In just over a week, it has been six years since the KI alumnus and researcher in disaster medicine, Ahmadreza Djalali, was arrested in connection with a lecture tour in Iran. Since then we have swung between hope and despair.
Unfortunately, it has mostly been about despair. There have not been very many hopeful signs to rejoice over.
Just over a year ago, Karolinska Institutet, together with two other universities with which Ahmadreza Djalil has been affiliated (Università del Piemonte Orientale and Vrije Universiteit Brussel), wrote a joint statement that was published simultaneously in our respective countries. This marked the fifth anniversary of his arrest. I remember my hope at the time: that I would not have to publish yet another text and that on the sixth anniversary he would be free, with adequate medical care, back in Sweden, and reunited with his family.
Instead, I have to state that nothing positive has really happened over the past year. In January, Ahmadreza Djalali turned 50. He spent his birthday in jail, just as he has spent every day since April 26, 2016. The frustration we all feel is extensive.
A few weeks ago, Iran released two British citizens with Iranian background who had been imprisoned for about as long as Djalali. This brought hope that the regime would be prepared to release foreign nationals imprisoned on apparently fabricated grounds. As far as I can see, these releases have not been followed by any others.
The Swedish daily Expressen, which has been following Ahmadreza Djalali’s case for a long time, recently interviewed his wife Vida Mehrannia, who expressed a completely understandable frustration that nothing seems to be happening in the matter. I feel the same.
Expressen addressed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which responded in much the same way as before when asked about what is being done to get Djalali free:
– Our efforts for Ahmadreza Djalali continue unabated. We have long demanded that the death penalty not be carried out. At the same time, it is clear that the circumstances under which Ahmadreza Djalali is being held pose a serious threat to his health. The worrying information about Ahmadreza Djalali’s deteriorating health makes it necessary for him to be released in order to receive the care he needs.
(Source: Expressen 25 March 2022, in Swedish)
I realize that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot go into details for various reason. I trust that our government continues and steps up its efforts to ensure that Djalali is treated humanely and gets the medical treatment he urgently needs.
And the goal remains the same: an immediate release so that he can reunite with his family in Sweden.