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European groups take stance against researcher ‘persecution’

Image: Darafsh [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


“Concrete” support demanded for academics prevented by authoritarian regimes from freely conducting research

European researcher groups have called for “concrete” support for academics persecuted for their research activity by authoritarian regimes.

In a joint statement released on 21 February, the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers, the International Consortium of Research Staff Associations, the Marie Curie Alumni Association and the Young Academy of Europe proclaimed their solidarity with researchers they said were facing injustice in countries with authoritarian regimes, with a particular focus on Iran.

“We strongly advocate for concrete support to researchers persecuted for their research activity by any authoritarian regime, and here specifically for concrete support to researchers in Iran,” the statement said.

Detention and torture

Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, a large number of researchers have been arrested, detained and tortured by the Iranian authorities because of their research, the groups said. One they named was Iranian-Swedish disaster medicine researcher Ahmadreza Djalali, who has been accused of espionage and sentenced to death.

“We feel the need to highlight our support for the freedom of all scholars to carry out research from their chosen cultural and/or political perspective in a safe and respectful environment,” said the associations.

“This is even more important for those scholars who are based in, or come from, non-Western countries: their perspective can be novel to the majority of the European academic community, and thus they may be more exposed to epistemic violence or injustice. We all need to ensure that this does not happen.”

Double the danger

Since September, there have been ongoing protests in Iran (pictured) following the death of Mahsa Amini after her arrest for allegedly not wearing a hijab. To be a woman and a scholar is “even more dangerous” than being either alone, the joint statement said.

It added that research organisations and individual researchers should “make it their priority to respect and value academic integrity, while actively guaranteeing academic freedom as a human right”.