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Iran must release Ahmadreza Djalali

Published: 29 June 2022

On Wednesday morning, an open letter from rectors, vice chancellors and presidents at Swedish universities will be published, regarding Ahmadreza Djalili, who has been imprisoned in Iran for six years.

We must all stand up for human rights and for academic freedom - that is why it is obviously important for me to sign this petition.

Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Rector of Luleå University of Technology

Principals of Swedish higher education institutions:

Iran must release Ahmadreza Djalali
The Swedish-Iranian doctor and researcher in emergency medicine, Ahmadreza Djalali, was arrested in Iran in April 2016. The following year, he was sentenced to death, accused of, among other things, espionage, after a trial that does not by far meet decent standards of legal certainty. Iran has threatened to execute the verdict several times and the mental and physical pressure that Ahmadreza Djalali has been subjected to over the past six years is hard to imagine. Reports from the Evin prison, where he is being held, testify that he is feeling very ill and is in great need of immediate and adequate medical treatment.

We, rectors from Swedish universities and colleges, are deeply involved in the case of Ahmadreza Djalali. The fact that he was arrested, detained and sentenced to death without trial, without the consent of a fair trial, is a veritable attack not only on him and his family - but also an unacceptable attack on academic freedom, human rights and beyond all reasonable legal certainty. . Ahmadreza Djalali has devoted a large part of his adult life to research, knowledge development and knowledge sharing. When he was arrested, he was in Iran to give a lecture on his field of research - disaster medicine. He was thus stopped when he was in the process of devoting himself to one of the central tasks for us who are active in the academy: to teach and share the knowledge acquired during years of study and research.

Imprisoning and sentencing someone to death on blatantly wrong grounds is a horrible, inhumane and cynical way of treating a fellow human being, regardless of educational background, social status or nationality. It must be condemned in all situations. In the case of Ahmadreza Djalali, a dimension is also added. To threaten and silence a researcher is to threaten and silence the development of knowledge, scientific progress and - not least - the opportunity to spread knowledge further to the surrounding society.

That is why the unfair treatment of Ahmadreza Djalali becomes particularly abominable.

As rectors of Swedish universities and colleges, it is part of our task to safeguard academic freedom. It is our duty to react and act when we see how regimes strike directly against the very basic academic principles. For us, it is obvious to demand the immediate release of Ahmadreza Djalali.

For this demand to really lead to concrete results, the whole world must send clear signals to the Iranian regime. We target academic colleagues, relevant international and intergovernmental organizations; to countries, parliaments and governments that stand for values such as democracy, human rights and academic freedom; and to all other actors involved in justice and international solidarity with the following calls:

  • Use all available channels to communicate directly with Iranian authorities about the Ahmadreza Djalali case
  • Use all available means to increase the pressure on Iran to respect human rights and the rule of law

It is time for the global community, the democratic community and the collective academy to speak out and firmly dissociate themselves from Iran's repeated and blatant violations of fundamental human rights. If we do it together, powerfully and clearly, it will yield results.

It is high time for Ahmadreza Djalali to be released.

Johanna Adami, Rector of Sophiahemmet University
Hans Adolfsson, Rector of Umeå University
Gustav Amberg, Rector of Södertörn University
Peter Aronsson, Rector of Linnaeus University
Sara Arrhenius, Rector Kungl.The Academy of Fine Arts
Stefan Bengtsson, Rector of Chalmers University of Technology
Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Rector of Luleå University of Technology
Paula Crabtree, Rector of Stockholm University of the Arts
Robert Egnell, Rector of the Swedish National Defense College
Anders Fällström, Rector of Mid Sweden University
Ylva Fältholm, Rector of the University of Gävle
Lena Gumaelius, Vice Rector of Mälardalen University
Anders Hagfeldt, Rector of Uppsala University
Martin Hellström, Rector of University West
Stephen Hwang, Halmstad University
Jan-Ingvar Jönsson, Rector of Linköping University
Sigbritt Karlsson, Rector of KTH
Roger Klinth, Rector of Marie Cederschiöld University
Maria Knutson Wedel, Rector of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Maria Lantz, Rector of Konstfack
Agneta Marell, Rector of Jönköping University
Pekka Mellergård, Rector of Enskilda University Stockholm
Lars Niklasson, Rector of the University of Skövde
Per Nilsson, Rector of the School of Gymnastics and Sports
Martin Norsell, Rector of Dalarna University
Ole Petter Ottersen, Rector of Karolinska Institutet
Håkan Pihl, Rector of Kristianstad University
Erik Renström, Rector of Lund University
Johan Schnürer, Rector of Örebro University
Johan Sterte, Rector of Karlstad University
Lars Strannegård, Rector of the Stockholm School of Economics
Astrid Söderbergh Widding, Rector of Stockholm University
Kerstin Tham, Rector of Malmö University
Mats Tinnsten, Rector of the University of Borås
Mats Viberg, Rector of Blekinge Institute of Technology
Helena Wessman, Rector of the Royal College of Music in Stockholm
Eva Wiberg, Rector of the University of Gothenburg