December 18, 2007

ASA´s Statement on the arrested students in Iran
Ayatollah Sayyid ‘Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Your Excellency:
We write on behalf of the more than 14,000 members of the American Sociological Association (ASA), a scientific society of academic and professional sociologists, to request freedom from detention for the Iranian university students recently detained or arrested by government security forces in Tehran, Tabriz, Ahvaz, Shiraz, and elsewhere in Iran until their cases can be adjudicated by an appropriate court. Many of them are being held in Evin Prison in Tehran for protesting against the Iranian government, and we urge that they be freed.
The imprisoned persons include sociology student Jelveh Javaheri and others who advocate for the equal rights of women. While they are in your custody, we urge you to use your good offices to guarantee their safety and freedom to confer with legal counsel. We urge you to determine the circumstances of their detention, drop politically motivated charges, and secure their immediate release.
As a party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is required to provide among other rights to its citizens, the: (1) Right to hold opinions without interference (Article 19.1); (2) The right to freedom of expression; this right includes freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds (Article 19.2); and (3) Citizens are entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law (Article 14). Under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Article 23), individuals also have the right to freedom of thought, opinion, and speech.
As a scientific organization, with an international membership, ASA is committed to ensuring academic freedom, free exchange of ideas, and free expression, to all scholars including those conducting research on sociological and related comparative studies of culture and social institutions. Without governmental assurance of such intellectual freedoms, a nation quickly becomes universally recognized as failing to ensure superior scholarship and unwilling to protect its intellectual status in international cultural and scientific arenas.
We are profoundly dismayed by the arrests of these students. We are hopeful that under your leadership Iran will respond to avoid the harm this damage to intellectual and scientific pursuits will do to your country at home and in the international community.
We appreciate your consideration of our concerns about of this apparent breach of Iran’s commitments under International Conventions, and we urge you to ensure that all false or politically based charges against these students will be dropped. The leaders and members of the American Sociological Association consider this to be a matter of great urgency.
Arne L. Kalleberg,
PhD President, American Sociological Association, Kenan Distinguished Professor, and Director of International Programs, College of Arts & Sciences, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Sally T. Hillsman,
PhD Executive Officer, American Sociological Association
cc: Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
President, His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
Secretary of the Islamic Republic Human Rights Commission
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