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Halt execution and release disaster medicine scholar Ahmadreza Djalali

27 November 2020

Together with many other deans and scholars, SISSA Director Stefano Ruffo has just signed a letter addressed to Iranian authorities aimed at halting Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali’s execution and demanding his release. Ferruccio Resta,  President of the Conference of Italian University Rectors, underwrote the same petition.

According to SAR - Scholars at Risk, Iranian authorities recently put Dr. Djalali in solitary confinement and are preparing to carry out his death sentence at any moment. Dr. Djalali telephoned his wife on 24 November in what he said would be his last farewell. 

Dr. Djalali is an Iranian-Swedish scholar of disaster medicine who teaches at universities in Italy and Belgium, including Karolinska University, in Sweden; Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale, in Italy; and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, in Belgium. Iranian authorities arrested Dr. Djalali in April 2016 while he was traveling to participate in a series of workshops hosted by universities in Tehran and Shiraz. On October 21, 2017, Dr. Djalali was convicted and sentenced to death for “corruption on earth” (ifsad fil-arz), based on unsubstantiated allegations that he had provided intelligence to the Israeli authorities. Dr. Djalali has disputed the allegations, asserting that his ties to the international academic community are the basis of his prosecution. SAR understands that Dr. Djalali has been denied the right to appeal the conviction and sentence.

According to his family, Dr. Djalali has been subjected to torture and solitary confinement while in state custody. In July 2019, Iranian authorities suddenly transferred Dr. Djalali to an undisclosed detention facility where he was threatened with immediate execution in order to obtain a forced confession. SAR further understands that Dr. Djalali has suffered from a number of severe medical complications, including gastritis, stomach ulcers, gallstones, anemia, depression, and anxiety. He is also suspected of being at high-risk of leukemia, after his bone marrow cells were found to have weakened. Despite these complications, SAR understands that authorities have repeatedly denied Dr. Djalali proper medical care.

Absent additional information, the facts as described suggest that Dr. Djalali’s arrest, conviction and sentencing are a flagrant disregard for international standards of academic freedom, due process, fair trial, and humane treatment of prisoners, as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party.

In the letter, is therefore respectfully asked “the relevant authorities to suspend the capital sentence issued against Dr. Djalali, to secure his immediate release, and, pending such action, to ensure his well-being and access to legal counsel, family, and medical treatment”.

(Image by Ichigo 12 12 12 on Pixabay)

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