR) is gravely concerned about reports indicating that Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh, a respected international scholar and researcher, has been arrested, convicted and sentenced to over 12 years in prison. Reports indicating that an appeal may not be heard are of equal concern. SAR asks for letters, faxes and emails respectfully urging authorities to reconsider his case and ensure that an appeal be heard.Scholars at Risk is a growing international network of 220 universities and colleges in 28 countries dedicated to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, association and travel. In a July 24, 2009 letter of appeal, SAR wrote to authorities to express concern over reports that Dr. Tajbakhsh had been wrongfully detained and held incommunicado in an undisclosed location, having been arrested at his home in Tehran on the evening of July 9, 2009. We were made to understand that the agents who took him into custody provided no legal justification for his arrest and removed him to an undisclosed location, in apparent breach of guarantees outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United National International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is signatory. Dr. Tajbakhsh was later charged with creating post-election turmoil, charges his family strongly denies.

Recent reports indicate that on October 20, 2009 he was convicted and sentenced to at least 12 years in prison. We are particularly concerned by reports that Dr. Tajbakhsh may have been forced to stand trial before the revolutionary court without the benefit of legal counsel of his choosing, a right which is guaranteed under Article 35 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We understand that, according to Iranian law, an appeal of his conviction can be filed by his attorney within 20 days. Recent Reports from human rights groups indicate, however, that judicial officials have rejected several attempts by Dr. Tajbakhsh's attorney to file an appeal. Furthermore, we have learned that he remains in solitary confinement.

Dr. Tajbakhsh's arrest, conviction and holding in solitary confinement raise grave concerns for his well-bring. The suddenness of Dr. Tajbakhsh's arrest and the lack of any clear basis for his detention and conviction raise grave concerns about the ability of internationally recognized scholars and intellectuals to safely visit Iran. Taking into account his wrongful arrest under similar circumstances in 2007 and the recent arrests of academics throughout Iran following the June 12th election, this event suggests a wider attempt to intimidate intellectuals and to limit academic freedom in Iran--a suggestion we find particularly distressing and unfortunate, given Iran's rich intellectual history and traditional support for the values of scholarship and free inquiry. We find this even more distressing given the current tensions in the region and the world, which appear to warrant more rather than fewer exchanges and discussions among scholars inside and outside of Iran.

Scholars at Risk therefore joins with the many national and international academic associations, scholarly societies, human rights organizations and individual scholars that respectfully urge the Iranian government to examine the circumstances of Dr. Tajbakhsh’s arrest and conviction.

Scholars at Risk invites letters, emails and faxes be sent:

--respectfully calling on the authorities to ensure that the guarantees embodies in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran's obligations under international law are upheld;

--respectfully urging authorities to ensure that an appeal on behalf of Dr. Tajbakhsh is permitted to be filed and fairly heard, leading, we believe, to the conviction being repealed and his release from prison; and

--respectfully seeking assurances that Dr. Tajbakhsh has immediate access to legal counsel of his choosing, to family and to any necessary medical treatment in the interim.

PLEASE WRITE TO:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
c/o H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee, Ambassador of Iran to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017, USA
iran@un.int

COPIES TO:

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520, USA

President Lee Bollinger
Columbia University
Office of the President
202 Low Library
535 West 116th Street, Mail Code 4309
New York, NY 10027
officeofthepresident@columbia.edu

President Bob Kerry
The New School
66 West 12th Street, Room 800
New York, NY 10011, USA

Scholars at Risk
c/o New York University
194 Mercer Street, Room 410
New York, NY 10012
scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu


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