Click here to visit the new Engage website!

Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of detained scholar Dr. Haleh Esfandiari
Added by David Hirsh on May 18, 2007 06:15:21 PM.
Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of detained scholar Dr. Haleh EsfandiariScholars at Risk (SAR) is gravely concerned about the arrest and detention of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, a prominent international scholar and director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. SAR calls for letters, faxes and emails calling for authorities to publicly explain the reasons for Dr. Esfanidari’s arrest and detention and to work for her immediate release.

Scholars at Risk is an international network of universities and colleges dedicated to promoting academic freedom and to defend the human rights of scholars worldwide. SAR learned that on May 8, 2007, Dr. Esfandiari was arrested without charge and has been detained at Evin Prison. SAR understands that she was in Iran to care for her ailing mother since December 2006, and that prior to her arrest she was threatened and interrogated. SAR further understands that after her arrival in Iran, prior to her arrest, her travel documents were confiscated, in apparent breach of Iran’s domestic law and international commitments guaranteeing the freedom of movement.

Dr. Esfandiari’s arrest raises grave concerns for her well-being. In addition, the confiscation of her travel documents, the suddenness of her arrest and the lack of any clear basis for her detention all raise grave concerns about the ability of internationally recognized scholars and intellectuals to safely visit Iran. These facts suggest a wider attempt to intimidate intellectuals and to limit academic freedom in Iran—a suggestion SAR finds particularly distressing, given Iran’s intellectual history and traditional support for the values of scholarship and free inquiry.

SAR joins with the many national and international academic associations, scholarly societies, human rights organizations and individual scholars in imploring the Iranian government to examine the circumstances of Dr. Esfandiari’s arrest and detention. SAR calls on the Iranian government to explain publicly the reasons for Dr. Esfandiari’s sudden arrest and restrictions on her movement. SAR calls on the authorities to work for her immediate release, and in the interim to ensure that she has immediate access to legal counsel, to family and to any necessary medical treatment. Scholars at risk requests that urgent letters of appeal, emails and faxes be sent:

--respectfully calling on the authorities to publicly explain the reasons for Dr. Esfandiari’s arrest and to work for her immediate release;

--respectfully seeking assurances of Dr. Esfandiari’s physical well-being while she is in custody pending any release or proceedings;

--respectfully seeking guarantees that Dr. Esfandiari has immediate access to legal counsel, to family and to any necessary medical treatment;

--respectfully reminding authorities that the free exchange of ideas across national boundaries is a core value of academic freedom and higher education generally.

To view a copy of SAR's letter on her behalf visit:


His Excellency Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President, Islamic Republic of Iran
Pasteur Ave.
Tehran 13168-43311
Islamic Republic of Iran


H.E. Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, 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
Fax: 212-867-7086

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

Director Lee H. Hamilton
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
One Woodrow Wilson Plaza
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20004-3027, USA

Scholars at Risk
c/o New York University
194 Mercer St., Rm. 410
New York, NY 10012 USA
Tel: 212-998-2215
Fax: 212-995 4402
scholarsatrisk “AT” nyu.edu

John Akker, Executive Director
Network for Education and Academic Rights
London South Bank University
90 London Road
London, UK
Fax: 0044(0) 207 021 0881
contact “AT” nearinternational.org