Presidents of Swedish universities and higher education institutions: Iran must release Ahmadreza Djalali

The text below is signed by the presidents of all Swedish universities and colleges. It demands the release of KI alumnus, researcher and physician Ahmadreza Djalali, who has spent more than six years in prison in Iran. He was sentenced to death after a trial that wasgrossly unfair and relied on forced confessions.  The appeal has been sent to a number of international and Swedish organizations and individual actors and is also published as a debate article in the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.

Please also see an article about this appeal in University World News.

The Swedish-Iranian physician and researcher in disaster medicine, Ahmadreza Djalali, was arrested in Iran in April 2016. The following year he was sentenced to death, and among other things accused of espionage, after a trial that does not at all meet decent legal standards. On several occasions Iran has threatened to carry out the sentence, thus adding to the mental and physical pressure that Ahmadreza Djalali and his family have been subjected to over the past six years.  Reports from Evin Prison, where he is being held, testify that his state of health is poor and that he needs immediate and adequate medical treatment.

We, rectors, vice chancellors and presidents from Swedish universities and college universities, are deeply concerned in the case of Ahmadreza Djalali. The fact that he was arrested, detained and sentenced to death without the consent of a fair trial is an attack not only on him and his family – but also an unacceptable attack on academic freedom, human rights and the rule of law. Ahmadreza Djalali has devoted a large part of his adult life to research, knowledge development and knowledge sharing. At the time he was arrested he was in Iran to give lectures on his field of research – disaster medicine. He was stopped when he was in the process of performing one of the central tasks of an academic: to educate and to share the knowledge acquired during years of study and research.

Imprisoning and sentencing someone to death on blatantly incorrect 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, there is an additional dimension. To threaten and silence a researcher is to threaten and undermine knowledge development, scientific progress and – not least – the opportunity to spread knowledge to society.

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

As rectors, vice chancellors and presidents 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 against the very basic academic principles. For us, it is obvious to demand the immediate release of Ahmadreza Djalali.

For this demand to lead to concrete results, the world must send clear signals to the Iranian regime. We address academic colleagues, relevant international and intergovernmental organizations; 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 pressure on Iran to respect human rights and the rule of law

It is time for the global community, and the joint 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 time for Ahmadreza Djalali to be released.

Rectors, vice chancellors and presidents of Swedish universities and college universities:

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


Mark Divers

Mark Divers

Thank you Ole Petter and colleagues, so good and so important that you keep lifting up this case.

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