The repressive policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran towards its own citizens has once again targeted innocent academics engaged in sustaining a modicum of normative relationship between Iranians and the outside world.
While the unconscionable arrest of Ms. Haleh Esfandiari of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has received a well-deserved and widespread attention in the United States, that of a prominent Iranian social scientist, Kian Tajbaksh, among other Iranian academics, has scarce been noted.
According to Human Rights Watch, on 11 May 2007, agents of the Ministry of Information have arrested Kian Tajbakhsh at his home in Tehran. He is reportedly detained without any formal charges in Tehran’s Evin prison. The Ministry of Information is currently holding at least three Iranian-Americans, including Tajbakhsh, in custody.
Like Dr. Mahmud Sariolghalam, another Iranian academic who was also arrested a little earlier, and many other Iranian academics, Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh’s scholarly conducts are entirely professional and fully transparent. All these and many other Iranian academics are totally exposed to the whimsically violent practices of the Islamic Republic, and scarce a voice of concern is raised about their collective predicament.
As Human Rights Watch has correctly noted, these scholars are used as pawns to smear a larger community of civil society activists inside Iran. The Iranian government should know how damaging these arbitrary arrests are to the country’s reputation and how these arrests have given ample opportunity to American neocons to vilify an entire nation in the interest of yet another military adventurism with hundreds of thousands of innocent lives at stake.
We call upon the authorities of the Islamic Republic immediately to free Kian Tajbaksh and all other Iranian scholars held illegally at Evin or any other prison and allow them a free and unfettered pursuit of their legitimate scholarly activities. The systematic abuse of human and civil rights of Iranian citizens can only exacerbate Iran’s international isolation and play into the hands of warmongers in the United States.
Ervand Abrahamian, Distinguished Professor of History, Baruch College, City University of New York (USA)
Said Arjomand, President of the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies and Distinguished Professor of Sociology at State University of New York, Stony Brook (USA)
Talal Asad, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York (USA)
Partha Chatterjee, Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University in New York and Professor of Political Science at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Calcutta (India)
Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston (USA)
Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York (USA)
Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University in New York (USA)
Minoo Moallem, Professor of Gender and Women Studies at University of California, Berkeley (USA)
Tariq Modood, MBE, AcSS, Professor of Sociology, Politics and Public Policy, University of Bristol (UK)
Mahmut Mutman, Professor of Communication and Design, Bilkent University, Ankara (Turkey)
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor, Columbia University in New York (USA)
Fawwaz Traboulsi, Professor of History and Politics at the Lebanese American University in Beirut (Lebanon)
Meyda Yegenoglu, Professor of Sociology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara (Turkey)