Letter to the Editor
An open letter to the IUCr leadership regarding the current protests in Iran
12 December 2022
Iranian scientists have been an integral part of the global scientific communities and continuously contributed to the advancement of science and technology. I graduated from Sharif University of Technology in 1998 with a degree in Physics and moved to the west to continue my education. Today, more than half of my life has been spent far away from Iran and is dedicated to scientific research and education. However, I never felt far from the Iranian academic community, as the scientific community around the world is inherently connected. The past three months have been exceedingly troubling times for the Iranian scientific community and students. Today, I’m writing this letter to ask the IUCr leadership, a community that I’ve been connected to for many years, to voice their support for Iranian academics and researchers in these anxious times.
Iranian women are leading a cultural renaissance with massive support from the university students with the rallying cry "Woman, Life, Freedom". University campuses have been at the center of the waves of protest sweeping through Iran, and the academic community of Iran has suffered enormous damage. Hundreds of students have been arrested on campus and sent to prison, University administrations in Iran have been complicit in the abduction of student protesters on campus and have additionally expelled a large number of students for participation in on-campus protests. As such, the academic career of many scientists, who are amongst the brightest minds of Iran, is in disarray and their lives are in danger. University campuses have a universal standing as places for fostering the free exchange of ideas, including peaceful protests. As scientists, there is a tie that binds us to these students and requires us to protect their right to free speech on campus. While the context of this letter is the ongoing struggle for political and social freedoms in Iran, my request is only about the catastrophic consequences of government crackdown in academia. As do all professional societies, the IUCr has also taken positions where political strife and violence has threatened scientists. My hope is that this effort shows our solidarity with and helps avert further harm to the academic community in Iran. I would like to encourage the IUCr to reiterate the following shared values in an open letter and
- Clearly condemn the attack and arrest of students and professors in Iranian Universities.
- Reiterate its commitment to free speech on University campuses worldwide.
- Condemn violence on university campuses.
- Ask the Iranian Universities to reinstate students and scholars who have been dismissed or suspended due to participation in peaceful protests.
- State its support for free and open internet access for all University students and faculty in Iran.
- Demand the release of student and faculty members arrested due to protest from Iranian prisons.
Thank you for your consideration,
Relevant news links
The New York Times: ‘Geniuses’ Versus the Guns (6 October 2022)
Nature: ‘I could not keep silent’ (12 October 2022)
Physics Today: STEM scholars worldwide express solidarity with Iranian protesters (19 October 2022)
Oslo based Iran Human Rights Asks Universities Worldwide to Condemn the Islamic Republic’s Encroachment of University Campuses (30 October 2022)
The Guardian: Dozens arrested as Iranian security forces attack university campuses (4 November 2022)
ISNA (Iranian government news agency, use Google Translate): Disciplinary actions against protesters at Sharif University, including the suspensions of 10 students in one day (19 November 2022)
Universityworldnews: Students barred from campuses as state steps up crackdown (22 November 2022)
Shanti Deemyad is Associate Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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