Title: Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani of Iran
Publication: SAR Press Release
Author: Scholars at Risk
June 20, 2012
Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, respected human rights lawyer, who has been sentenced to 13 years in prison. SAR asks for letters, faxes and emails urging the appropriate authorities to intervene by reexamining his case and, pending his earliest release, by ensuring his well-being, including access to family, legal representation of his choosing and medical treatment.
Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 280 universities and colleges in 34 countries dedicated to protecting the human rights of scholars around the world and to raising awareness, understanding of, and respect for the principles of academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, association and travel. In cases involving alleged infringement of these freedoms, SAR intervenes hoping to clarify and resolve matters favorably.
Mr. Soltani is a prominent human rights lawyer and co-founder, along with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi, of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran, which was forcibly shut down in a police raid in December 2008. Mr. Soltani has been arrested on multiple occasions, most recently on September 10, 2011; he has been in prison since. Scholars at Risk understands that, in March 2012, Mr. Soltani was initially sentenced by a revolutionary court to 18 years in prison on charges of co-founding the Center, “spreading propaganda against the regime” and “endangering national security”. The court ordered Mr. Soltani to be transferred to a remote prison in Borazjan, where it will be difficult for his family to visit him. Scholars at Risk further understands that an appeals court reduced Mr. Soltani’s sentence to 13 years in prison but upheld the decision to send him to Borazjan. Reports indicate that Mr. Soltani has been told that a public denunciation of Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi would lead to further reductions in prison sentence, which suggests apparent disregard of international standards of due process, fair trial and detention as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is signatory.
The suddenness of Mr. Soltani’s arrest in September 2011, the lack of any clear basis for his prolonged detention and the issuance of charges against him raise concerns about the ability of intellectuals and scholars to safely work in Iran. Taking into account reported arrests of scholars throughout Iran following the June 2009 election, Mr. Soltani’s detention and sentencing suggest a wider attempt to intimidate intellectuals and to limit academic freedom in Iran—a suggestion Scholars at Risk finds particularly distressing and unfortunate, given Iran’s rich intellectual history and traditional support for the values of scholarship and free inquiry. SAR finds 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 many national and international academic associations, human rights organizations and individual scholars in respectfully urging Iranian authorities to ensure that Iran’s obligations under international law are upheld with regard to Mr. Soltani. SAR urges the appropriate authorities to reexamine his case and pending his earliest release, to guarantee his well-being and to ensure that he is granted access to family, legal representation of his choosing, and medical treatment.
Scholars at Risk invites letters, emails and faxes be sent:
-respectfully urging authorities to ensure that Iran’s obligations under international law are upheld with regard to Mr. Soltani; and
-respectfully urging authorities to reexamine his case and pending his earliest release, to guarantee his well-being and to ensure that he is granted access to family, legal representation of his choosing, and medical treatment.
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 States
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
662 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017, USA
Fax: +1 (212) 867-7086
Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh
(Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. (south of Serah-e Jomhouri)
Islamic Republic of Iran
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
United States Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520 USA
The Honorable Navanethem Pillay
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
The Honorable _________
Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to [YOUR COUNTRY]
(See http://www.mfa.gov.ir/cms/cms/Tehran/en/Missions/ for a list of Iranian embassies worldwide.)
The Honorable _________
Ambassador of [YOUR COUNTRY] to the Islamic Republic of Iran
Scholars at Risk
New York University
194 Mercer Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10012, USA
Fax: +1 212-995-4402
To view a model letter of appeal, as well as a copy of SAR's letter, please visit: http://scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu/Education-Advocacy/Alerts-Scholars-in-Prison.php.